Oops. Did I just write that on my blog? I look at the homes of the top ten tech titans(by someone's standards) and I really wonder at what point "enough" transitions "into way over the top." OK, there are some steps in-between, but still.
So, I will tell you a bit about my perspective so you get where I am coming from. It may be different than folks would assume. I hear people talk about what percentage of your salary should be spent on your home (in my case, including insurance and HOAs...fun) and I have always managed to stay below that. Well, I have chosen to stay below that. I figure out how much I can afford and still do the things I want to do. And I work with that number. So, I don't think that I am giving away anything when I tell you that I am nore of a 20%er than a 30%er. It's just where I feel comfortable. Now if that is the definition of "living below my means," I don't know. Kind of don't care.
For me, what is most important is not how much space I have, but how well that space is used. I went from a thousand square foot house in the suburbs to a thousand square foot loft in the city. Did I step up? Yep...thanks housing bubble. But still...it's a thousand square feet. I chose to not do more; I don't like what the economy has been doing the last few years and as I have shared, I want to do more with less. It suits my soul. And what less ended up being is less than half. Oh the joys of purging. That's not sarcastic...it's been great.
So here I am with 16 foot ceilings, but relatively small square footage. Lots of light and closer proximity to other humans. Walking the dog but not mowing the lawn. Wouldn't want anything else. A thousand square feet is all I need; it's what suits my lifestyle. It keeps me from getting into the mode of filing up space because it's there. It feels really comfortable to me.
Now, I am not tech titan. I am neither tech nor titan. Not even in my association to people either tech or titan-like. No, not at all. I am not sure if titan-hood requires conspicuous consumption (in the case of Mark Zuckerberg, I'd say no). But for most of these guys (and gal), there had to have been some kind of transition from working in a dark apartment and eating stale pizza to where they are now. What I don't understand is if, in their humble little start-up tech brains, success looked like this (did you click on that link? Crazy!).Or if there was a value system change at one point.
I don't assume that any of them would get as excited about down-sizing (at least stuff-wise) as I did. I think that is relatively rare. But the extent to which they went for the bigger house and lifestyle...much, much bigger; really makes me think about the psychology of all this. I'm not saying this would remain entirely unappealing (in fact, Jim Clark's place looks pretty awesome to me) if I were in their situation. But I do wonder if, on some level, this is a case of more money, more problems. Because I can't imagine wanting to. How many bathrooms could one person need?
It's a question I would like to have to answer someday, I guess when my retirement is paid for and then some. but I can't imagine going so over the top that someone would be taking photos of my house from an airplane.