Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Big house-long driving or viceversa?

This is an allegory of rush hour! Picture by Luciano A. G. Lucas
There is a post by Jonah Lehrer, dated March 30th 2010, which brings up the issue of the house´s size selection related to the distance to work. Given two choices, bigger house in the suburbs and one hour drive to work (in the best of cases) or smaller house and less driving, it seems that people choose the first option.
I was in the middle of this dilemma a couple of times, but I was never deceived by the hope of a tranquil traffic. In my opinion, work weighs more than the house, you keep your work, and you will be able to afford your house. A couple of times you are late, you are fired, and how can you keep on paying the house?
And this is not that I´m against parties and visitors, I love them, but everything depends on your own economy. It´s nonsense to have a big house if you can´t afford it or if you are not able to invite your friends for celebrations.
In my professional life, I´ve seen BIG (in capital letters) houses inhabited by one or two people plus dogs and/or cats. What for? Well, this is my position. For Spanish speaking readers, maybe you remember the great book ¨La Casa¨ (The House) by Manuel Mujica Láinez, together with ¨Los Viajeros¨ (The travelers). The big family house has a cycle of life and maybe, because you want to keep your work, you are compelled to move from it and leave your memories behind.
Here, some paragraphs from the post and the link for those who want to read the full article.
A few years ago, the Swiss economists Bruno Frey and Alois Stutzer announced the discovery of a new human foible, which they called "the commuters paradox". They found that, when people are choosing where to live, they consistently underestimate the pain of a long commute. This leads people to mistakenly believe that the big house in the exurbs will make them happier, even though it might force them to drive an additional hour to work.
Of course, as Brooks notes, that time in traffic is torture, and the big house isn't worth it. According to the calculations of Frey and Stutzer, a person with a one-hour commute has to earn 40 percent more money to be as satisfied with life as someone who walks to the office. Another study, led by Daniel Kahneman and the economist Alan Krueger, surveyed nine hundred working women in Texas and found that commuting was, by far, the least pleasurable part of their day.

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