In life, much of our time and energy is spent justifying our established positions. If I’m a Democrat, I spend some energy defending my positions, no matter whether or not they’re exactly correct or incorrect. If I’m a Republican, I do the same. If I love tacos, I’ll explain to you that I love tacos, and I’ll encourage you to eat them, too. If I think the best band in the world is Oasis, I’ll explain that to you as best I can. If you live in the Chicago area and you’re thinking about a lake house, and it hasn’t yet become obvious to you that Lake Geneva is the only place to consider, then I’ll spend most of my time trying to convince you of its merits. And if you write for the Wall Street Journal, you’ll waste a column on something as absurd as the notion of a staycation.
Last summer, Mr. Straus and Ms. Missett paid $1.988 million for a two-bedroom apartment in the Manhattan neighborhood of Tribeca, which they use as their weekend getaway. “What I love is that unlike the Hamptons, it’s a quick subway ride down there, and it totally feels like you’re on vacation,” Mr. Straus, 56, said. In comparison to the hustle and bustle of Midtown, their cobblestoned Tribeca street is “quiet—it feels like a country home.”
No it doesn’t. It can’t. There’s no way a cobblestoned street makes an apartment feel like a country home. There’s nothing that can be argued here if we’re considering the falsity of that statement. An apartment is not a country home, period. That would be like me saying that because I paved the gravel driveway that leads me to my country home, and I threw garbage all around the margins, that my country home feels like a city home. If an apartment feels like a country home to this nice couple, then it’s obvious that they’ve never owned a country home. The fact that the article doesn’t challenge the most absurd claim leaves me somewhat weak and feverish.
Real estate agents, according to the WSJ article, are pointing to proximity as the reason someone would buy a vacation home a handful of blocks from their primary home. In Miami, another silly couple bought a condo 13 miles from their primary home. This is no less absurd than the Tribeca couple, but it does explain something about vacation home buyers: They don’t always understand the purpose of the vacation home. Do we have two homes just so we can sleep in a different bed on the weekends? Do we have this other home so that we can pay twice the mortgage, twice the taxes, and have twice the headache? Do we have this second home just so we can say we do, or so we can put up those drapes we really like that just don’t work well with the color palate of our primary?
The answer to those question is don’t be silly. But the answer is obviously not well understood, otherwise people wouldn’t be buying a vacation home so near their full time home. The reason people do this is apparently born out of convenience, because a couple in Manhattan can jump on a subway and be in Tribeca in some short period of time, or so I presume. A couple in Miami can drive 13 miles to their “vacation” condo in a similarly short time. But what is accomplished by this? Proximity is important, yes, but a vacation home can be too close. If the scenery isn’t different and the activities aren’t different and there’s no time to decompress while driving with a dose of anticipation, then what is the purpose of this nearby home?
Yesterday, I went mountain biking. I should say that I hate mountain biking. It’s just a terrible, terrible thing. If there was a service that would drop me off at the top of a hill somewhere and then pick me up at the bottom, once I coasted my way down, I’d be interested in this. But the pedaling up and down is really quite redundant, and so I hate it. But I did it anyway and after that I went down to fish with my son, who had been fishing off the piers for no less than 7 hours when I picked him up. At home, I pulled some weeds and fired up my tractor to gather the piles of weeds that my wife had pulled earlier in the day. I did these things because I live in the country, at this lake, and those things I did are not the same things you can do in the city. If a cobblestone road makes you feel like you’re living in the country, then you’ve never been to the country. If your son didn’t fly fish off a diving board as a summer storm rumbled in the distance, then you need a lake house.