The Crave Essay: Peddling the perfect house fantasy

A new sign has gone up on the highway out of the city and it bugs me.

It bugs me not because it took my attention off the road ahead or its placement – I get that the highway is prime advertising real estate – but because of what it was trying to sell me.

That thing is a fantasy.

The product was a house, one large, detached, at least four bedrooms and two bathrooms, reception room, large garage, laundry room, decent-sized garden, neatly-built on a pleasant street, house. And on the drive of this suburban castle was a car. Not a people carrier (for surely someone in a house with so many bedrooms would have a family and that tends to require a vehicle with lots of seats) or a dinky, go from A to B car, or a motorbike or even nothing, for hey, this homeowner may care for the environment more than most and cycle everywhere. No, none of those.

On the driveway of this house was a sports car. And that sports car looked very much to me like a Lamborghini. Yellow and wide, spotless and new, this symbol of wealth roared at me like a stock exchange yuppie armed with a filofax.

‘Want me,’ it shouted. ‘You want me…you want this life…go get this life. Go… go…go!’

Go where, exactly? To the place of work where we go many days of the week? And say what? ‘Can I have a raise to buy a house and a sports car?’

‘No,’ says the boss.

‘But why not?’ says I, ‘the sign made it seem so possible… so within my reach.’

Within reach. Mmm… It very much is not. And I don’t mean that in a defeatist, don’t be ambitious and work towards a healthy salary in life, way. I write it in a realistic, the housing market has gone insane way.

For this house that I saw is in a city where a property half the size, damp, in need of months of TLC and on an unpleasant street, will cost more than a million dollars. One million dollars. That’s a whole lot of debt and a long, long way from the life with the Lamborghini.

Which brings me back to the sign, for less than a mile down the road I saw another one; its sibling, and the route to getting the dream house.

It told me a number: $15 million and that if I participated in the game of luck I could win that prize. Now that really is a fantasy. But then some see life as a lottery.

And then others see signs and resolve to do what they should have done in the first place: not get distracted and keep their eyes on the road.

For more on The Crave Essays, click here. I’d love to hear from you either on Twitter or Facebook so please don’t be shy in getting in touch. Best wishes, David.