If you can’t be in the one you love, love the one you’re in

Sometimes you need to change your mind-set to enjoy living where you live. Picture: Leeloo Thefirst/Pexels

Sometimes you need to change your mind-set to enjoy living where you live. Picture: Leeloo Thefirst/Pexels

Published Feb 13, 2023


“If you cannot be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”

This song lyric comes to mind when referencing romantic relationships, but for homeowners who are unhappy with where they are living – either the area or the actual property – the advice can be just as sound.

After all, selling a home to buy another is not a decision one can take lightly.

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There are a number of reasons one may be desperate to leave their home and seek another they feel could better meet their needs, or that they would love more. Some of these troubles began before the pandemic, while others have arisen over the years since.

The most common reasons people usually sell their home, according to past results of the FNB Property Barometer, include the desire to downscale due to life stage or financial pressure, or to upgrade to bigger and better homes, or better areas. People also sell for reasons related to security, changes to family dynamics, emigration, or semigration.

But even though the explanations as to why many people want to leave their homes may be justified, often they may have little to no choice but to stay and make it work, says Nadia Aucamp, broker/owner of RE/MAX All Stars.

“Some homeowners may be in a predicament where they cannot move owing to their financial situation.”

As this article explains, some couples even continue living together despite breaking up or divorcing.

Another reason people may not be able to move is that they live with extended family, and such a decision would then impact all family members.

Gerhard Kotze, managing director of the RealNet estate agency group, says further reasons why people cannot leave their homes and find something better include needing to:

  • wait until a child finishes a school year or a university course
  • finish a work contract in a particular location
  • build up more equity in the property so that it can be sold at a profit to pay a deposit and/ or the costs of buying a new home.

This last point, he says, is often a problem for those who bought their homes with 100% home loans and have lived there for only a couple of years.

“This is because, by the time they have paid off the bank and paid the costs of selling and moving, there is unlikely to be much left of their sale proceeds to spend on their next home.”

Finances are usually the reason why people have to stay where they are, agrees Yael Geffen, chief executive of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty.

“This is because, when you own your home it’s not just a simple matter of giving notice and moving – it takes time to sell a property and there are a number of substantial costs involved to complete the transaction.”

There are also personal reasons why people may not be able to move, such as not wanting to move away from ageing parents or schools in which children are settled.

This article also explains why people in large, beautiful homes, choose to remain living in decaying suburbs.

Overcoming the challenges

Financial constraints, however, can be overcome in a number of ways, she notes.

“For instance, depending on how much the owners still owe the bank, bridging finance is an option. Or, if waiting a little longer is not a problem, then they could consolidate their debt and put some money aside each month to cover the costs of selling and relocating.

“Those who don’t want to move too far from family can also consider multi-generational living and look for a property with a flatlet or cottage.”

While there is not much that can be done about things like work contracts or school terms, Kotze says the best thing that all homeowners can do for themselves is to build up as much equity in their homes as they can, as fast as possible, so that they are financially able to move whenever they may want or need to.

Accepting the situation

For those who find themselves having to stay put, Aucamp says her team often advises homeowners of things they can do to make their houses work better for them.

“You could always change the living areas by swapping the dining and sitting rooms, or a bedroom with a study. This will give you a feeling that it is a new space. If you do this and paint the rooms new colours, it can feel like a new house.”

Quoting MK Soni, Geffen says: “A house is made of brick and mortar, but a home is made by the people who live there.”

And to this end, loving your home is not so much about what it looks like but rather about learning to appreciate the little things and to focus more on how you feel in it.

Change your mind-set

Psychologically, homes by their very nature provide individuals with a sense of belonging, security, control and even become an extension of one’s identity, says Lusanda Cebekhulu, a clinical psychologist from online wellness company Syked. Homes are havens from the outside world.

But when you are in a place where you no longer want to be, it is important to reflect on the meaning that a home is meant to create for you rather than the function it serves physically, she notes.

“This may involve making certain changes in the manner in which one interacts with their loved ones within that property.”

For example, you can create a consistent routine where the family eats together, interacts and has meaningful and fulfilling conversations.

Creating new, or revisiting old, hobbies and intentionally doing them at home with your loved ones enables the home to be associated with the “feel-good” emotions that are often elicited when one does things one enjoys, such as playing games or watching movies.

“Inviting guests over for chats and games also influences what associations you makes with your home as it starts to become a place of love, happiness and peace rather that a physical space with limitations.”

Cebekhulu advises that you therefore “reframe” the meaning that is attached to the property, as it is more than a property but a place of warmth that is created by the people in the home.

“Reflecting on emotions that are experienced in other spaces, like the work environment, can help you to appreciate the fact that your home continues to be a space that is emotionally safe.”

Focus on the good parts

Choosing to be grateful for what you have, which is a roof over your head and protection from the outside world, rather than what you do not have, also helps to develop a change of mind-set about your space, she says.

“Remembering that your home is also the place where you congregate with your loved ones also helps in accepting your situation.

“And being deliberate with what you consume while at home becomes important. For example, if watching home channels is a trigger for you and a reminder of what you do not have, avoiding such shows can be beneficial. It’s not helping you love your home more. Instead, it can breed envy and discontent.”

Change what you can

Cebekhulu says in life there are many things that you cannot control. Sometimes, all you can control is your effort and your attitude.

“When you put your energy into the things you can control, you will be much more effective. That entails determining what is within your means to change the situation or to make it more bearable as you make alternative plans. It is easy to focus on the problem, rather than problem-solving, so it also becomes important to have clarity and influence on what you put your energy towards.”

Find a home you will love at IOL Property.