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Friday, August 19, 2022


Having grown up in a large family home in an upper middle-class neighborhood in South Florida, with parents that loved to entertain and be the house where everyone wanted to hang out, I've lived my adult life always looking for that perfect home for myself, many pets, family and friends. My budget never interfered, I judged a potential homestead for it's ability to welcome overnight guests, family, entertainment potential, etc. I was always able to have a "cool house".
And of, course it always had to be furnished to provide the most comfort for myself and guests. Never mind that I had to work THREE or FOUR jobs. Never mind I denied myself vacations or large savings accounts, I wanted to be the perfect hostess.
When I decided to make the Virgin Islands my home, it was with the dream of giving up the corporate rat race, living in a hut on a sandy beach with a small boat moored at the waters edge, perhaps living off the proceeds of a published cookbook or best selling novel of the century. Yeah, right!! Immediately I immersed myself in the real estate trade and started a catering business. Exposure to beautiful homes and lifestyles again whetted my appetite for the perfect home.
I finally found a home on St. Peter Mountain Road, beautiful vistas, large decks, bright, airy and perfect for entertaining. After renting for a year, and of course investing many dollars and hours of labor making improvements, I made an offer to purchase. In a matter of eight hours on September 17, 1989, I was homeless and had lost every dime I had worked so hard for to make improvements. Gone was the home my stateside family and friends had visited so often and felt was their vacation villa.
After spending 3 months in a cramped 1BR apt with two Golden Retreivers and a cat, I found another "perfect" home. This one had been empty since Hugo and had sustained some damage….but….it had seven bedrooms, five baths on three acres of waterfront property. Of course it was not furnished and not really for sale, but with youthful optimism, I felt it would someday be mine. Now the work began, painting, furnishing, roof repairs, electrical repairs, appliances and the guests and family came and came and came. After three years and an investment of $100,000 in cash and untold hours of labor it came up for sale. Thanks to all the work I did, the appraisal came in at more than I thought I could afford. So house-hunting I went.
This time I would be smarter. I would look for something smaller, a house that would be easy to maintain and did not need any fixing up. I had my
eye on a house for a while that I was sure I could not afford. Once I looked at it closer, I realized it was perfect. Now, having no savings to speak of, I negotiated a deal to lease with option, giving me one year to work my a– off saving for the down payment. This whole time I worked, and worked, and worked and the family came, and the guests came, every Regatta I was a host house. Every friend of a friend had a place to stay. The mortgage payment was high, but I am single, I am woman, I can work!!!
Another Spetember came and so did Marilyn, but I was lucky. My house survived and the neighbors came..I invited everyone I knew that needed a place to stay, a pool to swim in, a washing machine to do their clothes.
But along with Marilyn came the devastating news that I had no job, but I am tough, I will make this work…all I have to do is work. And work I have done everyday for years…last year I had 18!!! days off. No vacation, no time to enjoy my pool or yard, but I have a nice place for family and friends to stay.
What is the moral of this story???? I finally learned a lesson I would like to pass on. I realized I had sacrificed my life for a half acre of CBS building, with lots of nice furniture, comfy beds, full pantries and lots of praise for my yard, but I was too tired and out of shape to enjoy it. I made a big decision….Rent the house and move into the small (gulp) studio downstairs. My biggest dilemma…where would I house all the people that come to visit? How would I possibly fit all my favorite furniture in this little apt? Everyday friends ask me how I am coping with my new humble abode…and guess what….I LOVE IT!!! It has given me more time for myself, I actually have time to watch TV, and to spend time with me…what matters. Changing my thinking has changed my life and blown away my preconceptions about more is better and has helped me realize my priorities. What have I learned????…..
…..Going smaller is not about sacrifice. It's about making thoughtful decisions about what you really need to be happy.
…..Be willing to discard old notions about bigger is better. The bigger
the house, the bigger the burden. Simplify your life rather than complicate
…..Get some perspective. There are people living in Honduras and the
Dominican Republic, or the streets downtown, who would be glad to call home
the box your new refrigerator came in. Is a bigger house a necessity or an
extravagance to impress?
…..Develop an attitude of gratitude for what you already have: a roof
over your head, walls to keep you safe, indoor plumbing, furniture to
comfort you, a kitchen to nourish you and electricity. You have what you need.
Editors' note: Kathie McCarthy is a local entrepreneur who, among many achievements, also holds her real estate license.

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