Life Would be Perfect If I Lived in That House is a memoir of Megan Daum's "lifelong game of playing house." Home ownership has long been a part of the American dream, the largest purchase (and investment) that most people ever make. Like millions of other Americans, Megan Daum purchased a small, fixer-upper home at the height of the real estate boom.
However, this memoir is not the typical story of the trials and tribulations of homeownership. Instead, Megan Daum shares with us a journey of defining yourself by where you live. As a child, her parents moved several times, finally setting in a house in suburban New Jersey, despite the fact that most of her father's work was in Chicago. The house is close, but definitely not in, New York City, paralleling her parent's desire for a type of existence that they almost, but didn't quite, have. Eventually, her parents live apart, ending up in two separate apartments in the New York City that fulfill their individual dreams.
Megan begins to build her own life in terms of housing, selecting the college that she thinks will eventually lead her to owning an apartment in a pre-war building in Manhattan. After her first year in the dormitory, she begins moving from place to place, always looking for something better or a new escape. As her dream of being a sophisticated New Yorker begins to fray, Megan chooses a new dream of living in a simpler, inexpensive place and moves to Lincoln, Nebraska. This begins an odyssey of farmhouses, inexpensive apartments, and unsuitable live-in boyfriends that is broken by an almost equally impulsive move to Los Angeles.
In Los Angeles, Megan rents and house sits, never finding a place where she is completely comfortable. Her drive to define herself by her home hits an apex when she cannot invite her boyfriend back to a house that she feels doesn't properly represent her personality and style. Eventually, Megan buys a home and works hard to make it her own, only to find herself needing to create a home for both herself and her boyfriend.
Life Would be Perfect if I Lived in That House is a creative approach to a memoir. It is successful due to Megan Daum's skillful writing and ability to communicate her thoughts and feelings during her real estate adventures and as her life unfolds.