Don't Be Needy

One thing living in Germany taught me was the ease with which one can overestimate how necessary some goods are to a happy life.  Doing without a freezer or oven for 6 months proved but a negligible inconvenience,  for instance, and certainly far less of one than I would have thought beforehand.  This lesson has given me reason to wonder what I therefore consider truly essential and what I could do without. Here's what the Pew Research Center says Americans think on the matter:

The large percentage drops are probably explained by the recession, but many of the items seem far more sensitive to location than to financial circumstance.  A car was not a necessity for me in Germany but is in South Carolina. Double ditto for air conditioning. Some things I find inexplicable: is a microwave really so sensitive to income? Why is a phone tethered to a wall considered more necessary than a mobile phone? How great is having a TV without cable?

I lived in three places in Germany with differing amenities, but here's the minimum of what I had:

  • Car
  • Landline phone
  • clothes dryer
  • home air conditioning
  • TV set
  • Home computer
  • Cell phone
  • Microwave
  • High-speed internet (I did have it free at my office two minutes away)
  • Cable or satellite TV
  • Dishwasher
  • Flatscreen TV
  • iPod

If were answering about South Carolina, I'd add car, AC, and internet and remove iPod. If I were answering about Rwanda--well, ask me again in a few weeks.

HT: Felix Salmon