My parents recently purchased a vacation/retirement condo in Florida. All the family members reunited for the grand opening earlier this month. I was very impressed. The floor is all marble. The walls facing the Atlantic Ocean are completely glass window, and the curtains are shaded, so that sunlight does not come through, but the ocean view is preserved.
There is a beautiful beach, conveniently located behind the condo, and a golf course and tennis court.
Mom suggested that I move in the condo (or in the regular home) rent-free, because it is absolutely crazy that I am paying rent to live in Seattle. It's something that I am considering, but am not likely to choose, because doing so would present a fixed moving cost as well as the opportunity costs of leaving Seattle. Our regular home is also very nice, traditional and rich in little detail.
All of this adds to the very palpable gap between my lifestyle as a software developer and that of my family and friends all, who are all in the medical profession. The circle of people I was around were all highly educated and successful, but I never thought of myself or my family as being exceptionally well off. My father is conscious about each dollar, seeking value without lowing his standards; we do normally fly coach. At every family vacation, he surprises us with an over-the-top experience to exotic locations.
I am not very attached to material things, but tend towards minimalism. I could never appreciate the advantages of an expensive car over a regular one; the expensive car sometimes had broken window and a missing radio. But, I still have in me a persistent sense of underachievement relative to my father and siblings.
My father always seemed to aspire to an aristocratic sense of being. I am reminded about this Slate review of the film Metropolitan. My father only listens to classic music and only watches the classic films and operas, while deriding modern movies as devoid of substance. As youngsters, my siblings and I were forbidden to wear jeans, tattoos, and other symbols of the working class. My parents speak of noblesse oblige and etiquette.
My father was disappointed that I did not continue on to graduate school to pursue a PhD, all the more so because of the social barriers introduced by my race and his full coverage of my tuition. My father would regularly remind me that my salary was "peanuts," and that just to maintain his home each year was $100K. His early (but since evolved) impression of the MBA degree was that it was similar to a vocational degree, but this is due to the deep French bias against the merchant class.