No TV’s In Our Castle

Most of the time I feel 100% normal. Well, scratch that. I know we live our lives a little far out on the bell curve with things like aiming for financial independence, doing major DIY renovations on our house, biking to work, and buying solar panels to power our house. But most people around us can’t see that (literally – the solar panels are on the back of the house!) and instead see a young couple that has a small house in a nice neighborhood and leads pretty normal lives going to work, going to the gym, hanging out with each other and our cat and seeming pretty vanilla all around.

So it kindof smacked me across the face when I read a headline in one of the Houzz* newsletters this weekend.  “How High Should Your TV Be?”

“Really?” I thought.  “This is a problem people can’t seem to figure out?” I squinted at the headline and clicked through to the article, mostly because we don’t have a tv and I somehow needed to understand what the fuss over a tvs height was all about.

But then the article proceeded to slap me in the face with its opening paragraph.

“A home without a television is like a castle in the clouds — it exists only in fairy tales. And that’s only a slight overstatement. The Nielsen Company reports that 96.7 percent of U.S. homes have television sets. In my experience, over the course of hundreds of home construction projects, I can’t recall a single instance in which one of our clients designed a home without the television’s location in mind. “

Now my face really scrunched up. Seriously, Mr Interior Designer? Out of hundreds of homes, there wasn’t a single one without a television? Or even a home with a television but without particular regard to its placement in the final design?

We’ve Never Had a TV Since Moving In Together

With the exception of a 2-year period in which a television hung mostly blank on my studio apartment wall after first moving to Florida**, and tvs that belonged to roommates in college but that we didn’t really use, neither Mr PoP nor I have had a television since moving out of our parents’ house for college in 2001. That’s nearly 14 years and counting.

This puts us in the 3.3% of US households (as of 2011) without a tv and made filling our our Nielsen survey REALLY easy.

Why No TV?

Instead, how about flipping the question. Why have a television?

Personally, I think televisions are ugly – big black voids sucking the life and energy out of a room. Seriously. Go to that Houzz article and imagine how nice those rooms would look without a television.


Our living room.

Or imagine how our living room would look with a big black hole on the left wall over our media console. Ugh. Between the beautiful lake view, and our awesome map why would we want something that ugly competing for attention on the walls in our main room.

Then there’s the fact that they’re just another thing that needs energy ($) and can break ($$).  We’ve got enough stuff like that in our lives already.

But We Still Consume Media

With the internet, a subscription to Hulu, multiple computers and an iPad, a projector and speakers connected to a DVD player, and easy access to DVDs from Redbox and the library, I guarantee you that we’re not living in any sort of self-imposed media blackout. If anything, I occasionally feel like I watch too many shows*** when I turn on Hulu on while ironing or doing other chores around the house. (Pet peeve – Hulu now automatically loads another show when one is finished. Way too easy to get sucked into more viewing that way.)

We’ve never once felt like we’re missing anything by not having a television in our house. Coworkers and friends don’t ostracize us if it happens to come up in conversation that we are tv-less. It’s just not a big deal at all.

It’s Just More Intentional

Without a tv, though, consuming video media (besides the random youtube clip) does become a little bit more of an event. We plan movie nights at home as dates.  (Boyhood was our movie date this weekend.)  The only catches are that movies need to be viewed at night since we can’t see the projection images when there’s sunshine coming through the skylights, and the occasional sporting event needs to be watched with others at a bar****. But, admittedly, watching sports isn’t really our thing. (And Mona says we’re not alone there.)

So if not having a tv makes our house a castle on a cloud, I think we’ll keep it. Especially if there aren’t any floors for me to sweep!*****

* I’ve been reading a lot of Houzz over the last year with the kitchen renovation and planning.
** My mom bought a small flatscreen tv for me after she convinced herself that by living on the beach I would die in a hurricane without easy access to the local weather forecast.
*** Is it just me or has Grey’s Anatomy officially jumped the shark this season?
**** There are two bars with TVs that show sports less than a ten minute walk from our house if we ever became more invested in watching sports and feel the need to consume alcohol while watching them.
***** Roomba helps pretty dramatically on this front and really decreases the amount of sweeping. Perhaps Roomba is part of the fairy tale!

Do you have a tv in your house? (Come on, we can’t be the only ones!) If you do have one, would you ever consider removing it or not unpacking it the next time you move? Why/Why not?

42 comments to No TV’s In Our Castle

  • Good morning PoPs. My wife and I don’t have a TV, and haven’t for nearly three years. Personally, I wish we had gotten rid of it sooner. Like you guys, we watch something sporadically on a computer, but it’s pretty infrequent. In our case, we only have a couple hours per evening together…….and we want to make it count. The only downside is that when I visit other people, I have a really hard time concentrating on a conversation if a TV is on in the background. I suppose I’m just not used to the noise.
    Income Surfer recently posted..The New Goal on Top of Our List…….My Profile

    • I know several people who keep the TV on constantly, and it bothers me so much. I’ve been known to turn off the TV, even at someone else’s house, if no one is in the room. The moving visuals are what distract me the most. Wish people would turn on some music if they want background noise.
      Leah recently posted..Boarding School MomentMy Profile

    • Yay, We’re Not Alone! Other FL folks without a tv – maybe it’s something about living in a tropical paradise. =) I totally hear you on not being able to concentrate well when there’s a tv on in the background. I used to be able to do it (tvs were on pretty much constantly for the first 18 years of my life), but now I get completely distracted by them.

  • We have a TV in our place since there are some shows that we enjoy watching together and inviting friends over for the occasional movie night. Since we don’t have cable, our use is pretty intentional– no flipping through channels and whatnot just because we’re bored. I like to consider the time we do spend watching shows as writing “research” so it’s not just wasted hours in front of the tube. I could imagine getting rid of the TV if we had a projector but, realistically, I doubt we’ll do it.
    Taylor Lee @ Engineer Cents recently posted..I Made A Bad Financial Choice, But It Was Right For MeMy Profile

  • We do indeed have a TV, but it’s about 7 years old–so I suppose we have a geriatric TV ;). And, we’ve never had cable. We do enjoy watching shows together, but our viewing time is usually about 30 minutes/day or less and then more for our standard Friday night frozen pizza and movie date. I don’t want to spend valuable hours of my life watching TV, but I do find it enjoyable when we’re sick, exhausted, or just want to cuddle up on the couch. Funny enough, we never watch shows individually, it’s definitely a family affair for us.
    Mrs. Frugalwoods recently posted..Frugal Homestead Series Part 6: Septic, The Other End Of The Water EquationMy Profile

    • Shows are definitely nice when you’re too sick to concentrate on a book, but not sick enough to fall asleep! That’s when I’m most grateful for Hulu. =P

  • Grey’s Anatomy has jumped the shark so many times. I finally gave up keeping up, but I still hear plenty anyway.

    Do you have a projector then? It is nice to have a larger screen for watching movies and such. I wouldn’t have a TV, but my husband loves sports, and we get free cable. And it is much nicer to watch netflix on the TV than my laptop for the most part. I watch on my laptop with headphones if our baby needs extra snuggling.

    I will say that, given your living room setup, it looks like you’re just missing a TV since the couch is situated across from a low console. Is that where you project movies? Otherwise, I’d rearrange that room so you have more circular seating. But, like all design things, that’s just my preference.
    Leah recently posted..Boarding School MomentMy Profile

    • Yeah, we have a projector and use it pretty exclusively for movies. The image can get pretty big – maybe 7-8 feet across? – on the wall in our living room.

      The living room setup isn’t quite as weird as it might look in that picture. The seating is L-shaped since there’s a “fat chair” perpendicular to the couch facing the sliding doors (U-shaped when you count that we often sit on top of the media console when people are over), but we’ve thought about changing the living room layout around when the kitchen is finished but haven’t come up with a good solution. So far the speakers seem to be the limiting design feature and I can’t see us getting rid of them since Mr PoP built them.

  • I think our townhouse unit was designed without regard to where a TV would go – the best place for it is smack in front of the fireplace! :)

    I’ve lived without a TV in the past and would be OK with it again (I often end up consuming video on my iPad anyway) but my husband would not have it! He loves his big(ish) screen and watching (over the air) sports. I think having a projector is a great idea. We’ve never had one but a few friends have and it’s so fun for group movie nights.
    Emily @ evolvingPF recently posted..As a Contractor, It’s Up to Me to Protect My TimeMy Profile

    • The fireplace issue is one of the things that the Houzz piece was talking about when it came to tv placement, but it would have never occurred to me as I’ve never lived in a house with a fireplace.

  • We, ahem, have two TVs. My boyfriend likes to use it to play games. We both acquired one after college, before moving in together. I got one for free because I spent enough money at a furniture store and I doubt mine is very high quality. I actually didn’t want to buy one, so it was very convenient that I got one for free. We never would have bought two TVs, but since we already have them, we are going to keep them around. It’s nice to be able to watch a show while he’s playing a game with friends.
    Leigh recently posted..Q1 2015 UpdateMy Profile

    • Two tvs for 2 people! Gasp! If it’s any consolation, we have 5 laptops (six, kindof) and 2 tablets for two people. In our defense, our cat has thumbs, so he could theoretically count as another user of these devices. =P

  • We don’t have a TV, and I prefer it that way. I get sucked into whatever’s playing and it’s hard to pay attention to anything else. We sold our TV 2.5 years ago when we moved to a new apartment.

    We do watch TV on our laptops, but it’s a lot more intentional. When we want to watch a movie together, we’ll watch it on a laptop together.
    Jenna recently posted..Good News, Bad NewsMy Profile

    • That’s awesome. Years ago we used to do the laptop viewing together, but Mr PoP wasn’t a fan of that, so that led us to get the projector which is awesome for movies.

  • One of the better arguments I’ve heard for not having a television.

    Personally, I really like TV. I like the sharp images in HD, like borrowing a Blueray from the library instead of the regular DVD, like watching the Steelers or any other sports on the big screen, all that. I feel like it’s one of the better bangs we get for our entertainment dollar.

    But I also get that there’s a constant temptation to watch too much. Getting rid of the TV would improve that (or maybe just getting rid of the DirecTV package).
    Done by Forty recently posted..Side Stepping the HustleMy Profile

    • Huh. And here I hate HD images in general. I feel like if I pay good money for movie stars to appear flawless I don’t want to be able to see pores or blemishes peeking through the stage makeup the way they do on big HD screens. I find it oddly distracting from the storylines to notice an actor’s all-too-human imperfections – it really presses “pause” on my suspension of disbelief.

  • We have a video projection monitor instead of a tv. (Also the computers and the ipad, of course.)
    nicoleandmaggie recently posted..Angry Robot Army?My Profile

    • Is a video projection monitor different than a projector? Ours is a projector like the ones you can use to project the image from a computer screen on a wall.

  • We have a TV. We go through spurts of watching shows, but then months without watching anything. One of my kids enjoys watching a little TV here and there, the other two are far more interested in video games.
    Thegoblinchief recently posted..[Einar] #6 – A Name Shouted Into the AbyssMy Profile

    • I can’t put my finger on why, but it wouldn’t surprise me if folks with kids are more likely to have tvs.

      • Many use a TV for distracting the kid to get personal time, extra sleep, etc. I know I watched plenty of TV as a kid (tho also read books, played, etc — kids have so much free time).

        I had planned to have my kid have no screen time until 2 (or whatever the recommendations are), but that’s not practical given our life. My husband is unwilling to give up his TV time. So, our kid has watched lots of sports but no kid shows yet.
        Leah recently posted..Boarding School MomentMy Profile

  • I don’t know. You might as well say you have a tv. I mean, if you have a projector…

    We have a 7 or 8-year old Black Friday tv and our only watching is intentional. It basically serves as a big computer screen since it’s pretty much only playing things from the internet. The only thing we can “flip on” is the internet stream of NHK World. And we still have basic cable strictly for CBS Sunday Morning. For two people it’s just easier to watch a tv screen. We used a tablet a few times on vacation, and it gets cramped. And with a tv, Marge can work on her embroidery projects at the same time.

    How did you like Boyhood? I haven’t seen it yet.
    Norm recently posted..I Went On Vacation And You Didn’t!: Peru, Part 3My Profile

    • According to Nielsen, owning projectors and watching shows on tablets or computers isn’t counted. The focus of their surveys is really on viewing in “real time” or shortly thereafter via DVR. At least for now. It’s apparently controversial since part of the drop in tv viewing (from 98% to 96.7%) is “blamed” on folks like us, though part was also blamed on the digital signal conversion of 2009 since some poor people couldn’t afford digital antennas or cable and got rid of their tvs after that. But I’m honestly surprised the numbers of people without tvs aren’t higher.

      We were kindof “meh” on Boyhood. Seemed like a neat project, but didn’t seem to come together well to us. At the end I looked at the timer and noted aloud that it read 2 hours and 39 minutes and we both agreed that it felt at least that long. =/

  • We like the notion of no tv and we actually take ours down and put it in the closet when not in use so that it is more deliberate. But it’s nice watching Netflix on the TV, especially with small children at home.

    The point is well taken that you could waste hours mindlessly sitting and watching whatever might be on.
    Danny MoreBucks recently posted..Can a Single Income Family Succeed?My Profile

    • That’s neat that you take yours down and put it away when not in use. I bet that means it doesn’t get used very often since they can be such a PITA to set up!

  • You are right, it’s a little strange not having a TV, but having multiple media devices helps the media consumption cause. I do like the we are the 3.3% Moto, print the t-shirts and start the revolution. But yeah I thought not having cables was weird, but it’s kind of fun being weird.
    Even Steven recently posted..Getting Your Mind Right Blogger or Freelance Part IIMy Profile

  • Like you, we aren’t Amish. We just use our computers and bevy of mobile devices to consume far too many mind numbing cinematic experiences.

    A friend offered us her old TV (only 5-6 years old), but the only spot to put it would have ruined our conversation circle in our living room, so we declined.

    We can’t really watch sports, but we always preferred playing to watching anyhow.

    • Count us in the “prefer to be active” rather than the “watch others be active” category, too. Though the sports we enjoy doing aren’t really spectator sports. =)

  • Ivy

    I am not sure the focus should be whether one uses a TV or a projector or a laptop. The question is more how much you watch, isn’t it?

    We have a small tube TV in the living room that is very convenient for the kids to watch. If you let them watch on the laptop or Kindle Fire, they know how to run one movie after another and if you get distracted they may disappear for hours:-). But they don’t yet know how to use the remote, so we have more control with a proper TV

    And a small flat TV on a kitchen shelf, where my husband is running CNN or BBC on mute all day long. I share a previous poster frustration of having the TV on all the time, but at least it’s without sound, and he is addicted to news. Myself, I don’t watch TV/movies at all.

    But TVs are indeed a convenience for us. I guess we are old fashioned and haven’t figured out how to navigate the brave new world of Internet options:-(

  • I haven’t had a TV in a dozen years either, I watch movies on the computer. It is mostly because I live abroad and I don’t find Guatemalan TV fascinating, and would have to set up satellite TV to get it anyway, not worth the effort. I’d rather watch a one hour show in 40 minutes without the ads.
    In the UK I have to pay a TV license in my rental for about $200 a year which seems super expensive and I am pretty sure no one turns on the TV ever but they say if you watch TV on your computer you have to pay too and they enforce it pretty strictly.
    Pauline recently posted..Getting financially realMy Profile

  • Same here – no TV for the last 4 years. Love it! Every time I write about it though all the guy bloggers protest and tell me they can’t watch football so they could never get rid of it. Luckily hubby survives somehow. 😉

  • We have been without a TV for about 4 years or so? Don’t feel that we miss anything. It’s nice that TV isn’t the focus point in our living room.
    Tawcan recently posted..Tips on dividend investing with Canadian perspectiveMy Profile

  • We have a TV but don’t have cable (we use an antenna… most cities get great free reception!). I’m a local news junkie, and one of my favorite weekday morning splurges is to watch the local Fox affiliate’s “Good Day XXX” while double-tasking with a laptop, all with a cup of coffee in hand. My husband and I rarely watch any other live TV, except for the occasional lazy Sunday where we watch CBS Sunday Morning followed by one of the Sunday morning political round table shows if they have good guests (my husband is a politics junkie).

    We’re big streamers though, and usually watch our shows on Hulu on our TV. I don’t like being “committed” to a TV show, as I like my entertainment on my schedule, so I prefer streaming at a later date.

  • We have a TV in the house, but it won’t likely be hooked up for the first few months at the new house. We’re so tired of my mom’s being on all the time, we’re going to appreciate the quiet! We have it mostly because we like to watch movies as a social occasion, and that’s hard to do on a small laptop screen. It’s certainly not hooked up to cable (although, we did have coax run to the main room for resale value *sigh*). We will also have to mount it above our fireplace, and I’m not in any hurry to do so….
    Mom @ Three is Plenty recently posted..The Costs of Buying and Financing a HouseMy Profile

  • Good for you guys! I know a couple who never got a TV when they got married. They have a laptop that they occasionally watch movies on, but it is a very intentional choice, not mindless prattle because you are bored. I personally would love you do the same (at least for a few years) after I get married.

  • Tarynkay

    We have never had a TV. For the first ten years of marriage, we did not watch any shows or movies at home, either. Then our son was born. Suddenly we were exhausted and also homebound (in the best possible way, but still.) We started watching a lot of Netflix streaming on our computer at that point. Our son is now three and a half. Since we don’t have a TV, its been a lot easier to limit his screen time as well.

  • Wait, what? We live in castles in the clouds? Who knew<!!

    Being old enough to remember when all TV was free and to know that American citizens OWN the freaking airwaves, I have steadfastly refused to pay for cable all my life. When our honored leaders took it upon themselves to force broadcasters to move to HDTV and I could no longer receive PBS (even a good antenna won’t bring it in adequately here), I realized the only thing the TV was good for was to fall asleep in front of. And falling asleep in an easy chair was giving me a crick in the neck.

    It’s been gone for years. Netflix is grand. So are all the other free streaming programs at sites like BBC and waypoints. Why would anyone pay all that money for a jillion channels with nothing on — and full of advertising?
    Funny about Money recently posted..How Old Does a Computer Think You Are?My Profile

  • We don’t currently have a TV but I want one. I don’t need a gazillion channels but I think there are tons of great TV shows on right now (and in recent years). I know some people only watch movies on occasion but I much rather watch TV. It seems like most people replace TV time with computer and/or mobile screen time anyway.

  • Sarah

    Haven’t had a TV for 20 years and don’t feel any lack. It’s funny that some of my coworkers get very defensive on their TV habits when it comes up in conversation.