Ah, home ownership.
This last winter (late 2015) was my second time doing the house-search thing. And while I was distracted and distraught by the lack of homes within my price range that actually have dining rooms (or even a place to put a table — ugh), I was also fighting a fierce anxiety in my head about being a homeowner.
Home ownership entails many-a-things.
And as I kept looking at houses and looking at my lifestyle and my life stage and where I wanted to be, I came across a LOT of reasons why I wasn’t ready to buy a house yet.
Now first, you should note: I’m from the Midwest.
As a generalization, people in the Midwest get married young, buy houses young, start families young and it’s a pretty low cost of living (especially compared to some big cities in the US and Canada). So I'm not crazy when I'm talking about home ownership at 26. It’s the social aspects of growing up here. It’s a real thing.
Related: Choose Your Own Adulthood
Now, I’ve had plenty of back-and-forth conversations (with myself) over the last few years about the pros and cons of home ownership. See here...
...you're the strong, independent type. You can totally own a home by yourself.”
...you can support/afford to buy a house with the right programs, it's no big deal.”
...you don’t have to put your life on hold, waiting to buy a house until after you’re married.”
...there’s no way you can fix something if it breaks.”
...your dad has enough to take care of outside of you needing his handyman and carpentry skills.”
...actually, you can’t afford a whole house buy yourself. Don’t be ridiculous.”
Full disclosure: welcome to my brain.
Most of these things are true. And let’s be honest: those anti-house-buying things matter in my situation.
I’m a single gal with one income, an accident-prone lifestyle (you do not want to see me with a circular saw), and I don’t like bugging my dad asking for his help every step of the way.
The reality: I am not ready to buy a home. And that’s okay. If did decide to buy a home, that’d also be okay. But for now, I’ll choose the perks of renting instead.
Follow my thought process here:
Why I Didn't Buy a House at 26 Years Old
I’d be responsible for a mortgage.
My rent at the time of house searching was only $262.50 (and now it’s just over $300), so the idea of a mortgage three times that amount makes my head spin.
What if something goes wrong?
In addition to being responsible for a mortgage, I’m a planner. I know I’d have to put back some major moolah to pay for any unforeseen expenses or maintenance.
Even underestimating a maintenance budget of $100 is still more than what I’m used to putting back (THINK of all the concerts I could go to each month for $100 a month!).
Also, it takes time out of my schedule to call an electrician, roofers, landscapers, etc. I’d rather not. I like being able to spend my time as I want, and not be at the mercy of a house that could fall apart at any minute.
Do I get roommates?
Even if I had roommates, I don’t want to rely on them paying me their share of rent in order for me to afford the house.
Besides, I’d like the option of only having one roommate, or perhaps living on my own one day. So, as much as having roommates could be a good idea to help pay the bills, it’s not nearly as pragmatic as my personality prefers (ha, alliteration!).
If I can’t pay the whole mortgage by myself, comfortably, it’s not wise for me to get a mortgage.
It takes cash to flip (and furnish) a house.
Even if you’re not flipping a whole house (shout-out to Chip and JoJo on Fixer Upper!), it does take money to tear down walls, get nice appliances — heck, even to buy a new couch! (I don’t own, like, more than a desk, a dresser and a bed, so this house-filling thing would be a task!)
I refuse to take out a loan for home decor, so it’d take me a while to save up the money to really make a house feel like a home. And, I guess I’m just not in a place where that’s where I want to put my money.
It takes time to flip a house.
When I honestly looked at my life, I decided I didn’t want to spend my weekends tearing down walls or removing wallpaper or picking out paint colors.
Someday, I’ll love that. Right now, I love the idea of having my weekends free to do other things.
Call me selfish, cuz I am. I’m selfish with this time I have where home ownership is not on my list of responsibilities. I have the rest of my life to be a homeowner, if I want.
I have chronic indecision and a bad relationship with the Joneses.
If you have a blue watch, I’ll want a blue watch. If you went on vacation to Chicago, I’ll want to go on vacation to Chicago. I’m practically a six-year-old when it comes to making life decisions, okay?
I have friends with a four-bedroom house, others with a cute two-bedroom, another with a condo in downtown Lincoln, and then there’s always the comfort of my parents’ home in small-town Nebraska with its certain slow-paced appeal.
Moral of the story? I don’t know what the heck I want in a house.
Currently, I’d love to never have to maintain a yard. However, living downtown means paying out the wazoo for parking every night, in a parking garage, which is creepy.
So, until I know what I actually want in a home, it’s probably better just to wait it out.
What if I want to move?
Guys, the “wanderlust” is real with >> this one <<. What if I want to live abroad in the French countryside, move to New York City and find Ted Mosby, or hole up in a cabin in the mountains while writing my memoir??! I can’t really do that and have the responsibility of a house on my shoulders.
Theoretical equity isn't worth it for me yet.
As much as I love the idealist part of my brain, it never (read: never) wins out over the rational, number-crunching part of my brain.
The equity I’d build from having a mortgage would be nice, but perhaps not nice enough to calm my fiscally-responsible-self down, especially when I consider all that could go wrong with a house.
So as much as I’d like to think I could find a house in Lincoln, with great natural sunlight, a manageable-sized yard, close to work, with a reasonable mortgage payment and roommates who live there with me years and years and love trips to the farmer’s markets on Saturdays — I couldn’t get over the fact that I’d be responsible for at least $800 a month. And that’s for a $100,000 home (the housing market is doing me no favors right now, either).
That’s just more than my personal budget could handle on its own.
Related: Perks of Paying Off Debt Fast
In the end, the idealist in me that wants the intangible benefits of owning a home — like having a permanent address, staying put for years, building equity, building long-term relationships with my neighbors, being able to go all Joanna Gaines decorating a place, hosting guests, and the works — will just have to wait.
Until the scale tips in my rationally-brained favor in most of these reasons for not buying a house yet, I’m better off renting. Renting has its perks. And so does home ownership, I’m sure. But, until then, I’m cool where I am.
Your friend in shameless renting,
What was the "yes, I'm ready to buy a house" moment you experienced?
Or, if you're like me, what are the big factors keeping you from purchasing a house right now?
Related: Choose Your Own Adulthood