Right around the time Sunny and I started making real steps toward buying a house (we’ve been homeowners for two and a half years now), I had a meeting with a coworker who had fairly recently adopted a new lifestyle. He had quit his high stress job and started working at Trader Joe’s part time. He talked about how we’re all sold this idea in America that we have to own a house, drive a car, and all that. I mean, you get the point. The American Dream.
Sunny and I have always been trying to figure out our own dream. We never fully bought into the whole suburbs, white picket fence thing, and right when we were letting a little bit of the American Dream into our own lifestyle, here I was being reminded that we don’t have to make the same choices as everyone else. We don’t have to buy a house. I remember thinking something along the lines of: to each his own. We’re not buying into the dream of purchasing the biggest house we can afford, or can’t afford. We just want something small that can be ours. In fact, a lot of houses we looked at only had one bedroom. Our realtor discouraged us from buying such a small house. He said once we started having kids, we’d only want to upgrade. We had no intention of having kids at the time, so we dismissed that helpful suggestion. However, it so happens that the house we bought has two bedrooms. It also happens that we changed our minds about letting an adorable, squooshable, little nugget into our lives. I regret nothing.
That’s an epiphany I had way back in high school that still sticks with me. No regrets. How can I regret a decision I made, when the events following that decision brought me to this point in my life, helped shape me into the person I am today, introduced me to the people who are now such a part of my life? I have no idea where I’d be now if I had taken the hypothetical other path, and even if it turns out that a decision I made led me astray, I can at least say that I learned something from it and I’m not destined to make that sort of bad decision later in life. I’ll still make plenty of bad decisions, but I won’t make that bad decision again, and it’s better that I learned this lesson earlier than later.
So I don’t regret buying a house. Here are a few things that may never have come to pass had we not bought this house:
- We adopted a second dog. While Esmeralda is a huge pain in the butt sometimes, and can be very, very annoying, she is one of the sweetest dogs ever. When she’s annoying, it’s because she wants love and affection constantly. It’s a good reminder to slow down and take some time to enjoy life once in a while.
- We had a baby. I can’t say for certain that we wouldn’t have done this in our studio apartment, but Sunny and I generally agree that having the extra bedroom helped push us in that direction.
- We gardened. It’s nice having your own yard. Home grown tomatoes are the absolute best thing in the world. And being outside is part of what makes life worth living.
- We got a lot of experience working on the house, which I enjoy. I now know how to fix a lot of stuff.
Now here’s why we no longer want to own a house:
- It costs a lot of money. The interest rate, utilities, cost of fixing it up, etc. When we compare it to the $550/month (some utilities included) we were paying for our studio apartment, it seems like a lot. According to Zillow (if we can trust Zillow), our house has increased enough to more than make up for that, but that only helps if we sell the house. Otherwise the house is really worth the same to us now as it was when we bought it: a comfortable place to get away from the elements. I realize we’re more fortunate than others in this respect.
- It takes a lot of time. While I really do enjoy working around the house, fixing things up, I have to ask myself if I enjoy it more than other things. I’ve come to the realization that fixing up a house is a never ending endeavor. Even after I’ve fixed up the entire house, upgrading the kitchen and everything I want to do, I know that I’d start over again re-fixing what I already fixed. That’s the game right? Make it better. And once you’ve made it better, make it better than that. So I can continue with this endless cycle (and again, I do enjoy it, so it’s not as though it’s been a dreadful experience) or I can opt out entirely. I don’t see a middle ground. I have to ask myself which is more important to me, working on a house or reading and writing. I miss reading and writing. I want to make more time for it.
- It anchors us. We like to move around, but selling a house isn’t as easy as renting a new apartment.
As we continue to empty our house, and our lives, of stuff we don’t really need, we’re keeping in mind that we eventually plan to move into a smaller space. Anyone who has ever moved will agree that’s when you realize how much stuff you have. Our mindset is: how much stuff do we want to transport into our next living space, and how much stuff do we expect to be able to fit. And we’re erring on the lighter side.