[Part of my mission to “live deliberately” involves ruthlessly cutting out anything that saps my time, energy or money to no good end. I’m calling these things my “Quits,” and this is one of the many items that have found themselves on my Quits List.]
Witness: the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Two weeks ago, we got a letter from our homeowner’s insurance informing us that our entire roof needs to be replaced or we won’t be able to renew our coverage in the fall. Last week, we had a slew of contractors out to give estimates, and on Friday, I mailed in a written agreement to the contractor we’d chosen so we could schedule the start of the project.
The next morning, I woke up to find that our kitchen ceiling had split in half and was doing a fair imitation of Niagara Falls. And, as an emergency repairman from our new contractor (note: solid choice in contractor!) patched the leak on the roof to hold us over till a new one could be put on, the husband and I both watched as our ceiling did a slow-mo “it’s gonna collapse I know it’s gonna collapse aaaaand there it goes!” freefall.
This is clearly one of the larger downsides of owning a home, but for us, it was the last one.
We’ve known for a while now that buying a house was a colossal mistake on our part. We did it because we were newly engaged, and that’s just the next step you take when you’re an adult. But since the husband’s health has declined and we’ve lost half our income, it’s become abundantly clear that the whole “renting is pouring money into other people’s pockets” thing is a load of crap—at least for us.
So it is with heavy heart that we’re beginning to discuss the ins and outs of selling our little starter home.
Why Renting Makes Infinitely More Sense
Sure, if you plan on staying in a house for the full 30(+) years it takes to pay off a mortgage, then maybe it’s a “good investment.” You’ll have equity and all that shite. But we never intended this to be any more than a starter home, and now that it’s clear that owning a house is the absolute worst thing for us, financially and day-to-day-life-wise, the concept of an “investment” is a moot point.
We don’t have the money it takes to pay for incidental repairs, or the physical capacity it takes to maintain a house on our own. The husband can maybe help me out with a load of dishes for 10 minutes, but he has to set a timer or else he’ll be in too much pain from standing for so long. Now that we’re both home full-time, we’re managing to keep our yard from looking like the overgrown condemned house on the street, but barely.
We are not the kind of people for whom home ownership is, by and large, rewarding. And, we simply can’t afford it anymore.
For the amount of money we currently pay for our mortgage and utilities, we could get an apartment with the exact same amount of square footage (we have two half-floors right now that we rarely even use) and the much-needed benefit of knowing we’ll never have to mow a lawn, snowblow a driveway, or pay for a leaky faucet again. Just coming to this realization, as we studied the gaping maw that used to be our kitchen ceiling, lifted a weight off my shoulders I hadn’t realized had been there.
We’ve got a few things to get in order first, so sale isn’t imminent, but it will be happening. We’re thinking it would be smart to list in the spring, because it’s easier to sell a house in warm weather and because then we can take advantage of a new garage sale season to have a giant moving sale and get rid of all the stuff we won’t need once we go into an apartment.
Nonetheless, the decision has been made. I’ve got a year left with my little house before it’s time to say goodbye.
What Sucks About All This
All in all, I’m beyond relieved to be getting rid of this responsibility (and money-suck). But, as with any Quit, there are some things about it I’ll have to come to terms with—some I’ll come to terms with after a while, others not so much.
We’d just (apart from the jerk roof) gotten our house to the point where everything was the way we wanted it. After 6 years, we’d done many of the major repairs (goodbye, indoor/outdoor carpeting in the kitchen!) we wanted to do, and I even just this month finally finished turning my monstrosity of a front yard into the patio/minimalist “garden” (3 shrubs and 2 flowers) I’ve longed to make it after many summers of shame each time I pulled up to our house.
For the first time in 6 years, I can walk through every room of our house (except the husband’s man cave and tool area in the basement, which I pretend don’t exist) and feel 100% content with the way things are, no further changes needed.
And now it’s time to go.
Well, one year from now—but still, it’s bittersweet.
But the worst by far is that most apartments don’t accept pets. We have two dogs—a 60-pound lab and a 15-pound terrier. I am stupidly fond of them, and they are my babies. With a lot of hunting and sweet talk, I’m hopeful that we can find a place that will take the terrier. But the lab (who is the sweetest, most ridiculously docile animal you will ever find) will probably have to go live with Cordelia’s Mom.
This is not nearly as bad as having to give her away to strangers or turn her over to a shelter, I know, but it’s certainly not good. Imagine you had no choice but to downsize, and the only way you could do it was by giving away one of your kids. Not cool, and not at all an easy pill to swallow. Every time she wags her tale at me, I want to punch myself in the face.
At least I’ve got some time to reconcile myself to this Quit, which is good, because it’s not going to be an easy one.
I’ve already spent the last few days since we made this decision alternately wandering from room to room sighing at how cute things are and staring sadly at my dog until she probably thinks I’m a psycho.
I know we’re making the right decision, but unlike other Quits I’ve done because I really, deep-down wanted to, this one is half-want-to, half-forced. And the repercussions are a bit heavier than just admitting I like Maroon 5 or being better about my email habits.
We are making the right decision. I know that. But the right decision isn’t always the easy one. And while I’m normally the one telling you to buck up and work with that, I’m going to be off telling myself that for a little while…
Where do you stand on the whole own vs. rent debate? (Words of wisdom and perspective also accepted.)
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