Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Homeowning: The Pros & Cons

Last Spring we asked my friend to help us find a house.  Three months, a few screaming matches, and four rejected offers later we found our humble abode.  It was a little further away from our ideal location. But it cost less, has more space, and has better renovations than some of the other places we considered. It also doesn't hurt that we live ten minutes away from my favorite store.  Wegmans. Yes.  My favorite store is a grocery store because I am hungry...all the time.

Around July 22, Ben and I celebrated the one-year anniversary of us closing on our first home.  Around this time last year, we sat in a room for about two hours signing our names over and over again, sometimes reading the fine print, and then I handed over a check with what seemed like a billion zeros written down for our down payment. 

Now that we've had a mortgage for a year, I've decided that home owning is...a nice idea.  But it's not the BEST idea.  Here are my pros and cons, with a few of Ben's mixed in.

The early days of our living room.

Pro:  Owning a home allows you to change anything you don't like.  It's nice to be able to paint or build something without worrying about changing it back to its original state before moving out.  

Con: Except....sometimes you do have to change it back.  We're not planning on selling our place for a LONG TIME. But it's not unheard of for home sellers to have to make a thousand changes to their houses before they put it on the market. Potential sellers repaint, re-mulch, re-sand, re-do floors/cabinets/crown molding...the list really can go on...to give their place the best chance at selling for the highest amount.  
Furniture shopping at Home Goods.

Pro:  Tax Breaks.  The government gives you money because you decided to buy good ol' 'Merican property.

Con:  But owning home is still kind of expensive.  The outflow of cash doesn't stop after the down payment. I feel like five minutes after I wrote that check with all the zeros, we had to write a lot more smaller checks for things like turning on our water, and other random things that you forget to Google when you're researching "how to buy a home." Also, because we have more rooms and wanted to get out of the whole "We have crap furniture stage!" we had to invest in a few nice pieces of furniture.  Our place isn't completely furnished or decorated.  We've decided to take the "scenic route" when it comes to furnishing our place.  The "scenic route" involves slowly saving up money for things we really want while continuing to admire the beauty of a few blank walls and the "man cave" that still houses one of the couches our cat destroyed.

Pro:  We have outdoor space! For four years we rented an apartment that had a nice little balcony.  Now, we live in a house with a two-level deck.  And because stuff is expensive, only the top level is outfitted with seating, lighting, plants and a grill. And since Mother's Day we've been spending as much time as we can eating, reading, and hosting our deck.  We also have a tiny backyard, that we ended up tearing up and adding two raised beds for some tomatoes, some [maybe] dead green beans, and some zucchini plants that were destroyed by squirrels.

Before we added the raised beds

Con:  We have yard work and have to fix stuff (or pay for it to get fixed).  SnapChat is the social media platform I use the most. And if you follow me on there, then you'd think my second favorite store was Home Depot. It's not, but as a new home owner you find yourself there if not every weekend, every other weekend, or at least once a month buying stuff to help you hammer, nail, rake, mow, drill weed-wack, dig, shovel...etc.  Our previous owners apparently LOVED flowers.  We thought we did, too. Then we realized that maintaining a huge bed of flora in our front yard required lots and lots of time.  And then sometimes stuff breaks or doesn't look right. It's in those moments when we have to decide whether we're going to fix it, or just tell people: "Yes, that's the front part of the silverware drawer on the kitchen floor."  

The moment we realized our $200 Nest Thermostat was NOT compatible with our house.

Pro (I Guess):  Believing that this will all pay off.  I've always thought long-term.  I like planning things, like vacations, book club meetings, my next meal.  So I guess I get more excited thinking about the fact that we already have some equity, so ideally we'll be able to take that and whatever we save over the next few years and use it to buy our second house. 

One year in, I can't say I'm 100 percent SOLD on the idea of BUYING a home (hehehe). It is really nice to have our own larger space and property that we seem to have a lot of control over.  It makes me feel very adult. 

It's also comforting to know that our "rent" isn't going to go up this year!! When we lived in our apartment, the rent increased by about $50 every year because why not!