Buying a home has become a hot topic for quarter-lifers, or at least it has in the hip pocket of the Bible belt. (Okay, really, we’re in the buckle. I just wanted to say hip pocket really badly.) After all, it’s a buyer’s market, or at least that’s what they’re saying on GMA of late, and I’m not gonna lie, that $8500 tax credit sounds pretty sa-weet to me.
Many of my peers are taking the plunge into home ownership. In fact, since the tax credit became available, Mrs. Preppy, Mrs. V, Mrs. B, and Mrs. K Squared have all taken advantage of the benefit and bought their first homes. (Please note that all of the aforementioned friends have their “Mrs.” Cards.) It seems like buying now is the way to go, and I know some singles who have jumped in with all the married couples and made big purchases too. But some other people seem much more hesitant about making the big buy. And by some other people, I mean me.
When the tax credit first became available, my dad, slum lord extraordinaire (aka owner of much rental property), was all over me to take advantage of the deal. Some of my co-workers encouraged me to start the house hunt as well. When I expressed my reservations, one of them said, “Oh, you must not need $8500 then.” Um, no, no, that’s not the case. I always need $8500. But the idea of buying a house…alone…well, it’s just not part of the fantasy. (For more on my unrealistic, juvenile life expectations see this post.) Buying a house by myself just didn’t seem as exciting or meaningful or special as the idea of buying it with a husband (or at the very a least long-term boyfriend) did.
I know, I know. I sound a little, well, pathetic. (Okay, maybe a lot.) But here’s the deal, to me buying a house is: 1) A HUGE commitment; 2) A life change, a new beginning; and 3) A TON of work. In order to conquer all of those things, a partner seems necessary. I know, i still sound pathetic so let’s break down my logic (or lack thereof as the case may be).
1) The Commitment
Despite what you may or may not have inferred from previous blog posts, I’m not a commitment-phobe in general. I think I am responsible and reasonable and I work very hard at keeping the commitments I make to my friends and my self. But committing to a mortgage? Well, that’s a whole other story. First of all, the financial burden completely terrifies me. As we have previously established, I am not a skilled money manager. I know that I could afford to spend more on housing than I currently do, but it seems like all of my money is going other places and I just don’t know how I could redirect it. It overwhelms me. Plus, buying a house seems like the ultimate step in the “settling down” process. Married or not, buying a house is committing to your current location, probably for a while. I really have no intention to move any time in the near future (or probably ever — I’m a total Tulsa hondo) but I enjoy the fact that if I CHOSE to pick up and move at a moment’s notice, I could. (Seriously, I don’t even have a rental lease. I could be out of here in no time flat.)
2) The Life Change
In my mind, buying a new house is a life changing experience. It signifies some kind of new beginning and a definite leap into adulthood. There is something big and important about it. Something that I always imagined I would share with a spouse. Yes, I’m that girl. Buying a house alone just sounds depressing. Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of having more space (I not-so-lovingly refer to my current bedroom as the baby nursery because the only bed that fits in it appropriately would be a crib) and decorating things the way I want to and engaging in a few minor home improvement projects. That all sounds lovely. But it also sounds like something you just don’t do alone. Who wants to nest solo? And, I know this is going to sound really terrible, but it also feels like giving up on finding someone to share your life with. Dramatic, I know. To me buying a house will be a monumental occasion (if/when I ever get around to it) — I won’t be a renter, a transient, a child anymore. I will be an adult and homeowner and a true citizen. And in my head I have always imagined that important step in the American dream being taken with someone. Every body needs support to take the big steps and it seems like this one is being enough that I would need someone to share the burden.
3 The Work
OMG, the work. Let me just tell you what’s been going down at our lovely rental casa: this week our heater broke, we recently discovered that our hot water tank is on its last leg, and there seems to be some sort of roof leak in our dining room, as evidenced by the water streaks running down the wall. Yeah, if I owned this joint, I would be flipping out. I know what you’re thinking — you don’t have to buy that house. You buy a house in better condition. But that’s just it, you never really know the condition. Sure, everything checks out fine, passes inspection, and you think you’re good to go. And two months later, the AC bites the dust. It probably wasn’t foreseeable, it’s just part of the deal. And that part of the deal costs money. Plus, you’ve got to consider property taxes, yard expenses, regular maintenance, insurance, etc. It all adds up financially and in terms of time spent. I currently appreciate the luxury of calling the landlord and having him arrange for things to get fixed, on his dime and on his time. Plus, taking care of a house, no matter house small, and all that it would entail is a lot of work for little ole me. Me, as in the girl who struggles to keep her teeny, tiny bedroom clean and the yard mowed when it is her turn, every third week.
Taking on the responsibility of a house by myself is just more than I am ready for at this point. I love the idea of it and I’m completely jealous of my friends who have recently taken the plunge, but ultimately, it scares the crap out of me. I don’t think that I will always feel this way, with or with a significant other. I know eventually I will take the step and by the house and be a big girl and who knows, I may just decide I can handle it all on my own. But for right now, it definitely isn’t for me and as much as I love to dream of hardwood floors and porch swings, I will continue to be a semi-contented renter. So thanks, but no thanks, Uncle Sam. I really don’t need your $8,500.00.
Have you recently purchased a house? Or though about it? Was it as scary as I have made it out to be or am I just being a big baby?