It’s funny how life works. And by funny, I mean awful. I had been in a long-term relationship, when my partner decided it was time to purchase our first home. A year before I met him, I looked into purchasing my own home because the apartment life had become depressing, but I changed my mind after learning some of the realities of homeownership. That 30-year commitment was real for someone like me who was a recent college graduate with no huge savings for a significant down payment and no generational wealth to assist in a cash purchase.
I also changed my mind because I had a difficult time finding people I could trust during such an important milestone in my life. I went through two uneducated realtors, and confirmed my opinion that most realtors are people who couldn’t succeed at any other profession in life. My mortgage lender treated me as if I didn’t graduate with a finance degree. On my own, I was oblivious to those little nuances that I should have been searching for in a home to ensure that it was built efficiently. Added to that, I resided in a city where just about everywhere was a flood zone, and that flood insurance cost is no joke. Frightened and frustrated, I walked away from it all.
Fast forward a few years later, and I was very apprehensive about purchasing a home with my guy because I felt the timing wasn’t right. I had no intentions of residing in the same city in five years, and I wanted more cushion in my savings account before making such a large down payment. After developing a strategy and getting a bit of reassurance from my guy, we pulled the trigger and made the most expensive purchase of our lives. Four months after we moved, the relationship ended abruptly. My ex got the house while I got a one-bedroom apartment rental.
We both remained on the title of the home since my ex needed to refinance in order for me to be legally disassociated from the home, but he had some financial issues that prevented this from happening. I had this liability hanging over my head knowing that something could happen that would force me to pay a mortgage for a home in which I didn’t live, in a city in which I had no intentions on residing for much longer. There was the risk that he could have just decided to stop making payments, become financially unstable, permanently damaged the property in some way, ruined both of our credits, or just died with no insurance.
Earlier in the year, my ex’s employer transferred his position to another state, and we placed the home for sale. Louisiana’s economy was (and still is) struggling due to the crisis with the oil and gas industry, so I didn’t expect any immediate offers since job layoffs in an essential industry were happening in droves. It sat on the market for about four months until we received a serious offer to get that house off our hands. I cried tears of joy as I signed the agreement to sell, knowing that I would soon be relieved of this 30-year, six-figure burden.
I grinned the entire day of the closing. To say that it was the best day of my life would be an understatement. The feeling of freedom when I walked out of the closing will go unmatched. The only situation that could possibly top it is the feeling of freedom if I got arrested and released from prison after an extended period of time. But I’m not trying to test that theory for truth.
There were so many lessons learned from this – so many teachable moments. At the time, I purchased the home because I had begun to despise the apartment life and also because I thought it was the right thing to do according to society. I allowed myself to fall back and be convinced that it would all be so simple. Homeownership isn’t meant for everyone, and it took a lot of money for me to learn that.
It’s so crazy, though. When I think about the people in my immediate family, only four of the people on my mother’s side of the family are homeowners. My mom didn’t buy her first home until about seven years ago. The numbers for the paternal side of my family is significantly higher. I grew up in a small country city in Louisiana, where homeownership was the furthest thing from a person’s mind in a city where the main jobs were at the nursing home or Walmart.
The burden of homeownership has finally ended for me, and I don’t expect to experience it again until the latter years of life. Even then, I’ll handle the process a bit more strategically and I’ll complete a cash sale rather than financing.
I still remember the gratifying moments of homeownership. Smiling when I applied for my American Express card, and was finally able to check “own” when asked if I rented or owned my home. Shopping around for appliances. That tax deduction. Again, that tax deduction. One more time, that tax deduction. The government sure doesn’t appreciate a childless single person without a home.
Ugh, and I miss my garage! The aqua-color walls with the orange curtains and gold accents. The loud parties. My upstairs makeup and reading room. My magnolia tree. The small garden that I never started. All of that is just a distant memory.
Now, I’m staring at white walls and beige carpet. I hate carpet. Fighting for parking spots. And I wouldn’t trade it for that 30-year commitment again. For me, the cost far outweighs the benefits. I admire all who work diligently and strive for a comfortable home that they can call their own. I don’t share that same aspiration.
Everything now feels like a fresh start. I’m completely unattached to anything, and I feel as though the world is my oyster.
Cheers to tabula rasa.