To Become A Home Owner Or Not? That Is The Popular Question For Millennials
Owning a home is a life milestone many young people are proud to accomplish, broadcasting to their family and friends that they are now adults — posting pictures on social media holding their shiny set of keys and taking selfies with their mortgage brokers along with their signed documentation that this house is theirs.
At a time when we are trying to figure ourselves out personally and especially professionally, is owning a home the ultimate signification of adulthood? And if it is, does that mean we should do it?
I don’t believe it to be, and I don’t think we should do it unless we are more than prepared (in every way a person can prepare for such a huge personal and financial commitment). I have a different take on home ownership than those who can’t wait to proclaim to the world: “This is my home!” and have no desire to call myself a home owner. I am a New Yorker in every sense other than the subtle fact that I don’t actually reside in New York City.
I rent. Everyone in New York rents.
Unless you gave the previous home owner $400,000 (or whatever “your” home is valued at) in cash, that house isn’t yours. That house is the bank’s house, and will be until you pay it off.
My Recent House Hunting Experience Wasn’t Fun
A few weeks ago, my fiancè and I looked for a house together in Columbus, Ohio, to which I was less than thrilled as we bounced from one — in my viewpoint — unlivable house to the next.
After peeking my head into the third house of what I considered to be part of an unfit neighborhood, I realized he was putting me through this agony on purpose. He chose these “below budget” homes to trudge me through to prove a point. He did the same thing when we moved from Chicago to Lexington, which back then he referred to the experience as “being financially creative.” He wanted to make certain I knew we would not be living in the all-glass penthouse I like to dream of envisioning us residing in. So by showing me the complete opposite end of the spectrum, I just might me happy with the place we end up with.
And because he is the CFO of our household, I typically don’t question major financial decisions as I trust — not to be confused with “enjoy” — his (very) conservative take on money. I am the CEO, more than happy to separate myself from any and every financial woe that life may stow upon us.
Out of sight, out of mind, if you will.
Conversing back and forth over whether to rent or buy, I, of course, was on team rent, advocating for the lux condos with excellent quality furnishings, superb safety factors and open concept layouts, selling the idea based off the many things that makes renting great, including knowing the exact amount of what to owe every single month. There are no surprises. If something goes wrong in the house, this is not our responsibility. Someone simply takes care of it — no charge and no fuss for us. And that is attractive to me.
A Buyer’s Mindset Differs Greatly From a Renter’s
In addition to the financial end of buying a house, I am mentally unprepared to become a buyer.
I view becoming a first-time home owner the same as becoming a first-time mother. You don’t just become a home owner when you buy a house, and you don’t just become a mother when you have a baby. In the case of becoming a buyer instead of a renter, you are now an interior decorator, a gardener, a handy-woman, a human alarm system (I do miss my doorman days), and a person who needs to decide on whether they are an indoor or outdoor plant person.
These are the pitfalls, in my opinion, of becoming a buyer. I flashbacked to those new mom moments where I transitioned into a wife, a house cleaner, a nurse and a stay-at-home mom, all overnight.
And, if I’m being honest (when am I not, really?), I don’t yet feel like an actual adult.
No matter what blazer I throw on or what “mom” dish I cook for dinner, I still don’t feel like a grown-up. Is it because the tags on most of my clothes still say XS? Is it because I’m not involved in important meetings with CEOs in high rises? I don’t know. All I know is that I do not feel like an adult yet, and buying a house would mean I was lying. And I don’t like to lie.
I have yet to pull the trigger on a pair of gently used Gucci gold loafers, at the reasonable price of $545 — something I believe to be a smart and viable investment guaranteed to bring happiness, confidence and seasonal dressing satisfaction for years to come.
I cannot say the same about buying a house. Until that day comes, I will stick with purchases I can mentally justify — purchases cushioned safely in my comfort zone.
Moving cities, much like childbirth, is emotionally traumatizing. While I am excited to move to a place that is more urban, more supportive and appreciative of diversity, and much more welcoming than Lexington has ever fared, moving to a new place is always a little bit scary.
I have high hopes the people of Columbus will welcome my New York fashion taste the way my real home, Chicago had.
Don’t let me down, Columbus. I’ll be nice to you if you’re nice to me.
All of this to say Jake and I have compromised on the renting vs. buying battle. We are renting a house. He gets his house, and I get to keep my renter status.
In the words of a well-versed real estate agent, we will be residing in a desirable neighborhood fit for “walkability.”
Thanks for reading!