As a fan of HGTV and all things home, when my husband and I were shopping for our house, I naturally had a carefully crafted list of must haves. Things like a brick exterior, tree-lined streets, room to expand when needed, and proximity to a train line were all important to us, and other than a fireplace, we got everything we asked for. Despite essentially having our dream house, there's still days where I wish we hadn't even bothered.
I acknowledge that it seems like I'm being the worst kind of privileged millennial, complaining about a blessing, something that many people dream of. Yet, owning a home and the kind of stresses that comes with it sometimes makes me yearn for the easy days of renting.
For us, being renters allowed for a more transient lifestyle. Roommates would come in and out of our lives, and we were given the opportunity to take long trips away. Being renters for us was less like having a home and more like having a home base, a place to put our things so we could go out on adventures. It's that kind of free-spiritedness I sometimes miss.
When we were renters, we used to bemoan the lack of flexibility with decor. If we wanted to paint, we'd have to do so knowing that when we moved, we'd likely have to pay to get it back to some mundane version of taupe.
Even so, there was something freeing about painting a rented space because we knew we'd only have to put up with it for a couple years at most. I made bolder design choices because of the temporary nature of renting. Hanging weird and large pictures didn't bother me because we could just spackle over the spots before we left.
Now, as an owner, the whole house is painted a basic light grey, like almost every other home that we go into, because it's clean and simple, and I know it will still look good 10 years from now when we still live here.
The decision to hang artwork is also fraught with potential problems. Even if we spackle and fix misplaced holes, the colour will never again match the rest of the previously painted walls. Staring at that shiny patch will bug me to the point of needing to bust out the paint cans and redo an entire room.
For us, to own is to care, often too much. While I love talking about and planning the future of our building with my husband, it does suck up a lot of time. House work in general becomes a bit of a time void, where we continually put energy in only to have it disperse and need more.
Just the general amount of maintenance and repairs destroys any free time we have. During the first winter in our house, our boiler, which must have been held together with duct tape and prayers, died during a particularly harsh cold spell. We've since had to replace our washer and dryer for similar reasons, and we're currently in the market for a toilet that actually flushes and a stove that gets above 300 degrees.
Basic home repairs that used to be the responsibility of a landlord or rental company are now ours, and the cost adds up. That beautiful brick building we longed for needs some pointing, which is where they fill in the gaps between the brick and mortar. Thousands of dollars also will be needed to trim back and maintain our front tree and potentially fix any damage to our sewer caused by rogue roots.
Compounded with increasing property taxes, of which my state of Illinois has the highest in the country, and owning a home can sometimes feel overwhelming.
Owning is about giving up time that we sometimes don't want to relinquish, and money we may not have.
Yet, we stay. We bought because we want our son to grow up here, to have a childhood home where he can walk to school. We bought because we wanted an investment in our futures and to cement our lives somewhere that we feel passionately about. At the end of the day, we want a home, not just a home base to dump our things, and the cost for now is worth it.