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Lauren: Our House Is Not Forever


Buying a home, no narratives attached

by Lauren Fitzpatrick, Writing Intern

Lauren: Our House Is Not Forever | A Practical Wedding

In Bolivia, we bought a hammock. It was a frivolous purchase; we had precious space to spare, six weeks of travel ahead of us, and no house to hang it in. “Someday, we’ll be able to hang this in our backyard,” Jared said, as he rolled it tightly and shoved it into the bottom of his backpack. “When we have a house.”

“Yes,” I agreed. “Someday.”

I’d always wanted a hammock. It had been romantic, walking into the shop and debating the merits of green versus black. Is it sturdy? we asked, in broken Spanish and elaborate hand gestures. Yes, yes, very strong, the woman assured us. I liked the idea of filling our someday-house with meaningful items from our travels, and a hammock seemed like the perfect place to start. It was a suggestion of future plans without the real-life commitment of a mortgage. I’d always wanted a hammock, but I’ve never actively wanted a house.

Eight months later, we moved into our rental apartment. It’s small, but there’s a balcony and it only takes me ten minutes to walk to the beach. That is a luxury I never thought I’d have—ten minutes of walking from my parents’ house would get me halfway to Target, not the Pacific. Jared jokingly hung our hammock on the wall, using two existing hooks.

“That is so not where the hammock is going to live,” I warned.

But the hammock is still there; I don’t even see it anymore. We store hats in it, easy to grab as we go out the front door on the way to the beach, the grocery store, work. Sometimes visitors point it out, our one-dimensional hammock-as-wall-decoration. Is that a hammock? they ask.

“Oh, that,” we say. “We bought it in Bolivia. Jared carried it all the way to Ecuador in his backpack. Someday, we’ll hang it up. After the wedding, when we buy a house.”

Then our landlord gave us three months’ notice. His son was moving back to town and needed the apartment.

“Well,” Jared said. “Maybe this is the kick we need to buy a house.”

Not that I really wanted a kick, but there it was. Buying a house was no longer in the hazy fringe of “someday,” it was now. And that freaked me out. For over ten years, I’ve built an identity as Woman Who Travels. Travelers have no business buying houses! Most people sell their stuff and quit their jobs so they can travel the world, not the other way around. It felt like we were throwing in the towel and joining the rat race, that choosing to buy a house meant shutting the door on other options.

We started looking at houses online, calling banks, making casual inquiries to our mortgage-saddled friends about which affordable neighborhoods might be a good match for us. (I’ll give you a tip: not one of them is a ten-minute walk from the beach.) I grieved the inevitable loss of our prime location, affordable to rent but impossible to buy. I let Jared take the lead, wondering why I was going along with this when I didn’t really care about buying a house, when I’d be happy enough to rent for the foreseeable future.

Logically, I knew why we were buying a house. It wasn’t to have a forever home or because we felt like it was the next step. It’s because we had a comfortable deposit put away, and buying a house in this part of Australia is a fairly safe bet. The plan was to spend a couple of years paying down the mortgage, then re-evaluate what we want to do. I’d met people in the past who were traveling purely on the rental income from their property investments, and Jared and I always talked about how one day, if we played our cards right, we could do that too. The world was still our oyster; we weren’t trading in our passports for a lawn mower and a walk-in pantry.

But my inner voice was pacing back and forth, panicked. A house is forever, it said. Buying a house is serious. Every time someone expressed excitement that we were house hunting, I wanted to check their enthusiasm. Yes, we’re buying a house, but that doesn’t mean we’re settling down. We’re not doing that thing that everyone thought we’d do one day: getting the travel out of our systems and behaving like sensible adults who make choices you can relate to.

It’s like the feeling of fear you get when you’re standing at the edge of a dizzying height: What if my body suddenly throws itself over? You know that it won’t happen, but the terror is there, the possibility. I harbor a fear that buying a house will rush us into a life we didn’t sign up for, that ten years from now we’ll still be living there, swinging in our hammock, wondering where the years went.

To many people, a house represents security and comfort. To me, it stood for stagnation and immobility, two things I have worked very hard to avoid. I hear too many people use the phrase “I wish I had…” and I’m terrified of one day using it myself. Even though our motivation for buying a house wasn’t to live in it until the end of our days, I found it impossible to disentangle our intentions from society’s message about house buying. It felt like buying a house meant buying the cultural narrative that came with it.

And then there was the fact that for the price of a starter house in Australia, we could buy a modest mansion in the Midwest (never mind that I don’t want to live in the Midwest, the comparison was still there). We made an offer on a three-bedroom on a narrow block in an allegedly soon-to-be-trendy neighborhood, which means that it’s still just a little bit on the industrial side of pretty. The house is yellow weatherboard and has a green roof. It sort of looks like something you could buy at IKEA, if IKEA sold houses-in-a-box. When our offer was accepted, I felt for a second like someone had turned on the screen lock to my life. This was it: my job, this city, that suburb. Locked in.

“Hey Jared,” I asked, as we lay in bed that night. “Why do you want to buy a house?”

I had asked him once before, months ago. He’d told me that he was tired of paying rent. That he wanted to have a garden. That it would become a useful asset in the future, whatever we decided to do. Now that it was real, now that we were actually buying a house, I thought I’d better ask him again, to make sure that he wasn’t approaching this purchase in a totally different way than I was.

“I was tired of paying rent,” he said. “And I wanted a garden.”

I nodded my head, even though the room was dark. It was the answer I’d expected; we were still on the same page. And I understood why I was on board, despite my resistance. I didn’t necessarily want to buy a house, but I didn’t not want to. When I fought through my angst about leaving the beach and stopped making pointless comparisons to the Midwest, what I found was the truth: my instinct is telling me that this is the right move for us.

I’d forgotten my conviction that life does not sweep us along in its current; we always have the option of paddling in the direction we choose. So we will set up our hammock, with its reminders of Bolivia, and celebrate the knowledge that when we’re ready to explore the world again, we will. But in the meantime, it’s totally okay to stay in one place for a while, because that, too, is a form of exploration.

Lauren Fitzpatrick

Lauren graduated from Indiana University with no idea of what to do next, so she got a working holiday visa for Ireland. Over the next ten years she worked her way around the world, picking up a Master’s in travel writing and an Australian fiancé along the way. She is now based in Newcastle, Australia, and still doesn’t understand what “settling down” is supposed to mean.

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  • Ellen

    We closed on our house the week before Christmas. We weren’t necessarily actively looking for a house, but when this one came on the market I knew it was the right house for us. Even knowing that, I second-guessed our decision every step of the way, right up until going to sleep in the house that first night. Now that we are a few months into living in our house, I can’t even imagine going back to our apartment. Something about our house, our first place that *we* picked out, rather than one of us moving into, just feels so right. And seeing the various plants finally come up in our garden makes us giddy with joy.

  • Anne

    This is so timely! We just had an offer accepted on a house (the inspection is tomorrow), and I KNOW it’s not forever — I’m in grad school, and we’ll almost certainly not end up in the town we’re now living in. But I, too, am sick of paying rent for an acceptable apartment with a great location. I’m a bit sad to give up our current location and move to a less convenient part of town, but I really, really can’t wait to live somewhere where I can paint the walls colors other than white, or not have to worry every time I put up a picture whether our landlord will give us our security deposit back. Plus, after three different apartments in three different cities, my husband and I are really excited to live somewhere (slightly) more permanent, even if it’s only for the next four years.

    • Ann

      We seem to be living nearly identical lives…. I also just had an offer accepted on a house, for the next four years while in grad school, in a less convenient part of town.

      What I am most looking forward to is having our own space. No more sharing walls/ceilings/floors with other people! We close on June 18th!

    • Lisa

      My fiancé is planning to begin work on his doctorate next year, and I’m trying to convince him that investing in a house for three years and renting it out after we move away is a better choice than paying rent for the next few years. I’d rather get a return on my money than continue to pay it out in rent. (I’d also like to have a place where I can have a patio with a barbecue!)

      • Anne

        Wow, what kind of doctorate takes three years :-) ? We’ve been here for two, and expect to be for four more (minus a year for me, doing research abroad). That was basically our thinking about why to buy a house, though — we’ll be here long enough that it’s financially worth it, and then you can paint your walls and have your own outdoor space!

        • Lisa

          Music! The coursework is done in 2ish, and most people take a third or fourth year to prepare for exams, finish recitals, and write the dissertation, but once the coursework is done, we can go wherever we want.

          After years in a big city, if I’m going to move to this small city about which I’m not terribly thrilled, then dammit I want a grill! :)

          • Anne

            Ha, I’m doing a doctorate in musicology, but it’s a PhD, not DMA. We’ve got plenty of those around too…

          • Lisa

            Yeah, that will definitely do it! We’re both performance majors so his is the DMA.

        • KH_Tas

          Many/most Australian doctorates are 3 – 3.5 years: mine is slated at 4 tops

  • Casey Fitzsimmons

    That is exactly how I felt about having a baby. But now that I have a baby, I’m still me. We’re still we. We just have a little love nugget along with us for the ride, and much like before, that ride involves traveling and spontaneity and making “that’s what she said” jokes. Major life changes like buying a house or having a kid don’t have to mean that you fundamentally change who you are; they just give your existence another dimension.

    • Alyssa M

      I always have this gut feeling that taking on responsibilities (like houses and babies and, oh, say, marriage) doesn’t mean you have to give up your life, just maybe change the way you go about it… but then I don’t have any of those responsibilities yet, and so many people who do say things like “camping trips just aren’t possible for me, I’ve got the kids.”

      It’s nice to hear from somebody who is there and says “we just have a little love nugget along with us for the ride” that’s how I feel it should be…

      • Lian

        My parents took me and my brother camping lots of times when we were kids! Granted, I ate some rocks during those, but that hasn’t harmed me… And I always loved it. So camping + kids is definitely a possibility!

      • Meg Keene

        It totally can be that way. Which isn’t to say responsibility doesn’t change you, it does. But you still get to choose how you live your life.

        • Alyssa M

          I have to say, the way you talk about life with your kid is another example that gives me some hope that I’m not totally wrong about how having a kid changes things.

      • Shotgun Shirley

        I’m working on my case to my husband that we can camp with a 5 month old this fall. (For our friend’s wedding, eee!)

        • Jenny

          If it helps, my parents took me camping when I was 6 weeks old! I turned out fine and still love camping!

    • http://brokensaucer.blogspot.com/ sera

      Casey, your comment is really encouraging. As I was reading through this essay, (which I loved), I kept thinking that I never have questioned buying a house. I always knew I would buy a house and that it’s only as permanent as you make it. We’ve lived in our house for three years now and despite it’s own money pit issues, I still know it was a good decision. Kids on the other hand, there’s no selling the kids if you change your mind (not that I’d want to, but you know what I mean). When I think of kids, I think of the bottomless pit of money, impossible work limitations, sleepless nights, and the idea that I’ll never ever travel anywhere again (back to the bottomless pit of money). I really hope that I will feel more like you when I do have a kid.

      • Dawn

        What helps me adjust to the fact that–if all goes well–we’re having our first baby this fall is that I spent 7 years getting my PhD and survived with my identity intact. Maybe this sounds crazy to some, but seriously– that dissertation kept me up all night and wore me out in so many ways. It also a bit of a money-pit. Also, it never once smiled at me or did anything that made me love it. Even though our little alien has had me throwing up and miserable, I just try to remember that in 7 years, I’ll have a whole new set of problems and joys.

    • http://www.lateralmovements.com/ Lauren Fitzpatrick

      This totally nails a part of why I’m not sure I want kids – I find it encouraging, too!

  • InTheBurbs

    This! We close on our house in just over a month, and by purchasing a home at the low end of our budget will still be able to take the trips we’ve been talking and dreaming about. And…we get to have fur babies and a garden!

  • Allison

    I struggled with this a lot too. It made the most sense to buy in our little town – our mortgage payment is actually less that renting. But this seemed really HUGE. And it happened fast… I felt like we went to an open house, then I spun in circles for a minute, and then we owned a house. But after the initial shock wore off I realized I completely love it. After living in 12 different dwellings in 8 years, it was kind of comforting to know my mail will be coming here for the foreseeable future. And I realized that we can still travel, explore or even move… we just have a home base to tag when we need something familiar.

    • http://andshelovesyou.com/ Lucy

      This is us too. Our mortgage payment is easily half of what a lot of people in Atlanta pay to rent, because we made a really quick move and bought a house right before the market really started to turn back up. Wouldn’t change a thing.

      • Class of 1980

        Atlanta is one of those cities where buying is much cheaper than renting.

        There is a map online somewhere where you can see what areas of the country are cheaper to buy and what areas are cheaper to rent, and everything in between.

        I’m in the mountains north of Atlanta, and Atlanta is even cheaper to buy than here! We are also technically cheaper to buy, but not like Atlanta. The closer you get to the city, the more astonishing the houses become in affordability. Ever noticed how many HGTV House Hunter shows are set in Atlanta?

    • http://thescienceoffood.info/ Cassandra

      On the flip side, I am really eager to buy a home, but in Montreal, rent is dirt cheap, and buying is pricey. We’re talking $600 a month to rent a large 2-bedroom in a desirable central neighborhood that would cost $250,000 to buy. It’s hard to justify buying here. Go Figure.

      Unless of course we sink our cash into a duplex or triplex and rent out the other units, which is really common here.

  • May

    My husband and I have always lived separate nomadic lives – neither of us put down roots until we met each other. We bought an apartment and planned where we would be in five years time. We would get to know our neighbours, our kids would grow up in a quiet, stable environment. It felt nice at first, but then after a little while, the stability started to feel a little bit chafey, like pants that are a bit too tight. Then, we decided to travel the world for six months. So we did – we are in month #4 now. During this trip we have talked over our previous Grand Plan and challenged ourselves to be really honest with each other. What we have realised is – we thrive on change, on movement. It is as necessary to us as breathing. So we will still buy a family house and have children – but the house might be in Singapore and the children might end up going to school in the UK. It goes back to a theme I have seen so often on APW – we thought that marriage came with a set list of things that we “had” to do. In reality, it has set us free.

    • Bindi

      This is a great example of the marriage setting you free concept…!!

  • Sara

    I’m doing a 2nd look at a condo this week that I’m seriously considering buying, and this is pretty much the same way I feel (except for the awesome hammock. I don’t have the space for one of those). I’m terrified that by buying a place, I’m subjecting myself to the idea of permanence. But on the other hand, its a short sale in a popular area and will be easy to turn over or rent when the time comes.

    And this. Yes.
    “It’s like the feeling of fear you get when you’re standing at the edge of a dizzying height: What if my body suddenly throws itself over? You know that it won’t happen, but the terror is there, the possibility.”

  • lady brett

    “We’re not doing that thing that everyone thought we’d do one day: getting the travel out of our systems and behaving like sensible adults who make choices you can relate to.”

    excepting the travel, which we never did, this is *exactly* how i felt when, in 3 1/2 years, we bought a house, got married, and had kids.

  • http://www.piercedwonderings.com/ Jen Alex

    We’re at this stage. For the longest (even up until a week ago), I was saying, we’re not ready to buy a house -content to rent the house we’re in because it’s easy and it’s 6 blocks from the beach – and we don’t have a down payment saved and we don’t know what my job is going to do. But Friday night my sweet husband told me that our landlord said the property owner wants to sell, are we interested? And the price is definitely right. Could be really, really right depending on the home inspection and if we can qualify for a mortgage (and if we can’t because we’ve been outstanding tenants for 3 years, the owner may be willing to do owner financing for a year).

    So now I’m panicked but coming around. We won’t be stuck in this house. It’s not forever. Because we’re in a military town and rental property is in demand, it’s a good investment for us for the long-term.

    I’m warming up to the idea but there’s still a pit in my stomach about the whole thing.

    • allie

      Good luck! we bought something very quickly about a year and a half ago. We had buying as a “sometime in the future but definitely not yet” timeframe. And then our landlord put his house on the market so we knew we’d better start looking at other rentals. We happened to find a charming house in our neighborhood for sale and before we knew it we had put in an offer on it. It was such a whirlwind, and we kind of thought we were crazy for jumping at the whole thing instead of just moving and finding another rental. I wouldn’t recommend our approach necessarily, but sometimes stars just align and good opportunities present themselves, and it made sense from a long of angles. A year and a half out? We’re still happy we did it! Fingers crossed everything works out if you move in it.

    • anon

      You’re actually in a great position as current renters, since you’re likely to be more aware of any flaws/issues than the owner (and can ask the inspector about them). Owner financing can be great — it’s how I bought my first house, which I’m now selling (akkk!) — and is often a good deal for the owner, depending on current bank rates and what s/he wants the money for (it won’t work if owner wants it for a down payment, but if it’s been an investment, it can continue to be one). Good luck!

  • http://3upadventures.com Beth

    Lauren,

    My husband and I bought a house in Idaho three and half years ago. It was an exciting thing to have and putter around with. We traveled while we lived there albeit not internationally because we were paying the house off in two years. Once the house was paid off, we put it up for sale, packed up and traveled like gypsies.

    I miss my house. We’re trading in our nomad ways to stay near family and save up to build our next home in the spring. (I’m still looking for work in Oregon or online-remote if anyone knows of any!) I miss having a cozy place to return to when our travels are done. As much as I love travel, I also love having a place to call home. Plus, if you own a place, you can leave all your stuff unpacked when you go away for awhile! That mortgage still has to be paid! :-)

    And that house in Idaho that we sold? It gave us the foundation for building our next house in Colorado. It sounds like you bought a really affordable house and aren’t breaking the bank so congratulations!
    You’ll do fine.

    P.S. Colorado to Australia house trade in a couple of years?

    • http://www.lateralmovements.com/ Lauren Fitzpatrick

      Um, totally. Jared and I were just talking about Colorado, actually. FATE.

      • http://3upadventures.com Beth

        Done. Well, as soon as we get a house built anyway.

  • Fay

    Seriously APW, get out of my head. We just literally backed out of our contract we had on a house that was to be the place “we raise our baby family and in the not to distant future raise our children in” last night due to my husband unexpectedly being laid off. I go between unbearable sadness and fury at my husband’s company for pulling some shady contract maneuvering that cost my husband not only his job but our new home as well.

    I try to keep telling myself that it was just a house and that there are plenty of places to live, but when you live in one of the most expensive rental markets in the country it’s a hard pill to swallow. We want somewhere to grow our roots, to build relationships to our neighbors/community, and to have memories bloom of our first summer BBQ, the first Christmas in our new home, and bringing home our future babies from the hospital to our home. Neither of us are happy living in an apartment or townhouse, so we find ourselves asking “What do we do now?”. What do you do when your dreams have come crashing back to the ground and you find yourself suddenly faced with trying to support a household on one income that certainly can’t pay for rent in a safe neighborhood/complex in the greater DC Metro area that isn’t a 2 hour commute in each direction from the currently employed person’s job?

    • Anonymous

      Oh, gosh. So sorry – that is terrible. Where do you work? Last summer I bought the house I’d been renting in Brentwood, MD. It’s a cool neighborhood where you can get a very nice house for $200-300k. There are lots of young couples with babies in our neighborhood! And it’s ~1 mile from the metro. Come join us! :) (unless you work way out in VA…)

      • Fay

        I actually work in Gaithersburg, MD while the Mr. currently works in NoVA (and will hopefully find another job in that area). I have a medical condition that makes it difficult for me to commute long distances, so unfortunately living in the “expensive” areas to be closer to work is a requirement. Currently we’re renting in NoVA and reverse commuting (driving against the major flow of rush hour traffic) is much quicker then living closer to work for me. Plus it’s more important to me to live a bit closer to the Mr.’s work area so that while he has a shorter commute then I do, it means he isn’t sitting in traffic for hours to get from MD to NoVA and back in the evening. This all equates to being able to spend more time with him in the evenings and he isn’t exhausted from sitting 3-4 hrs of his day sitting in 495 & 270 traffic.

        That said I’ve been thru Brentwood and it’s a lovely place. Your neighborhood sounds wonderful and definitely worth keeping in mind if the Mr. was to get a job that way that would allow me to leave my job for greener pastures!

        • Anonymous

          Oh wow – that is definitely a difficult situation commute-wise. I totally hear you on optimizing your location so that someone gets to reverse commute – I actually do the same thing, as I work in Annapolis and my partner works in Arlington – it makes way more sense for us to live nearer his work than mine, because there’s no traffic on my commute. It’s crazy how life in this area is shaped around traffic. I hope your Mr. finds a new job without too much trouble! In the meantime, you can always still build relationships with your neighbors as a renter – we did for the years we lived here before buying, which was actually part of the reason we decided to buy (we loved the community). But I understand it’s a different feeling when you actually own the house.

  • Kelly

    “We’re not doing that thing that everyone thought we’d do one day: getting the travel out of our systems and behaving like sensible adults who make choices you can relate to.” Are you me?! I said almost the exact same thing when we signed a year-lease after spending 5 years traveling, working seasonally, and moving every 4-6 months. Now we’re both 30, in grad school, and on the path to like, salaried jobs and some health insurance. Sustaining ourselves in one place has been a whole new challenge! We always get the “ah, yes, settling down!” response from folks. But really, we’d just to like to be able to save some actual money for future travel and not have to always be broke because the car died or one of us had to get a cavity filled.

    “We always have the option of paddling in the direction we choose…But in the meantime, it’s totally okay to stay in one place for a while, because that, too, is a form of exploration.” So, so true and perfect. Thank you.

  • http://www.twenty-somethingtravel.com Stephanie

    Lauren you sounds so much like me! I’ve been mostly traveling for the past ten years, and now my husband and I are coming back to the US to “settle down.” At this point even signing a lease seems like such a huge scary commitment it’s hard to wrap my brain around it. Like you, I am constantly reminding myself that this doesn’t necesarily mean we are buying into the “American Dream” narrative, it’s just what is best for us right now.

    • http://www.lateralmovements.com/ Lauren Fitzpatrick

      Doesn’t that phrase ‘settle down’ just give you the creeps? It’s not the act itself (whatever it actually means these days) but the implications/expectations.

  • Bets

    I feel exactly the same way about the thought of buying a house – I’ve lived in many different countries and have always seen myself as a nomad, I’m happy to rent for the foreseeable future, and yes, yes, exactly this: “To many people, a house represents security and comfort. To me, it stood
    for stagnation and immobility, two things I have worked very hard to
    avoid.” But I love gardening too (and painting and decorating), so I can see the perks of owning a house. Sometimes I have to work hard to repress this domestic side of myself – I catch myself furtively ogling Ikea catalogues or looking at pet adoption listings the way some people keep a secret stash bridal magazine porn. The cultural narratives tell us that being domestic and being adventurous are opposites. I guess they don’t have to be, but I’m still coming to terms with that.

    • Meaghan

      I own a house (well, a condo) and haven’t seen it in almost a year, because I live overseas. I just rent it out!

  • ElisabethJoanne

    Did anyone else see the piece on SFGate this week about advice for first-time home buyers? It dealt with amounts up to $2 mil (US). What is that?! Rather disturbing what it says both about Bay Area home prices and the real-world understanding of so-called experts.

    • Aubry

      Yeah, we have this first time home buyers deal where you don’t pay the property transfer tax. But it only applies to homes less than 500k. There is not a single house on the market for less than 500k where I live (North Vancouver, BC) and you would be very hard pressed to find one in any part of Vancouver (not including sketchy outlaying areas like Surrey). Lots of condos of course but those still start at 300k in North Van for something that isn’t a complete sh** hole. The people who make the guides/legislation are living so far away from the reality that us average people experience.

      • ElisabethJoanne

        The USA had similar issues with laws passed to help homeowners after the 2008 crash. I can’t remember what the number was ($300K? $600K?), but it wasn’t going to help many people in California.

        Since home ownership isn’t important to us, I’m kind of glad it’s also impractical for us. My commute is less than an hour now. To find a place where the cost of ownership is similar to the cost of renting, we’d have to move several hours out. On the flip side, to own a condo on the same block as our apartment, we’d pay 4x what we pay in rent. If owning were more financially practical, I’d have to decide if it were also emotionally practical.

  • Gina

    This is exactly how I feel about buying a house this summer, but for different reasons. I’m a settler-downer, but I always thought we’d move back to our home state and be near family again. While I know buying a house is the right choice, and we want to be here for the foreseeable future, I keep feeling like I’m letting go of that dream of popping over to my parents’ house for Sunday dinner or watching my (yet unborn) kids grow up with lots of uncles and aunts and cousins around.

    I have to keep reminding myself, you’re not giving all that up just by buying a house.

  • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

    My mom likes to tell the story of when they built a house in 1982. Shortly after moving in someone came by selling burial plots. My mom wondered why they’d buy burial plots and the guy said something to the effect that since they’d bought a house they must be planning to live there till they died so having burial plots nearby would be a good investment. They didn’t buy the burial plots. That was 5 houses ago for my parents. And they bought their current house fully intending to sell it and move elsewhere in a few years.

    I bought a hammock in Brasil and never had a place to hang it till we got married and I moved into the house he bought a few years previously. I love our house, our garden, the lack of rent. But when I planted a lemon tree a few weeks ago I put it in the largest pot known to mankind because house ownership doesn’t mean “stuck” to me. Moving is always a possibility. And I want to take my hammock and my lemon tree when we go.

    • http://www.lateralmovements.com/ Lauren Fitzpatrick

      YES. One of my main points of excitement (because now that it’s real, I am actually getting excited) is that I’m going to have a lime tree.

      …And hopefully not burial plots. That part of the story summed up pretty much all of my fears about house-buying.

      • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

        Yea for lime trees!

        And if it makes you feel better, we’re still not sure where my parents will be buried. But they haven’t died yet so it’s not too pressing of an issue.

  • NTB

    In Denver, it’s tough to buy right now. There are bidding wars and house prices have gone up insanely even in the last 6 months. We started renting 2 years ago with the hope of buying in the future, but then my husband lost his job and became self-employed (big change.) I think that it makes more sense for us to continue renting if/until housing here becomes at least slightly more affordable, although I don’t think that’s likely given Denver is a top place to move right now, or so I hear…

    I have heard the argument that buying a house only pays off financially if you plan to live in the home for a minimum of 5 years, but…I guess that depends on where you buy.

  • Anon for this

    As someone who works in the (American) mortgage industry, I’d encourage people to not approach buying a house as something you’re committing to FOREVER. It’s a big financial decision, sure, but it shouldn’t be a debilitating decision. If you have the money and can/want to buy a house, go for it. If you don’t, don’t. I see it much the same way as deciding to take out loads of student loans. The numbers are big, but if you do your homework and are honest about what you can afford, it’s not really something to be afraid of. Talk to an experienced loan officer, do your research, and good luck with whatever you all decide!

  • Hayley

    Ohhh I feel this so much. Home ownership terrifies me. But I am VERY jealous of your hammock!

    • http://www.lateralmovements.com/ Lauren Fitzpatrick

      The closer we get to settlement, the more I find myself standing by the wall, stroking the hammock, and believing it is real – not just a wall hanging. It is really selling this whole ‘buying a house’ thing to me!

  • http://www.emilyaltphotography.com/ emily alt

    As usual, APW is in my head. As some of you know, my husband, Ian and I just returned from spending about 5 months on the road, traveling in our Airstream trailer. We covered over 12,000 miles and visited 25 states, photographing weddings along the way, but mostly just enjoying the opportunity. It was fantastic.
    Now we’re back in Michigan (our home state) and living in a beach cottage about 45 minutes from the city where we both grew up. And we’re….gulp….going to buy a house in that city.
    This is HUGE for us. We never, ever, ever thought we’d settle down enough to buy a house, much less in our hometown, but we learned a lot while traveling this past year–1) being near family and friends who have known you for 20+ years is really powerful 2) Being stationary, at least for awhile, is totally 100% fine. 3) Just because we own a house doesn’t mean we can’t be adventurers still. I mean, we can rent it out on AirBnB for a few months and travel, if we want, right? I’m feeling pretty good and at peace with this decision. We’re not planning to have kids, so, in a way, that makes house buying less scary and pressure filled, I think. It’s like one adult step and one step towards security, but it’s just for us and we don’t have a child to factor into the mix.
    Great, great, great, great post. You did it again, APW!

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