While Aaron and I are not quite in the market for a house, buying our own place is not too far in the distant future. Strange thoughts begin crossing your mind as you approach real adulthood (which doesn’t start until age 30, for the record), including but not limited to:
Is my car big enough for a car seat? How, exactly, does health insurance work? Huh, interesting, getting enough vitamins and minerals really does help your energy level. At what point do I need to get bangs to cover my forehead wrinkles? Everyone has cellulite, so whatever. Natural light in my home is important to me. I wonder how the nice lady who does my dry cleaning is doing. Man, getting out of the car is hard. When was the last time the smoke alarms in my apartment were tested?
Lately– especially in wake of the hurricane— my though process has revolved around home ownership. And how it absolutely terrifies me. Here’s why:
1. Do-it-yourself repairs
Under this category, you’ll find doors off their hinges, toilet issues, minor bug invasions. You may be thinking: Don’t you handle all that stuff when you’re renting, too? No, no I don’t. I never claimed to be a particularly good tenant, just a pay-on-time-don’t-damage-anything-or-be-too-loud tenant.
Sure, when my husband is home, he takes care of things, but when he’s not, I give it one solid try, then it’s off to my landlord I go. Luckily, I have the greatest landlord of all time, and she totally has mercy on me when Aaron’s deployed. She’ll send her husband down to fix a lightbulb, check out a broken toilet– basically anything that has me stumped but shouldn’t. Now, I did take care of the bug problem myself, but a bug here and there isn’t exactly a major problem. Just 409 the shiznit out of ever corner of your house and put out a few sticky traps, and voila. Problem solved.
All of these things would be my responsibility, and mine alone, if I owned a house. Plus, I’d be way more concerned about everything. Right now, if I see a bug, I kill it and move on with my life. In my own house, I’d probably freak out about where there’s a hole that it came through, am I dirty, is my house a breeding grounds, etc. Same goes for a broken door or a running toilet. Right now, none of that stresses me out, but that’s probably just because I don’t own any of it.
2. Huge repairs
Now we’re looking at major leaks and damaged floors from hurricanes, major plumbing issues, broken windows, and basically all the things that could go wrong with a house and cost you all your savings plus your first born child.
When Hurricane Matthew hit Virginia Beach like a bull in a china shop last weekend, my friends who are homeowners sent terrible, scary pictures of trees that had fallen into or near houses in their neighborhoods. One of them had water completely overflow from her backyard into the living room. It’s scary enough as a renter to be worried that a tree will fall through the window and crush you. It’s even scarier to be a homeowner and know you have to pay for everything if it does. (Well, if the tree doesn’t kill you.)
With the money comes the contractors– finding the right ones, waiting for things to be fixed with dust and plastic everywhere in your house, etc. etc. If that happens when I’m a tenant, it’s a slight inconvenience, but not a constant reminder of how much money I’m spending, nor am I overanalyzing the work by the contractor.
I love furniture, but I hate it. First off, the thought of how much money it takes to furnish an entire house absolutely terrifies me. On top of that, I’m no interior designer, but I’ll put a lot of pressure on myself to make it look amazing. In my apartment, I know I’ll never be there for more than a few years, so I do just enough to make the place feel homey. With a real home, it’s going to be a project that never ends.
You’re pretty much stuck with the people who live around you (this will feed into #10). That’s not something you can entirely research before you make the biggest purchase of your life. After a few weeks of living there, you might realize that you’ll have to listen the guy next door sing show tunes in the hot tub every night (cough*dad*cough), or perhaps they have a weekly poker tournament where 15 drunk guys hang out every Thursday night. Maybe they decide to start a palm tree business, so you end up next to something that looks like Florida threw up in their driveway. Maybe the kids down the street are bad influences for your own kids. I’m sure neighbors can be great, but there’s a lot of potential for things to go very wrong.
5. School districts
If you have kids, or are thinking about having kids, you have to take into consideration which school district your home is assigned. It could be the most beautiful home in the world, but you don’t want your kid going to that one school where the teachers notoriously sleep with the students, or perhaps has some casual middle school gang activity. Unfortunately, the better the school district, the higher the price of the house. So, basically, everything on this list points back to money…Wait, but what if your neighborhood gets redistricted?
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m afraid of the dark. I’m especially afraid of the dark when I’m home alone. Actually, I’m even scared during the day when I’m home alone. Not when I’m in an apartment…for some reason, I feel super safe in apartments. But stand alone houses? No can do. I had to house sit for my parents during Hurricane Matthew, and you saw how that turned out. (I ended up sleeping in the car.)
Now, most of the troubles that night had to do with carbon monoxide (which there wasn’t any), but I just didn’t have time to mention the fact that I locked myself in the bedroom until the alarm woke me up, at which time I checked to see if I could open the windows in my room (I couldn’t) to escape if I needed to, then crept downstairs using my phone flashlight since the power was out, convinced that the alarm sounding was due to an intruder. A vague threat of carbon monoxide didn’t seem so bad in the end.
The point is, there’s no way I can live in a stand alone house by myself. Given that my husband is gone half the year, this isn’t great news for our home-owning future.
7. Power outages
Speaking of Hurricane Matthew, I didn’t even know where flashlights were in my own apartment. Thank goodness I was at my dad’s, which has an automatic backup generator. If I’d been at my place, I would’ve been completely engrossed in the black hole of fear– quite literally. Not to mention, power outages mean that you have reset all appliances, which I have no clue how to do. Plus all the food in your fridge goes bad. Well, I don’t keep food in the fridge when it’s just little ole me in the apartment, so it was no problem. All I lost was half a carton of almond milk. Not kidding. That’s it. But if I were to become a homeowner, I imagine I’ll have a larger fridge, and some unspoken agreement that everyone seems to have with the Homeowners Association that all fridges must be filled to the brim at all times.
8. Yard work
9. Remembering trash day
This is literally the hardest thing in the world. It’s currently at the point where every single time I take my trash bag out to the bins on the side of our apartment duplex, the bins are out on the street waiting to be picked up. This infuriates me every time I have to walk the extra 20 yards. If I knew when trash day was, I’d be put my trash bags to the bins on one of the 6 other days that isn’t trash day, when the cans sit idly on the side of the duplex. But no. I have no clue when trash day is, so I always end up having to walk allllllllll the way to the street. In case you’re wondering, no, I have no intention of writing it down or learning from my weekly mistake.
What if you find out, post-buy, that someone was murdered in the upstairs bedroom? What if someone buys the house next to you, tears it down, and builds a cat hospital? What if your neighbor on the other side of the house buys a helicopter pad and wakes you up with his heli every night? I mean, yeah, the good news is you live in a neighborhood with people rich enough to have a heli pad, but still. Sure, you could try to sell the house, but who wants to buy a house that someone was murdered in, next to a cat hospital, with a helicopter blade sounding 50 feet away every night? You’re stuck. At least with a lease, all you have to do is wait a few months for the contract to end, then #peaceoutsucka.
Thank god I have 2 more years before becoming a full-fledged adult. My husband has been an adult for 3 years, but when you’re a couple, you get to count yourself as young as the youngest member. Lucky him! And lucky Hugh Hefner!