Each week, Twenty & Change bloggers will sound off on life topics from the serious to the silly. Post a comment to join the discussion!
Erin: You know how I know I’m getting older? I sometimes tune into HGTV, specifically to watch the show “House Hunters,” in which prospective home buyers inspecting three properties. Sometimes, the subjects are buying their first homes. One episode recently made me whip out my calculator. The single female (who looked to be in her late 20s) said she spent about $70,000 on renting a one-bedroom apartment for several years. I quickly added up how much I’ve spent on rent in the past 4 1/2 years. Since the cost of living in York is super-low, my total was nowhere near that much. (But I still could have bought a new car.) I don’t think I’m ready for a mortgage. I don’t see myself staying in this area forever. But I’m starting to wonder if owning an apartment/condo would be a better investment than sending a check to my landlord each month with no hope recouping any money when I move. Please sound off with your thoughts. (Check out this cool interactive graphic from the New York Times: Is It Better to Buy or Rent?)
Sarah: First off, watching “House Hunters” doesn’t make you old, it makes you awesome. I love that show! But at 23, there’s no way I’m buying a house. Not even an apartment. I can’t commit to that — I might live here for 5 or 10 or 50 years, but who knows? And, when all the flooding came through our area in September, all the (older) ladies in my class at the gym were commiserating over flooded basements and buying sump pumps and replacing carpet, and all I could think was “Thank God I don’t have to deal with that.” Being young and single, I don’t have the knowledge, time or energy to deal with owning-your-house problems. Does it stink shelling out money into a black hole? Not being able to put nails in the wall? Maybe. But at my age, it’s the perfect fit.
Jess: Erin and Sarah, I’m addicted to “House Hunters,” too. And it’s made me very, very ready to own a home. I can’t stand to think how I’m throwing money away on rent, especially when my monthly rent is so close to a monthly mortgage payment (for a small home). I’m honestly looking forward to learning the ins and outs of plumbing, carpentry, etc. (Thank goodness for Google, eHow and Dad.) And I want a puppy! (Most of my landlords have not.) The saving for a down payment, though, is slow, especially as I’m paying rent (on top of school and car loans). So I don’t think I’ll be moving just yet.
April: I, too, am a “House Hunters” fanatic — maybe we should start a support group? The boyfriend and I also like to browse for our dream houses on Zillow from time to time. His requirements are move-in ready, with a gourmet kitchen on a golf course; I want “character” and hardwood floors. But our rent is kind of a steal. And we both have a lot of student loan debt. And we’re both kind of lost when it comes to home repairs — literally, it’s a miracle when we accomplish a small DIY task. At the end of the day, knowing the landlord will come fix our air conditioning on an 85-degree day or that he’ll deal with all of the headaches in the event of a flood is kind of nice. So we’ll continue to happily rent until we can afford that dream house that meets all of our wants and needs … which should be sometime around 2025.
Stephanie: When I still lived in the same town as my parents, I would go over to their house specifically to watch HGTV with my mom. “House Hunters” was our favorite. I haven’t had cable since my junior year of college, so I have lost touch with HGTV. But I got to live my own version of “House Hunters” when my fiance and I bought a house in York. It was a complete mess, but Richard was motivated for a fixer-upper. Honestly, until all the carpet was pulled up, I wouldn’t step inside. The smell was more than I was willing to bargain for. But after many hours of work (the only professional we hired was an electrician to replace some of the very old wiring) and enough trips to the hardware store that we were practically family with the employees, we are finally reaching completion with the major projects. It’s really satisfying to know that our hard work will get paid back to us when and if we decide to upgrade. We know it would never be sensible to do as much work to a rented property. And I have moments where I wish we still rented, but in the end it’s been really fun to pick all the details for the house.