Week 52: I Bought My First Home [Score +2]
I’ve been really comfortable with my living situation.
For nine years, I rented a small house from my parents. As responsible and flexible landlords, they gave me pretty free rein to make the house my own. They long encouraged me to buy the house from them, citing the tax and financial benefits I’d gain long-term as a homeowner.
I resisted. The [silly high] expectations I had for myself made me want to buy a home that I chose for myself, not one that was conveniently available through family circumstances.
I wanted to make my own decision when I bought my first home, not just take my parents’ recommendation (even though I knew it was sensible).
And I liked renting. I liked the sense of freedom it gave me: the freedom to think that if a work opportunity popped up to relocate to somewhere adventurous next month, my home wouldn’t hold me back from seizing that opportunity. With no significant other and no kids aside from a four-legged, furry BFF who will happily go anywhere I want to go, I liked feeling that if I wanted to, I could change my direction in the spur of the moment.
Nine years later, I was still renting. I’ve entertained ideas and opportunities to move to other places, but nothing appealed to me enough to take that leap.
Then, this past spring, my tax return gave me a final kick from behind: some tax deductions really wouldn’t be a bad idea for next year.
I started thinking more seriously about buying a home. I hopped on Zillow and did a wide search of the areas in and around Indianapolis where I’d want to be. I looked at homes that were moderately appealing, but the ones I liked best were too big and twice as expensive as I wanted.
And I didn’t honestly want to move. I know my neighbors and their dogs, and they know me and mine by name. I feel safe. It’s quiet. It’s friendly. It’s in a great, convenient location. I have space, land on all four sides, with a fenced backyard for four-legged residents and visitors. I like the fact that with sub-1,000 square feet, I can vacuum the whole house in 15 minutes.
So, why not just buy this house already?
Enough delay. I bit the bullet and committed.
It should be the easiest house I ever buy: no realtors needed. I knew the house better than anyone. Negotiating the purchase agreement was a straightforward process hashed out at my mom’s kitchen table just between the two of us. And on closing day, there were four people in the room, total: Mom, me, the closing agent, and my mortgage broker.
Two days after my birthday, I was a homeowner!
I realized in the days afterward that the scenario was particularly special in one respect: I, a single woman, bought her first house from a woman, who inherited it from her mother, and the closing agent who made everything official was a woman, as well.
Just think about that: even twenty or thirty years ago, that scene would have been unusual or even difficult to arrange.
At just one point in the signing process did my feathers get a little ruffled at a vestige of decades past: on one of the legal forms (I honestly don’t remember which one), next to my name, in all-capital letters, had to be printed “SINGLE WOMAN.”
Why? Why does that have any significance whatsoever? If someone has proven they’re in good financial standing and can reasonably afford the property they’re buying; they’re an honest taxpayer; and all their citizen ducks are in a row, why is their gender or marital status worth mentioning?
[If you are or were a single man when you bought a house, I’d love to know if the same designation has to be noted for you, too. Is this an equal-opportunity labeling, or is it seen as unnecessary—still—to note “SINGLE MAN” on your paperwork? I’ve googled this and am coming up empty-handed amid a deluge of articles focusing on the statistics of single people owning homes and how to do it.]
I’m most grateful for the fact that throughout the process, at no point did I have any doubts or hesitation about whether I was making the right decision. As much as I felt for years that I wanted to choose a home for myself, I finally realized that I did. I accepted that though I may not live in a hip, up-and-coming neighborhood like so many of my peers, the neighborhood where I do live is pretty great.
And you know what? Even if I only stay for, say 18 months, before the opportunity to relocate to New Zealand lands in my lap, it will have been a great 18 months. Who knows what will be next?
- Did something outside my routine: +1
- Did something entirely new: +1