Nearly two years ago, my husband and I did something I really never thought we’d do: We decided to buy a house.
After two decades of frequent moves, job changes, and bouncing around from New York to Beijing, and then to Heidelberg, Germany, we settled down in the Midwest and bought a gorgeous little mid-century home not far from where my husband works.
I never really thought I’d buy a house and become a homeowner. I loved the freedom of renting, and buying a house is an enormous financial expense and responsibility.
But every time I walk through the front door, I still think buying this house was the best decision we ever made. Here’s why:
We’re going to be here for a long time
My husband and I moved around a lot over the past couple decades, so buying a home was never even an option for us. A change of jobs would have meant we would have to relocate to another city or country on short notice, and that would have been impossible if we’d owned a place. Even owning furniture made the process more difficult and expensive.
When we settled down with more long-term career plans, we knew it was also time to find a stable home.
We have a kid, and she likes it here
The last time my husband and I made a big move, we had four suitcases and dozens of books. When we moved back to the US four years later, we also had a two-year-old.
Having a baby made me more interested in the idea of stability and familiarity. My parents have lived in the same place since before I was born, and even though I’m a grown adult, I still walk into their house like I own the place. Buying a house meant our daughter would always have a place to call home, friends who lived nearby, and the opportunity to go to school in a great school district.
This is the house we picked, not the first house we could get into
Prior to buying this house I spent decades renting – and it felt like I was playing a hyperspeed game of musical chairs. There always seemed to be more renters than apartments, and I was always in a panic to find a place – any place – and sign the lease before it disappeared. Back then I considered myself lucky if I found something close enough to work and only a little bit over budget, never mind an apartment with everything I wanted inside.
When I started looking to buy, however, I made a shopping list of everything I needed and everything I wanted before I took a serious look at my options. I toured dozens of different homes, all of which had some but not all of the qualities I wanted, before deciding which was best for my family. While I still didn’t get everything I wanted, I had an incredible array of choices I had never felt I had while renting.
I have an office
Because I work from home, I’ve spent a lot of time working from the sofa or the kitchen with my laptop balanced on top of a small side table. I never had a dedicated space, so I had to just find a corner and make do.
Now I have a small office to work from, which makes it a lot easier to get things done. Also, it also seems to communicate better to other people that I have a job and am working, even if I am in my house.
There’s so much more space
My home isn’t huge, but it’s more spacious than any other place I’ve ever lived in as an adult. The layout favours functionality and is set up perfectly for entertaining. Plus, it has a huge basement where we keep our TV and hang out.
When there’s a problem, we can just solve it ourselves
One of the biggest arguments I heard against buying a home was that if something went wrong, it would be my responsibility. I was warned by many people that if something breaks, I would have to deal with it.
While that’s definitely true, I consider it a good thing. It feels good to be proactive. If there’s a problem with the plumbing, I can call the plumber to come fix it instead of badgering (and patiently waiting for) my landlord.
It feels like it’s worth changing
I like projects, and now that I know we’ll be in this house for several years, I feel like it’s worth investing time and money into it. Painting a wall was the first thing that made the house feel like it was ours. Now I’m adding cabinets to my office and building a sewing room in the basement, because that is what will make the space the most useful for me.
We can have whatever pets we want
I don’t want six dogs, but if I did, I could have them. In fact, I could get a big heard of rescue greyhounds, a chinchilla, or a small flock of chickens if I wanted to – and it feels so liberating.
I still might have to check zoning regulations before acquiring poultry or animals that might be considered livestock, but for the first time in my adult life, I could get a dog and not have to ask for permission.
I’m no longer at the whims of a landlord
Even with the nicest landlord, things can happen. A landlord has the ability to raise rent prices or unexpectedly decide to sell the apartment entirely. You might even find yourself needing to move because the landlord’s kids graduated college and want to live in the apartment!
Since we own this place, we don’t have to worry about suddenly having to move ever again.
I’m learning about plants
In the past, I’ve joked about having a black thumb. I’ve never been able to keep any type of plant, even a succulent, alive for more than a month. Our tiny backyard, however, now requires that I manage grass, trees, and learn the basic differences between flowers and weeds.
I’m still learning how to managing my garden, but the neighbours don’t seem to mind a few weeds.
We can decorate however we want
Forget tasteful neutrals. This home belongs to us and we can buy the weird wallpaper, paint the kitchen cabinets black, and replace all the doorknobs with the ones that look like big plastic diamonds if we want!
I might not have the best taste in the world, but it’s mine, and it feels really good to walk into my home and feel like it truly belongs to me.
I still get excited every time I open the front door
The phrase “walking into a room like she owns the place” exists for a reason. This is my house, and that feels fantastic.
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