- My husband and I bought a house in the suburbs instead of renting a home or apartment.
- There are plenty of reasons to buy instead of rent, but if I had to do it over, I would just continue renting.
- Costs add up quickly when you buy, and we ended up with way more junk than if we had rented.
I live in a townhouse in suburban New Jersey with my two children, husband, and a cat.
My husband and I got pressured into buying the house by well-meaning relatives who insisted that renting was throwing away our money. They also kindly helped with the down payment. We have a garage and a basement, which is great for storing all those bikes, hand-me-down clothes, boxes of unsorted papers, and other things we want out of sight and mind.
But if I had it to do all over again, I think I would just continue renting.
Every choice you make cuts off the what-ifs of how your life might have turned out. I wonder what else would have happened if we had been free to settle elsewhere without feeling like we were “pulling up our roots.” What life decisions would I have made differently if the house was not weighing me down?
Here are my biggest regrets after buying my home instead of renting it.
Owning a home leads to some unexpected costs
Like most homeowners, I live in fear of the next appliance that might decide to give out.
Replacing the HVAC unit was a big one. A leaking roof has been repaired again and again, but it continues to spring a leak intermittently. The patio needs replacing. The wasps decided to take up residence under the front stairs.
All of these had high and unexpected financial costs, but some even cost me in pain and suffering (my advice: Don’t try to take care of a wasp nest yourself.) You never know when you may need to come up with an extra $US500 or $US5,000 to do an urgent repair.
Junk accumulates way faster when you buy.
I have a junk problem. I am not good at letting go of things.
When you own a home, you can just put it in the basement. If I had been moving all this time, I suspect I would have been pressured to ditch some of my clutter. Maybe I am just giving myself an excuse, but at this point, I have no idea what is down there.
Utility bills are through the roof because of the vast space and shoddy construction
Like many people, I own a home that was built during the boom years, when they were slapping together new developments everywhere.
In the 1980s, when our townhouse was built, they were building with cardboard, masking tape, spit and a bit of poorly poured concrete. They were building big – we have two huge bedrooms and three spacious bathrooms. The rooms are oddly shaped, and it is hard to use the space well. The house is drafty, poorly insulated, and the heating and cooling bills are really high.
It may be ours, but it is ‘meh’ no matter how much we have changed it
The basic bones of these cookie-cutter homes are uninspiring. It is the compromise between location and style that my husband and I could agree on. It has little character, and no amount of interesting paint colours or new flooring will change that. It is what it is. Fairly comfortable, but why settle? I dream of a home I could really love, and this is not that home.
This is not to say that I am not thankful for the stability and comfort that owning a home has been in my life.
But in this uncertain world, you can lose your home with just a few months of bad luck with health or career. How secure is owning when there are so many foreclosures around us? Maybe there is some basic psychological benefit to remaining in the same house, but there is also the emotional cost of missing out on the adventures that may have been.
These flimsy walls, hard-to-open windows, and bland design features don’t speak to me in the way I wish the idea of home did. Really, home is where you make it, so why get stuck in bland?
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