I bought a house after years of renting in expensive cities, and I'm convinced it was the right move for 3 reasons

Courtesy of Cheryl Lock.Cheryl Lock and her husband, Chris, in front of their home in Denver, Colorado.
  • When Cheryl Lock and her husband were expecting their first child, they decided to buy a house.
  • Until then, they’d spent most of their adult lives paying high rents for small apartments in expensive US cities.
  • Even though she doesn’t think having children means everyone has to buy, she found it was the right move for her family for three reasons: to put down roots for her kids, to build equity, and to have the freedom to do what she wants with her space.
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Owning my own home was never a dream of mine.

As someone who spent most of her adult life living in apartments in expensive cities like Manhattan and Denver, the thought of owning property never really crossed my mind.

My now-husband and I were fine with our small living spaces – enjoyed them, actually – and when our bathroom ceiling started leaking in our Manhattan apartment the night before we left for vacation in Australia, it certainly was nice to simply call our landlord and hand over the responsibility of having it fixed while we were gone.

Then, four years ago, while living in what can only be described as a glorified studio touted as a one-bedroom in a luxury building in the trendy LoDo neighbourhood of downtown Denver, I got pregnant.

I want to preface what I’m about to say with: Just because your family is growing doesn’t necessarily mean you have to buy a home. However, for my husband and myself, suddenly the idea of a standalone home with a little extra space became very appealing.

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When we found out we were having our first child, my nightmare immediately became the vision of driving a newborn around in a car all night because she simply wouldn’t stop screaming and was keeping all of the neighbours awake. I mean, as someone who worked from home, I couldn’t stand it when I heard neighbours’ dogs barking during the day – what sort of ill will would a screaming baby at 3 a.m. illicit?

Read More: A self-made millionaire who retired at 37 says buying a home was ‘probably the worst financial decision’ he ever made

For me, the importance of owning our 1,900 square-foot, Denver-suburb home became about a couple of things:

  1. Putting down roots for my kids. I grew up in a military family, and we moved every three to four years. While I never really saw that as a detriment growing up, with kids of my own now, I can see how staying put for longer has its benefits.
  2. Building equity. I was never someone who saw renting as throwing away money. No one would call the money that you spend on the food that you eat a waste, so why would putting money towards your home – any home – be considered a waste? However, now that I actually do own a home, I take endless pleasure in making those monthly mortgage payments and knowing that every time we pay, we own a little bit more of our property. We love our house, but I sometimes wonder what it would look like to sell it and use that money for a down payment on a bigger place with a shorter mortgage. For me, owning a home means more financial options.
  3. The ability to do what I want with my space.Not as important as the other factors but definitely up there was the fact that as a homeowner, I could do whatever I wanted to my home. Putting 5,000 holes in the wall? No problem. Paint any colour I want? Go for it. Renovate on a whim (budget allowing)? Who’s going to stop me? I had always known that I enjoyed home décor, but there was only so much I could in a 400-square-foot apartment. In our home, however, I can go room by room and switch up whatever I like, then start all over again.

At the end of the day, we pulled the trigger on our 3-bedroom/3-bathroom house in April of 2016, just three months before our first daughter was born. For us, owning a home is just a better option for our two adult/two toddler family than an apartment would be.

The kids can play outside in our yard, in their own rooms, in the den or the living room or the finished basement. As a work-from-home writer I can work in my bedroom office nook, in the kitchen, on the back deck, or in any number of other odd spots.

Read More: I hustled to pay off my mortgage years before I had to, because there’s something even more important than the maths

As someone who has only ever lived in apartments with three rooms total – living room, bedroom, kitchen – this feels like a luxury.

Of course there are larger places to rent that would have meant more space – we could have even rented an entire house, if we wanted. But at the end of the day, the privilege of buying a home (and it is a privilege) has afforded us a lot more opportunities and financial stability than renting did.

In my opinion, if you can afford putting down a decent down payment, as well as the additional costs that come with upkeep and maintenance, then owning something is the better choice, financially.

In fact, as someone who never considered owning, I’m now hooked. I scour sites like Zillow in search of a second place we can buy that would be closer to my family in New York. Owning two homes seems even crazier to me than the thought of owning one home used to, but I’m up for the adventure … and the opportunity to decorate yet another home.

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