Allow me to share with you a silly, stupid, and pointless argument that I constantly have with myself.
“I want a house. Not a huge one. A one-story would be fine. I want a bedroom, a guest room, a little washer and dryer off by the bathroom, and a one-car garage. Of course, I will need lots of shelves. Like, bookshelves along the walls. Oh, and a reading nook by the living room so I can sit on a window-shelf. The responsible side of me also demands that we cover the roof in solar panels. That’s what I want. Simple, cozy, and practical.”
You can’t afford it. If you saved every single penny that you made for fifteen years, you could barely afford a fixer-upper. And that’s not including agent fees, property taxes, repairs, and surprises.
“But… my demands are so reasonable. No three-car garages. No automated controls. No alarm systems. Not even a sprinkler that turns itself on at eight a.m. every morning! I mean, sure, I want a bookshelf that doubles as a door to the hidden room just for reading in quiet… but everybody wants that.”
What if the roof needs to be replaced? Or you need new carpet? How’re you going to afford ladders, lawn mowers, paint, and all those other Home Depot trips?
“…I dunno. But I’m supposed to have a house, darnit.”
That is what it keeps coming down to. That I am supposed to have a house.
Let us take a good look at my current situation. My apartment is fine. It really is. It could use new carpeting. That is it. Everything else is fine.
(Neighbors do tend to irritate, but that is true of any place you live. I could have a isolated place in a vast desert, with air conditioning blasting, and I would still be annoyed at the occasional buzzard that passed by. There will always be neighbors.)
I have space for all my belongings. No storage required. If I do need room for newer purchases, that is a sign that I should give away older purchases.
I have a fireplace. I have a dishwasher and laundry machines. My place is cool in the summer and warm in the winter. My pet deposit is all paid up. I am surrounded by trees.
I am single. I only need room for one person’s stuff. I have no kids. No need to worry about a baby’s room or crib placement. My cat has windows to look out of and my car has a parking spot.
Yet, my inner-voice keeps suggesting a house. I see new houses being built and become jealous. People at church celebrate when someone announces they signed papers.
Throughout all this, I still know that I do not need a house. I barely vacuum the place that I do have. Dusting? Ha! Please. That is a special-occasion chore.
If I did have a house? I would not have the time or energy to maintain it. That is a two-person job. Weeding? Lawnmowing? Painting? My wife would have to prod me into taking care of the standard chores.
The key point, the one I fixate on, is that I cannot afford it. I think that is what really puts a bundle of shingles on my shoulder. I want to be able to have the option to buy a house. I want to be capable of buying a house. I know that I am not. I have been working since high school. I am responsible. But I cannot realistically afford a pretty standard element of Americana.
I want to stop forking over sixty percent of my income to rent. I want to know that when I am done working, I have a place of my own. I am a forty-two-year-old who is thinking about retirement. (I know. Slow down, Cosand. Many miles to go before you sleep.)
Part of me thinks I am owed what everybody else has, while I know that not everybody owns a house. That the grass is greener in the other lawn. And here is a fun fact: I have no debt. Zero. I have nobody knocking at my door and no bills printed in red ink. I do not stay up nights worrying about the bills that I do have. I use the word “mortgage” so rarely that I have to think about a how it is spelled.
Also, and something I love, whenever something breaks? Not my problem. I call up the landlord and they replace it. Like magic! Poof!
Whenever the notion of buying a house comes up, I tell myself that what I have meets my needs. I tell myself that homes are a tremendous gift, and possibly an even bigger burden.
The house is a constant desire. Without the proper income and without the need, it is an easy desire to control. What I have is more than good enough. I quite like what I have. And I know that others live in much less desirable surroundings. The yearning of a house remains. I keep trying to rein it in.
I remind myself not to look at “for sale” signs. I focus on the fact that I live right next to a trail and a bus stop. My living situation could be much, much, much worse.
For example: I do not know how to swim. Therefore, I am very thankful that I am not tempted to buy a yacht.