home ownership

The joys of home ownership?

Last week was very rainy for us since we’re on the edge of the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Tuesday, as I was getting ready to leave work, I got a call from The Hubby (who gets home a little earlier than I do).

He said: “Hey, do you remember that part of the roof that leaked that one time?”

To which I replied: “Which one?”

This is the joy of home ownership.

We knew what we were getting into.

We knew when we bought our house that it was a “starter home.”

It’s big enough for the two of us (plus Big Dog and Little Dog), but we’ll definitely need to upgrade once we decide to start a family.

It had most of the big things in working order (furnace, plumbing, electrical, etc.), but lots of other big (and little) things we knew were going to need addressing in the near future. Like the cracking driveway, and the old rattly windows…and the roof.

We made it 3 years before we spotted the first leak, which is actually pretty impressive since I think there are like 4 layers of old roof up there, and none of them are in good condition. It happened in our kitchen, and it leaked through the cabinets above the stove before drip, drip, dripping slowly onto the stove itself. One morning after a big storm, I went out to make some coffee and noticed that the burners were swimming in little pools of water.

It actually didn’t really phase me. Things like this happen in our home a lot, now more than before. It seems the longer we live here, the more things break, and slowly our list of things to fix grows longer and longer.

We (thought) we knew what we were getting into.

At first, the random roof leak only happened once in a while, when it had been especially rainy, so we figured it was (hopefully) just one lose roof tile that got blown the wrong way in the wind so that rain got under it. I say “hopefully” because we’re in the process of building a “new roof” fund (next big item on our fix list), but we can’t really do much about it except cross our fingers until we have enough saved up.

Since then, other leaks have sprung up at random times when it’s really rainy, some of them only to be seen once and never to occur again (knock on wood). This could be looked at optimistically, because it means there isn’t one huge leaky spot getting worse and worse that we have to address immediately because we can’t ignore it any longer. It could also be looked at pessimistically, because it means our roof is slowly becoming Swiss cheese and one day the whole thing might just blow off in a storm like the house in The Wizard of Oz.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

Owning vs. renting

We fell into the usual thinking when it comes to home ownership: We were newly married, and we decided it made more sense to start investing in a piece of property that was ours rather than having our money disappear to someone else each month in rent payments.

We got this house for a good price, and we figured we’d gradually fix its issues until we were ready to sell, at which point it would be worth more (it’s really not a bad little house, all things told) and we could move into a less leaky, less rattly-windowed house to start our family. That’s the way you do things, right?

But lately, as things keep leaking and rattling and breaking, I can’t help but wonder if we did it wrong. I know there’s a big debate out there in the PF sphere over whether home ownership is a sound investment or a bust, and everyone has their own opinion. Personally, I still think we did the right thing in the long run…but it can get hard to see that sometimes when your hubby calls to say “Hey, guess what broke now?” and you have to run through a list of half a dozen possible items you could easily see having broken. I’m all about DIY, but there’s only so much DIYing a person can do before they wonder if maybe they should have D-I-Didn’t.

Or maybe I’m just jealous of my friends who still rent, who get to call their landlord when something breaks and never have to worry about mowing a lawn or raking leaves.

How do you weigh in on the whole “owning vs. renting” debate?




photo credit:  wwiwsky



  • We are going through this, too, as new homeowners. In just a few months, we have already experienced mold problems, spider problems, wasps in our bedroom (eek!), electrical issues and power failures. The good news is that we LOVE our house and we very quickly put our own touches on it to make it our home. I hate the moving process so I am also ecstatic about not moving for many more years!

    I can appreciate the benefits of renting, so I was not in a huge hurry to buy, but my husband and I decided that it made sense for us to buy rather than rent. I have also been thinking a lot recently about the concept of a starter home, like you mentioned. I think we all probably expect a little too much from our homes, especially considering they are our first homes. It is kind of like how your first job our of school isn’t going to be 100% amazing every day, but you still learn a lot from it and it puts you on a path toward bigger and better things, you know?

    • Such a good point. We went into this knowing the house wouldn’t be “perfect,” either, but it can feel so good turning it into the house that we want. Sometimes it can get a little overwhelming, but you can clearly relate! Wasps in the bedroom? Yikes!!

  • This is one subject where I am not too rational and would rather own than rent, even if that doesn’t always make complete financial sense. I have dealt with too many bad landlords to want to have a place of my own where I am free to do what I please. And pay the costs.

    • Good point. I hadn’t considered that, but that’s definitely a factor in the decision. I do believe that an expense can be worth it for you if it really makes you happy. It’s all about knowing what costs are really “worth it” in your book.

  • My husband I bought our first home about a year ago. We’re nearly thirty and rented for years in order to buy a home big enough to grow into. But we bought a bit of a fixer to get into a nice neighborhood, and boy have we run into problems. The roof (which we were told was pretty new) has leaked, we had water intrusion at our back door that cost a pretty penny to address, we’re having to replace flooring upstairs when we uncovered damage, and we had lightening strike the house and cause various damage, which was largely covered by insurance, but still meant a loss. We did lots of work before moving in too, and there is a huge list of to-fix items that the previous owners DIYed poorly or that are outdated. Sometimes I really regret buying, but there are some really great things about this house, and we’re slowly making it our own.

    • Oh, you poor thing! They do say that buying the not-so-nicest house in a nice neighborhood is a smart investment, but it sounds like you’ve really been paying for it! I hope things slowly but surely get better for you. It’s all about keeping your sense of humor and rolling with it.

  • If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t have bought a house alone. I’m FAR from a helpless woman who needs a man to do everything for me, but I had no idea how much regular maintenance a house requires even if nothing major breaks down (knock on wood). It’s overwhelming for one person to keep up with all of it, and although I have the financial means to hire out a few tasks like lawn mowing, the stress and decreased free time aren’t costs I had factored in. But I do love having total control over everything inside my walls, so I try to focus on that when my house makes my head spin.

    • That’s a good point. Even if your house is (knock on wood) in good shape, just the time it takes to maintain a house vs. an apartment is a lot more…even if you someone to help you with the chores. I would definitely get overwhelmed if it was all me (and would definitely count hiring out my lawn mowing as a “necessary luxury”!

      But still, in spite of all the work, I agree with you that I like being able to do whatever I want with my house. So if it’s not a total “win,” at least it’s a draw. 🙂

  • I am lucky in a weird way. I live in Canada where we did not have a real estate meltdown so prices and demand are high while supply is low. I have to rent as there is no other option. I think I qualify for a $150k mortgage but sadly there is nothing in my area for sale for $150K (oh there might be a condo or two in Cracktown but these buildings also come with $350 condo fees) so I rent and let the large corporation that manages my building take care of all the repairs. The large corporation does a very good job of it so I don’t really worry.

    I think the main reason I continue to rent is that buying a place will guarantee that I will become a wage slave until I am in my 70s. No thanks. For me, renting is definitely cheaper and stress free.

    • That’s exactly where so many PF people are divided…Do you commit yourself to a long-term mortgage that means you’ll be paying it off for the next 30 years, BUT you have “equity” and aren’t just “throwing your money away” in rent….OR do you rent to keep yourself free of that big mortgage commitment, BUT you know that a portion of your income each month is going into someone else’s pocket?

      There are definitely (very strong) arguments for both sides. I think what it ultimately comes down to (like so many other things in life) is what’s right for YOU. Everyone’s situations and goals are different. The key is making the choice that fits best with YOUR needs and plans.

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