3 reasons I bought a house, even though I swore I’d be a renter for lifeOctober 24, 2019
- I’ve spent my whole life renting and never thought I’d buy a house — I lived a pretty nomadic lifestyle and loved being able to pick up and move with ease.
- But after moving to Jacksonville, Florida with my husband and toddler, I ultimately decided that buying a home was the smartest decision for my family.
- Once we ran the numbers and knew we could afford to buy a house, we decided it was time to move someplace that truly felt like home.
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So when the 2008 US housing crisis hit and I was living outside the country, I was more grateful than ever to be a renter — I wasn’t in danger of losing property (or property value) back in the US, and I was more than comfortable with renting a home while the market sorted itself out.
However, that all changed recently when my husband and I closed on a house — I gave up my life as a nomad and decided to settle in. It wasn’t an easy decision, especially since I’d always prided myself on being a lifelong renter.
Here’s why I decided to finally buy a house.
I hated the thought of moving again
After much deliberation, my husband and I decided we wanted to stay put in Jacksonville, Florida.
My husband likes the school where he works as a middle-school teacher, and we’ve started making friends in the area. We’re also outdoorsy, and we love spending time at the beach and driving to state parks nearby to explore.
Since we knew we wanted to stay put, we thought long and hard about our future and needs.
One thing we knew for sure: We were sick of moving every year. Even with minimal possessions, the thought of renting a moving truck, taking time off work, and wrangling a toddler to a new apartment didn’t appeal to us anymore.
Besides, the last two apartment complexes we lived in weren’t maintained well, and neither myself nor my husband wanted to deal with calling the property manager to fix yet another thing — it felt easier to do any repairs myself.
The numbers worked
Although there was a clear emotional reason why we wanted to purchase a house, I knew that owning a home could be significantly more expensive than renting.
Factor in a mortgage, property tax, and homeowner’s insurance, plus maintenance costs, and you could be looking at thousands of dollars more a year in housing costs.
Knowing all this, I played around with a rent vs. buy calculator to see how much it would cost over the long term if we were to buy instead of rent.
We also talked to multiple mortgage lenders and got pre-approved to predict our monthly mortgage payments.
Then, we took it one step further and factored in maintenance costs, taxes, and how much more it might cost for my husband to commute to work.
Turns out, purchasing a home would ultimately cost about the same as renting, which was worth it to us since we planned to stay in Jacksonville for the foreseeable future so we’d be able to earn some equity in the house and save on moving costs.
The house we ultimately purchased was $230,000 and we put down a 20% down payment — we saved aggressively for two years by slowing down on our retirement savings and sticking the money in a high-yield savings account from Ally.
Our rent was hovering around $1,300 a month, and our mortgage would be $1,100. With that, we knew we could set aside $200 per month for homeowner’s insurance and bare-minimum home maintenance costs. Property taxes would be extra, but it was still in our budget since our housing costs are only 10% of our income.
I wanted a place that felt like ours
What sealed the deal for me was wanting a place that felt like “home.” Yes, we were able to turn every apartment we lived in around the world into a cozy place that felt like ours. However, in the back of our minds we knew we would move once our lease was up.
I was ready to have a home base where we didn’t feel like we had to call someone else to do simple things like replace a cabinet door or call an HVAC specialist if something were to break.
Once my husband and I knew were were able to afford it, making the decision to stop renting was an emotional one.
Overall, I’m happy with the choice we made to purchase a home. We’re in a quiet neighborhood, the home is just the right size, and there’s a pool in the yard so we don’t need to go to the YMCA anymore, saving us some cash in membership fees. I can’t wait to invite friends and family over to the backyard for a housewarming BBQ.