Growing up, we moved a lot. By the time I finished high school I had lived in at least 10 different homes, with my longest stretch being about 5 years in one house. The places we lived were a combination of apartments, houses, and even a home shared with another single mom and her kids. None of them were what you would consider to be luxury accommodations, but aside from a cockroach infested apartment in Queens, none were terrible.
We were renters, which meant that when something broke, the landlord was responsible for the repairs. I never learned how to maintain a house beyond cleaning, swapping out linens seasonally and relighting the pilot light on a hot water heater. I have zero handy(wo)man skills and consider electricity and plumbing to be two areas of expertise which are far beyond my abilities, although I remain hopeful that one of my sons may develop an interest in one of these trades.
When I imagined my future life it was never housed in a 3,000 square foot residence complete with a bedroom for every child and three toilets to scrub. No, I aspired to live in either an apartment or a Winnebago. I’m sure that says something about my ability to commit, but let’s save that for therapy, ok?
Naturally, I ended up owning a 100+ year-old, two-family house – with twice as many mechanicals, and responsibilities, as a mere single family abode. Joy! When the roof needed to be replaced, the price was at a premium because the house is three stories high. As the ropes for the weight and pulley windows started snapping demanding replacement* and threatening my young children with a certain death as they noisily slammed down to the sill, there were 25+ windows which needed to be purchased and installed.
In addition to windows and a roof, I’ve remodeled one bathroom and installed a second one in my two level unit. Both boilers have been replaced ($11,000) and I just replaced my tenant’s hot water heater (Merry Christmas, Drew!) for the second time in my tenure on Arcadia.
I’ve come to understand that for every $300 spent on something I want, like the new faucet and over-the-sink dish draining rack pictured below, I will spend a $1000 on something necessary, like that new hot water heater. It’s basic homeowner mathematics.
A couple of weeks ago I awoke to the sound of water dripping from the upstairs shower, I seriously almost lost it, certain that the shower was going to come crashing through the ceiling into my dining room. Which didn’t happen, but in my imagination occurred repeatedly every time I closed my eyes trying to get back to sleep. Ugh.
Why is home ownership considered to be such a crown jewel of adulthood? Yes, I understand there may be tax and financial advantages and I enjoy having a pet and the freedom to decorate as I wish, but I’m just not certain a mortgage comes with any emotional or mental health benefits, at least not for me.
So, tell me – what do you appreciate about your living situation? Is it what you always imagined it to be? How do you deal with household repairs and maintenance if you are a home owner? And – can you recommend someone to look at and replace my leaky shower?
*Yes, I put in vinyl replacement windows rather than reglazing and repairing the existing windows. My house is not historically significant.