Confessions of a First Time Homeowner (Take 1)

When I decided to buy a house, everyone told me I was crazy. At the very least, they were adamant I was making a poor choice. I was 24, buying a home seemingly at the spur of the moment that exceeded the recommended 30% of income budget, and I didn’t have a whole lot saved up either.

But I had a problem: I needed to move out.

Rent in my area is $1300+/mo for a 1 bedroom apartment that might be nice but more likely is in a not so great neighborhood, too far away, or isn’t so nice looking. The “luxury” apartments that were for lease a few minutes away fit all the requirements other than the fact that they were going for nearly $2000/mo. Maybe it’s me, but that’s just a wee bit ridiculous for an apartment. Never the less, I’m happy to say I have a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom home that I own for half that.

Living alone, of course, also has its perks. I love being able to stumble out of bed in the morning and head to the kitchen to make myself a cup of coffee without a care of what I’m wearing or what I look like. I love not being judged for who I have over (Well the cats judge everyone, but that’s another story…). I love deciding whether to leave my dishes in the sink until the next day, and I adore the fact that I can do laundry whenever I want.

My favorite part is being able to decorate things my way. I love seeing my Pinterest boards come to life in my home.

BUT…

There’s a flip side to homeownership that’s not so lovely.

For starters, I cry a little every time I think about how my bank account had 6x as much money in it a few months ago. Bills, repairs, and stocking a new home add up and they add up quick.

But really what kills me is all the stress of managing this entire place myself. Every day is a new adventure and not necessarily in the fun way.

I’ll take you through the timeline of some of the various crap I’ve dealt with since starting to buy this place

1) It took weeks to get the power on. – Everyone involved could not figure out why there was no power. The electric bill was paid. The meter was receiving power, but there was still nothing. It actually stalled the inspection and delayed the whole buying process. Turns out there was a separate breaker outside that was only discovered thanks to a passing neighbor.

2) My cable connection didn’t work. – The bill was paid. My cable modem and router arrived. The modem was provisioned (since I bought my own). Everything looked right, but nothing worked. Taking a wild guess, I decided to check the closet where the electric breaker was… sure enough, 8 cable jacks (1 for each unit) that were all being used except there was also a wire disconnected… mine…

3) My bank kept trying to get me to pay for additional insurance. – When you have a condo, you pay for your own insurance which covers the contents. A portion of your HOA dues go towards a master insurance policy for the building. For a while it seemed like every other day I got a letter from my bank insisting that I 1) didn’t have a master insurance policy 2) my master insurance policy didn’t have the right coverage or 3) the policy had expired. All of these things resulted in something along the lines of “If you don’t get this by x date, we’ll add it to your mortgage for you.” It took about 2 months (and probably 2 reams of paper) to get that worked out.

4) Mice in the walls don’t mix with electric wires. – Turns out vacant condos = perfect homes for mice, and the building I live in seemed to be no exception. I didn’t have mice, but they did chew my electrical wires, a fun fact we discovered when we noticed the line to the dishwasher arcing in the wall. All I can say is I’m glad this was discovered before I started using it.

5) Thermostats that are broken in the middle of winter are absolutely no fun. – Of course the one day it drops to 30 degrees is also the day I don’t have heat. I’ve lived nearly a week without heat thanks to an ice storm that knocked out power to my house, but having power but no heat is even worse (especially when you’re alone). I now own a small portable heater, but living without heat for more than a couple days is still a no-go from now on.

6) Plumbing nightmares always happen at inopportune times. – Like an overflowing toilet first thing in the morning, or getting a call from your neighbor 15 minutes after you got to work telling you something in your kitchen is leaking down her walls.

7) A house that sat vacant for a couple years is full of surprises. – I literally never know what to expect every single day. For instance, that random leak my neighbor called about – the dishwasher that looked brand new ended up having bad valves that allowed water to flow into it until it overflowed (even though it didn’t even have power running to it.) On that very same day, fixing a clogged sink turned into replacing a garbage disposal that rusted out.

In hindsight, yes I wish I had saved up more money. (Don’t we all though?) Thankfully, my wonderful realtor gifted me a home warranty that actually covers all the appliances (even the 30+ yr old ones on their last legs). At the end of the day, I know I’m saving money buying this place rather than renting. I also know that every little bit I fix will only make this place increase in value more than it has already. I just have to keep reminding myself that every fix I make is being done right, and eventually the daily problems will subside.

But really – I’m 24, and I’m a homeowner! How freaking cool is that!

Rant over.

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