A nice day to buy a house



In recent days I’ve felt like a little kid in the big kid’s pool. I was where I was not supposed to be; way too short to be allowed to go on this ride. But the sun was shining. The morning was warm. I got a green light at almost all the traffic lights.

Seemed a good day to consider buying a house.

Only days before, I’d expected the most expensive thing I’d ever buy was my car. Even second-hand it cost more than my tertiary education. And yet when it was suggested to me that I buy a house, apparently not requiring 20% deposit and a firstborn soul to begin with, the absurd spontaneous risk-taker in my head said, “Why not?” (She doesn’t get let out much. The rest of me is way too much of a paranoid catastrophiser to allow that.)

After all, if we were going to be paying hundreds  in rent anyway, why pipe it into someone else’s equity if it can be our own, at similar expense? Not to mention, moving in will be the easiest feat of all my house-moving experiences—we’re already living here.

We liked the place, we liked the location, we didn’t imagine that changing in the foreseeable future… Indeed. Why not?

Because 30 years is a long time to be up to our ears in debt. Maybe that’s why not. There’s no such thing as job security anymore. Who can guarantee they’ll have means to pay a mortgage every week for the next thirty years? I’ve heard of Mortgage Payment Protection insurance, but I don’t understand the concept—as I understand it, it would only cover a portion of the mortgage payments, if it’s called on. But I imagine banks don’t care if you underpay them by one dollar or by two—underpaid is underpaid, and we’ll take your house and sell it to someone who can pay us the whole amount, thank you very much…

…Right? Which would negate the whole point of that insurance in the first place.

But if we stay renters our whole lives, that’ll bring challenges at the other end of life. How does one pay rent with a pension? The pension’s barely enough for a glass of water these days, from what I understand.

The more I thought about actually owning a house, the more exciting it got. Even at the thought of dealing with inevitable repairs. I’d loved the luxury that renters have of not panicking about cost if they notice their roof leaking or if the dishwasher breaks down. But now I was thinking about the freedoms we’d have if the house was ours.

I could put decals on the walls. I could drill holes in them to install curtain holdbacks. (Which would hopefully remove the need to wipe spaghetti from the curtains behind the boys’ table, quite so often.) I could put daphne in the garden by the clothesline, so when I’m hanging out the laundry I’d be distracted from the tedium by one of the most beautiful scents on Earth.

The excitement had an anticlimactic finish when we learned that our income prevented us from being allowed to borrow all we’d need. Or even close to it. It seems the western world is designed for double-income families, so to attain their achievements ourselves, we’ll require a little more planning. And a lot more house deposit.

Driving home with this news, visions of daphne, holdbacks, and decals disappeared in the smoke of vanquished imagination. It was a comedown comparable to a sugar-crash. But I pepped up when I realised—now that we didn’t have to meet the cost of a lawyer, application fee, lender’s mortgage insurance, and home ownership costs—I could feel uninhibited about buying a cup of coffee on the way home.

The coffee tasted beautiful. I enjoyed it from the comfort and safety of my metaphorical little kids’ pool.

But while I was in the big kid’s pool, I’d been thinking big kid’s thoughts. Like ‘financial future’. Like ‘investment’. Like ‘what happens later, when I’m all grown up?’ And now that I’m back in the little pool, playing with squeaky toys and water wings, I find those questions have followed me.

And now squeaky toys have become a lot less luxurious and a lot more dissatisfying.



(3) Comments

  • Leanne
    03 Mar 2015

    Oh no! I was so hoping this was the “I’m buying a house” blog.

    Don’t give up on this house. There will be a way.

  • Deborah Makarios
    04 Mar 2015

    It is a bit unrealistic, the way you’re expected to be indebted to the bank for most of your adult life, just to have a place to live.
    It’s not as though not living in a house is an option – you try it and you get moved on by the authorities.
    So the only actual choice we are given is whether to spend our lives giving large amounts of money to a landlord or to the bank, in return for the right to exist in a particular space.

  • Mrs. W
    23 Apr 2015

    Is there ever any guarantee – even as a renter? As a renter you may be displaced, your payments continue on forever, and rather than becoming more manageable over time, merely increase. Yes, big thoughts are good – play with them more – abandon the squeaky toys. You are talented – you have a way with words and a way with making things look good on the web. There’s a niche, and where there is a niche, there’s an income – either by way of some employer or by freeing yourself to sell your services. So perhaps the ideas that need to be thought are how many hours a week do you want to work, can you work, and how much income do you want to earn? Are the two compatible – and if you earned that income, would a house be feasible? Do not give up on the idea of decals and curtain hold backs – rather come up with the ideas that are needed to make those ideas reality.

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