“Here’s to kids…and all the things that makes a house a home.”
Through Tom Selleck’s voice on the new Coldwell Banker commercials, we are reminded just how important our children are in defining our homes. We share their joys, their disappointments and yes, let’s face it, age a little more each day when their playful moments together erupt into their inevitable fights. Family game nights, movie nights, homework at the kitchen table, bedtime rituals… it all happens in our home.
There is no denying we live for our kids and our homes are THEIR castle.
In my case, our castle got a bit bigger last year. After years of saving and getting the courage to do it, we did a renovation. Our house is a 1950 construction that simply didn’t have a lot of space. My wife and I, along with our two boys (10 & 7) previously spent most of our time in a 8 x 12 rectangular room that housed the couch – which was really a loveseat - and TV. Usually it was two on the couch and two on the floor. As the boys grew, we realized we needed more room.
Some asked us why we wouldn’t move to a larger house. That was an easy one to answer. We are “roots people” and we love our neighborhood and love our house. So that left the daunting task of an addition.
And we had to move out for five months.
This began my own personal rent vs. buy journey. To me, there is no comparison. Homeownership wins. But because of the recession, we are reading a lot about the rent vs. buy decision. There are even terms being thrown about like “rentennials,” a supposed generation that will refrain from homeownership because they believe it doesn’t make economic sense.
But if you only look at homeownership through the eyes of appreciation vs. stock market returns, I believe you are missing the key point of homeownership – the emotional side and the ability to make your house a home.
The apartment we rented was nice. It was a one-bedroom across town from our house (actually the rent was more than our mortgage). It had a sizeable loft where the boys slept. The landlord was a good guy. Yet it wasn’t ours. It wasn’t home. The heat was overpowering and the windows leaked cold air. The stairs creaked. The walls were so thin we watched TV on mute after the boys went to sleep. There was nothing I could do about it, and it’s a good thing we didn’t have our dog, Allie, yet cause most apartments, including this one, wouldn’t allow pets.
And the boys, we spent five-months trying to keep them on “mute,” constantly reminding them to be quiet so we didn’t bother the man living below us.
I couldn’t wait to go home. And it’s not because I just hated paying rent…the thousands of dollars I’ll never get back.
And because we owned our home, we were able to make it better. We knocked down walls to open it up. Our kitchen now looks into the new family room and we have a new master bedroom and bathroom. The colors we chose on the walls are great. And our new big-screen TV on the wall just sparkles. The pride – and that clearly is a personal emotion – that I have in our home is off-the-charts.
And let me tell you, our boys are now back to being loud…just like they should be!