Record-breaking news here in Maine: Housing sales are up 23 percent from a year earlier and the median price went up 8 percent. The median cost for a home in my county went up to $325,000 from $307,000 a year ago. Nationwide, median sales prices also rose to $274,500 from $254,700 a year earlier. When I bought my house in 2009 it was after the housing bubble had crashed. I rented my entire life up until age forty. Are we in a housing bubble now? Time will tell, but the reality is that if you can’t afford to buy a house, it’s not a good time to buy. This post is for those of you who may believe that you’re throwing your money away by renting.
The lupines pictured at the top of this post were on the property of the beautiful old (haunted) farmhouse I rented for two years.
An old-fashioned family-owned dairy farm was about a quarter mile from the house. It was such a picturesque place! There were so many things I cherish and enjoyed about my time there. However, had I not lived there for two years I would have romanticized certain things and glossed over other rural-living realities. The lessons I learned about what really makes me happy in a home likely saved me from buying a house that would make me miserable.
The property abutted a preserve which means no development! It also means snowmobilers will enjoy the trails through the night all winter. Sometimes it sounded like a racetrack!
The water source was from a well. Before then I always imagined well water being 100% pure and free. Not exactly. City water goes through rigorous testing (I still use a filter, though) while private wells do not. Instead you will need to pay hundreds or more for testing at a lab. Then, if you find contaminates such a road salt or your neighbor’s oil tank that’s in a dirt basement is leaking into the groundwater, or pesticides, etc, you really have an expensive problem. During a drought your well can run dry. When there was a power outage, which happened with alarming frequency in the winter there was no water because a water pump runs on electricity. The landlord didn’t provide a generator which is when I finally bought one. So while there are work-arounds I really like city water which for me comes from Sebago Lake.
There was a chain-smoking grandpa ghost who didn’t frighten me, so I learned that not all old haunted houses are creepy and to be avoided.
The closest store was five miles away. On the one hand I loved being in a rural setting, but during the long, snowy winters that five miles sometimes seemed too long. I prefer to be closer to “town”. However, this was before the era of Amazon Prime!
There were some weird solicitors like men selling “fresh meat” from a truck. Eh…
All of my experiences there were so valuable to me. Buyer’s remorse is never a good thing, especially if you’ve bought a home and discover you hate the lifestyle that accompanies it. To be clear there are people who prefer and love well water and being far from it all. You need to figure out what’s ideal for you. I learned so much during my long-term relationships with a diverse housing stock. I’ve lived in a tiny house, small houses, apartments and numerous places in the south when my ex-husband was still in the Marine Corps. It really is like dating! When you rent you are doing some important research and will be in a better position to know which house is right for you, but only if you can afford it! A perfect house isn’t perfect for you if it’s above your budget. For real.
I know some of you reading may feel disheartened and impatient to buy a home of your own. Believe me I understand that feeling and was there for so many years, but had I not gone through all that I had I wouldn’t have ended up with the perfect-for-me house that I can afford. There are many other good reasons why renting isn’t “throwing away” money which I’ll be covering in my book.