Editors’ pickReal Estate

Living In A House Is Overrated

Photo by Kyle Mills on Unsplash

If you are someone who has grown up living in houses, with parents who taught you, by example, that this is the natural progression in life. When you come to live on your own, get into a serious relationship and, maybe, start a family, renting an apartment becomes a temporary thing.

We must progress up to buying a house, right?

This is the example that I saw when I was growing up, so naturally, I assumed that this is how life was supposed to go.

But, things are different now. Buying a house is out of reach for most people who aren’t rich. At least, here in BC where most houses, even tare-downs, are going for a cool million.

I have lived in apartments my whole adult life which I have been completely fine with, other than the usual things that one must endure while living in rental buildings such as lack of parking, sharing laundry facilities, fighting to get things repaired and inconsiderate neighbours.

But, of course we always think that the grass is greener on the other side, so maybe living in a house would be better. Although I have enjoyed living in apartments, I wondered what it would be like to live in a house, especially before deciding to buy one.

How do I know this is what I want unless I have an opportunity to try it out first?

I believe that we are programmed to think that this is how life goes, it is one of the many milestones that we are expected to achieve.

Fortunately, my husband and I have had the opportunity to rent a carriage house for the past four years and we quickly learned that it is not all it’s cracked up to be!

If you don’t know, a carriage house is what used to be the garage for the main house turned into a house, or something new built in its place which is what ours is.

It is a modest looking stand-alone one thousand square foot two bedroom, two bathroom house. We have a small fenced in yard with private parking and green space surrounded by cedar trees, ensuite laundry, high ceilings, lots of windows facing all directions letting in all-day sunshine, a big kitchen and hard floors.

Sounds good, right? We thought so too, until we saw the utility bills and experienced a winter here!

Shovelling snow in the winter, mowing the lawn in the spring and summer, keeping the water-loving cedar bushes alive in a desert climate.

The house is built on a slab of concrete with little to no insulation between it and the laminate flooring which makes for a really cold floor in the winter. It’s like living on top of an ice cube during the winter, yet comfortable during the hot summers. With the high ceilings, the hot air stays at the peak of the ceiling instead of creating warmth where it’s needed.

The neighbours have been good, for the most part, but there has been a high turnover of tenants since it is mostly rentals in our neighbourhood.

Last March a clan of junkies moved in next door and we’ve been dealing with their increasing piles of garbage in the back yard, dirty needles scattered around, parties, overdoses, stolen cars being parked in the back yard and then towed away by the cops, people stopping by to buy drugs, sketchy people coming and going daily, cops and ambulances frequenting the house, and we’re pretty sure they’re cooking meth as well. Fun times!

I started thinking, what if we owned this house?

People think they have freedom and space when they live in a house, but there’s no control over who moves in next door.

If enough people move into the neighbourhood who don’t put care into the property, the whole neighbourhood goes to shit! It starts to look like a slum which is what has happened around us.

All the bills are high! Big windows and poor insulation equals a cold house inside. Electric heat is inefficient and expensive. The bigger the house, the more lights needed to light it.

Property taxes are higher, insurance is higher, maintenance is a year-round thing. Eventually the roof has to be redone, along with other foundational maintenance.

I have always felt fine with the idea of a life of renting and never having the opportunity to buy, until the market went up last year and people started putting their houses up for sale.

With so many stories of renters having to move in a city where there is nowhere to live, I was feeling a lack of security, wondering if our landlord was going to do the same thing.

We felt an urgency to explore our buying options to prevent being at the mercy of our landlord any longer.

We are moving into our condo next week, and although there is still no control over who lives next door, and next door is only separated by walls, floors and ceilings, and it comes with it’s own issues, the cost of living is less, way less!

There’s no maintenance of shovelling snow, mowing the lawn, raking the leaves, replacing the roof, etc. and there are rules that everyone must adhere to for all to be happy, or at least fair.

Who knows, I might be singing a different song a few months into living in an apartment setting again, but I won’t miss the huge cost of living.

Hopefully this isn’t a grass-is-greener idea, but I sure won’t miss how cold it is in this house all the time!

When it comes down to it, these are just first-world problems and we have it pretty good. So many don’t live such privileged lives, yet are often happier than those of us who live abundant lifestyles, and continue to complain about them, when we should be grateful for what we have.

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