Dear Younger Self,
Letters to your younger self are a little played out. I know that. And I also know that I wrote like twenty other letters. But that was before they were played out, I promise. And because I know that you’re going to make a lot of big changes in the next five years, I need you to read this one, even if you ignore the rest.
This is one that could improve your mental health, save you money in the long run, make you some new friends, and benefit the kids (yes, you change your mind about having kids). Seriously, it’s true!
I’m talking about ditching your landlord and finally buying your first home.
Face it, you’ve been renting for a long time. You’ve been juggling the renting versus buying question for years now. And there are some great things about living in an apartment. There wouldn’t be a debate if there weren’t. You’ve been bouncing from trendy neighborhood to trendy neighborhood, hitting top brunch spots, and cutting rent checks every month. And it’s a lot of fun to be able to wake up, walk out the door, and have the city right in front of you.
But think about it — don’t you kind of miss having, like, a yard? And there’s nothing like coming home from work and not having to worry about finding street parking. What about a porch or deck to sit on and enjoy late summer evenings? One that isn’t the roof of your building, I mean.
I’m not saying buy the first home you see with a for sale sign in the front yard. You’re going to be there for a while, so make sure it’s the right one. And you’re right to make sure you’re financially ready before buying your first home. But being financially ready is easier than you think. 20% down? Not necessarily. And you don’t need to have that perfect credit score that you’ve been chasing. Why? Because there’s this thing called an FHA loan.
The truth is, there’s something about owning a home. It’s literally all yours. Want to paint your walls lime green? You can. But, you know, don’t. Do something like putting in hardwood floors, or something that might actually increase your property value instead of just hurting your eyes.
And it’s great to live in an apartment in whatever the coolest neighborhood in the city is that year. But it’s totally different to live in a neighborhood that’s your neighborhood. There are some stereotypes about buying a home in the suburbs — the cookouts and the trick-or-treaters. And not only are those stereotypes mostly true, but they’re also awesome.
It’s not just the place, it’s the people too. Having neighbors who you’re close to personally instead of physically is great. When you own a home and settle in somewhere, the neighbors become more than people you hear through the walls when they decide to make a smoothie at four in the morning. Your neighbors can become some of your closest friends.
Owning a home also means that if you want to make a smoothie at four in the morning, you can! No one pounding on the wall, or hitting their ceiling with a broom, telling you to shut up. Turn the music up! While you’re at it, forget the Bluetooth speakers and consider getting a home sound system, for dancing while cooking breakfast, or Friday night get-togethers.
While you’re increasing the volume, think about the increased space that you’ll have in a house over an apartment. Imagine having a party and being able to walk from the kitchen to the bathroom without holding your arms above your head. You could even offer people a guestroom instead of the couch. And when you’re not having people over to show of your new home, you can use all that extra space to neatly store the things that are currently cluttering your apartment.
I know that buying a home seems like a lot to handle right now. But once you get there, you’re going to be so happy that you’ll never understand why you waited so long.
You may be hesitant to believe me (which makes no sense, since I’m you). I get it. I remember where we were a few years ago. But I’m not the only one who’s here to help. There are plenty of resources designed specifically with first-time homebuyers in mind.
Your Future Self