I mentioned in one of my #VEDA videos that I do not want to ever own a home and Ellen asked me to write about my reasons.
The minute I decided to get out of debt, I also started planning my life post-debt. I had never been able to think very clearly (or reasonably) about the future, because there was this huge mountain of debt blocking my view, but once I started to scale it, I saw the real possibilities before me. I was high on optimism at the time, so I was thinking I’d rent a bigger apartment, get a pet, buy a new car, and then start saving for a down payment on a house.
I admire my own optimism–it carried me through months of working like crazy to pay off my debt–but as the balance on my credit cards neared zero, I became more and more realistic about the future. I realized that I wasn’t going to magically be a different person once I was debt free and I realized that I didn’t want to work like crazy forever. I began to think about what I really wanted and not just what I could accomplish now that I had a taste of financial freedom.
I decided that I would rather quit my second job, so that I could spend more time writing (and sleeping). I decided that instead of buying a new car, I wanted to try living without a car at all. And I realized that owning a home was not in line with my dream of living many different places throughout my life.
I love Craftsman-style houses, and I always imagined that I would own a home (even if the decision to get a PhD meant it wouldn’t happen until I was 50). I thought I would probably return to Washington once I finished my degrees. But a couple years ago, I was hit with the desire to travel, and a desire even stronger than that to really experience different places by spending time living in each.
My impulse toward minimalism also makes me hesitant to commit myself to owning a house. It makes me anxious to think of belonging to anything that permanently. I might have felt differently when the housing market was in better shape and it was easier to sell and move on. But even when or if the market recovers, I no longer think of buying a house as the only reasonable thing to do with my money. It still makes sense for a lot of people, but it does not for me.
I was thinking about all of this at the beginning of last year, and then at some point I mentioned it to my parents, who I judge to be the most reasonable people I know, and my mom, dad, and step-dad all said that it made sense to them. Given the way things are now, they probably wouldn’t own either. My mom said, “You can just rent your Craftsman!”
It was such a relief to admit to myself that I didn’t want to buy a house. Instead of saving now for a down payment, I can travel. And instead of being stuck in one place in the future, I’ll have the freedom to live wherever I want. This is one of those adult conventions I didn’t even realize I was holding on to until I let it go. It opened up a whole new future to me.