Thursday, September 9, 2010

American Dream or American Nightmare? Experiences of a first time home-buyer

“This too shall pass.” Many people who are many times brighter than I have said it… King Solomon, Abraham Lincoln, a bunch of poets… but I say it again today, just to reiterate its relevance.

That's kind of a halfway decent segue into today's post. Not really, but sort of.

Saw this story yesterday and felt compelled to write something about my experience as a first time home-buyer. As I mentioned on Tuesday, I recently celebrated my two-year anniversary with my wife. With that milestone comes the near-two-year anniversary of beginning our quest for the “American Dream” - home ownership.

Two years ago we bought a little red brick ranch in one of those housing plans that developed in the mid 1950s. After 50+ years of wear 'n tear and a prior inhabitant that couldn't maintain the home the way it needed, we had some work to do.

Wait, scratch that - someone had some work to do. I'm about as handy as a left foot.

Within the first couple months we got new windows, new insulation, new carpet (it was Exorcist puke green with weird orange stains here and there), an exhaust fan, updated electric (they still had two prong outlets, seriously), a nice deck and a radon regulator… I'm still not sure if I think radon actually exists or if it's just a brilliant marketing ploy, but I digress.

After an initial project like that, I was convinced I had a good five years before I needed to do anything. I mean, that's a lot of stuff.

Of course, I could not have been any more wrong.

Since then it's one thing after another - some things are obviously bigger than others. New doors, shutters (holy crap were those a pain), some landscaping, dehumidifier for the basement, hornet's nest the size of a football under the deck (puke), gutter issues, yard and insect issues, etc, etc, etc.

Am I happy with being a homeowner? Of course I am. It makes more sense financially and it's great having a place to call your own (even if the bank technically owns it until 2038). What's not great is having to fix or pay someone else to fix all this crap.

And now, with a kitchen re-do looming (we currently have worn plastic pink countertops and the original cabinets from 1955 that have just a hint of old people odor), I once again ask myself, is this really worth it? Is this truly the “American Dream?”

So I turn to you, the trusted friends/readers - what have been those projects that made foreclosure sound pretty damn appealing? Renters, feel free to chime in as well - misery loves company.

That's all for now guys and gals - I hope to read a few comments when I get home later on tonight. They make the day so much brighter. Until then, toodloo.


  1. All the fixes you listed above, plus a hall closet with a mysterious terrible odor, are all reasons we won't buy the house we've been renting the past year and a half. At least not at the price our landlord is asking. Somehow she overlooks the gross emerald green carpet ("But there's hardwood underneath!"), the heinous kitchen sink that never comes clean ("That's a vintage porcelain farmhouse sink!") and the old as dirt windows that let in every blast of winter air ("But the kitchen window is brand new. Just put it in 6 years ago!").

  2. Don't you love the mystery odors of old houses? We finally have a basemet that doesn't smell like a mix of feet and eggs... I'm making it sound much worse than it was, but you get the picture.

    We have to bleach our sink practically weekly, or it turns yellow, haha.

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