For me, buying a house represents permanency and stability. I lived in houses most of my childhood. Very fond memories are still attached to the two houses that I have memory of living in.
However, at the age of 38, I have owned only one house. That was a house that we bought in 2004 in Cincinnati, Ohio while my husband was in graduate school. We were told by some advisors not to purchase a home while in graduate school, since we may need to sell the house in less than five years in order to take a job upon graduation from grad school. On the other hand, the country was in the midst of the housing boom, and buying a house seemed like a great way to invest some money and then sell the house a few years later for a considerable profit. Home prices were going up while interest rates were relatively low. So we bought a modest, two-bedroom eighty-year-old house less than a mile from both my work place and my husband’s school for $65,000. The monthly escrow payment was less than what we had been paying in rent for our dumpy two-bedroom apartment. Our neighborhood was indeed a hood, but in the reurbanization trend of the city, we could see signs of neighborhood revitalization taking place.
As it turns out, we owned that house for nine years after my husband received a job offer on the west coast. By then, it was 2013, the housing boom had busted, and we were able to sell our house for $67,000. It wasn’t the return in investment that we hoped for when we first purchased it, but we were happy to be able to pay off the rest of the mortgage and walk away with a few thousand dollars. That was much better than many people were able to do in the housing market at the time. Plus we were satisfied in knowing that our little two bedroom house had been fertile ground for creating so many family memories: getting our first dog, bringing home our two daughters from the hospital, hosting international students, building raised bed vegetable garden, sledding down the hill in the side yard, hosting birthday parties, hammering out a dissertation in the little basement office that my husband crafted. Our house had become a permanent part of our family’s history.
Our move to the west coast was an adventure that we were thrilled to embark upon, and we knew that owning another home right away was out of the questions given the temporary nature of my husband’s job. He had received only a one-year contract to teach at a university, and we knew that renting for that year was the wisest thing to do. Andy’s one year contract was then renewed twice, so we spent three wonderful years in the green, woodsy, scenic Willamette Valley of Oregon.
When Andy’s contract expired after the third year, he landed a job in sunny, spicy San Antonio, Texas. This time, his job was a permanent job, at least as permanent as any job could be. We were sad to leave Oregon, but glad that we could go to San Antonio to put down roots and establish permanency for the first time on our married life.
Andy was offered the job, and two weeks later, we moved to San Antonio. Since we needed to move in such a short time frame, and since we had never even visited San Antonio before moving here, we decided to rent. We found an apartment and began to build our new live in the sunny southwest.
That was one year ago. Now, we are more familiar with San Antonio. We know the layout of the city, the places we like to go, the neighborhoods that we would like to live in. We are ready to sink our roots deeper and purchase a house.