Homeownership has been on my mind a lot lately. I’m not sure why. It all started a month ago when I went back to the Midwest to visit friends and family. It hit me like a ton of bricks because prior to that, I thought I had myself convinced that I was bound for a life of travel and adventure. Shortly after my visit home I went to my favorite place in the U.S. (because I haven’t been to that many awesome places): The Black Hills in South Dakota. I thought, “homes and land are fairly cheap here; maybe I could just buy a vacation cabin for now and someday settle in.” That seems like a viable plan. As soon as I got back to Colorado I started scouring Zillow and Realtor.
What I found is that the real estate market is incredibly frustrating here. And what I mean by incredibly frustrating is “incredibly expensive”. I might even say “impossibly expensive” (for what I’m looking for anyways).
As a naïve, ignorant, stubborn, and flat out stupid early 20’something I got myself into a spot of trouble with real estate. I bought a duplex and a single-family home at the height of the bubble when I lived in TX. And then I moved away from TX, back to WI. And then the bubble burst. The next several years of my life were dark.
But I got over it. And all is well again.
I have definitely learned my lesson. I do not understand people my age or younger, that may not have the same financial means as I, that go out and spend $300k or more on a house simply because “$300k in Boulder is a good price!!” Ha! You buffoon!!! Yes, maybe it’s a ‘good price’ for Boulder, but guess what? It’s still $300k! Do you understand the implications and gravity of that amount of money? Do you know what that is going to do to your lifestyle? Gah!! I don’t get it.
But I am still envious of their ignorance.
As Americans, we’ve been told homeownership is the American Dream. Our older friends and relatives expect it. For the truly old school, if you have a steady job, a decent income, and are in your 30’s, your grandparents might start to get just as antsy about you owning a home as they are about giving them great-grandchildren. But for the people in my generation that have some intelligence, it’s not really for us. We saw the bubble burst; we saw net-worth plummet; we saw layoffs; we have huge student loans; and some of us can’t find jobs. Being saddled with an even huger amount of debt just seems silly. But again, it’s just for those of us that value a lifestyle rather than a house.
As climbers, being homeless is almost a fantasy, a dream, a right of passage. We yearn for that opportunity. What is it about not owning a home or not having to pay rent that seems so romantic to us? Why on earth would anybody want to live out of a Subaru Outback, with no electricity, with no plumbing, with no kitchen, with no TV, and still try to function in society? With a professional career? It just doesn’t make sense.
But it makes all the sense in the world.
And that’s where I am, caught between a strange dichotomy of strongly desiring a home, yet unwilling to give up my lifestyle just to afford one, and surrounded by peers that think I’m ridiculous for legitimately wanting to live out of my car (or something close to it).
I can’t divulge too much information, but I fully intend to live 2014 without a lease on an apartment.
I will be traveling extensively for work, and there is potential that I will not even be in any one place for more than a month at a time. If I alternate a month (or more) on the road, followed by a month (or less) in Colorado, it makes absolutely no sense to sign a 12-month lease. Towards the end of my travel dates, I will simply look on Craigslist for someone offering a room that I can stay in for my time back in Colorado. If I can’t find one before I return, my Outback is surprisingly comfortable to sleep in. Luckily our office has a shower. For all this time, I can simply put the rest of my stuff in storage.
If all goes to plan, I think this is a great way to force myself to learn to live minimally. Since graduating college, I’ve always had a lot of “stuff”, but it’s “stuff” worth having…provided I’m actually here to use/enjoy it. And while I won’t be living completely free of charge, the amount I spend on storage and the occasional room share will be drastically less than what I’m paying in rent right now.
Who knows, maybe with all that money I’ll be saving, I could actually afford a down payment on a house.