Owning a Big House Used to Make Me Happy

I looked at 75 houses before I signed my life away. I’m pretty sure my realtor hated me, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t about to take one of the biggest purchases of my life lightly.

Back in 2009, I can’t even remember what my mindset was even like, or what was going through my head. Did I really want to move out of my mom’s house? I’m not sure.

I turned 27 that year, in August. This was probably about the time I was deep into the house hunting game.

There was a girlfriend in the picture then, so part of my decision making was taking into account what she would want too.

But I remember being selfish then. I probably still am to some degree. I think we all are.

I wanted a lot of garage space, so I could build trucks with my friends. Even though I’m not mechanically-inclined, like my dad and my friends. We all tell ourselves lies from time to time.

We both wanted a lot of space to entertain our family and friends. That meant so much to me at that time.

Maybe because I felt like I had very few friends in school, and I carried that with me for years. Until I discovered alcohol, but that’s another story for another day.

We’d party with our friends all the time, but there was never a specific house to party at. I wanted our house to be that house. And it was for a couple years.

Anyways, the house that I ended up purchasing (my name was the only name on the mortgage and always was, and that pissed off a couple girlfriends), I walked through it on the first day that I went looking at houses.

Then I looked at 74 more houses. Then I came back to this house. Something about it just made sense. I think we both liked it. At least I did. I think I did.

After getting everyone’s opinions on it, because I still struggle at making decisions on my own, it was time to sign a million papers.

It was a week before Halloween, and I still remember getting the keys, and being so excited to park my truck in my own garage. I still have the photo, and it’s somewhat nostalgic when I look at it.

I knew the house needed some updates here and there, and we were cool with that. Right away, I rented all the equipment to resurface the hardwood floors in the entire house. Over 2,000 square feet of hardwood floors. I still have zero idea where the motivation came to take on that project. I always looked at those shiny wood floors, shook my head, and asked myself, “Did I really do all of this work? Me? Couldn’t have. Randy wouldn’t have taken on a project like this.” But I did. And it was an amazing feeling once I finished.

The rest of 2009, all of 2010, and most of 2011, those years were filled with parties, decorations, parties, yardwork, more parties, and not much else. I never took on anymore big projects, other than having family or friends paint, or do basic things like put a microwave on the counter and change light bulbs.

Life wasn’t always easy, but it was simple. Looking back, it kind of felt like it was on cruise control for the most part.

We were just doing the normal things you do when you’re in a relationship. I still remember a comment she made at one point. Something about this being a great starter home and how it would be nice to get something bigger down the road.

I’m not sure why that comment always stood out to me. Even a decade later. Maybe because I consider myself more of a minimalist these days than I did back then.

It could also have been the fact that most women want to settle down and have kids one day. I’m sure that was on her mind at times.

I’ve always been someone that doesn’t want kids. But some of my friends were having kids, and even one of my sisters had a kid at this point. I guess it wasn’t totally out of the question at that point.

So I probably thought, if I did have a kid, this house was big enough for a family for sure. But I still didn’t want a kid, and if you’ve ever dated me, you’re well aware of that.

After dating for about 3.5 years, and living in the house for almost 2 years, I felt like it was time to ask her the question.

I don’t even know if I ever saw myself actually getting married. It wasn’t something that I really thought about, and I think most guys put it in the back of their minds. But their significant other, and her family and friends, will bring it up often, so there’s no escaping it.

But honestly, being engaged was fine. It just seemed like the next logical thing to do I guess. I mean, that’s what you’re supposed to do, right?

Graduate high school, go to college, get a good job, find a girlfriend, buy a big house with a white picket fence, get married, have 2.5 kids, and keep up with the Joneses until you die one day.

I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing up until this point. I was just going down the path that most people go down, we were all following the American script.

And then, at the end of 2011, after being engaged for about 4 months, it was over. She ended it.

It was a shock to me. I still remember a lot of details about this day. It was the day after Thanksgiving. It was truly a Black Friday.

What I remember even more vividly was picking her up to grab some food a week or so after this. We went to Chipotle.

I still remember the table we sat at, and how I was thinking that we were going to get back together and everything would work out.

But that wasn’t the case. This was actually just a meeting. A meeting where she’d hand me the engagement ring back.

I wasn’t prepared for that. I remember immediately getting up and going to the bathroom. I was in there for a bit. I cried. I knew it was over for good. I also thought, how am I ever going to eat here without thinking about this moment.

I walked back to the table and said let’s go. I threw my food away. I think I only took a couple bites. You know it’s a bad day when I throw Chipotle away.

Once I was back home, alone, I realized that I now had this giant house to myself. My first thought was to sell it, but I just got busy with other things. A big part of me wishes I would have sold it at that point and got an apartment, or moved in with a friend, or moved back with one of my parents.

But when I signed the papers to buy this house, I made sure that I could still afford it, even if I was on my own. So I think part of me had to prove to others and myself that I could still do it.

Money was obviously tighter, but at least I had a job.

But then in early 2012 (February 17th to be exact), I randomly lost that job. Fuck. Another story for another time.

Fast forward to today, April 2020. I sold this house on March 6, 2018. I lived there for almost nine years. That was roughly 25% of my life. It was a pretty big deal.

Currently I’m renting a room from my friend in this huge industrial place downtown. I’ve been doing that for the past 2 years. It’s been a great experience, I’ve saved money compared to what it was costing to “own” my house, and it was the pattern interruption that I needed.

For the last few years that I had that house, I was single. Same with the first year living downtown. It’s been almost a year since I met my girlfriend, and I stay at her house a lot, which is in the fancy suburbs not far away from my place.

As a pretty frugal person, I’m always looking at ways to save money, cut monthly expenses, and get rid of the excess. So if I’m staying in one place a lot more now, and that situation is working well, plus I’m paying for rent for a bedroom that I’m not staying in that often, I think financially it makes sense to move on.

Plus after a couple years, I feel like I’m ready to break the pattern again.

So at some point this year, I’ll likely be moving out of my current shared space, and moving in to another shared space. It will be smaller, it will have a bit more privacy, it will cut my living expenses in half, and it might just be the change that I need in this chapter of my life.

It’s funny, for so long I would laugh at people that said they needed to live in a certain city or climate or type of property. I thought they were just making excuses. Like “I can’t get anything done living in Dayton, Ohio. I need to live in Los Angeles. I NEED to.” Now, I think I get it.

Your environment matters so damn much, and I never would have said that phrase back in the day. All of your environments matter. Where you sleep, who you surround yourself with, your workspace, etc. While I love my friend, and I love the modern space downtown we call home, and I love the creative vibes that are flowing in and around there almost daily… I think this environment doesn’t work for me with who I am at this current moment.

It’s weird, I know. The creative person doesn’t want to live in a big creative space. How odd.

I’m very introverted (INFJ from my research) and I crave solitude. I think I was way more productive when I had my old house because it was just me living there, and my environment was setup in a way that was pretty efficient and had less distractions.

If I move in with my girlfriend and her kid, will that be the perfect environment? Probably not. But I think with our schedules, it will work out pretty well. (If you’ve followed me for awhile, you know I don’t want kids. I’ve tried dating/living with someone else that had a kid, and that didn’t work out at all. But I think this situation is insanely different. And again, if I try this, and it doesn’t work out, I can always get my own place somewhere else. There are always options, you never have to be locked into something.)

I’ve downsized a lot over the years, and especially after I sold my house. I’m currently selling a lot of stuff that I never use, to remove the clutter, but also to pay off debt. I like simplifying. It’s one piece of advice that I give everyone, regardless of their situation. Simplify simplify simplify.

Plus, with the virus shit that’s still going on, making smarter financial decisions should be most people’s top priority, right after keeping themselves and their family alive.

I still have my cargo van and my small enclosed trailer. If I got rid of everything I don’t need or want anymore, everything I own can fit inside of those two spaces. I will sell my old car soon, as I rarely drive it anymore, and I’d rather have the cash instead of a paperweight (sorry Subaru, I still love you).

I still consider getting a small motorhome. Something inexpensive that has a dinette area (so I can sit there and work on my laptop), a bed, and a basic cooking area. A full bathroom would be nice, but isn’t as mandatory as the work area. If I’m living with my girlfriend, and I need more alone space at times, I could jump in the RV in the driveway or hit the road if I need to really get away. But I think I can make some changes in my current van to make this work, that way I don’t spend $4,000-$10,000 on a rig when that money should go towards debt and savings and Chipotle.

I have no idea what the perfect scenario looks like. None of us do. We have ideas and opinions, but it will never be 100% perfect anyway. All you can do is try something new when you notice yourself in a funk. I’ve been in a funk for awhile, and that’s why I need to make a change.

New habits, new ideas, new environment.

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