Reflecting On Our Choices

Last week I refinanced my house for what I hope to be the very last time. As I signed and dated the last page of our paperwork I couldn’t help by think about this house and all of the time we’ve spent in it. My husband and I purchased this home before we were husband and wife. We bought it two years after I graduated from college and five days after I turned twenty-four.

When we obtained a mortgage the first time around the closing agent remarked on my age. I was so proud of my decision to purchase a property. I always dreamed of owning my own home, but to buy it just two years after graduating seemed rather crazy. My mom and dad thought I was in way over my head.

My employer provided me with an employer assisted housing loan which helped me foot the closing costs. I had $30,000 in the bank and a steady job that I thought would last a lifetime. My husband, (boyfriend at the time), was making what seemed like a ton of money working for a very small dot com.

A few weeks after buying this house we went out and bought a brand new wrought iron patio set. A large table with six chairs and a hole for an umbrella. We followed that purchase with a mid-sized Weber grill.  If my parents didn’t think I was crazy when I bought the house they certainly thought I flipped my lid when I spent over $2000 so quickly after closing. My mom reminded me that I wasn’t made of money. That my boyfriend was making a lot more then I was and that I shouldn’t try to keep up with his spending.

Interestingly enough we didn’t buy much after making those first two purchases. We brought a hodgepodge of furniture from our previous apartment and received a bunch of hand-me-downs from various family members.

Over the years we’ve added a few things. We bought a china cabinet and a new bedroom set. We bought two televisions, (which we rarely watch), various lamps, desks , tables and other office equipment. For a time our house swelled with chotchkies and knickknacks, but over the years we’ve dramatically pared down our belongings. A cat with urinary control issues forced us to get rid of a lot of things and the rest just didn’t seem to add much value to our home.

I love that our house feels sturdy and strong. It has thick plaster walls and a brick exterior. We replaced the windows last year and can now open and close them easily. Right after we moved in we pulled out the carpet and refinished the hardwood floors. Last year we repainted every wall in the house and it now feels bright and cheerful when you walk from room to room. I love that there is a school within walking distance of our home, that tall trees line the streets where I walk with my son and that playgrounds and tennis courts are just a hop, skip and jump away.

This house has been quite contentious for my husband and I. While I love many things about this place I don’t like the layout at all. The house came with a lot of familial baggage, the kitchen and living room are worlds apart, the bathrooms are ancient and the closets are small.

Still had we not purchased this house when we did we would not have been able to purchase the beach house that followed. We bought our home in 2001, just before the market began to take off, just before housing prices rocketed and long before the crash that ensued.

Our home cost $260,000 in 2001. Today it’s worth is estimated at $470,000. If we waited to buy this house, (at the peak of the market is was estimated at $650,000), we wouldn’t have been able to afford a second home.

I think buying this house was both the smartest and dumbest decision I ever made. From a financial standpoint it was a pure stroke of genius. (Okay call it luck.)  From an emotional standpoint it was pretty horrific. My husband and I had fight after fight over this place and the family ties he has to it.

Do I think we would’ve been happier somewhere else early on in our relationship and marriage? HELL YES! Do I think it made us stronger to start here? MOST DEFINITELY!

Today we signed the (hopefully) last settlement papers at our dining room table while our 10 month old son sat in his high chair and smiled. Eleven years ago I could never have pictured that taking place. Sometimes things don’t work out exactly the way you think they will, sometimes that’s good and sometimes that’s bad. In this case I feel so fortunate that things worked out just the way they did.

3 thoughts on “Reflecting On Our Choices”

  1. What was your husband’s prior connection to the house? Is it where he grew up, or was it purchased from one of his relatives? Those kinds of things would sure add a lot of tension to your decision to buy it, renovate it, sell it, etc.!

  2. It was the house he grew up in. He moved there in elementary school. His connections to the place made it a nightmare early on. He didn’t want to change things to be ‘our’ house. He kept thinking of it as ‘the house he grew up in’.


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