Reflections On Being A New Homeowner

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I moved into my new home almost a month ago and the period has given me time to reflect on my new status as a homeowner. This is a collection of some of these thoughts, which might give insight to a homeowner considering the move.

My home makes me proud. I have significantly more pride in my home than I ever had in an apartment. I want to keep it clean and want to keep it in good repair. If I see a little ding, I think about fixing it; at the apartment, I’d just shrug my shoulders and believe that it’s the landlord’s job. This does mean more work, of course, but it’s work that I actually want to do.

My child is blossoming with all the space to explore. In our old apartment, there was really nowhere to explore: two tiny bedrooms and the kitchen/dining room/living room were all one room. Now there are three finished floors, each the size of the apartment or larger. He loves climbing up and down the stairs, looking in closets, and all sorts of things like that.

The daily routine is somewhat changed. For example, it’s easier to cook in our new home (the kitchen is much bigger, with much more storage) so we’ve been eating quite well since the move with many interesting dishes. On the other hand, the only television is in the family room in the basement and roughly fifteen minutes of television have been watched since we moved in (not including time spent playing with the Wii). Thus, we watch less television than before and are eating better.

Figuring out what to do with the space is an ongoing issue. We’ve already repurposed several closets, gotten rid of items that we thought we were going to keep from the move, and are still shifting a lot of items around. There are still many items that we simply haven’t determined what exactly to do with – for example, my wife’s keyboard stand is currently sitting in the middle of the family room because it hasn’t found a permanent home yet. Moving into a house doesn’t just happen in a few days – there’s a lot of shuffling that happens over time.

Similarly, decoration is an ongoing issue. We keep being indecisive about what to do with a lot of the decorative items we have, both the ones we brought with us and the ones given to us as housewarming gifts. There are many items sitting on the floor near where we think we’re going to hang them. My wife keeps rearranging everything, though; this weekend, we’re going to do a massive “hanging” of items.

The first batch of bills are arriving – and they’re almost breathtaking. Most of the bills aren’t all that different than the ones at the apartment (just a few additional ones and only a slight increase in the energy bill). The big shocker is the large increase in housing costs. We’re prepared for it, but the first payment was still a shocker.

The best part? Having my own office (for now). For the first several years at the house, one potential bedroom is being used as an office. This is giving me an oasis for writing that will hopefully appear in the form of some amazing posts in the future. So far, we’ve been so busy with guests coming to see the house, unpacking, settling in, and our normal routines that I haven’t had the time to truly enjoy it yet, but it’s coming.

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17 thoughts on “Reflections On Being A New Homeowner

  1. I hope to be a homeowner someday, too bad I don’t have enough income and only $40 for a down payment :(

    Maybe when some of the foreclosures that the media is talking about kick in, prices will come down and the govt. *sigh* will pay my down payment.

    Congrats on your new home Trent.

  2. Trent: Congrats on your new house! We just moved into our 2nd house this spring (much bigger, a couple of acres, a bigger mortgage)and I’ve found that I have to live in a room for a while before I can decide what to do with it. Which also gives me the opportunity to save for whatever needs to be bought (paint, furniture, window coverings) – so enjoy the process and the results!

  3. I’d suggest not feeling pressured to decorate/furnish/identify rooms yet and rushing into anything. We’ve had our current place for a year and are still changing things around and as we’re now planning renovations I’m glad we didn’t rush into anything. You need to live in a place for a while.

  4. I just bought and moved into my first house this July also. I just wanted to say that every single thing on that list, aside from the part about children (which I don’t have), is exactly what I’m going through right now too.

    More space, more work, a garage full of junk that I probably should have thrown away long ago, great satisfaction, less laziness, and I still don’t know what to hang on the walls.

  5. Congratulations!

    Our big surprise on being a homeowner was taxes. We had estimated them based on what the previous owner had been paying, not thinking that those taxes might be artificially low. When our house was re-assessed (at the new sales price), the taxes jumped by about 70%. Ouch!

  6. We also moved into our first house in January. Yes, its more work, but it feels so great to have a home.

    Like you, I suffered thru many years and apartments with the ‘office’ being carved out of the bedroom/living room/dining room, whatever. Having an actual, separate office is so freeing! I hope you get to enjoy it soon.

  7. I’d like to second guinness416′s comments.

    It’ll probably take you a while to figure out what your patterns are like.

    For example, at my home, a bedroom has gone from being a bedroom to library, to server room, to general storage, and (very nicely!) to my office.

  8. Why did you buy a house with so much extra space that you don’t know what to do with it all? A smaller house would have been cheaper, and you’re paying to heat/cool all that unneeded space.

  9. With so many of your previous posts comparing the financial advantages and disadvantages of renting vs owning, now it can be seen how owning is advantageous in the “quality of life” category.

  10. @yvie: That’s not necessarily true. I mean, I was extremely proud when I first moved out after college and was paying my bills and all that. I mean, it was my apartment! Man! What a life! I loved it, and still do. I mean, yes, the apartment still was owned by a rental company and all that, but technically, many people who own their own houses don’t actually do so– the bank owns it. And even then, eminent domain is a big deal here around the suburban Maryland part of the DC area, where they’re building a highway to help cut down on traffic– these are people who have ‘owned’ their houses for a very long time in some cases, but it doesn’ treally matter because there is a higher-up. (This isn’t an argument against or for eminent domain, just an example) *shrug*

    I think it’s a matter of perspective. Additionally, right now Trent might be really excited about making repairs on his house, but twenty years down the road, he’ll be where my dad is, thinking repairs are a nuisance and wanting to move into a rental property, where he won’t have to worry about them, or a brand new house, where he’ll get some more time when he can just do maintenence, instead of actual repair work.

    Likewise, some of the points such as having a bigger kitchen and more space and his kid loving to explore and having an office could just as easily apply to renting a larger apartment.

    Either way, congratulations– I’m sure it comes across like I’m ragging on homeowners, but I’m really looking forward to buying a house in a few years so that I can apply all my master’s thesis research on the relationship and issues of green technology and historic preservation to buying and renovating my own home:)

    Speaking of which, I need to get back to doing that.

  11. Congratulations and enjoy your new experience! We’ve been in our current house for 14 years and are just beginning our remodeling process. Life “got in the way” in the prior years and I’m grateful for the forced delay. I’m choosing many things differently now than I used to think I wanted or needed. A couple of suggestions for you. Check out the Sarah Susanka “Not So Big House” books and study them. It will give you some useful perspectives on how to think about your space and make good use of it. I suggest these books for all prospective home buyers, too, because they’ll help you when doing the search before buying. As for decorating, see if you can come up with some architectural details that are more permanent but which allow you to change arround the decorating. For example, picture rails or hanging systems that remain so that you can change the art hanging from them. Oh, another book I really like on decorating is called “Doug’s Rooms” I think, written by Doug Wilson known from the Trading Spaces tv show. I never liked his tv rooms much but was happily surprised to see that his book has excellent decorating advice suitable for nearly all tastes, full of solid information. Enjoy the journey!

  12. Congratulations!

    We had a huge shock with our electric bills when we first bought our house in April ’06, but only because they went *down*. Our electric bill in our 1800 sft house is consistently less than half of what it was at our 850 sft apartment. We’re still not sure why, but we suspect that the exterior lighting for our building was being billed to us somehow.

  13. Congratulations on the home, its a very good feeling knowing it’s yours. I am in my second house and feel the same way, we moved in february and have been going since. New floors, and painting. Lowes and Home Depot know me by name. went from a 11sq ft home to a 1650 square ft home talk about a difference. Finally all our furniture fits. Up next is the house with the acrage. Congrats again.

  14. Congratulations on the new house, Trent! We’ve been in our house almost 13 years (I left half a grad school dorm room when I got married, so 1650 s/f seemed like a PALACE!). I have one bit of advice: buy flood insurance. Even if you don’t live in a flood zone. We didn’t, and six months later, I was mumbling “but we ‘t live in a C zone,” to myself as I watched the water wash in the front door.

    We did all the rebuilding ourselves, under the theory that “if some high school dropout with a ninth-grade education can do this, surely two people with college degrees can handle it.” NOTE: This does not always hold true! Laying ceramic tile took a year. Floating sheetrock is hot, dirty and not fun. Insulation is particularly nasty. Never mind that my husband started a fire sweating pipes in the bathroom with an oxyacetylene torch. (And set off the security system so we met all the neighbors when they came hammering on our doors because the air horns were blaring and the strobe light we didn’t know we had outside was flashing).

    We developed a close, personal relationship with the people who hold classes at Home Depot, and the guy who worked in the home maintenance department of Wal-Mart used to visibly shudder at my approach. It’s been a terrific education, though I would have chosen the “Cliff’s Notes of Home Reconstruction” version versus the “School of Hard Knocks” one if I could have. It’s a money pit, but it’s MY money pit….and I still wouldn’t trade it. Most days. But I’ll never hang wallpaper again.

    Anyway, congrats again!

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