Recently, our savings hit a critical threshold and we started doing something I had never concieved in my life I would be doing: House shopping.
I always thought myself an apartment sort of person. All I needed was a room, a bed, and a small kitchen in which to live. Yes, I understood that my money was going to pay for something I didn't own but simply used. I understood that not buiying a house was ultimately a waste of money and financial potential. I shrugged off a lot of that talk as something from a previous generation where you could just buy a house and expect to live there for the rest of your life. Today, and in the IT industry in general, you move around a lot. Often jumping companies is the only way to advance. Apartments then seemed completely justified.
When I started living with others, however, an apartment no longer worked. It cost more. It was more cramped. Renting has also become a lot more annoying. It's been a rentor's market for so long that companies seem to care less and less about treating their tenants like garbage. I've not been untouched, but what I have run across has left me deeply upset. Often I no longer feel safe in my own apartment because of the inherit power-imbalance in the situation. As I've gotten older, I've found dealing with this less and less worth the stress.
When I started working from home, the old axiom of "a room, a bed, and a small kitchen" no longer made sense. There was no way to easily transition to a "work" state of mind without the constant temptation of nearby distractions and interruptions from family. This has led to a lot of collateral stress caused by the nagging feeling that I'm not focused or in a good work rhythim. My boss would beg to differ with me on this point, thankfully. Even if it's a completely subjective feeling, it does cost stress and energy that it shouldn't.
As my family grew from two to three to four, having a sense of personal space for us all became a huge concern. Each of us needs some amount of private space that we all lack at this point. Right now, we're all in eachother's ways, fraying nerves and putting otherwise shipworthy relationships into shallow water laden with sharp and craggy rocks. An apartment simply won't work. We need a house.
Surprisingly, we appear to be at an odd conjunction of income, credit, and low housing prices to make this happen. Yesterday, I signed my name to a short sale for a house a 6 minute drive away from my apartment. It's a strange two story house built in 1915; beautiful woodwork, brightly colored walls, two bathrooms and the makings of a third. We've already nicknamed it the TARDIS house as it feels so much bigger on the inside. As you might guess, I really, really like this house. For the moment, it appears we've won the seller over, but the real gatekeeper is the bank. If they don't go for it, the entire deal falls apart, and I look somewhere else.
It's not all jittery, excited news, however. I worry about paying the morgage, buying appliances, and so on. I worry that it will lock me into an area of the world from which I will never leave. I worry that maybe I never wanted to leave in the first place, or that I'm simply too apprehensive to do so. Maybe none of those things are as indelable as I feel them to be right now.
I do know, however, what I am doing now doesn't work any longer. It's not that the room, bed, and small kitchen no longer works, it's that I outgrew it.