Saturday, 29 July 2017

Random Thoughts on Not Wanting to Buy a House

Our landlady has informed us that she will be retiring in a couple of years. She’s angling for us to buy the house we’ve been renting for nearly a decade. Part of this may stem from genuine concern for our future but as she hasn’t offered the house to us at a knock down price (to take into account how much of the mortgage we have paid off for her in that time) my practical side recognises it would be so much more convenient for her to sell to us than get the house properly ready for the market, find estate agents etc etc.

Once upon a time (around 30 years ago to be a tad more precise), you could get a 3 bedroomed house for £35,000. Nowadays you would be lucky to get the same size house for £170,000. To save up a 10% deposit on such a house would take my husband and I about 6 years. We aren’t high earners and have always been work to live rather than live to work people.

It would be years where we couldn’t afford holidays or treats. Problems with the car, dental costs and other unexpected bills would set us back. We both work in the public sector so restructures and the threat of redundancy are perennial threats for us. We could push parents into coughing up but I don’t like the idea of taking someone else’s hard earned money at a time when they should be enjoying it rather than passing it on. There’s so much pressure to buy but to be honest I just don’t think it’s worth it. Aside from student loans I have no debt. Zero. Nada. To go from no debt to a 6 figure sum sounds horrendous to me. 

Now, a standard argument from the house owning collective is that paying rent is throwing money away. That’s not how I see it. I see it as paying around £25 a day to stay in a hotel that’s just mine. A hotel where if anything goes wrong with the property I contact someone else and they arrange the fixing of said property, and the payment of the fixing of said property. I get to keep pets at this hotel. I get to have as many friends around as I like. And because it’s a hotel I can choose to up sticks and head off to a different hotel if I suddenly end up with horrid neighbours or decide that I fancy a change of scene.

The big 40 beckons next year and it has occurred to me for the first time ever that there is a time limit on getting a mortgage. Naïve, I know, to only just be realising this. I feel like I am pretty much at the edge of that time limit and it’s prompted numerous Deep Thoughts. I assume many people have Deep Thoughts as they approach their fifth decade of life, and that a lot of these revolve around expectations of what they should have achieved by that age. What classifies as ‘success’. 

I have heard many people say that your 40s is a time to ditch societal expectations that don’t suit the person you are. I sincerely hope that this trend applies to me. The things I prioritise – experience, freedom from debt, the making of memories, learning new things, time with friends – are somewhat at odds with the directives of a culture which shouts MONEY CAREER MONEY POSSESSIONS MONEY. A culture which encourages comparing yourself to others and considering yourself lacking if your bank balance and what you own do not match up with people living a different life to you.

Let me give you an example of how my mind works.

If I won £50,000, I would not put it on a house. £50k on a £170k house would still leave me with a debt of at least £150k when you take into account interest and other fees etc.

Do you know what that £50,000 would be to me? 
A dream trip to Canada. A dream trip to New Zealand a few months later.
The chance to learn all those things I currently can’t afford courses in – Photoshop, developing my photography skills, lino cut printing, watercolour skills, starting and running a small business.
A cruise along the fjords of Norway.
Meals out at fab, highly recommended (and pricey) restaurants.
Day trips with friends to beautiful places I can take amazing photos at.
Weekends away with friends who live at a distance that I don't get to see half as often as I would like.

That money would be experience, enjoyment and interaction with the world around me. An incredible opportunity to see, to learn, to gain.

Not a pile of bricks and concrete. Not a debt. Not a gesture to suit the expectations of others.

British Columbia, Canada - picture taken from Paradise in the World

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