Not too long ago I made the decision to move from a house into an apartment. It was not an easy decision to make and it took some serious soul-searching and readjusting. There were several reasons why I decided to go from a house into an apartment. I could have kept the house, but I opted to let it go (sold it to an investor) and now I’m glad that I did and don’t miss it at all.
After my divorce, I spent several years in apartments with my children and we survived, yet I wanted my kids to have the chance to have a childhood like I had and grow up in a house. When the opportunity to buy a house presented itself, I grabbed it, even though I was uncertain about many factors. I was concerned about the ever-increasing property taxes and the mortgage. My mortgage was one of those infamous 3-year-balloon mortgages from the notorious mortgage company Ameriquest. They were eventually sued and I joined the class action suit and got back the over-charges on my closing costs. I also was worried that being a single mom if I’d be able to maintain an entire house by myself as far the repairs and the maintenance were concerned.
Well, I was able to pay the mortgage by working a full-time job and a part-time job simultaneously, but I had a house for my kids. There was yard for them to run around in and I even got them a puppy. It was nice, but I knew in the back of my mind that it was temporary. I was also proud that as a woman alone, I was able to become a homeowner. It was no easy task, but I did it. I even became quite adept at home repairs, landscaping and the like.
Even after my mortgage ballooned, I was able to make the payments and pay the taxes, but only by working two jobs. I also went back to college and got a degree on top all of the other things I had to deal with. I was like Superwomen. I could do it all, but then reality kicked in and things changed.
Before my eyes, I watched the real estate market begin to bottom out. I began to see people owe more on their homes than they could sell them for. They were plagued with refinances, super-high property taxes and everything else that went along with homeownership. Owning a home was becoming more trouble than it was worth in some ways.
One day I realized that if things kept going like they were going, I too would be stuck with a house that was not worth it’s weight and would become financially unfeasible. My mortgage had ballooned, my kids were grown, the real estate market was on a downward spiral and I was battling a lifelong problem with degenerative arthritis, which I knew would result in surgery with a long recovery period. My medical problems made it difficult to meet the work and repair demands of taking care of an entire house alone, especially with two jobs.
I was one of the lucky ones, I sold my house right before the market totally bottomed out and was able to sell it quickly to a real estate investor. I was able to make enough to pay off the first and second mortgage, a construction lien I’d gotten, as the house needed major work when we moved in, and put just enough money in my pocket to start my new downsized life.
I moved from a good-sized, three-bedroom house with a finished basement and nice-sized yard into a one-bedroom walk-up. Sure enough, right after I moved, the real estate market crashed and so did my health, which resulted in my being unable to walk for several months without support and undergoing surgery, which required an almost six-month recovery period.
Going from an entire house to an apartment was quite a transition and boy, did I have a lot of stuff to get rid of. I had tons of furniture and assorted stuff. It’s amazing how much stuff you can accumulate in a short time when you have a house. I had to sell some stuff and a few treasured items I took with me. For the stuff I didn’t want, I had to rent a dumpster to discard and then pay a hauling company to cart away some of the bigger items, including my beloved piano. It was hard to decide what to keep and what to let go of.
It was hard to go from a big house with my own yard and driveway into a one-bedroom apartment with street parking. In a small one-bedroom apartment, I could no longer entertain guests as I once did. No more cook-outs in the yard. No more nice, big dining room for family dinners. No more washer and dryer in my place. It now meant that I had to schlep my clothes to the laundry room or laundromat. I had to park my car on the street. No more pride of owning a piece of earth and being a homeowner. No more American Dream.
But you know what? No more raking leaves, cutting grass, trimming hedges, shoveling snow, dealing with termite swarms, squirrels and pigeons in the rafters, basement floods, roof leaks, electrical and plumbing problems, landscaping, constant and costly repairs and best of all, no more big-ass mortgage and sky-high property taxes that had blown through the roof . . . literally. No, more spending my evenings and weekends doing “house stuff”.
You know what else? I was free and unburdened. I was no longer tied down to a home. I could live wherever I wanted. My kids are grown and have moved to the opposite coast to California. I sometimes think about following them out there and starting anew in the land of sunshine. I’m so sick of snowy winters. I think about starting anew in Florida with my significant other. The best part is that I am free to go anywhere and do anything without having to unload house in this crazy real estate market or risk going into a financial hole to do so.
When you have a house, you’re kind of stuck. It’s almost impossible to sell a house now just as it is to find a decent job. I also no longer have to work two jobs to make ends meet. I can work one job and dedicate time to writing and the things I enjoy.
After it was all said and done, the only thing I really miss about having a house was having to get rid of my dog because many apartments won’t take pets. That was kind of rough, but I found a good place for him to go to with a nice new owner. Parking is a pain in the butt and so is schlepping the laundry out to get it done, but other than that I really don’t miss having a house much anymore. The American Dream now seems like more of a nightmare than a dream for many Americans and I’m happy to say that I don’t have to think about that now for myself.
Apartment life is fine by me. I’m free and unencumbered and the landlord can worry about all the work while enjoy my life and imagine the possibilities.