Thursday, April 26, 2007

Our Piece of the American Dream (Maybe)

In preparation for our impending move, Brandi and I are heading down to Troy briefly this look at houses.

Let me preface this by saying that the possibility of us buying a house at this point in our lives is the longest of long shots.  It's nearly certain that we'll soon be looking and signing up for a cozy little apartment to jam ourselves into instead.  Still, with an offer of assistance from my parents (particularly my dad, who has been harping on me buying a house for years) and with the market being what it is (not that I keep up with such things; I've just heard/read that it's a buyer's market right now), we'd be crazy not to at least get a feel for what's out there and see what happens.

I should also mention that I've never really even had any desire to own a house.  I know that's almost shocking, that it's something that every young person "should" aspire to, but I think it's a scam.  Several of my friends and co-workers have purchased houses lately, and everyone I know who owns one bitches constantly about how much work and money it takes to maintain one.  I'm not handy, and while I probably could be (at least a little) if I tried, I really have no desire to be.  I can't see myself ever giving a damn what my lawn looks like, for instance.  I just don't care, and frankly I'd prefer that kind of hassle never come into my life.  Also, unlike my wife, I have no desire to paint walls, carpet floors, or make any other sort of cosmetic changes to my place of residence.

I'm perfectly content to live in an apartment, for the rest of my life if need be.  My parents would argue that renting is tantamount to throwing money away, as you're not coming away with anything at the end of the deal.  I'd counter that with the fact that I'm going to be making payments until I die anyway; "renting" vs. "buying" is really just semantics.  And there are no auxiliary expenses associated with apartment living--no maintenance costs, no property taxes, etc.  So maybe I'm throwing money away, but I'm throwing less money away than I would be in a house.  To my way of thinking, at least.

Now, all of that said, I do have a couple of positive things to say about the possibility of buying a house.  For one thing, we'd be free to get pets, which apartments generally forbid or restrict.  Even if we do get an apartment, we'll be looking for one that allows cats at least, and eventually we'd like to have a dog...and who wants a dog in an apartment?  Another thing, which I can speak to quite well after twelve years of dorm and apartment living, is putting a little bit of space between myself and my neighbors.  I've had some loud neighbors, and while it generally doesn't bother me, it does wear on you after a while.  The big thing is just adding some space, I think--in addition to the probably larger interior, there's also a yard, and it makes it a lot easier to have people over, if nothing else.  Even with all the cons, these pros are compelling enough that I'm ready to at least look around and keep an open mind about the whole thing.

To that end, we've done some preliminary searching on the Internet.  We've found one so far that seems very promising.  It would need some serious redecorating (and in this case I do care, as it has a severe case of "Old Lady"--light pink walls with borders, deep pink carpeting, etc.) but otherwise it seems to be in great shape.  It's in the neighborhood I grew up in and close to my parents' house, so I asked them to drive past and do some reconnaisance.  Dad said it was a very nice house.  However, he also believes that we need a place with two bathrooms (it has one) and a two-car garage (again, just one).  I personally feel that either or both would be nice, but neither is essential by any means.  After all, there's only two of us with no plans of having children, and we're just looking for a "starter" home (although, again, with just the two of us, I don't foresee a need to move again anytime soon).  And going back to the "throwing money away" argument that Dad has made to me several times, an apartment would cost approximately the same amount per month (base cost) for one bathroom and no garage.

We're not putting all our eggs into that basket, though (we don't even have a basket at this point).  It'll be interesting on Saturday to drive around a little bit and scout some different places.  It probably wouldn't hurt to check out some apartments while we're at it, so we can be prepared for the more likely scenario as well.

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