The following article is from Melanie Lockert, our staff writer. Melanie is in the beginning phase of her journey to Financial Freedom and she’ll offer a refreshing point of view for us.
Homeownership has always been a huge part of the American Dream. People dream of having their own homes, raising a family, and having some place of their own to call “home.” I totally get the appeal, but owning a home has never interested me.
Maybe it’s because my parents are not homeowners, or that I saw the housing bubble burst and cause so much trouble for so many people. But a lot of it has to do with my lifestyle, preferences, and financial situation. Obviously, I am working hard to get out of debt and am in no position to buy a house.
Even if I was in a position to do so, I’d still not be interested in buying a home. I have several reasons for this, namely that I can’t imagine settling anywhere long-term (I like to consider myself semi-nomadic, moving every few years). On top of that is the fact that I don’t want children and having a house seems like a huge responsibility that I have no desire to have. After getting out of debt, I want the freedom to travel, live abroad, and not have to deal with fixing things, or feeling tied to a place.
I understand that I’m a unique case compared to most people — a majority of the population would like to have kids and also own a home. There is nothing inherently wrong with that at all, yet some people think I’m nuts for not wanting a house.
Proof of this came recently when I shared an article on Twitter about the merits of renting and I added my two cents about how I don’t want to be a homeowner and I prefer to rent. And I quickly received a response questioning my desire. This person asked me if I didn’t have debt and had enough money to travel, would I want a house then? My answer remained the same and he retorted that in some cases buying a house is even cheaper than renting.
I get it. I really do. But I am absolutely not interested in having a house — and that’s not just my financial situation talking.
A home can be a great investment for a lot of people. Depending on the area, the value of your home can increase tremendously, and even provide a good rental income later on. But there are other stories out there as well about homes that simply deflate in value and are just a place to live. A close friend of mine tried to capitalize on investing in the housing market, moving and selling at a profit every few years. But then the Recession came and they lost their job and were forced to sell at a loss.
Aside from the financial aspect, having a home feels so permanent. I know there is a lot of talk about “starter homes” and people upgrading later on, but homeownership simply doesn’t offer the lifestyle I want.
And doesn’t everything important in life revolve around your preferences and lifestyle? I think it’s amazing that once you admit to wanting something that is not the norm, people feel the need to question you. All of this got me thinking, am I crazy for not wanting a house?
I often feel like the financial black sheep for not wanting a part of the American Dream or having a “solid investment.” But I know I’m not alone. A brilliant article called Why your house is a terrible investment illustrates my point perfectly. In the article Jim Collins comes up with a list of things that would make the worst possible investment. Here are a few points from the article:
- It should be illiquid. We’ll make it something that takes weeks, no – wait – even better, months of time and effort to buy or sell.
- It should be expensive to buy and sell. We’ll add very high transaction costs. Let’s say 5% commissions on the deal, coming and going.
- It should be complex to buy or sell. That way we can ladle on lots of extra fees and reports and documents we can charge for.
- It should be something that locks its owner in one geographical area. That’ll limit their options and keep ‘em docile for their employers!
- It should be expensive. Ideally we’ll make it so expensive that it will represent a disproportionate percentage of a person’s net worth. Nothing like squeezing out diversification to increase risk!
- It should be expensive to own, too! Let’s make sure this investment requires an endless parade of repairs and maintenance without which it will crumble into dust.
- It should be fragile and easily damaged by weather, fire, vandalism and the like! Now we can add-on expensive insurance to cover these risks. Making sure, of course, that the bad things that are most likely to happen aren’t actually covered. Don’t worry, we’ll bury that in the fine print or maybe just charge extra for it.
I had to laugh at the laundry list of points. He so eloquently communicated exactly why I have no interest in being a homeowner.
Like I said above, I don’t judge people for wanting to be a homeowner, yet so many people judge me for not wanting to be a homeowner.
What do you think? Am I crazy for not wanting a house?