Houses and dogs and books…

Let me answer the rest of the questions from New York Erratic:

What would you say is the most difficult part of buying your first house? Is there something that you wish people would have told you?

I didn’t own my first house until I was 46, when I moved into the house my bride had purchased seven years earlier.

“Everyone” said that you’re “supposed” to own a house. I was never that interested in doing so. My parents didn’t own a home until I went away to college. So I had no models in this area. While having to move every few years could be a pain, it was less of an incumbrance than a house.

In 2000, we bought our current home AND we were landlords; I HATED that. It was enough to take care of the living abode, but going over to mow the lawn and shovel the snow off the roof – it had a flat roof – was a royal pain. We sold it in 2004, shortly after The Daughter was born.

So to the question:
1) You DON’T have to buy a house.
2) If you do, it would be helpful to be handy with tools, which I am decidedly not.
3) In all likelihood, you will pour every dime into the purchase, so that inevitable first repair of something you did not expect, you probably can’t afford.
4) This will almost inevitably lead to buyers’ remorse. “How did I not notice that the dryer has a capacity of four shirts?” (This is true in our case, BTW.)
5) If you DO buy a house, you may spend lots of money on stuff that nobody can see. I was visiting my cousin Anne at Thanksgiving, and she told of the thousands of dollars spent to avoid flooding in the basement, expenditures no visitor or future purchaser will ever see. Some of our similar improvements involved spending thousands of dollars having a hole dug in the front yard to dislodge a tree root from the plumbing, lest we have sewage in the basement.

A LOT of investment in a house is all but invisible, and that can be REALLY discouraging. If I had it to do over again, I doubt I’d buy a house at all.

The single advantage is that people seem to think you are a “grownup” when you own a home.

Have you ever owned a dog?

Yeah, I was around 10, maybe (give or take two years). We had an Alaskan husky called Lucky Stubbs; I have no idea who named him, but it wasn’t I.

Anyway, he would nip me. I would say BITE but it didn’t draw blood or anything, so nip. But then he nipped one of the daughters of our minister. THEN my father gave him to a farmer where he’d have more room to roam than our tiny city back yard.

PS: after that, I was rather wary of dogs for years.

What’s your favorite spice?

Scary Spice.

OK, I jest. Cinnamon.

Old used books or brand new never read books?

Usually new, unless they are vintage. Books are like cars in that when they’re about 20 years old, they’re just old, but at some point they become VINTAGE. I have a hymnal from 1849, and another book from that period called Verdant Green, and THOSE are, as the kids used, are COOL.

5 thoughts on “Houses and dogs and books…”

  1. These are fantastic thoughts on houses. I really want a house – really, really badly – and I want to own it. However, I think that many people are polyannas when it comes to the home buying – and in some cases, home building – experience. Definitely gave me food for thought.

    Mmmm. Cinnamon.

    Another question (another life question): what’s different about dating when you’re older than dating when you’re a teenager?


  2. I’m always amazed at the vast differences between homes and home prices across the country…and world! The same home price in the Midwest will only get a person a studio condo in NYC! I, personally, prefer to own because I want the option to change things if I so choose.


  3. I’m with Lisa: I “prefer to own because I want the option to change things if I so choose.” However, like you, Roger, I never owned a home until I became someone’s partner. Had I stayed in the USA, that quite possibly (probably?) never would have happened.

    Since then, I’ve also been a landlord (twice) and also hated it. But in NZ, tenants are responsible for mowing lawns and such. We also don’t buy appliances with a house unless it’s built in, so the dryer thing couldn’t happen here.

    You know I have dogs (and a cat), so I’ll skip to agreeing that cinnamon is my favourite spice, and I also prefer new books. There! Our comparisons are all up to date!


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