Lessons learned from our first year of homeownership

It has been almost a year since we bought our very first home. In the time that has passed, we have learned a ton of things. Some of which were things we would rather have left unlearned, but there you go.

So if you are contemplating buying a house, let me share with you some of the things our woefully unprepared millennial asses have experienced so far. Although truth be told, a lot of our challenges are related to the specific type of house that we bought. More on that in a second.

Warning: This is a rant more than an informative post. Though if someone gets something useful from it, it would make me happy that it was not all for naught.

Focusing fully on a sidehustle might be a bad idea

Just a month after we moved in, we made the separate decision that Mr. F. would focus 100 % of his time on the passive income potential of his writing, and drastically cut down on the freelance translating gig.

We saw this, and still do, akin to a long-term investment. We only have 1.5 years until I finish my contract after all. Uncertain times are coming. We need to build, build, build!

But, well…

Even when your one income can cover all household expenses plus a little leftover for savings, it is going to be stressful. It started out ok, but as the days and months passed and we just couldn’t increase our emergency fund much beyond that first $1000, it came to wear on us.

Mr. F. has now decided to go back to do a little bit of freelance translation so we can finally increase our emergency fund, and we both breathe a sigh of relief.

Lesson learned: If you’re about to cut your income to make a leap into self-employment/passive income, the predictability of renting is much preferred.

Know the area, to the extent that you can

We thought we were just buying an apartment in a duplex with a shared garden in the city, but it was more than that.

The area we moved to turned out to be more like an old suburb that got absorbed into the city as it expanded. Our downstairs neighbor has several people in the houses around us whom they grew up with and who are still here! They grew up in the house we bought!

This was not the city-esque “I mind my business, you mind yours” area that we thought it would be. We’ve had neighbors hanging out of their windows shouting “Curious!” just because we had borrowed a friend’s car and trailer and picked up a used armchair!

I was so surprised when it happened I didn’t know what to say. Who does that?

Share with many, or none

We currently share the house and garden with one person, aforementioned downstairs neighbor.

I will never make that mistake again.

If sharing, I would prefer the anonymity of a large apartment complex with structured annual meetings and proper budgets and decisions being made at said meeting and then implemented because the decision has been made.

Sharing with one other unit has been difficult. Especially because the other person is a very different generation with a very different set of values.

Being stopped when I get off my bike after a long day at work, having our comings and goings tracked because her kitchen window and favorite summer spot are both facing the shared entrance that you have to pass to get into your own house.

Being stopped in the stairs, in the garden, or anywhere they see you, really, for the endless (and repeated) complaints, random tiny things they thought about that suddenly have to be fixed, and small talk that it is hard to extricate yourself from without feeling rude because it just… doesn’t…. stop… Even if you tell them your brain does not work during this blasted heatwave and can we please, please discuss this some other time?

It has resulted in me barking at them in exasperation twice now. Not a good move and I should work on setting and enforcing boundaries with them instead. Which is, I hope, a work in progress and something we will talk about when we have a meeting soon about this summer that is finally over.

The garden I thought I would enjoy as a respite and a break from work has become a source of anxiety, worry, and complaints. My social anxiety has resurfaced and redoubled. Throughout summer I would actively avoid going to the shop if I saw neighbor sitting on the front porch, close to the entrance.

I don’t go out into the garden unless I have to mow the lawn because I’m afraid they will see me and come over. Even when they are not home, I still can’t enjoy it because I just go around waiting for when they will return. I brace myself physically and mentally when I see them sitting outside on said porch when I come home from work and see them sitting outside.

And I just find it so incredibly sad. I don’t want to be like this. We love the apartment itself, we both do. It is spacious and light and the location is good. I had big hopes for enjoying the garden. Selling it before I finish my contract would be a financial blow we really don’t need at the moment.

So yeah. I will never, ever share with another stranger again. At least not a singular stranger, because this stress is not worth it, and my only comfort is knowing it is autumn now and we can stay inside guilt-free, and the knowledge that it will be one more summer, two at most, before we sell and get away from here.

Sorry about the rant. Hope your first purchase, if you have made one, was a better one!

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4 Replies to “Lessons learned from our first year of homeownership”

    1. Yeah, and you can’t really know before you move in either. It has definitely made us remove the idea of trying to rent out our apartment while we go on our belated honeymoon after I finish my assignement, just because we don’t want to deal with her any more than necessary.

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  1. As someone firmly on the introverted end of the spectrum, I understand perfectly what you are going through. A few years ago I bought a small end-of-terrace house, and I’ve had to deal with a nosy elderly neighbour ever since. Well-intentioned, I’m sure, but nosy. I’ve developed a range of avoidance and stealth strategies that would make a ninja proud.
    I would dig a moat and fill it with piranhas, but I’m afraid it wouldn’t get planning permissions. So I have to cope in other ways.
    I hope autumn brings you some solace. It certainly will for me!

    Liked by 1 person

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