I have officially been a homeowner for one year. Technically, about one year and one month, since I closed on my house in February of 2011, but I didn’t move until the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day. So I have been living in my house for a year.
I can’t believe that it’s already been a year. On one hand, my apartment life seems so long ago, and I can’t imagine going home to that building. On the other hand, I have so much work to do on the house!
Things that I have learned:
- Everything takes way more time than you thought it would. I had this grand plan of everything being done by Christmas. I would be all settled in and it would be a nice, cozy home. I had visions of sitting around the fireplace with a mug of tea, admiring the Christmas lights on the tree. Yeah, that didn’t happen. I didn’t even get the tree up this year. I had so many other projects on my list that putting the tree up (and then taking it down) held no appeal at all. It didn’t help that I didn’t get a couch in the living room until November. Only in the past month did I finally put away the last piece of lawn furniture being used as living room furniture.
- The day-to-day expenses of home ownership aren’t that bad. Every month, I pay my mortgage, gas, and electric bill. Water comes sporadically. Trash is included in the property tax bill. Insurance comes once a year. And probably some other bills that I’m forgetting off of the top of my head. All said, they aren’t much more expensive than my apartment was, and I have much more space, though in a less desirable location (my apartment was in a prime location).
- The big, infrequent expenses are BIG. One of the things I had done last summer was landscaping of my house. The house was rented for a chunk of time and then sat vacant. The plants that weren’t dead were all overgrown, and the soil had eroded so terribly that the entire yard needed to be regraded. While it was fun to joke that I had a moat around my house, I didn’t really want a moat. Additionally, the back patio was heavily cracked and as it turns out, completely improperly installed. I hired a great landscaper and I love the look of my yard right now. It was definitely a worthwhile expense and definitely changed the look of my house. Next up may be new windows. I haven’t decided.
- Paying a mortgage actually feels good! I have a spreadsheet that shows me where each mortgage payment goes. Right now, I’m mostly paying interest, and in the past 12 months, have paid off just over $5000 of my mortgage. Some might see that as disheartening, but I see it as progress (also it was great to get to deduct that mortgage interest!). I feel like my money is finally going somewhere, rather than just to my rental unit. Don’t get me wrong, I think renting is the best option in many cases, but I wasn’t expecting to actually enjoy paying a bill. Each bill puts me that much closer to owning my home outright.
- I have no decorating skills. My house is still very undecorated. I know what I like, but I don’t always know how to pull it all together. But I’m learning, and the great thing about decorating is that it is (mostly) changeable. If I paint a room a color I hate, well I can just repaint it down the line. It’s not permanent.
- I am looking forward to the future. I have all sorts of grand ideas about my house. It’s a standard post-war house, and there is plenty of room to grow. I am looking forward to planting trees and adding on a large front porch and a new fence. I don’t know how long I will be in this house – maybe five years maybe fifty years – but I’m excited to see where things go.