Lately, my husband and I have had deep conversations about our future. What we want it to be, what it looks like, and the kinds of adventures we would like to experience before we leave this beautiful planet called Earth.
Neither of us expected these conversations to turn into an argument about selling our house and becoming tenants.
A rather strange turn of events for us after a lifetime of “owning” our own homes. We are both looking to own a home, as if being a tenant is the worst financial plan ever!
Who knew we would be serious about selling our home, depositing our equity, and letting someone else worry about the upkeep of the home.
I must admit that the idea is a bit disconcerting, to be a tenant again. I, personally, have only rented twice in my adult life, and those, only for short periods. My first rental experience was when I first got married at 19 years old. Yes, you read that right! 19 years. And the other when I got divorced at 28 years old.
With the exception of those two periods in my life, I have owned a home.
Or, to put it more precisely, he lived in a mortgaged house.
All these years I’ve prided myself on owning my own home (I’ve owned seven homes) only to wake up to find that it was just another fancy way of saying I’ve always been a tenant. The only difference is who I pay the rent to: a lender or a landlord.
I wish I could say that, at this point in our lives, we had no mortgages. Unfortunately no – After 18 years here, we still have another 14 for our first 30-year fixed mortgage.
Somehow it feels like a life sentence, a debt that will follow me to my grave. Every month, the balance barely drops, it moves slower than a sloth. In fact, a lazy person moves faster than our mortgage balance!
It hardly makes a dent in the amount we owe.
Oh but wait, what about that home equity line of credit? Oh yeah, that! It seemed like a good idea at the time, having the equity in our home pay for our home improvements and updates.
At least that’s what all the financial experts suggested was a good idea. And, we drank the Koolaid, we got caught up in more debt.
Years later, with regret, we owe almost as much on our second mortgage as on our first mortgage.
Which brings me back to the conversations about becoming a tenant …
Do you feel the need to move?
Ever wonder why you have that urge?
Is it because you want more space? A better neighborhood? A better house? Job changes or financial reasons? A desire to downsize to a smaller house, now that the kids are gone?
Or could there be a deeper reason, one that you haven’t considered?
There are many reasons why someone might want to move. It has been a dream for most Americans for generations. However, most of us tend not to question our true motivations for doing so.
Perhaps we hear from financial experts who say that home ownership is the only way to go. Many say that being a tenant is a financial dead end. That we are throwing good money. Therefore, we dive into home ownership without evaluating whether it really fits our desired lifestyle.
Maybe we had a bad experience, or two, with being a tenant. It could be that we had the landlord from hell so we decided never to rent again, pushing ourselves to own the home.
It could be that we have a spouse who wants to own a house and we go to the real estate market.
Or perhaps the push of one or two new little ones: the enriching desire for the safety of our own home.
Whatever the reasons, I would like to encourage you to stop and evaluate them. Not just diving in without really understanding why you have the need.
To define what you want. The lifestyle you want. Assess your financial well-being around the idea. To clarify the reasons why you want to move.
Be crystal clear.
Ask some deep questions: Why do you want to move? Is there a reason you don’t want to stay in your current home? What exactly do you want to move to? And how much will this cost you no matter which form you choose?
For my husband and I, our reasons for moving were to be maintenance free, debt free, mortgage free, increase our liquidity, give us more freedom to travel, and have more flexibility. So that we can more easily move into the future without the burden of fixing the place and selling it.
We had to be clear about where we wanted to move forward. A detailed list of wishes and duties. For example, the size of the house, condo, or apartment. The monthly rent. The type of landlord we wanted to attract, the setting and the convenient location.
We also made a complete list, along with the dollar amounts, of what needed to be done in our current home if we decided to stay. This gave us the ability to compare it to what it would cost to move.
A reality check.
So how about you? If you feel the need to move, have you asked yourself: What are my reasons for doing it? Do I really know what it will cost to move out? How much would it cost to stay? And what exactly do I want to move to?
Why not take the time now, while it’s just an impulse, to fully assess your motivations? There is no right or wrong.
After all, it is the most expensive financial commitment of your life. Why do it in a hurry? Take your time. Do not rush.
In the long run, you won’t regret taking the time to clarify the true motivations behind all of this.