“I’ve finally figured out that almost no one is living in their dream house.
And I don’t know anyone whose life has gone exactly like they would have planned.
You make the best choices you can at the time with the information you have,
and then you deal with the consequences, and that’s the part where your life happens.”
— Myquillyn Smith
Rentals seem to be seen as the in-between…the places you just have to deal with until you buy a place of your own and can paint the walls, plant a garden, add shutters to the windows, and replace the bathtub that is not particularly pretty or shiny or new. You have to worry about landlords and security deposits and neighbors (especially if you share a wall with someone, as we have done our entire marriage). There's a sense of settling—which is probably accurate in some ways, because I know if I had the opportunity to buy a home I'd do it in a heartbeat. But where we live, at least, it's very tricky. And I can think of only a couple people I know personally who purchased a home in their 20s or 30s. It just doesn't happen here. Starter homes don't really exist. Starter apartments are a more accurate expectation!
Our first apartment was definitely a bit of a wreck—leaky roof, Jay's car being broken into (in our gated, locked garage, nonetheless), limited street parking, cabinets with layers and layers of thick white paint, feral cats, a pool that was probably not sanitary to actually swim in, etc.—but it's a part of our story. Much like our current residence is. This cozy duplex is so full of memories, I know it will be tough to walk out the door for the last time, whenever that time comes.
For the past few years, I've made a definite effort to both make this place feel like home and to also see it as such. To stop viewing it as an in-between. To make simple, inexpensive changes to the decor in order for a room to feel like new. To focus on the benefits of room-sharing with a 3 year old. To realize how good we have it, all things considered, and how much I love coming home to this place after any amount of time away. After all, we've been here for more than six years, so this is home. It's the only home our daughter has known, and it's the place we've lived for most of our marriage.
Still, owning a house is the dream. It has always been the dream. It will be the dream until we can have one of our own, whenever that may be. Sooner, later (I don't want to say never). But I love realizing that there aren't many people out there my age (in this part of the country, at least) who are actually living that dream, easily residing in the perfect home with a white picket fence. I may shed a crocodile tear or two when I calculate how much we've spent on rent for the past six years, but still. Because we were renting, we've built up a pretty little nest egg that will hopefully help us out when the perfect opportunity comes along. And who knows? It could be sooner than later.
Until then, I will continue to make this rental our home. (And maybe start to pester the landlord a bit about the chipping paint in the living room. I must admit, it is rather nice not having to foot the bill for these sorts of things.)
Affiliate link included in this post. Yep, yep.