On (not) Buying a House

Buying a house is what grown-ups do. They pair up, they save a deposit, and then they move in to begin their happily-ever-afters.

They don’t live in apartment complexes with the single people, the students, the recently arrived.

There’s no reason why it should be like this, no reason to believe this is really how it is…but I feel it in my gut. I am a grown-up, married man with kids, a dog (then another), and a proper job. In your mid-40s, you can’t be hanging around admiring the rung of the ladder you’re on – you have to keep climbing!

The thing is – and you know this – house-buying is an awful process.

Saving money is no fun; arranging for a mortgage is no fun; packing up all your life’s belongings is a particularly nightmarish proposal – as is unpacking them at the other end; decorating is no fun.

The only fun bit is when you get to look around other people’s houses. New build, old build, empty, or inhabited – there’s always something to take away from a house viewing.

You can tell the people who have watched the house-makeover shows. They’re the ones who have gone Full Minimalist. Walls are white or slightly off-white. Possessions are tidied away or completely gone. There’s a smell of something good in the air – cookies or flowers or coffee.

Others are less careful. You have to climb over bikes in the hallway, some rooms are practically off-limits because dad’s guitar collection is blocking the way. Dirty clothes on the floor, NSFW artwork on the walls.

The first type of viewing feels more useful; the second type is, obviously, fascinating.

And so, we begin looking a good year before we’re going to be able to move. Because this is the fun bit. But comparing financial ability with the ever-increasing prices in the parts of Austin we’d like to live proves frustrating.

We travel to some of the little towns a little way outside Austin.

Smithville 5

There, we could live like kings, but commute like very frustrated commuters. Work and college become road trips rather than virtually just down the street.

So, we lose patience. We don’t want to live in an apartment in an apartment complex surrounded by other plain concrete blocks. We want a yard. We want space. And so, we decide to rent. And we give ourselves a deadline: two months to find somewhere, get approved, move in. We plan to start our new life before Xmas.


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