Friday, February 22, 2008

Midlife Crises, or Enjoying Our Freedom?

I may not be able to remember why I came into a room sometimes, but being sentimental, I can always remember dates and anniversaries that have been important to me. That’s why I know that six months ago today we closed on the sale of our house.

No big deal to most people. Supposedly the average American moves every five years. Well, not us. We owned only two houses since 1981, and we moved to the second one in 1988. We ordered it from the builder several months before they broke ground, and we watched it go up by driving to the building site every few days until we moved in with our two little kids. We had two more kids while we lived there. It was the scene of many wonderful memories. We loved it a lot.

But last summer we had to sell it. My husband’s business of 12 years died as a result of all the offshoring of his industry to China, and it soon became obvious that either we both had to find jobs (thus no more homeschooling) or we had to move somewhere cheaper. And that’s how we ended up closing on the sale of our house after ten long months on the market, during a week that is now considered to be the beginning of the current credit crunch. We were fortunate to have sold at all. As they say, God is never late but rarely early. No kidding.

I think the part that feels the strangest to me is that we’re now renters after having been homeowners since we were 22. Where I grew up, renters were considered transients. Owning a home was one of those big lifetime milestones from which you didn’t retreat until they carried you out to the retirement home (or the funeral home).

But it’s funny how freeing it can be to rent. Maybe it’s because we became homeowners at such a young age, or maybe we’re having joint midlife crises, but this is fun! As much as I loved fixing up our house and buying things for it, I’m enjoying the amount of time not doing those things has freed up. This is a nice house, but there are no beautiful wood floors or new carpeting as we had in the old house, so I don’t worry about something spilling on or scraping up the floor. I’m not crazy about some of the window treatments, but so what? We’re not going to be here forever, so I can live with them. If the appliances conk out, we just call the property manager. Today the garage door opener went into seizure mode. The guys came and fixed it, and we didn’t get a bill. Nice!

Our rental agreement includes lawn service and snow-plowing. At first, dh had a hard time staying in the house while Lawn Boy did his thing outside. It made him feel lazy. But we’re paying for it in our rent, I kept reminding him. It’ll be interesting to see if he still feels that way this spring when the grass starts growing again.

I especially love not having to watch our property taxes rise every year. A few months ago the new assessment notification for our old house was forwarded to us in the mail. Yes, it went up again…..but it’s not our problem!

I read a lot about how house prices are dropping, and I can imagine that is scary for a lot of people. But it doesn’t affect us, except that someday, we’ll hopefully get a good deal. We thought we would buy again this summer, but now we’re not so sure. We’re praying about it, but neither of us is in much of a hurry to be homeowners again. Unless God puts something irresistible in front of us (or the rent skyrockets), I’m thinking we’ll be here for a while.

There was a time when I would not have been able to handle the uncertainty of where we’re going next. We used to say we liked staying in our rut, it was comfortable there. Now I can see the wisdom of the saying that the difference between a rut and a grave is a few feet. It’s been invigorating to learn about a new place, meet new people and see new sights as we go about our daily lives. Having to sell our house and move to another state was pretty traumatic at the time, no question, but we’re finding this to be an adventure, and looking forward to the future, whether God keeps us here or sends us somewhere else.


Melissa Markham said...

Barbara, I know just what you mean. We have lived in our home since 1993. Sometimes I think of how it would be nice to have a bigger place with a basement and more space (we live in a double wide), but then I think of the cleaning and extra responsibility that comes with that extra space.

I often daydream about renting or living in a community where the work is taken care of and where i can spend my time doing fun things (not mowing, not taking care of the yard, not dealing with fallen trees). So I definitely understand what you are saying and I am glad you can enjoy where you are now.

BarbaraLee said...

We have been living here for 3 yrs. now but it seems longer. With the 2 younger children this is their second home. It was a very tearful event. But the kids still see most of the kids from the neighborhood I still have friends there. We only moved 12 miles away but when you can't just walk over it was a hard adjustment.
I can't see how people move every 5 yrs. either. That would drive me nuts. I like to stay put to and build memories.
There are those nice benefits of renting but there is still something about owning your home. We rented an apartment for 2 yrs before owning our 2nd home and we just didn't like it at all. There was no freedom. This home is smaller and easy to care for when we aren't remodeling, but we have the freedom for change. And with 40 acres we can have few extras of gardening and livestock.
Happy renting.

Susan said...

We're on the exact opposite track as you-- LOL. We spent the first 5 years of marriage renting, and the next 21 in parsonages. Now we're facing the change of becoming home owners. It seems traumatic now (like you said about your change last summer) so I hope that by fall I'll be enjoying the adventure and the changes that you've experienced by getting out of your "rut."

Janet said...

Good for you! When it comes right down to it, whether you rent or own is really irrelevent in the big picture.

Barbara Frank said...

Melissa, we had five bedrooms plus an office and a basement. It was a lot of work! We needed it when the kids all lived at home, but once the older two left, it seemed huge. A double-wide sounds ideal if you want to get other things done in your life.

BarbaraLee, I know what you're saying. I think the time will come when we'll want our own home again. And 40 acres sounds awesome!

Susan, I think you're going to feel like you're living in luxury after the issues you had in your old home...I'm praying that God will make your upcoming move smooth and easy.

Janet, you're exactly right :) A home is made of love anyway.