It doesn’t matter who you are, expat or not, everyone wants to feel that they have a space that feels like home. The Native and I will be married for five years this year and in that time, we have lived in three properties. All rented.
We got here because, by most people’s standards, we are pretty strict about living within our means (which is a post for another day) and when we were planning our wedding, we paid for everything in cash. Both sets of parents were supportive and helped financially along the way, which was and still is so appreciated, but the dress, the car, the flowers, the reception venue and food, the tuxes, the rings….the majority of that money came out of our pockets. I’m proud of that.
That didn’t put us in a position to save. That was fine. We naively expected, as I’m sure most of the rest of the Western world did, that when the time came, we would set a little bit of money aside as a down payment on a house and since we both had full-time jobs, we would easily get approved for a mortgage for our starter home. And then September 2008 happened. Freaking September 2008. If you had a face, I’d punch you in it.
Three and a half years later we are in our third rented property and I have been in this ongoing struggle with finding a sense of home. I struggle because I know that it could be one year, it could be five, but we’re not going to be here long-term. The property isn’t ours. It’s not worth renovating and making the changes we’d like to make to the house. So, how much do we actually invest in the place?
I struggle because in order to get approved for a mortgage someone needs to die and leave us a big old lump of money or I need to apply for Deal or No Deal and try my luck.
What’s that Mr. Banker? Your first offer is £10,000? Deal! I just used The Banker, Noel’s feathered hair and this 1990’s set to get a mortgage, suckas.
And I struggle because I’m sure that we’d not only be able to buy a home in America, it would be a freaking mansion by British standards.
In America the equivalent of £125,000 in dollars is $196,000. $196,000! That kind of house would have closets that would be rooms here. We’d have bathrooms coming out of our noses and other orifices I shouldn’t mention– two, three, maybe even four commodes compared to one (which can make things tricky when you have out of town guests). Oh and we’d have more than two bedrooms. Luxury. But I’m only tempted by that in my more materialistic moments.
I know, I know – up until now it’s been a whiny western post about not owning my own house when there are people who live on garbage heaps. I get that. But understand that when you grow up in America where the American dream is completely built on working your way up so you can have your own slice of the land, the entitlement to own a home is as American as Clint Eastwood’s face. You are bred into that sense of entitlement. It’s hard to fight – I mean, it is Clint Eastwood’s face, after all. But I do and I will strive for contentment even if we never have our own sweet piece of real estate.
And here’s one of the ways:
In posts to come, I’m going to write about how I’m making this place, our rental property, home, without throwing cash in the toilet. I’m going to try to do things that I can take with me or adapt. Whether you’re a renter or home-owner, free to add your tips on how you make your place home. I need all of the help I can get.