Granite and Stainless Steel Dreams

No, this is not my kitchen, but I really really wish it was. Egads, but that's beautiful.

No, this is not my kitchen, but I really really wish it was. Egads, but that’s beautiful.

I’ve mentioned before that Wes and I are renting the house we currently live in. Our landlord is very nice and the neighborhood is lovely and the house is fantastic. We have no complaints.

Lately, though…We find ourselves transitioning to a different state of mind, one that only makes sense in the context of our housing history.

When Wes and I got engaged, we decided to buy a house to live in together once we were married. I was still in college at the time, but Wes made decent money as a car salesman and so we looked at a bunch of condos and houses in search of a good starter home. The real estate bubble hadn’t yet burst, which meant all the advice we were getting was, “Buy a house! It’ll increase in value and you’ll be able to sell it for a down payment on a bigger house farther on down the road!”

So we found an adorable (yet tiny) little house, got married, and moved in. We loved that house. It creaked and it was intolerably hot during the summer, but it had a gigantic yard with all kinds of exotic flowers planted in it and we had big dreams for it.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. The real estate bubble burst and we were upside down on our mortgage (meaning we owed more on our house than it was worth), Wes and I both lost our jobs within a week of each other, blah blah blah life happened.

Fast forward a couple years. Our son is almost one and we need a bigger house, so our next move is to rent a bigger house. Renting is an incredible break from the at-times oppressive responsibility of owning a house. There’s nothing that’ll keep you on your toes quite like wondering how you’ll pay to replace your furnace, which is making increasingly more noise as it ages, when you’re living paycheck to paycheck and can barely budget out a single trip to Starbucks each week.

This is only slightly relevant, but whichever house we end up buying someday, we WILL be installing this sink in the guest bathroom. This is happening, it is not a drill, the ammonite sink is happening. I deeply adore this sink. Don't you want to wash your hands in it???

This is only slightly relevant, but whichever house we end up buying someday, we WILL be installing this sink in the guest bathroom. This is happening, it is not a drill, the ammonite sink is happening. I deeply adore this sink. Don’t you want to wash your hands in it???

We’ve been renting this house for four years and have loved it here. It’s a great house for entertaining, we can have tons of people over without waking any kids who might be snoozing upstairs, and it’s AIR CONDITIONED so we can actually enjoy the summer. It’s great.

But it’s not ours.

We can’t paint the walls, or make landscaping changes, or get a newer fridge that doesn’t hum all the time. We can’t replace the outdated dishwasher that sounds like a rocket is taking off in my kitchen every time I run a load through. We can’t swap out the tiled kitchen island for granite, or refinish the cabinets, or raise the counters in the bathroom so we are able to use the sinks without bending ourselves into right angles.

And you know what? After four years of not having to fret about replacing our furnace, we’re ready to start thinking about that kind of stuff again. It’ll take us a long time (read: years) to save up a down payment for a house, but that’s our new goal. It feels nice.

Unlike when we were twenty-nothing newlyweds, this time we’ll actually have a slight inkling of what we’re doing and what we’re looking for. I can’t wait.

And until that day comes when we’re doling out our life savings for what will likely be a fixer upper, I’ll dream about color schemes, silent appliances, and yards and yards of colorful flowers and various bushes that grow fruit for my kids to pick in the summer.

Rent Wars

When Wes and I decided to jump ship from home ownership to renters, we knew we were taking a bit of a gamble. Home ownership is as permanent as you can get, really, where renting a home makes your living arrangement subject to the whims of your landlord.

Still, knowing the risk, we decided to give it a whirl. We knew we’d be paying far less in rent than we’d ever be able to pay for the mortgage of a comparable house, plus, renting has a lot of appeal.

For example, repairs. When the heat exchanger on our furnace broke and it was a $1200 repair, guess who didn’t have to pay for it! And when the motor seal on the garbage disposal broke and the disposal had to be replaced? Guess who was really happy to not have to pony up the funds to do so!

I’ll admit, it’s lovely not having to pay for that stuff. We get to live in a house that’s gorgeous, in a neighborhood we love, and we don’t have to worry about any of the headaches that accompany that privilege.

Equity? Whatever. Roof maintenance? Meh. HOA dues? Not my problem.

The only fly in the lovely rental ointment is our lease renewal. Our lease is up in January and we’ve been discussing lease renewal with our landlord for a couple months. He made it no secret that he wanted to charge us more in rent per month, but had yet to land on a definitive number.

Until Wednesday. When he sent us an email saying he wanted to charge us a lot more per month. Like, an 18% increase on our existing rent. Too much!

Wes came to our rescue and talked our landlord down to a rent we can all agree on. It’s still more than we’ve been paying, but not such an increase that it makes me choke on my Cheerios.

So, all’s well. For another year. When we might well have to do this whole rigamarole all over again.

Still, when I think about paying for maintenance crap, I still think renting is awesome. And when I think about not having to move for another year? I like it even more!