Owning a home is a burden, one I don’t care for.

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Everyone tells my partner and I to buy a home right now. “Buy a home!” they say, “Don’t waste your hard earned money on  paying someone else’s mortgage!”

As if the spark of the idea was good enough in itself to actually acquire a mortgage, buy, and maintain a home. Why people continuously say this to us, I have no idea. Obviously if we had loads of cash hanging around we’d be buying houses left, right, and centre. Buying a home is like the Number 1 preached/celebrated/enforced goal that ever existed. I’m sure a 3 year old would say her goal was to buy a home one day. As I’m not a complete knob, the idea of home buying crosses my mind regularly, but because I’m not a knob, I do not want to buy a home yet.

Home buying and renting are often compared as similar activities. I can tell you they are not. My housing expense is $755 every month, flat, done and over. For $755 I have a one bedroom basement apartment, laundry, heat/hydro/water, cable, and Internet. All this in downtown Toronto where I am a 1 minute walk from the subway. There will never ever be a day where I have to buy a new kitchen appliance, fix the roof, replace the windows, pay property taxes, or install air conditioning (or any installation of any kind, really). There will never be a day I’m surprised with an expense, or require to pay thousands of dollars to fix something out of the blue. I can spontaneously go on vacation, take time off work, or indulge in some other expense because my emergency fund doesn’t have to include new roofs.

This is why one rents. Because the fear of being house poor is not worth owning a home if its not fundamentally important to your happiness. A home is also not an “asset” because assets should bring in money. A rental property is an asset, a stock is an asset, a valuable artwork collection is an asset, but your own home is something you pay to live in, pay money to maintain, and then have a possibility of actually losing money on it, or just breaking even. And if you are lucky enough to make money off the sale, here’s the catch: you will probably just put that money into another home, and probably a more expensive home where the costs to maintain and live in it will be even more expensive.

Now I get owning a home is nice; you can do the lawn up real nice, or renovate it (yay HGTV). And you can reinvest that money into a bigger place or have an “asset (as the bank likes to call it)” to borrow against. But you can also have stocks that do that same thing or other investments that aren’t as risky as home ownership.

I believe the average household debt for a Canadian family is hedging up to $100,000. To me, I’d rather know my bottom line will always be my bottom line and spend money living my life with a sense of freedom while I’m young. I’ll worry about home ownership in my 30s or 40s, when I want my kids to grow up in a family home and have a really fancy lawn.

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Why apartment hunting sucks and is not remotely fun.

Apartment hunting is the worst. HGTV has made apartment hunting seem fun, but really it’s not.

It’s exciting and fun to look inside a new home and wonder about all the amazing HGTV DIY things you could do to the space. But generally, the constant searching, visiting locations, making impulse decisions that feel like bullying, and the insecurity of  the “is this a good deal” conundrum are just the beginning of the awful journey of making a “home” for yourself.

Then theres the packing and moving. And the start up costs for your first and last months rent (or the down payment, lawyers fees, closing costs, and moving vehicles), the internet, cable, and hydro (which go into hundreds of dollars). And there’s the cleaning, endless amounts of cleaning up  your old place (if you’re nice enough) and your new place. Scrubbing the bathroom tiles, the fridge, and the grease off the kitchen backsplash. And you’ll have to move all the appliances to get the food and things that fell behind many years ago that the previous resident didn’t choose to pick up. Heaven forbid they had a pet… you find cat hairs centuries old in the corners or maybe a urine stain in a hidden spot after an upset kitty was left alone for too long. But that’s not where it ends. Once you have a clean shell of a home, you will want to paint, decorate, maybe renovate the floors or some shoddy drywalling. And then you have to unpack, find a spot for everything you have that either overwhelms the space or leaves it looking stark. You’ll most definitely need some new furniture, or organizers, or tools to help make the space most efficient. And then in the first year of living there you’ll for sure have some “exciting” surprises: ants take over the bathroom, flooding fills your basement, your neighbours are loud or weird, the place is a energy sucker… it’s always the same usual junk.

As someone on the verge of an apartment hunt, I’m already feeling defeated. But like any person that has to move, it’s one of those obstacles I have to face. And with years of experience being strapped on the back of a 4×4 and pulled through the streets to be mocked and heckled by the townspeople (figuratively speaking of course), I am now prepared to strap on my well seasoned armour.

These are my apartment rules, unbreakable because while the place will be cute on a passthrough, without these things I will be led to insanity.

– Double sink in the kitchen: essential for doing dishes and just not hating life everyday.

– Laundry: I’ve avoided going to the laundry mat for 7 years now, I will continue to do so.

– A full bathtub: I love baths, but I also like washing large things like garbage cans or dogs (please make sure to wash your tub between these activities), so having a full bath just makes my life easy.

– Separate rooms: I don’t do a studio or open concept thing. When there’s a lot of people around, one needs to escape or even if there’s just one person around, I need to get away from you.

– Windows: big windows make me happy, and balconies or an outdoor space makes a winner.