I’ve wanted to move for a long time. Every spring I start thinking about it, and by fall I decide to hole up in my cave for winter. In the past few years, I’ve been saving for a down-payment on a mortgage. I look at real estate apps and dream about all the things I don’t have in my current living situation. Natural light to grow plants. A secure art studio that my cats can’t get into. More than four feet of countertop in the kitchen. A place where I don’t have to live with the daily noise torture of loud neighbours. Nothing on the housing market fit my budget. I didn’t want to move my immense hoard to another rental just to pay off the landlord’s mortgage instead of my own.
I was looking at run-down hundred year old houses, with charm and potential. Although close to the amount the bank might lend me, down the road they were destined for some expensive and necessary repairs. I worried about even qualifying for a mortgage, being a single woman who earns less than $50,000 per year. It doesn’t matter I’m a master of frugality, never missed a bill payment in my life, never even paid interest on my credit card. The bank prefers dual income households with steady incomes, not cat lady substitute teachers with fluctuating hours, trying to be an artist and a writer.
My apartment building is in a great location, has a good building manager who immediately follows through with issues, an underground parking lot that keeps my car snow-free in the winter, and utility prices are very low. The top floor has penthouse units, with a view over the river and downtown through it’s double story tall windows. On the last day of April, I returned from a walk to the library to see the “Apartment for Rent” sign in front of the building. I looked up to the balconies, and one of the penthouse ones had nothing on it. If that’s the apartment that’s available, I should take it, I thought.
I spent the rest of the evening googling buying vs. renting. If I was approved for a mortgage, there would be so many costs I hadn’t really thought of. Besides all the hefty maintenance expenses, my utilities would also go up significantly. I’d have to pay property tax. There are lawyer fees, realtor fees, building inspections. I once thought paying rent was a waste, but I would throw much more away with buying. The interest would be just like the nightmare of student loan debt I just woke from. And what if the house I chose became a curse and a burden instead of a source of joy and security?
Once again I turn away from what society expects, what I have ingrained deep inside that I feel pressured to need, but don’t. When it comes to relationships, I am independent. When it comes to employment, I am noncommittal. I don’t need a husband, I don’t need a full-time teaching contract, and I don’t need to buy a house.
On May 1, I call the building manager, and I already know the suite available is the one I want and I’m going to take it. And it is, and I do, like love at first sight, like a key in a lock, like being one with the Universe. My mom comes to check it out, I try really hard to think critically if this is the right financial move and not just the best emotionally, but I’m already giddy, and I give my month’s notice of moving out the same day.
There will be different and potentially worse noises up there, snoring or an unattended alarm clock for example. But if I’m going to creep around in my home wearing ear plugs and noise-cancelling headphones, I may as well like the place! I will be moved in nine days, and have until the end of the month to clean the old place. I am giving myself a break from my May writing goals until settled in. I will have a new writing nook, on the loft overlooking that gorgeous view. Literally moving up in the world.