I don’t know if it’s my culture or the way I grew up, but I am obsessed with having my own home.
Owning a house is important to Chinese people. My parents have always advocated for home ownership rather than renting. They would ask me from time to time during my university days, ‘Would you rather buy or rent?’ At the time, I always answered ‘Rent!’ with a resounding emphasis. I didn’t want to be tied down, wasn’t ready for the responsibility. I liked living a nomadic life where I could just pick up and go whenever I wanted, wherever I wanted.
Then, sometime in the past 2-3 years, I changed. I got tired of renting. I thought it was the compromising, but that’s not it. I compromise a lot everywhere – in work, with friends, with my family. I can deal with compromise.
Then I thought it was the lack of freedom, of living under some else’s house rules. But that’s not really it either. I have a much stricter set of rules for myself.
Then I thought it was just the people. The jury is out on this. I know I can be pretty judgmental. That’s something I’m working on. God has been showing me the meaning of that Polish proverb, ‘Not my circus, not my monkeys’ a lot lately. Perhaps it is this, I don’t know.
What I do know is that I’m newly burdened in my for a place to call my own, as well as a family to call my own. The latter part I’m working on too (see my post about online dating). The former part is a bit tricker than I thought it would be – even more so than relationships. There are two reasons:
1) I live in the California Bay Area, in the region people who want to break California up into 6 states would call Silicon Valley. If that were to happen, we would be the wealthiest state per capita in the nation. Because of this, home prices are relatively high.
2) I’m a teacher. And although I have more than enough to live on, the rate of increase in home prices has vastly outpaced the rate of increase in my pay scale, even with taking classes for unit increases and extra duties for some extra cash. 5 years ago, I read an article about how it takes 5 years for the average person in my salary range to save enough for a down payment on a home. Last year, I read a similar article that says it now takes 7 years. 5 more years from now, that number may increase to 9.
3) I’m a fairly cautious person when it comes to money. I think I handle my personal finances fairly well. I’ve been trained to. So I’m always a little freaked out when people my age start buying homes that they have admitted to being barely able to afford, even before the Great Recession. What freaks me out the most is that people continue to do it! But then, 100% of those people I know get help from their parents to pay for mortgages and whatnot.
I don’t operate like that, never have. I operate independently, even though I’m thankful for what my parents gave me, both monetary and otherwise. Also, I like a wide margin when it comes to money. I over estimate travel and education costs (although with rising university tuition, I’ve unexpectedly underestimated the latter once). I keep a good buffer in my checking account – probably a little too much, some would say. But I prefer to play it safe. It makes me feel secure and responsible. I watch what I spend carefully – albeit, less so in the recent year or two as I’ve gotten a bit more prosperous from the stability of my job.
So, if it takes an average person 7 years to save for a home, then it would probably take me 14.
Hence, let my money making/saving schemes commence! I’m depositing a check into my play money stocks this week to earn more dividends. Eating out less is also a goal, although it’s tough as a renter of a room in a house.
Which brings me full circle to the catalyst of this post: I moved 4 months ago because my roommate got married. My current landlady now wants her house to herself again, so I have to move by the first week of September because:
a) I use her kitchen too much for her to like. Well, that’s too damn bad. I’m a teacher. I’m stuck on campus all day. I don’t have the luxury of eating out for lunch, so I pack lunches. And I cook because i) eating out is expensive, and ii) it’s healthier, and iii) I like to cook. She knew that when I moved in because I explicitly told her.
b) I keep forgetting to close my bedroom window. It’s a safe neighborhood, but she still doesn’t like it. Which is entirely my fault. I had to set up a sticker-reward system for myself to remember to close the windows. But the reward system has been working well for a good long time now…
c) I keep putting things in spaces that she doesn’t want me to, even though SHE SAID IT WAS OK TO PUT STUFF THERE WHEN I MOVED IN. This is just her changing her mind about it. Makes me wonder if I stored too much stuff in her cabinets…but yet, I don’t have that much stuff to begin with! I’m just confused about this.
d) She’s a light sleeper, and apparently I’m loud. She must be a very light sleeper indeed. No one ever has told me that I’m too loud. I have been told multiple times that I’m so quiet that they didn’t realize I was around.
e) I don’t socialize enough with her. Which contradicts her reason of her wanting to be alone. I’m also confused about this.
Granted, I do stick to my room a lot. I work a lot. I’m tired. She watches TV with the volume turned WAY up in the living room. It doesn’t give me much quiet space to read, or write, or think, or do yoga, or grade papers.
d) She has some personal stuff that is taking a lot of her energy, and she can’t handle having a renter on top of that. I didn’t know I took up so much energy. But I suppose when someone is going through a rough time, even a little extra is too much.
So in the end, we weren’t all too compatible as roommates after all. Which makes me wonder if I’M not compatible ever with anyone. Now, I know that isn’t true (thanks V & K, and D, and M, and Y, and R! The greatest roommates ever!). I am laid back and easy going for the most part. I pay rent on time and in full. I help out with household chores and expenses. But two (and a half, if I count the crazy sandwich lady) bad roommate situations back to back has made me a bit jaded and a whole lot more insecure. I’m tempted to move back to my parents – and I think I would, if the commute to the job I love didn’t take 3 hours each way.
So the search for a home continues…..