Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Our Apartment Is Just Fine...For Now?

Yikes! It's been almost a month since I've written. I've been seriously consumed with getting my new wedding & portrait photography business off the ground...up and rolling...or is that off and rolling? Up off the ground? Well anyways, my wedding and portrait photography website is now online, and while I still have a HUGE list of things to do for my business, that was the first really big step in the right direction. (That and getting my sales tax license...which was pretty exciting too!)

Anyways, today's blog is about a response that I often receive, when I tell someone that my husband and I don't own a home (or rather, we don't live in a home the bank owns).  We live in an apartment, as many newlyweds do. It's a really nice one though. We don't have a pool or a gym or anything, but we have almost 1100 feet of space, two floors, and more storage space than I ever had to myself in any standalone house I lived in.  There's a nice patio with room for a little grill, a pair of chairs, and a dozen or so potted plants, and it's got a pleasant view of the little courtyard.  We only live 5 minutes away from Justin's workplace, and about 20 from mine. This apartment is such a perfect fit for us in so many ways, and about once a week I sigh to my darling husband, "I just love where we live." You can see some photos of our little nest here, and here's some that were taken before we moved in.

But usually when we tell people we're in an apartment, they say something like "well that's nice...for now." The last part is ominously intoned. And then they give a knowing look, as if they sympathize with our non-home-owning misery, they understand we are at this pathetic little place through which all newlyweds must suffer, and we should be encouraged that this, too, shall pass.

Don't get me wrong. I look forward to a regular house one day, with room for a garden and some chickens and a dog and a dedicated photography studio...and windows on all sides, not just one. Someplace with wood floors, and walls that can be my favorite shade of Anything. Except. Beige. (Who invented this horrid "color" anyways, and why do landlords seem to like it so much?) Oh, and a garage. One day, yes, this will all be very luxurious and pleasant.

But really, I feel like people see apartment living as a transition, as something no real person would choose if they had any ambition, money, or self-respect. I'm sure there's some truth to that, at least in the super-sprawling Midwest where we have more land than we know what to do with, but we aren't suffering here. I have heard of grown adults, with children even, making rational choices to live in apartments instead of standalone homes. (!!!!!) There's a tradeoff either way you make the decision. And although I know home ownership is the American dream for many people, some people would rather not be saddled with high mortgages, a lawn to brainlessly maintain, siding and roofing and sod and walls and foundations and heaters and carpets and water softeners and plumbing to fix and replace, and generally the constant upkeep. Even the white picket fence will fall down and need to be replaced. You already know my true feelings about lawn care, but there's really something to be said for not having to worry about ANY of that other stuff, either. Sure, you get the nice feeling that all your money is actually going someplace, towards equity or whatever they say you need, but guess what? It's going everywhere else too (siding and roofing and sod and walls and...)!  I'm sure very smart people have figured out it's all worth it, but...meh. Don't blame me for not being thrilled.

This isn't to disparage people who own homes. That option seems to be very popular despite everything! :) It's just that we are very happy right here, right now.  We picked an apartment we loved, because we figured we'd be here for a good while. And I do believe a small child would fit very well here too.  There's no reason anyone needs 1,000 more square feet of house, plus a patch of non-shared green grass, to hold a 5 pound baby.  Just look at the sizes homes used to be!  I don't plan on buying (or accepting!) tons of baby paraphernalia and I think that if we needed to, we could do just fine with one or even two kids here. With all the time we're not spending maintaining a standalone house, we can do stuff we actually like doing. Like playing with that 5 pound baby. Also, I am not pregnant.

Who knows what will happen?  It'd be a good time to buy a house, economically, right now.  We aren't in a position to do so, but if we were, well, maybe we'd have jumped on the proposition for the reason of getting some great deal. In five years, who knows where the housing market will be? 

So I'm not saying I never want a house.  I do, eventually. But it's not something I constantly covet, and I've realized it's sure not a necessity for normal, enjoyable adult living.  I have my moments, like when we're driving past perfectly beautiful little houses covered in ivy. Or when I see people in regular houses not seeming to appreciate them, and not realizing the opportunities they have that I don't (a garden, anyone? hello? a place to keep a bike, anyone?).  Or when people work so hard for their awesome homes, they're never home to enjoy them. And it's a tradeoff, like I said. I don't have to weed whack, ever. The roofers came and left and we have new roofing and we had nothing whatsoever to do with the process. I can call the landlady if the light's broken and it'll be fixed by the time I get back from work. I can fill as many little pots as my patio can hold, with herbs and flowers. And it's all beautiful and perfect.  And we don't need any sympathy. For now. :)


  1. Glad you aren't letting those people influence your home choices. Owning a house is NOT for everyone and the housing boom and bust proved that.

    There is also the issue of home vs. investment. Some people look at a house as an investment and will say you are just throwing away your money. But you don't have to worry about a lawn, maintenance, and numerous other things that home owners have to deal with.

    Your contract is a year, maybe two. A house is 15 to 30 years. If rates change you can move in a year or two or renegotiate. Home owners have to refinance, if they are able, and it'll cost them.

    As a home owner, I DO like being able to do my own work on the house. I can improve things, paint the walls and feel like the work I'm doing is worth it to me. I couldn't do that in an apartment. But I was happy living in apartments for years. Friends finally pushed me into buying and I wish I hadn't. I bought for all the wrong reasons.

    My persona advice: when you are ready to buy, buy a HOME, not a house.

  2. Thanks Marc. Our apartment is definitely a home, and it'd be terrible to live in something you just considered a house! I agree with you 100%. Good point on the mortgage length...can't say it isn't a little intimidating to be in debt that long.

  3. We've rented for 5 years. And it is nice. Someday I dream of having matching stuff though. Rooms that coincide; instead of rooms with leftovers. Until then, though, I do love our rented space.

  4. Don't forget that those white picket fences need to be painted to stay white . . .

  5. Heather - are you just waiting to buy a home before you buy furniture you love? Like so it all goes together or something? I don't quite understand...

  6. Nikki, I agreed wholeheartedly with your post! While our reasons for buying a house involved a much safer neighborhood and the realization that we didn't really have room for multiple children (NO YARD), we also were so happy in our apartment. I wish I would have conveyed that better when we lived there. It is perfect for newlyweds; there is no space to get lost from each other in an apartment. It's cozy and the perfect way to get used to those first moments of marriage, whether it is for one year or 5...or 10. :-)
    And yes, it is rather intimidating to realize we have a great big mortgage to pay off, but it's also increased our awareness of good stewardship and budgeting!

  7. I'm glad you enjoy and appreciate your home, Nikki. You really do have a nice place. I love coming over and hanging out with you guys. Big enough for a 5 pound baby, sure (you could actually probably house it in that giant walk-in closet), but two babies? Oh, babies! Are you sure you aren't pregnant? ;)

  8. Jo - yes, I'm quite sure. I think we could put a baby in that little space by our bed, and yes, maybe in one of the giant closets. Shoes, coats, baby, Christmas decorations. Perfect.

  9. Your kitchen is HUGE. Well, okay, it's not huge, but it's huge for an apartment!

    Also, how did you get that shot looking down on the plates on the kitchen table? (I don't have Facebook, so I'm not commenting on your album.)

    I think there's a lot to be said for apartment living-- it seems more efficient, in a way. The biggest drawback, for me, would be not being able to grow very much stuff. In the end, you just have to do what makes you happy-- not be pressured into getting whatever "stuff" the American Dream seems to require.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. :) thanks Nikki. your posts always make me smile and make me think a little more about how i phrase things when talking to people (oh, the many ways the Lord teaches us to "salt our speech")

    Nick and i were just talking last night about how we might be in this duplex longer than we originally planned. but then again, God moved us out of our house much sooner than we planned (we still own it, but it's hard to live in a house 1/2 way across the country. lol!) so we'll see what He disides. it's always a good reminder to prayerfully consider where the Lord wants you and question your own wants and desires.

    i am looking forward to living in my own house again... someday. :)