There's No Place Like Home
I grew up in Waterloo, Ontario. In the early seventies, it was a small, relatively quiet city (pop. 40,000 give or take) anchored, for the most part, by two universities and a variety of insurance companies. My parents bought their house, now in one of the most sought-after neighbourhoods, in the ‘60s for something between 35 and 40K. The house and property (despite the fact that there is still fake wood paneling in the living room and den) are worth considerably more than that now. Luck of choosing the right area I suppose.
I love this address because it is so much more than street numbers and a postal code; it is the house I was born to, grew up in, and continue to visit now with my own children. It has its flaws, as any house does, but it is my home. It anchors my childhood dreams, my adolescent angst and my university assuredness. Many of the neighbours are still the same… the parents of my school friends can still be queried for updates on my long-departed sleepover cohorts.
I left Waterloo technically for university, but more permanently when I moved overseas for six years to work and travel the world. Eventually ready to return to Canada, I wound up in Vancouver and eight years have acquired a husband, a dog, and two children, in that order.
But no home.
Working overseas allowed me to save some money. I had enough money that, in most other cities, I would be able to put a deposit down on a condo or apartment, or even a modest home.
But not in Vancouver.
Somewhere into my second year living here, I got used to throwing around amounts like $400,000 for a condo, $800,000 for a house. And as the years progressed, it only went up from there. Vancouver “suffered” a housing boom from 2004 to 2008 that saw such growth that buying a house became an impossibility for David and myself. We wanted to live in the city (not in a suburb) in a space that would accommodate our growing family without requiring us to be slaves to a huge mortgage. We firmly rejected the idea that we should buy “anything” just to get into the market. Who wants to live 10 years in a house and location they despise, just to be “in the market”?
So we chose to rent.
Don’t misunderstand me. This was hard, especially on me. I grew up in a house my parents owned. I remember the day my mother said to my 8 year old self, “Today, we own every spec of dust in this entire house.” I never imagined that I wouldn’t own my own house, that I wouldn’t raise my children in one home. That one architectural endeavor wouldn’t be the epicenter of their memories.
Are we doing them a disservice?
Nate has lived in three different places and he is only four years old. We never aimed to move that much, but circumstances dictated the moves, and now, although we love our third rental house, we feel we might have enough saved to buy. Maybe. I’m equal parts “pie in the sky excitement” and “stomach churning nausea”.
Who in their right mind commits seven figures to home, even if the bank owns most of it?
I am of two minds taking that plunge. Maybe renting is the way to go. Although you are at the whim of the landlord and other fates, you are never fully committed either. If you own you home, answer me this: How did you know it was “the one”? What made you buy it? And are you happy you did so?
This is an original Canada Moms Blog post. When not navel-gazing, Mandy can be found writing over here. Actually, that's just more navel gazing.