Q: Two years ago I split with my long-term boyfriend and bought a nice house in a more affordable area. Even after two years I can’t shake the feeling this house is temporary and so I’m reluctant to really dig in and make it my own. Buying this house still makes sense monetarily, though I do miss my old city and circle of friends. Deciding to sell, rent, or keep living here is overwhelming. How can I sort out these feelings?
A: Making a house feel like home involves much more than just money, it’s very much an emotional investment as well. It’s a little like adopting a pet. To be a home, there needs to be a deeper connection than just the price. Otherwise, a house will always be just the building where you sleep, and even the best location or list of resale-friendly features doesn’t matter. You can learn to love your house and you can make it a home, and that can happen with very little money at all. But it’s OK to change your mind, even something as financially daunting as buying the wrong house or living in the wrong place for you.
Right now, it seems like you are treading water with your situation. That’s better than sinking of course, but it’s not very fulfilling! It’s time to reassess, consider your dreams, and set goals for your next step. Maybe it is staying where you are and learning to love it.
Before you talk with accountants, real estate agents, or property managers, think hard about what you truly want. Where would you live if money, commute times, school districts, etc. were not an issue? Ignore the parameters and “I shoulds” attached to your life or that you read about. If you had nothing to worry about, where would you live, and what would your home look like? Remind yourself where you were looking as you started to shop, either with your boyfriend before you split up, or, all on your own.
Pull photos from the web and magazines, or take pictures of your favorite neighborhoods. Ignore the financial requirements and even investment potential for now. Where would you live when you retire? What does the weather look like? Is it in the city, on a mountain, or at the beach? Does it include a lake, a pool, or a big fenced yard for your dogs? Really look into your heart for this visual, it the true first step in your path to creating your home. Then, and only then, can you outline the rest of the journey by looking at your financial picture and daily needs.
Dreaming doesn’t take any research at all, and you don’t need to wait until the New Year or any specific time to resolve to dream or set new goals. Dreams really do come true, even big ones. The only key is that you have a dream in the first place.