Four years ago, we owned a home. It was our first, built from the ground up to our liking and with our specifications. We were over the moon in love with it. It was the home we first brought our daughter Bella into, and it was near our families — so perfect for the three of us.
When we sold it and moved to an apartment in a larger city, I missed my house dreadfully at first. All I wanted was to be back in a home of our own. After all, no one I knew was renting with kids.
Then my husband rejoined the military. Bella grew up — her little messes becoming bigger messes. We adopted pets. We rented a home, and inside I wondered if we would ever buy again.
At one point, I flew to New Jersey to a town I’d moved from 20 years before, and had never been back to since. Turning the corner to see my old house sitting there brought back a flood of emotions I didn’t even know I still felt. I bawled. It was the first home I truly remembered as a child; I loved it so much that it had haunted my dreams for years. I remembered every room, every layout.
And it wasn’t truly ours. It was a manor home next to the church where my dad was the pastor. We lived in it because of that, and when we left, the next pastor moved his family in.
In my childhood mind, it was more our home than anywhere else I ever lived again.
When I came back, my view had completely shifted. I saw the freedom we had in a rented home. We didn’t have to worry about what would happen when the military moved us.
Bella could learn how to care for a home we lived in, but her messes didn’t cost us a complete fortune.
Instead of focusing on repairs and updates, we just got to be together. Our first home was a constant barrage of things needing to be fixed or done (a fence put in, the new washer didn’t work, etc.), and in our rented homes we have very little to worry about. With the money we didn’t have to spend on a home, we bought our own major appliances and avoided the chance of getting ones that went out or were on their last legs.
When the military moved us (or we wanted to move to a different home), we could pack up and leave. This past fall, we hired a cleaning crew to come take care of the house, and we left. It was the simplest move I’ve ever done, and I’ve moved ten times in our marriage. Because we’d cared for that home like our own, we received our entire deposit back, which paid for rent on the next one.
I used to think renting was throwing your money away. Yet paying on a home that was “ours” and four years later we owed nearly the same amount on — that wasn’t worth it to us. Not even the tax credits made up for the amount we spent on a home. Some people are fantastic with home ownership. We are not those people right now, and we’re okay with that.
Sam and I decided that once we are settled in a place we love, and he is close to retirement, we will talk about buying again. Something Bella can come home to, but with fond memories of our other homes.
Until then, we love each home we are in just like it’s ours, because it is. I want Bella to have the same feeling as I did growing up, that her love for where she lives has no bearing on whether or not our name is on the deed.
Diana blogs at Diana Wrote about her life with a daughter here and three sons in heaven, life as an army wife, and her faith. You can also find her work on Liberating Working Moms, She Reads Truth, Still Standing Magazine, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post, with smaller glimpses into her day on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
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