When I was right out of school, I couldn’t wait to get my own place. I wanted to make my own rules, pay my own bills, and leave dirty dishes in the sink whenever I wanted to. Ok, all of that is true, but let’s be honest, I’m not so sure I was terribly excited about paying bills – it was just new and everything about it was pretty exciting.
Then, my parents said, you should buy a house – it would be a good investment. I wanted a big corner lot and a nice fenced yard. I wanted a big bedroom with walk in closets. So, at age 21, I got the house with all the things I said I really wanted. It didn’t take long before I realized we didn’t have a mower or weed eater or fertilizer spreader or hedge trimmers or, well, anything. So we began to accumulate these things. Each weekend was spent taking care of the yard and the shrubs and later the pool. Little did I know! Thank goodness there weren’t any big trees. But, nonetheless, it was sort of a rite of passage. “It is what you do when you start a family.” So we did it.
Time goes on and Chris and I have owned several homes over the years. Things have changed a bit though, instead of spending time doing the yard, pool, and cleaning the house, we pay people to do that stuff now. We would rather being doing other things, you know, like working or virtually anything else. My grandmother and grandfather surely would not understand this. They were farmers. You did stuff yourself. My generation is less DIY when it comes to chores. Just a couple of years ago, Chris and I made a decision to downsize from our big house into a 2 bedroom condo. The kids are grown and we were paying someone to clean a house that was way too big and mow a yard that we really didn’t use or want anymore. We did want a pool, but as little as we use one these days, we didn’t necessarily want to pay to maintain it. It was mainly so our grandkids would have it when they came to visit.
Our condo complex has a heated pool. It is beautifully maintained by the condo association and available for use pretty much anytime we want it. Yes, there are a few other people there from time to time, but overall it’s a nice group to chat with and they enjoy our grandkids (occasionally) too. The yard is mowed weekly, seeded seasonally, and the sprinklers take care of the watering. Leaves are blown and bagged and trees are trimmed on a schedule – a schedule I know little to nothing about. It just happens.
Ok, so I know what you are thinking. I pay an association fee. Yes, that’s right. But it’s well worth it. We can lock our place and leave for weeks and not worry a bit. It’s very freeing. I think of it as our new rite of passage.
Things change. People change. Circumstances change.
For us and for many of our clients, owning a home was like buying a little piece of the American Dream. Some, like my grandfather, would say, “You don’t sell land. They aren’t making any more of it.” He’s right, but when you own land, you either have to take care of it or pay someone else to. And frankly, sometimes that is easier said than it is done.
I am still a big fan of owning these days because I like to be able to do stuff to the inside of my place – paint, decorate, etc. and do it without asking for permission. I also like that when I buy right, I have equity over time that I can then cash out and re-invest in the next one.
But what about when there isn’t a “next one?” Is owning really that important over time? Again, circumstances change. There are certainly benefits to leasing. You aren’t committed. It creates versatility. You can go anywhere you want and not be burdened by market conditions. Someone else gets to deal with the broken pipes, leaky roof, down tree, and failing appliances. You just, “Call the guy” and you know the guy will come (and charge the landlord). Some of my clients tell me they sell their homes and lease because they don’t want to burden their kids or other family members with dealing with a home after they are gone. In many cases they had to take care of estates for their own parents and know what a pain it can be, especially when living out of the area.
Beyond just leasing another house – one with a yard and flower gardens and too much space to clean – many of our clients are leasing in communities designed for people 55 and over (or 62 and over). Some are homes and some are apartments, but they share a few common elements:
- On-site maintenance and support
- Optional transportation
- Events, gatherings, and social activities
- A more mature and “neighborly” group of neighbors
- Secure entry and on-site 24-hour security
- Pools, dog-parks, and fitness centers (maintained by “the guy”)
Some even include 2 or 3 meals a day, light housekeeping, limited laundry services, day trips, and on-site medical clinics. It’s like living in a 5-star resort!
I honestly have to say that after being a homeowner, I never really thought that I would go back to leasing. But the fact is, there is a time and a season for everything. The more “mature” I get, the more I realize the value of simplicity, peace of mind, and putting first things first. I think my grandfather would approve.
Life is too short to spend time doing things that don’t bring us joy.
If homeownership is no longer bringing you joy, give us a call at 405.708.7010 for a free consultation with our Certified Downsizing Coach to learn about your options and get your questions answered.