the practice of making major life decisions alone.
It was weird when I had to find an apartment, buy a bed, figure out the kitchen.
It was weird when I went on vacation alone. When I bought myself a car.
But the experience of shopping for a house alone is the weirdest yet.
Don’t get me wrong—I have friends & family to talk about it with. I have people I can bounce ideas off, can talk things through with.
It’s not the same as having a partner, though. It’s not like having someone else with skin in the game.
All my life, I’ve considered myself to be pretty independent. But the stakes in this—especially given the crash our housing markets have suffered—feel really, really high. There’s a part of me that wishes I had someone else to decide with.
How much can I afford to borrow? How much of my savings should I sink into a new place? What if I don’t keep my job—will I ever get another one that pays as well as this? How much of a fixer-upper am I willing to deal with? They all feel like unanswerable questions—or at least, questions with a narrow margin of error.
I’m getting more used to it, but it will always be strange, making all the decisions alone.
landisdad and I have gotten through the dissolution of our marital assets, and I’m starting to look for a house in the town that he and the kids live in.
A town where, for the most part, property values haven’t fallen that much. I’m starting to reconcile myself to the idea that if I do that, I will end up either a) spending a bunch of money to buy a house that needs a ton of work (probably through a short sale); or b) becoming a landlord.
I found a real estate agent last week, and we’ve started looking at places. So far, I’ve seen a place that has been an illegal rooming house for 40 years (evidence of which was provided by an elderly, blind tenant, who has lived there for 40 years), a house with a mold smell so bad that I nearly puked when we went into the basement, a house that had been gutted to Sheetrock and plywood, and a house with ivy growing through two of the window sills.
I’m seriously considering the ivy one, though a friend has warned me it may have major structural damage, if any water has gotten in.
The other possibility is that I could buy a duplex and live in one half. That would allow me to buy “more house,” because the rent income counts towards the mortgage. But the idea of becoming someone else’s landlord seems weird.
The idea of making these choices may seem crazy—but increasingly, the kids’ lives are with their friends, in their town. They’ve made it obvious that they don’t want to spend all weekend with me, and I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to spend the next ten years ferrying them back there, and then hanging out by myself while I wait for them.
There are no good choices. Only slightly less bad ones.