What makes home for you? Hmm, that's an interesting question for someone like me, a chronic apartment hopper. Since 2004, after graduating from college and moving out of the dorms, I have lived in 8 different apartments. Some might see that as excessive, but for me, it's normal. I hate the actual work of packing and moving, but I love being some place new. I know the American dream is a house surrounded by a picket fence in a subdivision, and a tire swing hanging from the giant oak in the front yard for your 2.5 children to play in, but I'm not there yet.
My reality is that I may never get there; see I have what is called a commitment-phobia (I self- diagnosed myself several years ago). Along with those 8 different apartments, I have had 6 different jobs, 4 different cars, and at least 25 different hairstyles and colors, (blonde - well, it was more than just yellow, was by far the worse, especially sine I was trying to go red). It's very hard for me to be happy in the same place for too long and I don't know if that will ever change. I know lots of people who have bought homes and condos, then ask me when I am going to do it and I just shrug and say, "I don't know," cause that's the honest truth. They also ask if I have thought about buying and when I say no, it's a surprise, but again that's my truth. Some people chalk it up to me being single and childless, but I don't know if that's what it is.
Owning is just not an idea that is not appealing to me. I know there are lots of advantages to being a homeowner. I've heard them and heard the disadvantages, but so far I really haven't been swayed. My commitment issues are definitely a huge issue to me changing my mind. I think about big purchases I have made, like my cars. A car is a big deal, especially when you are financing, but I have always made rush decisions and then had serious regrets afterwards. When I bought my first brand new car I really didn't think about things like depreciation, which was a huge factor for someone like me who is more likely to get a new car than keep repairing an old one. So when I went to try and get a new car, me being upside down on my loan, really didn't help. So then I wanted to go the used car route; and although I like my car now, I wish that I had taken more time to look at other vehicles that may have the features that I really want in a car. It's always after the fact, after the contract is signed, and you're at home processing it all, that all these questions come and I just can't see myself making a commitment like that to a home and a 15 or 30 year mortgage.
In thinking about finding a place to live when I found my last apartment, the one before the one I am currently living in, I went and looked at it before moving in. I had looked at tons of apartments and I had about 6 weeks until I had to move, and I already lost out on a really nice apartment because I procrastinated on turning in an application and someone else got it. So when I saw the apartment I liked, I filled out the application and when they called me, I immediately accepted. In my rush to not miss out, I really hadn't paid attention to all the flaws in that apartment, especially the size; my bedroom set could barely fit in the bedroom. The day I moved in I sat on the floor amongst the boxes and cried for about 2 hours. I was so depressed about that place. I can see myself doing that with a house and it just seems a lot easier to get out of a lease than out of a mortgage.
There's a new commercial for, I think it's the Realtors Association, that shows a couple looking at a house on the computer and deciding to wait before making an offer; the next realtor puts a sold sign on the house in real time as they watch. That commercial freaks me out! It's a rat race out there and I am nowhere near prepared to even stand at the finish line. I am not a good decision maker (it goes hand in hand with the commitment issues) so I can see myself biting off way more than I can chew and it's a terrifying thought.
Obviously, there are all personal and ingrained issues with me; I would never knock anyone for making the leap and I think it's a great choice for anyone considering it, but I don't want to be judged for my decision (especially since I have made it and that s a big deal for me). As I get even older, maybe it will change. In 5 years I may look back and think "what in the world was I thinking" (I definitely did that after my foray with blonde hair, still traumatized by that one), or I might spend the rest of my life as a hopper, I don't know yet.
So what makes home for me? To me home is more than a place, it's a feeling. Home is where the things and people you love are - with family, friends, and good memories. Besides in my apartments where my personal belongings are stored, I have surrogate homes that may belong to others, but they are where I find the comfort and love that really make my life feel full. I have had many homes in my 28 years (errr, okay maybe it's actually 30), some good, some bad, and some ugly. I feel fortunate to have had all those places and I wouldn't change that for anything in the world.
Bethany is a social worker who advocates for the rights of children and families. She received her undergraduate degree from Lakeland College, and her graduate degree from Edgewood College. Along with being dedicated to the work she does, she enjoys shopping, reading, and watching true crime shows. The Naputi-Werntz family loves her for her style, brains, and heart!