Saturday, March 23, 2013

New Beginnings: Home Buying for a single gal

Let's get right to it: I bought a house! This has been a goal of mine since college and it's the silliest single goal I've ever had. To me, buying a house as a single woman meant I could take care of myself. I didn't need to wait to get married or for a man to do this for me.

I never had career goals, just a goal to buy a house. In the process of reaching this goal I've had a lot of time for reflection. While this goal is note-worthy and a symbol of success in the modern world, I find it silly that I ever put my hope and dreams into "owning" a thing.

Last year I almost bought a house that is very similar to this one but it needed a lot of work. I was hung-ho and it was an AMAZING deal: only $36k with about $30-50k of work needed. Through that process things started going wrong and it wasn't as much of a "dream-house" as I thought. I wanted to fix up a house and be a part of the Springfield story of turning something that was unwanted into a beautiful home.

As the list of chores to fix the house got longer my heart grew with anxiety. At first it was manageable but the list got longer every day. The anxiety literally kept me from functioning and I had to take a few days off from work because of the buzzing in my brain.

Putting all my hope and pride aside, I prayed and listened to the Lord. I searched and found that I had been spending all of my time searching for a house and seeking a house so much that I totally forgot about God in everything. I was going to spend time and money on a house when in reality God was drawing me to invest in something else. I let go of that house and the dream for now.

About two months later I started a new job working at Fort Caroline Middle school, serving students who were really struggling through school. I worked long hours and weekends occasionally, totally throwing myself into the students. I had totally given up on the idea of buying a house but would still check Trulia from time to time just to check on the market. The prices of homes in Springfield were steadily increasing and the inventory decreasing. I just pushed the idea away and focused on my work.

This year I took a different position within Communities In Schools to connect adults from the community into our schools to serve as mentors to our 6th graders. This in itself has been a blessing for a couple of different reasons. My landlord was talking about renovations to our apartment and gave me a not so polite "your cat can find a new home or you can find a new home" a few months ago so I new I needed to find a new place. I wasn't thinking about buying, but was casually looking for a new home. I had once again decided to stay put, with the landlords agreement until further notice.

One day I was painting and Ariane just said, "you should buy my little house. I'm moving and its perfect for you. I already talked to my parents about it and they said it would be great!" I laughed! Well, it was probably too expensive, too this, too that. but I think i told her "maybe, that might be interesting."

To make a long story short, it wasn't too expensive, it wasn't too small (as I thought), and it wasn't too bad ;-) I was one of the last people to receive a $15,000 grant to boost neighborhood development, my grandmother had the wisdom about money and saving for future generations that I was able to put money down on the house, and when I moved in I literally thought it was too big for just me. This house is less than 1000 sqft, no garage, no driveway and I'm just feeling so incredibly blessed about everything it does have!

I'm writing this because I don't want anyone to feel like they need to buy a house because I did. Facebook seems to stem jealousy (even if we don't recognize it) and the need to keep up with the Joneses. I was blessed with an opportunity to achieve a dream and I know that God lead me to it in the quiet moments, in the workings of His hands. The point for me was not home-ownership but Jacksonville ownership. I had been so unsettled and always wanted to move and not knowing if or when that would happen. Now I know I can invest, plant my feet, dig deep and be a part of the renewal of this city. When my life feels less than perfect, I'm not going to think about running away to another place to fix things, I'm going to run to God to heal my hurts.

That is the blessing God gave me through home-ownership. Not just stuff, but peace. My new goal is that as I live out the next 5 years in this home, this will be a Joshua 1:9 house. It will be a home of mercy, love, forgiveness, peace, and comfort. It will be a refuge for the hurting and the abandoned. It will be a place of God's healing. It will also be a place of tasty food and healthy hearts.

Thank you to first: my God who has been with me and pursued my heart every step of the way and then to my family for being emotionally and spiritually supportive and having the fore-thought to support future generations, and lastly to my friends who are my treasures. Also, a big shout-out to the Simon family for being incredible and helping me along the way. You all are pretty amazing and I love your family - you have blessed me for sure along the way and I am happy to help you not be a landlord anymore :-)

My advice for other people in their 20s considering buying a house:

  1. Don't ever buy more than you need
  2. Whatever you qualify for a loan, buy something at least $15-25k less than that.
  3. Check to see your intentions and your pride
  4. Be realistic about your needs (having granite countertops and stainless steel appliances wont make you happier than someone who doesnt have them).
  5. Be completely open to God's leading

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