It's been almost three years since I started this blog. In that time, my wife and I have paid around $27,000 for shelter. Had we bought a condo in the first few months of our house hunt, over these past three years we would have paid around $65,600 for shelter, of which about $16,000 would be "equity" and around $50,000 would have been the cost of renting money, otherwise known as interest.
Do we regret not buying? Not. At. All.
Over the three years I've been writing, we have moved three times, my wife has changed jobs three times (all with the same employer mind you, but different locations), I've started my own business and we've managed to save more money than we would have built in equity and still pay down a significant amount of student debt. Looking back, I wouldn't change our decision at all. I'd even say I'm glad we didn't follow the vast majority of our peers and jump into the market at a time in our lives when we were "supposed" to.
We've watched friends and family sell homes to buy other homes. We've seen them earn real profit--all immediately spent on something bigger, newer, movable (read cars) or go to pay some other debt that was nipping on their heels. We've gone to bed at night thinking that could have been us and woken up knowing better than it *would* have been us--because none of those friends and family first bought in the past few years. The friends and family we do know who have first bought in the past few years live in homes we'd never want to live in and deal with location and home-specific costs and issues we'd never wish on anyone.
I've learned a lot about real estate and the real estate market through writing this blog. But the most important lesson I've learned is the importance of the long view. Every January my wife and I chat over a glass of wine about our dreams and plans for the coming year. We always ask the question "will this be the year we buy a home?" Our desire to plant roots is strong, but we recognize it's an emotion, not logic, driven desire.
At the beginning of 2009, we couldn't honestly answer the home buying question. We watched the market in the fall of 2008 drop consistently and rapidly with no signs of stability on the near horizon. We saw a market headed down fast and furious and thought we may find something that fit our parameters late in the fall of 2009. When the market re-ignited in the spring, we shelved that thought and focused on other things.
This year we know we won't be buying. We'll continue to rent. We'll continue to watch the market. We'll continue to learn and I'll continue to write. We'll continue to enjoy the flexibility, the freedom and the financial rewards of renting shelter. We'll continue to sleep well at night knowing our financial plan is working for us. We'll continue to be patient.