The “Crappy Apartment” Phase

So. Something that’s been happening more and more in our society is that kids are staying at home with their folks for longer. I totally get why this is a thing; rents are no longer cheap, school is expensive, in some cases decently paying jobs are impossible to find, especially if you’re still in school, and in order to buy a home (usually down the line) you need a decent down payment. What better way to save money than to stay at home for a few more years? If your parents are cool with it, and in some cases heavily encourage it, then awesome! Sweet deal.

Here’s the thing with that, though. When said 30-year-old kids are then ready to buy their first home, it can leave their ideas somewhat skewed as to what is going to be possible. They’ve never experienced the “crappy apartment” phase.

I moved into my first apartment when I was 18. As first apartments go, it was pretty okay. Stinking hot in summer, the water was only slightly brown, the hallways didn’t smell that awful, and hearing my neighbour play harmonica at all hours of the night actually became comforting. I also had to work 3 jobs to maintain this Taj Mahal existence of mine.

As I went back to school, took jobs that traveled, went back to school again, bought a house, moved out and started again from scratch in a SUPER sketchy basement apartment, to a better apartment… well, as you can guess, I went through my share of educational living situations from scary to pretty darn good. When it came time to buy a home again, even though my husband and I couldn’t afford anything big or fancy, we still felt like it was a step up for us. It’s clean, dry, solid, in a decent neighbourhood, and even kinda pretty! It has its issues, but such is home ownership. It’s ours. So we’re happy with it.

I often work with first time buyers, and it’s usually pretty rewarding. One of the hardest hurdles to get past is with buyers who’ve skipped the “crappy apartment” phase. If I was going straight from my folks’ house, which they worked 40-50 years for, and is pretty great, to the starter homes I could afford… it could be a bit of a hard pill to swallow. The important thing to remember is that it’s a start! Everyone has to start somewhere! If it seems straight, solid, dry, and doable, you’re winning. Paint can be changed SO EASILY. The odd repair or maintenance cost will happen, and there will have to be trade offs. Taking pride in improving your own home, and making it yours is such a great feeling, though.

My advice to these buyers is this: keep an open mind. Discern the differences between NEEDS and WANTS, and recognize as they evolve while you house-hunt. Work with an agent you trust to help educate and guide you. Get your family’s opinion. If you’ve lived at home this long, you must have a pretty fabulous family – so include them in the decision if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just make the decision to pull the trigger on a house that feels good for you, because if you don’t, you could be looking and comparing to unrealistic dreams for years and years. Invest in yourself. You’ve earned it!