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Thursday, September 10, 2009

To Own or Not To Own

Jojo and I were doing an inventory of things we need to do around the house. At the same time I was taking a mental note of how much these things would cost. Here’s our list (NOT a wish list since these are all things we have to do sooner or later).

1. Replace our water softener
2. Replace the sink and bathtub hardware in the guest bathroom
3. Have the house treated for termites and carpenter ants. It’s been 5 years since our last treatment and we are due this year for another one.
4. Repaint the outer trim of the house and the gutters. We noticed that it is peeling in some areas.
5. Replace the bed in the second guest bedroom (Jules’ former room when he lived here). The bottom planks are loose.
6. Re-upholster the sofa and loveseat in the family room. Our set has been lovingly used for 5 years and is showing signs of wear and tear.
* Estimated cost for all this is between $4,000 – 4,500.00!

We just replaced the shower doors in the guest bath and I just bought new pillows for all the guest rooms. We also recently re-grouted the kitchen tiles. Then there are property taxes and the renewal of home and car insurance due in a few weeks, so we are biding our time and our budget.

It amazes me sometimes how much it costs to run a household. When I was growing up, I never really noticed any of that since my mom and dad took care of everything. Even when I was working, running the household still fell on my parents’ shoulders (those are definitely one of the perks of living back in Manila). Then during my first 4 years living in the States, I didn’t really have to worry too much since I lived in rentals and my landlords usually were on top of all major repairs and maintenance. Only when we moved into our home in 2004 did I understand what furnishing and maintaining a home really meant. And while I truly love our home and am very proud of it, I have to admit it is a lot of work. A true labor of love.

Sometimes I wonder whether owning a home is truly the better option. Everyone in America (and every where else, I guess) dreams of having their own house even if it means living with a 30-year mortgage. But is it really better? Sometimes Jojo and I talk about the pros of renting a place versus owning one (and depending on the day and the housework we are then faced with) the argument can go either way.

Owning a home is great for all the obvious reasons but it is also limiting. There have been several job offers we have turned down because it is too far a commute. Seriously – in Los Angeles – you do not want your job to be more than 30 miles from where you live. Also, owning a home means really exorbitant property taxes (especially for us since we live in a more upscale community and taxes are based on your zip code among others). And there is also the never-ending list of upkeep that a home needs. All of which fall to the owner to shoulder.

Now the pros of renting a home are obviously all the cons listed above. You can move when you have a better job offer, you don’t have the high taxes to contend with, and while some of the upkeep of the house is your responsibility, most of it falls on the property’s owner. But then again renting also has its share of negatives. The one big thing is it’s not your own home and no matter how long you live there, it will never be your home. Which means major renovations/redecorating needs to be cleared with the landlord. Also, you are at your landlord’s mercy (while there is such a thing as rent control), you could still be asked to vacate the place if the owners need it for something else.

I guess either way there are pros and cons. Us, homeowners, think that renting is better the same way I am sure renters think owning a home is more ideal. As with all things in life, the grass always seems greener on the other side.

4 comments:

mom said...

Life is never without needs and wants. Focus on what you have and not what you lack. It makes for a simpler and less stressful life.

leslie ty said...

I think you are very blessed to have a really nice house...at the end of the day...even with all the expenses....you have something that is REALLY yours =)

joyeee said...

Dets, I love your house!:) Its very cozy, warm and always full of love!:) Its filled with fun memories of family and friends:) Be thankful for what you have joey!:) It's a wonderful HOME!

Auntie Lillian said...

Hi Joanne - Uncle Jr. and I have been busy here in Manila - always something to do and somewhere to go. Regarding renting vs. owning , if you set your house up as a bed and breakfast place, then you can expense some of the smaller repair items - great idea, don't you think so ? Haha ! Take care and have a great day.