I just bought my first home, and the biggest surprise was something I should have seen coming
After five years of renting in Manhattan, I bought my first home.
It's a one-bedroom co-op apartment in a New York City suburb, about 30 minutes away from Penn Station by train.
Buying your first home is a major milestone! It's a huge amount of money and a major commitment. Countless people name their savings account "My first home" for years on end, looking to the future when that clogged sink is a sink they own. You're supposed to be excited and exhilarated ... right?
When I first started looking at options, starring listings on Trulia and scheduling full days to tour the neighborhood with realtors, I thought I'd have a constant hum of electricity under my skin, an undercurrent of excitement about the apartment that would eventually be mine. The days would be invariably sunny, the rose-colored glasses welded on.
Well, here's the thing. When I did finally make an offer, that apartment wasn't mine for another four months — admittedly, longer than a typical purchase.
Four months out of your entire life isn't that much time. And I was lucky enough to have my first offer on my first home accepted, which I recognize is an unusual privilege.
But you try staying excited for four months.
I expected the process to be expensive and exciting. In reality, it was expensive ... and mundane.
When you buy a home, you don't hand over your hard-earned cash, waltz into a new place, and trigger a look-at-my-perfect-life montage like you see in the movies.
In actuality, buying a home is a checklist of tasks that exist in the background of the life you have now. Today, you go to work and make sure to call the mortgage company about that loan commitment. Tomorrow, you go to the gym and sign the form to allow a(nother) credit inquiry. The next day, you shop for groceries and realize you forgot to get an employment verification letter from your last job. (Darn it!)
By the time you're sitting at the closing for which you had to leave the office early, signing every paper that crosses the table and trying to keep up a smile for an hour and a half, you've been doing this for a while.
I did have my moments of pre-homeowner joy, fantasizing about having a car after years in Manhattan and flagging full-sized couches that would actually fit in my new living room. Things to hang on the walls with nails? Yes, please! My friends and I discussed the joys of the wide aisles in suburban grocery stores (you should see the place across the street) and I looked forward to having a balcony so I'd know if it was actively raining before descending 10 floors to the street.
But I'd thought that excitement would be more sustainable, not so easily weathered by the tedium of getting copies of the keys and watching your wordly belongings expand as you pack them in overstuffed boxes for the move.
That's life though, right? Your new job is invigorating until it's routine. Your new gym is cool until it's standard. Your vacation is thrilling until you come home. Just because it isn't completely wonderful every minute doesn't mean it isn't worth doing (see: exercise).
Now, post-packing, post-paperwork, and post-move, I own a home.
And when you think about it that way, it's pretty exciting.
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