From Renter to Home Owner to Renter 101

I moved from Michigan to Colorado in 1993 with whatever would fit in the bed of a 1994 Chevy S-10 pickup, a boyfriend, no job, and $1000. Keep in mind said boyfriend had everything he owned in a hefty bag. I should have known…

Anyway, I’ve lived here since then, and moved eleven (well, TWELVE times since). Yes, I’m that girl who thinks three years in the same place is insanity. Mind you, I spent a good twenty years of my childhood and young adulthood in the same house, so I suspect you can see why I was always looking for a “better” place.

I rented here, there and everywhere, but never more than three years at a time (my personal best as a renter). Oh, and my first six months here the boyfriend and I lived in a hotel room. Remind me to tell you THAT story.

The boyfriend became a husband became a late husband, but that’s irrelevant.

In 2005, I got the idea to become a homeowner. Well, condo owner. So, I bought one. Which led to the longest residency at one address I can claim in Colorado. Six years.

I loved that condo. When I bought it it was K-Mart six-years-ago crap/dirty/faded white (I found the can under the sink, no lie), and had the original 70’s (it was built in ’74) light fixtures, baseboard heaters, and outlets, which were so bad you were lucky to find one where you could actually plug something in and have it STAY in the outlet.

So, enter me. All ambition and energy and “OMGTHISISMYFIRSTHOUSE” and willing to kill myself to fix it up.

I will admit I was fueled by the narcotic that is hours of HGTV, so I had a vague idea of the mountains I must climb, but still, it looks SO much easier on TV.

Disillusion #1: You have the tools. When you’ve been a renter forever you don’t own handy things like power tools, sawhorses, shop vacs, etc. But you will. Oh, you will. I have a collection of tools that would put ALL renters to shame, and probably some homeowners. Home Depot became my BFF. I spent money there like divas spend money at Gucci. No lie. I have power tools that would make grown men cry. CRY, I tell you. Oh, and rule of thumb: if you don’t go to Home Depot at least once in the middle of your project, it’s not a project.

You’re laughing now. You won’t later.

Disillusion #2: Flooring is easy. Perfect example: peel and stick floor tiles. Trust me, I got burned TWICE on the same floor. Look, when two college educated adults can’t pull this off, it’s got fail built into it. Much cheaper to call the guy at the flooring store and make a deal for a floor sample, especially if you (like me) have a tiny kitchen floor. Please, people, learn from this mistake. I’m begging you.

Disillusion #3: Your inspector is God and he saw Every Problem That Could Possibly Occur In Your House. I can’t tell you how hard I’m laughing right now. You really have no idea. Yeah, most of them will catch BIG GLARING things, but little things? NO. MY inspector was apparently an electrician in his former life, and he went ON AND ON AND ON about how awesome the electrical was (which was good) but completely FAILED to see the plumbing was FUBAR. I had to get a plumber in to correct the (again, old house!) antiquated shutoffs in the bathroom (THANK GOD, because had the toilet overflowed my shutoff was STUCK!) So, word to the wise, don’t just believe everything they say.

Disillusion #4: Your HOA is working for you. BWAHAAAHAHAHAHHAA. AHAAAHAAAHAHA. MUAAHAHHHHAA. Oh, sorry, was that me? Yeah, no matter HOW WELL you check your HOA’s financials (and trust me, I did) they still manage to amaze you with their escapades in stupidity (and I got on the board to try and fix this; shocker! Ruling by committee NEVER works!). You’re on your own here. I got nothin’.

Okay, by now the fencesitters have probably mostly fallen on the “rent” side, so I’ll give you some happy things to consider:

Happy #1: Decorating. Okay, I’ll admit that this probably appeals to the women 99% of the time, but hey girls, you can BUILD YOUR NEST! PAINT IT ANY COLOR YOU WANT! Put YOUR mark on YOUR house!

Trust me, after 11 years of white walls and beige carpet, that was hard to resist. And, if you’re married and planning kids, you’re screwed, dudes. Your woman has already painted the nursery in her head.

Happy #2: Home improvements. I totally hated the unfixable crack in the drywall over the hall in my house. Fix? ARCHWAY!!!! Yep, got a kit, slapped it up, done. Crappy panelling on the front of my cabinets? Covered with supercool metal squares. Crappy off-white dingy paint? Let me whip out the box of Crayolas! Trust me, I had SO MUCH FUN doing this that it was totally worth any pain I went through later. ANY PAIN.

Happy #3: The satisfaction of a job well done. Oh, I’ll admit this one. When you look back at all your blood, sweat, and tears to see your finished product, no matter how it came out, you’re proud. YOU did that. It was YOUR vision, and damnit, it cost you $300 or $3000 or $30,000 for tools and materials, but YOU did it.

I’ve been there. I’ve done that. And I would never deny you the joy of doing it for yourself.

Go out there and kick ass, you owners! Woohoo!

Us renters will just call and complain the next time the sink backs up.

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