Let me preface this by saying, I understand not everyone can own a home. For the handful of people who were “offended” by my spending freeze post, please understand that this is meant to be lighthearted and a personal story. There’s no right or wrong way to live. This is a read for everyone out there playing the comparison game. I’m just sharing my personal experience as a non-homeowner in Southern California.
The average home price in San Diego is $623,000. It’s at a record high, but I feel like we keep saying that. Someday, the bubble will burst. Someday, it will come back down. That’s what we keep hearing. We live in a small suburban area in San Diego. We’re not looking out our windows at a beach sunset, but it’s only a 20-minute drive away. We know we live in one of the most expensive areas in the U.S., but all of our family is here, and we both grew up here, so the chances of us leaving are slim. Especially once we had a kid of our own. As expensive as it is to own a home, we just can’t bring ourselves to pack up and leave everyone we love, and my husband’s business.
But we probably won’t own a home anytime soon. As someone who works for a company that literally shares beautiful homes every single day, it can be a little bit of a sharp pang of sadness. I love seeing how the women we feature pour their hearts into creating the home of their dreams, but it also stings. Because as much as I love my little house, I can’t replace the hideous tile or unattractive bathroom cabinets. Because it’s not mine. And that stings a bit. I play a little bit of the comparison game every time I upload a photo with an open layout kitchen with subway tile and gold pendant lighting. Because that’s what I want. I have the Pinterest boards for each room in my house, but it feels a little futile. Because honestly, we might not ever be able to own a home in our area.
Because when the houses are this expensive, it means the rent is also expensive, which makes it hard to save. In order to not pay $3,000 a month on a mortgage, you need a lot of money to put down on a home. Which means you need to save. Add a kid or two into the mix and it only gets more expensive.
Social media makes it worse. I follow people all across the country who are younger than me buying houses. And that sharp pang comes back. Why not me? But then I remember that not everything we see on social media is perfect real life. Because the house they’re buying isn’t in San Diego, so it doesn’t cost $700,000 for an 800-square-foot house (yes, this is real. Welcome to my neighborhood). Maybe they have help from family members. Maybe they had assets they were able to leverage. Either way, it’s not my situation and that’s OK.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not whining about not owning a home because I want to redecorate. There are plenty of things you can do to make a rental feel like a home. We’ve done that, and I love our little space. I think it’s a generational thing. There’s this pressure from our (ahem) older family members who owned homes at young ages. But it’s different. The older generations in our family bought their first home in San Diego for $60,000. That’s a 900-percent increase to today’s average. Like, what?? I don’t know about you, but the discrepancy is almost too much to handle. So when the pressure comes from those who bought in the earlier generation, I grit my teeth a little.
I’m almost 31 and I don’t own a home, and that’s OK. Other people out there my age own homes, and that’s great. What’s not great is comparing our situations with those we see on a tiny phone screen. My success isn’t defined by the property I own. I’m married to the man of my dreams. I’m a mother to the world’s greatest tiny magic angel human™. I work alongside the best people at the best company. I’m a college-educated woman with an MBA from Harvard Business School. But I don’t own a home, and that’s OK. That doesn’t make me any less successful, or less fulfilled than anyone else out there. I’m so lucky, and I would never argue anything else. It’s just a matter of getting out of my own way and not letting the words of others influence how I feel about my situation.