I’m Over 30 + Don’t Own A Home And That’s OK

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.

home owner

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.

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Author: Samantha Welker

Samantha Welker is the business manager at Glitter Guide. She has an Master's in Corporate Finance & Sustainability from Harvard Business School but prefers working in the creative industry. She also hosts a weekly business podcast for creative women called Pretty Okay Podcast. She loves spending time with her husband and her son, Rocky, in sunny San Diego. Follow along on Instagram

  • THANK YOU FOR THIS!!! I might never be able to own a home either and it really does hurt. I definitely can’t see it happening before I turn 40. I think it doubly hurts because I felt like I did everything right. I am college educated in a field of science and the pay just doesn’t match the housing market. I wish I heard more stories like mine so I wouldn’t feel so bad about not having accomplished my dreams.

  • Conversely, I DID own a home for awhile. And I hated it. I bought it, my parents and I gutted it and it was beautiful. But it was old and still needed a ton more work. And having to clean a house myself, plus do the yard work, and maintenance was all too much. And the basement allowed me to keep accumulating random crap. I sold my house, made some money off of it, and now I rent. It would be lovely to have a yard for my dogs again and be able to paint the walls however I’d like, but the trade offs just weren’t worth it. (So more stories about rental updates, please!)

  • Thank you for this reminder. I also live in San Diego and am in my 30’s and don’t own a home. Our goal is to purchase soon but with the market the way that it is makes it difficult. I also find myself comparing my life while scrolling through social media. You are completely accurate, I must remind myself of all the things that you pointed out. I have a fantastic partner by my side, an adorable baby girl and live in one of the nicest places in the U.S. It might sting sometimes to see other people doing things to their homes while I Pinterest my ideas but I need to remind myself of what is important.

  • Amen to that, sister. I’m a single (divorced) teacher in my 40s and I too rent. Why? Because even though I make really good money (news flash, contrary to what you may believe, there actually are a number of places where teachers are well-compensated), I make that good money by working in a high-income area (also in Southern California). And, because I grew up here and do not wish to start or end my days with a horrendous commute, I also live in that high-income area, a place where one-bedroom condos go for a cool $500K. Totally serious. A half a million for a one-bedroom condo, for crying out loud. So, I live in a really cute, and pretty darn big, one-bedroom and pay $2,500 a month for the privilege. No, I don’t own my own place, and that’s okay. Maybe I don’t really even want to be a homeowner. There is something really great about knowing that if the washing machine should get clogged or my little backyard needs some sprucing up, or I decide I need a hand installing some new shelves in my hall closet, I can just send off a quick email to the leasing office and presto, those little chores are taken care of. People will say that by renting you are “throwing your money away,” but that’s just not true. You are paying for a place to live. Owning a home is a full time job and it doesn’t really become a financial asset until you have paid into it for MANY years. So no, I may not ever buy property, but I just bought a really nice new car, I regularly get together with friends for dinner and drinks, the occasional play or concert, I host a monthly book club (where we basically just drink wine), I’ve been on a lot of great trips, I give to charity, and my shoe and handbag collections are quite extraordinary. And I think that’s okay too.

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