What's so great about owning a home?
I mean, "home ownership" is held up as this be-all, end-all goal of life in American society, but why? What's so great about "owning" a pile of bricks somewhere that you're probably never really going to "own" because it's gonna take you 15-30 years to pay it off and fewer and fewer people stay in one place for that long these days to begin with? Why do we use "home ownership" as an indicator of a strong economy, particularly when, as we've seen over the last few years, that statistic includes people who end up not being able to actually afford their homes at all and get foreclosed on and put the economy in worse shape down the road? And why in the world should someone like, say, a 30-year-old single male with a stable income have any interest whatsoever in dumping money into a house right now?
What's the difference between someone who takes out a mortgage on a $250,000 house that ends up getting foreclosed, and someone who puts a down payment on, say, a Bentley Continental Flying Spur that ends up getting repossessed because he can't make the payments? Somehow the latter individual would be ridiculed as a complete nutcase, but the former person is someone we're told we should feel sorry for because they were just trying to live the American dream. But aren't they both living wildly beyond their means? Why is one considered an extravagance and the other considered a necessity?
I know, I know, one's a ridiculous luxury car and the other's shelter, a basic human necessity, blah blah blah, but I've been paying rent on the same apartment for the last six and a half years and have done just fine in terms of maintaining a consistent roof over my head, thanks. And while I don't "own" any more of my little corner of heaven than I did when I plunked down my security deposit back in October 2002, nor have I had to watch a third (or more) of my "equity" (whatever the hell that is) disappear because real-estate prices went in the tank. I'm sure if I actually had bothered to buy a house in Birmingham back in 2002, rather than going straight to the apartment finder, I'd probably be opening a vein right now.
Yeah, one of these days I'll start a family and settle down in a place that I feel like staying in for a decade or two, and maybe then I'll look a little more deeply into this "home ownership" thing, but at the moment, my decision to remain feckless and untethered is looking smarter and smarter, even if it does mean wiping my ass with a rent check every month. Least I'm not getting my house taken back by a bank and having my possessions thrown out on the street. Seriously, though, what do y'all think? Am I completely missing something here?