A few days ago I wrote about the pros and cons of renting versus financing a home with a mortgage. In that post I presented mostly advantages to renting: no debt, more flexibility, less costs for insurance, maintenance and taxes, etc. However, I failed to present one major advantage to buying a home, and staying there until it is paid off – having a permanent residence for you and your kids.
This occurred to me just last night as I was logging on to ING Direct to check my savings account balances. One of ING’s security questions is, “What is the street number of the house you grew up in?” The question gave me pause. I didn’t “grow up” in any single house.
My mom was a Marine Corp brat, and traveled extensively around the country growing up, moving from base to base as my grandfather was reassigned. Eventually, she got married and had me, but was soon divorced from my dad and found herself a single mother trying to raise a son on her own. Thankfully, my grandparents were close and provided a lot of support.
Throughout my childhood my mom and I bounced around from apartment complex to another. It was a big deal when I was in junior high school because we rented a little house in a neighborhood – I had a yard! Unfortunately, that was short-lived, and we were back in an apartment for my high school years. In fact, my mom didn’t own her own home until she was in her 50’s.
Growing up, I was always a little jealous of friends who had their own house. Didn’t matter if it was a tiny shack, or a mansion, it was theirs. They always had a “home base.” My best friend in high school, and eventually my roommate in college, lived in the same home from the time he was in elementary school. His parents still live in that home today, and no matter where he goes, or decides to live, that is always his “home base.”
My wife’s experience growing up was much like mine. She did even more bouncing around than I did, especially when she was very young. Because of the background we both had, providing a stable home for our kids is something we have worked to provide for our own kids. I tend to believe home is where you make it, and I have very little emotional attachment to the “sticks and bricks” that make up your home. But I do very much value the idea of giving my kids a “home base” – somewhere they will always feel welcome and secure.
I know it must appear that I’m arguing with myself, after just writing at length about the benefits of renting only a couple days ago. I’m not waffling; I still believe renting makes a lot of sense in some situations. However, more and more, I find myself valuing the idea of settling into a permanent residence to raise our kids. My mom and my mother-in-law didn’t have a choice, but we do, and we plan to work hard and sacrifice a few toys to make it reality for our kids.