I've lived in my condo for over eleven years. It has pros and cons, and I think most of the cons could be addressed by moving to a house. A house would gain me some distance from neighbors, a bit more flexibility to do as I please with the building, and a little more space.
But the big pro with the condo is simplicity. I can go away for a week, and the only thing I do is schedule a cat sitter and stop my mail. Lawn care, snow removal, major maintenance is all done by the association, so if I'm not home, it has no impact. Even when I'm home, my weekly routine is if it's nice after work I can go for a run. I don't need to get home to mow a lawn or trim hedges.
My question for all of you is how much work is it owning your own home? Am I over thinking it, or does it really take a fair amount of time very regularly?
I bought a house when I was 18. Got it for 20k right after the housing crash. Paid for it with student loans since the bank wouldn't give me a mortgage. In hindsight this was probably a risky move but it worked out since I was able to sell it for 85k after graduating. They'll let you take out as much money as you want with student loans. I think they were disappointed that I was able to pay everything back right away, kept trying to tell me that it was a bad decision financially. Strictly speaking, it was. Maybe you can make more money if you let yourself float some debt, but money ain't worth your freedom (in my opinion).
Anyway, I spent the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college fixing the place up a bit. Sank another 15k of loan money into it there. Neighbor was a roofer, and I helped him replace the rotten rafters and reshingle at a discount. I got some concrete and patched the foundation where it needed it. Kitchen walls were basically mush thanks to leaky pipes, but my uncle's a plumber so we redid all the pipes and put in a second bathroom. Then it was just new cabinets and appliances for the kitchen after some drywall/spackle/paint where needed. When the summer ended I rented out the other rooms (3bed/2bath) to some friends to help with future expenses.
But the problems seemed to never end. One of my friend/tenants wanted to run an ethernet cable to his room a few months in. Prissy liberal northerner who don't think wifi is good enough. So we climb up into the attic with a drill to thread one through the wall. While crawling around, I get the fucking shit shocked out of me and ended up putting a dent in the drywall of the ceiling. There was a live wire just hanging out up there. At which point it became prudent to try and trace down any other electrical issues. Fortunately, we left enough access points in the walls where we were too lazy to drywall (behind the bathroom mirror, in the bedroom closets, basically the whole room with the air handler). It's way easier to just get some access plates and screw them into place instead of doing the full 9 yards of drywall repair. Also makes your life easier for future efforts.
One of the windows ended up getting a bit of a leak, too. Went to plug in my phone one night and my hand just went right through the wall to the outside. While repairing that, I found the beginnings of a termite infestation. Fortunately only the beginnings. Had to get the whole place treated. Thank god we made those access points in the walls.
Place also had a crawl space at one point, but a former owner buried the access point. Apparently the place flooded, and rather than pump out the water they just buried it and sealed the water down there. Concrete foundation was above the crawl space, and post-burial expansion is probably what had caused the original problems with that. House must've been moved at one point, foundation and all, and just put down on top of that hole. Found out about it when a gator dug out the old entrance and moved in. It just saw a nice, secluded pond across the street from the main waterway with a driveway right outside to sunbathe on. I never knew how loud a gator was until I had one living under my bed. Things fucking stink too. Tasted pretty good.
I could go on. I had that place for three years. Sometimes, it wouldn't need much work beyond mowing the lawn and cleaning and shit. But once or twice a year, that place ate up a few weeks to a month of my life. Was sad to hear the whole neighborhood pretty much came down during Irma. Old Florida neighborhood of wooden houses: only lasted that long by luck.
Crazy shit happens all the time in the world. If you own and are responsible for a part of it, it can take you on a fun and crazy ride. Make sure you're ready before claiming responsibility. If you want to own something, you've gotta make it a part of you and give it the care it needs. Don't just treat it as a way to make or save money, and don't leave shit as someone else's problems. Insurance companies are just there to let you pass the buck and not feel guilty or repair it yourself good and proper. Dive in and make that house and land a part of your being and it will be worth it. Otherwise, when the shit hits the fan you'll just see yourself as a victim and try to duck out.
If you don't want responsibility: rent. If you want to make a part of the world an extension of yourself: own. If you don't think you're ready to truly meld with a piece of the Earth, you have no business leading it on or playing make believe. Taking care of your place on this planet is a sacred duty that deserves no compromise. If y'all'r the kind of fucker that'll be fine with just letting others take care of your life for y'all, you ain't the kind of person that deserves to take care of this planet.
tl;dr: the Earth is a tender lover. This is a wonderful thing with the proper care and attention, but also easy to abuse and take advantage of. Be aware of this if you want join with a piece of her.
Just my thoughts on the matter.