Thursday, 21 February 2008

Home, Not Just a House


I’m currently in the process of redesigning my kitchen and as a result, a few people have asked me why I would bother investing time and money in a property that I do not own. The answer is simple: this is my home.

I’ve lived in 18 different houses/flats (that apartments for those of you in the US that aren’t up to speed on UK terms) since leaving the family home and several of them I’ve owned (well, the bank owned them – I paid the mortgage). One, our family built ourselves. But while they were a place where we could find shelter, feel safe and be ourselves, until they were made into a home they were still just properties regardless of whether I owned them or not. I don’t see a home as something you necessarily have to own in order to want it to fulfil your requirements and feel like the sanctuary that it should be and therefore I’m perfectly happy to invest my time and what little money I have, into transforming this house into home, a place that suits my lifestyle.

Due to my dodgy health, unless unforeseen circumstances force a change, this is the place where I’ll be spending most of my time for the next 20 or so years, at least. Doesn’t it stand to reason that I’d want it to be comfortable and practical, regardless of whose name’s on the deeds? It’s not a private let, so unless I default on the rent or start acting in a decidedly anti-social way, I have a secure tenancy here for as long as I wish. The housing association that I rent through have given me the go ahead to do more or less as I please so there’s really nothing stopping me.

It’s that old chestnut again, isn’t it? That thing about only things that you possess being of any real value to you. I don’t want to own my own house. As things are, if anything goes wrong I can pick up the phone and have the housing association’s people come round and make the necessary repairs. I don’t have to worry about buildings insurance or unforeseen problems that aren’t covered – I’ve been there before and I’d rather not have that hassle again. Ok, so the housing doesn’t always act as quickly as I’d like, but things do get done and at no cost to me. I don’t even have to mow my own front lawn, which is a bonus!

Our House
(this is an old photo so the car's long gone to the scrap heap and has been replaced by a black Renault that's now far too big for my needs. It's a motability car though and will be replaced by something smaller very soon)

Renting this house is, for me, part of keeping life simple. I don’t want a ball and chain around my neck and I’ve found that the properties I’ve previously bought have often become just that. I couldn’t just up and leave when I felt the time was right – I had to sell the house first! And to sell the house I had to make it attractive to potential buyers, which usually meant changing the way I’d decorated it, which meant throwing more money at it, which again meant I might not even be able to afford to move after all! No, even though I’m staying put this time, this is an all round better alternative for me.

I shall continue with my kitchen plans, and when that’s finished I’ll gradually go through the whole house, simplifying things so that they’re more suited to my lifestyle. Then it’ll be the garden’s turn and maybe I’ll even be able to grow a few edible bits and pieces out there if I'm feeling stronger and more capable of doing some gardening by then.

Each of us know what's best for us; no two people's circumstances are the same. We can't use our own situation as a base for judging how others should live their lives. This house is my home and I intend to love it as such.

Sharon xx

A good home must be made, not bought ~ Joyce Maynard


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Debi said...

Once again you've hit the nail on the head. I've never owned property and truth to tell would love to have a garden. But happiness is wanting what you have, not having what you want ...

Sharon J said...

I love your philosophy, Debi. There's so much trust in what you said about wanting what you have. Far too often we think happiness can be found in 'something else' when mostly it's right there in front of us, but we get so used to those things that we just don't appreciate them anymore, especially when the media is constantly telling us we should have a bigger and better one!