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10 Lessons I’ve Learned In My First Year Of Home Ownership

10 Lessons I've Learned In My First Year Of Home Ownership
You guys – it’s officially been one year since we got the keys to our house! I cannot believe a year has flown by so quickly. I remember how excited I was when we officially got our keys. Waiting 3 weeks since we officially closed felt like FOREVER and I couldn’t wait to get off work and have the keys to our house in my hands. I remember feeling nervous, excited, proud, and a bit terrified if I’m being honest haha!
 
Since then, a lot has happened:
  • We painted every room and ceiling in the house (thanks, family, for all of your help!)
  • Bought all new furniture for the living room (a tour will be coming soon, we’re waiting on one last custom piece)
  • Hosted our first party (we had about 50 people come and it was utterly amazing)
  • Took over 1000lbs of yardwaste to the dump (we still have about 8000 more to go)
  • Made friends with our new neighbors (shoutout to Gary and Darla!)
  • Had someone almost try and break into our house (while I was home by myself, that was fun)
  • I started a new job and Gerard got a promotion
  • We put in new garage doors, purchased a new washer and dryer, had 8 trees taken off the property (they were dying ūüėĒ¬†I felt so bad), and are having a new furnace and water heater installed this month
  • And so many more things that I’m missing
 
There is so much that we want to do in the future, but I wanted to take this time a year later to reflect on the past and share 10 things I’ve learned since becoming a home owner. (If you’re looking for tips and tricks on buying your first home, everything you need is over here!)
10 Lessons I've Learned In My First Year Of Home Ownership
1. Owning a house is expensive…and that’s putting it kindly.¬†
I always knew that being a homeowner was more expensive than being a renter, but it doesn’t even come close. Especially when you’re buying a home that isn’t brand new, there will be things that need updating. As mentioned above, we’ve spent about $10,000 so far in taking out trees and updating appliances. Let’s be honest, furnaces aren’t terribly exciting or something I get excited about spending money on (as opposed to a kitchen remodel), but they’re extremely necessary. Especially if you live in a single family home like we do, things add up; property taxes increase every year, maintenance needs happen (replacing old fascia board, renting a power washer to clean your gutters or roof, applying caulking outside the perimeter of the house so bugs don’t get in, landscaping the yard, replacing the roof or chimney bricks), and even little things add up like buying all new LED lightbulbs (who knew how many lights we had until I had to buy like 50 lightbulbs – I know it will save us money in the long run but for the time being it’s expensive).
 
2. Not having a landlord sucks and is great at the same time
The fact that you can take out walls, rip up carpet, paint rooms however you want, and completely remodel because you own the place is amazing. But when a pipe bursts, or your dishwasher is broken and needs replacing, there isn’t a landlord to fix it and pay for it. You gotta do it yourself! I think the pros outweigh the cons, even though there are times I wish we had a landlord to pay for some things!
 
3. The memories you create there are priceless
Spending two weekends before we moved in to paint the entire house with our friends and family having 50+ of our friends come over for our housewarming party, having people from out of town stay with you when they visit, learning how to decorate and put things together, grilling on our back deck and eating dinner outside, making s’mores in the backyard fire pit…it’s all about the memories. I cannot wait to make more over the years.
 
4. Being “house poor” is a real thing – but don’t let it take over your life
It can be so easy to want to spend all of your take home paycheck on your house, but resist. I’ve put a budget in place so I don’t overspend on the house, and still set aside money to do fun things. Find balance between traveling or going out on the weekends with friends, and putting money into your house for decor or remodeling.
 
5. Buy items on sale
This can literally be applied to anything for your house. From furniture and light fixtures, to art, landscaping or tile for the bathroom. With online deal sites and coupons these days, there isn’t really a need to purchase something full price. If you love something online – wait! A sale will most likely come up. Sometimes you can also save 10-20% off your first purchase by signing up for their email newsletter. A lot of places also have sales around the major holidays (Memorial Day, Labor Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, start of spring or summer). I also love to look on Craigslist for items from West Elm, Pottery Barn, or higher end stores to get pieces for a significant discount.
 
6. Don’t get overwhelmed
When first moving into the house, everything looked fine. I knew there were some changes we wanted to make, but overall it didn’t seem bad. Now that we’ve been there a year, our renovation list seems to keep on growing. To help myself from not feeling overwhelmed, I’ve made a google spreadsheet with the name of the project, the approximate date I’d like to accomplish it, and an estimate of how much it’s going to cost. That way, I can break each month down and see how much I anticipate spending that month so I can save. It also makes the overall renovation budget much easier to swallow. On a similar note…
 
7. It takes time to come together
As my boyfriend’s dad says very frequently, “you have your whole life”! While I’m not sure we’ll stay in our current house forever, it’s very true that not everything needs to be done at once. With the internet and the comparison¬†game being stronger than ever, it’s hard not to get down on myself sometimes because our house isn’t fully decorated (or unpacked if I’m being honest). But in reality, I don’t have endless money to do everything I want to do right now. If I did, I would definitely have started remodeling our bathrooms and kitchen, have new dining room and bedroom furniture, and our backyard would be fully landscaped. Instead it looks like a jungle, because I’m not willing to pay someone $20k+ to do it and don’t have time because it rains 10 months out of the year here – and that’s okay! It will all get done in time. Also, by taking time to plan things out, I’m ensuring I’m not settling for things that are simply available to fill a room vs me loving it.
 
8. Embrace the DIY mentality
I know that we could pay someone to completely landscape our yard and it would be done in a few weeks. But I want to learn how to do things (like build a new fence from scratch, or rebuild the concrete patio) and by doing it ourselves (plus the help of family), it’s about 4x less expensive. The same with my bar cart: I knew that I could spend easily $200-$500 on a fancy bar cart, but I DIY’d one for about $40 thanks to an Ikea Hack and I can’t tell you how many compliments I get on it. My dresser I found at GoodWill for $40 instead of spending several hundred on one from West Elm. And on the other hand…
 
9. Know when to hire a professional
While we love to do things ourselves (we’ve done small things like added outlets or installed smart lights) we know when to leave it in the hands of the professionals. While we could probably wire our new thermostat or swap out our bathtub for a full shower, electrical or plumbing are things we leave to the professionals.
 
10. I finally feel like an adult – it’s weird
And kind of scary and terrifying. But also terribly exciting. Sometimes I can’t believe that the land and home we live in is ours and we won’t have to sign another year long lease at the end of the year. I feel so proud of our home and the fact that we were able to find the one we wanted in this crazy market (see my tips on buying your first home), which I never felt renting. We never spent time decorating because I wasn’t sure if furniture would fit in the new space when we moved, or if the decor would work in the new place. So we stayed with our free mis-matching hand-me-down furniture from college (we still have some!) while we rented, but it feels so nice to finally have an “adult” space. I could not be more proud or honored to own a piece of property and cannot wait to see what happens in the years to come.
 
Cheers to our one-year home anniversary, and I cannot wait to celebrate many more! For the homeowners, what lessons have you learned since owning your home? Favorite memories, regrets, advice? Let’s discuss in the comments!
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