6 Unexpected Ways Being A Homeowner Changes Your Worldview
The internet is full of advice for first-time home buyers, ranging from "Get your credit in order" to "Hire an inspector to make sure it's a house and not a giant scorpion shaped like a house." However, what they rarely tell you is that owning a piece of property changes you in a variety of weird ways. As Friedrich Nietzsche said, "If you gaze long into the moderately priced three-bedroom townhouse, the moderately priced three-bedroom townhouse also gazes into you."
It Turns Your Relationships Into Competitions
Buying a house is like lighting a signal fire to all the world that says, "I'm here! I'm an adult now, motherfuckers!" However, know that when you hold up that beacon of maturity, you are effectively dividing everyone you know into two distinct categories: the house-havers and the house ... not ... havers.
When it comes to the first, there will be a natural compulsion to "keep up with the Joneses." Yes, the phrase sounds super outdated in 2018, when we're supposed to not care about how nice Rick's new rug looks, or the fact that Amanda owns a smart fridge that could probably enslave humanity if it wanted to. But remember that the house isn't just a box to keep the rain off; it's a symbol of you and where you are in life. Thus does the game of constant one-upmanship begin.
It's not like you cease to have friends or social relationships. It's just that they just all seem to sit adjacent to the Adulthood Olympics you're now competing in. The minute someone gets their bathroom remodeled in a way that you can't really afford, you suddenly look inward. "Am I not THAT adult yet?"
Not that any of your renting friends will sympathize. Once you buy a house, any problems or difficulties you may have in your life, no matter how stressful, will come off to them as champagne problems -- the rich family on the Titanic lifeboat complaining about the seats being cold. You find yourself on the other side of a cultural divide you didn't even know existed.
It Becomes Your Own Little Castle (Or Bunker)
Most apartments are going to require you to interact with people -- if not roommates, then neighbors with whom you're sharing walls and hallways. But once you own a separate little structure ... suddenly it's you vs. the world.
Your house becomes both a castle and a cult compound, where your innermost desires run rampant. You can be who you want to be, and no one can judge you. If you feel like reciting the "Tears in the rain" speech from Blade Runner while standing naked in the garage, that's exactly what you have a garage for. You are the ruler of this kingdom.
And just like all deranged tyrants, expect your moods to change often, as things that would have been cool to you when you were younger now set off all kinds of alarm bells in your head. The E Scooters lying all over my neighborhood would have been the coolest thing I could think of when I was ten years old. They're scooters that anyone can use! THAT'S a Utopia.
Now, as an adult homeowner who has to deal with randomly discarded scooters strewn all over my yard and sidewalk, I look at E Scooters the same way J. Jonah Jameson looks at Spider-Man. Sheer hatred wells up inside me at the thought of those goddamn things, not only because they're a pain to pick up, but also because somewhere deep inside me I can still feel the carefree younger version of myself who wants to blast one of those fuckers all over town. But that's too hard to explain to everyone, and so you just become the ruler who has decreed all scooters to be enemies of the state -- and more importantly, the king.
You Will Become A Hoarder
The human animal has an innate psychological need to claim space and to put its mark on things. And since it's considered "unsightly" to piss all over your front porch every morning, we mark our home by buying a bunch of useless junk to put in it. Filling your space with every dumb trinket imaginable is the quickest, most socially acceptable way of saying "MINE."
The first six months of homeownership makes you rethink everything that you've ever wanted. Napkin holders? Flagpole for the yard? Hose caddy? Extended-reach insect vacuum? For me, the desire to cram every nook and cranny of my house with stupid shit got so bad that merely driving past a Bed, Bath & Beyond would set my mind ablaze with panic that there was something the house needed. Not "we need" or even "I need," mind you, but "the house needs," as if it was less of a block of wood and concrete that I'd bought and more of an insatiable monster that I now had to tame with wicker baskets and decorative margarita pitchers.
And speaking of margaritas, holy shit do you start to collect booze. When I lived in an apartment, I might have had a bottle of Jack or vodka, and maybe even some champagne that I was saving for the day that someone finally bought my epic script. Now I have an entire cabinet full of (and walls covered with) booze, and I have no idea where it came from or why, because I don't even drink that much to begin with. People can't resist the urge to bring over alcohol and offer it up to the house like a sacrifice to the drunken gods.
You Will Finally Understand Your Parents
Remember how your parents never let you do anything? "No eating in the living room." "Get your feet off the coffee table." "Stop getting the dog high."
Once you're paying the mortgage and making the rules, there will be a brief period of rebellion. No parents, no landlord ... loud punk music at 4 a.m.? Check. Feet on the coffee table? Done and doner. Not putting down a coaster before you set your drink down? I bet that'll leave a ring ... a sexy, sexy ring.
But before you know it, things will change. Now you and you alone have to deal with the repercussions of your actions. Those scuffs are staying on that table to shame you in front of guests until you clean it or replace it. Loud music might make the neighbors call the cops, who would then find your stash of illegally imported leopard skin rugs. You don't want to have to talk about those, nor the skeleton that's buried in the backyard that would explain who you got the rugs from.
And so, using the logic of "Well, I don't want to have to deal with THAT mess," you not only understand your parents, but you also unconsciously become them. Everything in that house represents potential stress -- the stress of lost time cleaning or fixing, the stress of lost money, the stress of lost status when your palace shows signs of neglect. The house is an extension of you. It's your symbolic adulthood. That means every juice stain on the sofa or scratch on the wall will hit you in the gut, like it's you that has been wounded. Soon you will literally be yelling at kids to get off your lawn.
You Are Forced To Become A Boring Person
When something breaks in your house, you get a crash course in whatever aspect of your home needs maintenance. Suddenly you will find yourself fascinated as you devote hours to researching the three steps to mold reclamation, or chemical termite extermination, or air vent reconstruction. All of which conspires to make you the most tedious person to talk to ever.
One of the things that comes with such newfound knowledge is the insatiable desire to discuss it with others. You're like a college freshman who's just taken their first psychology course and can't stop relating everything to Freud. Remember that kid? Remember how exhausting they were? That's you now, except this time you're obsessed with the technique you used to fix your dishwasher.
You're an adult, and even though you're probably a deeply interesting person, the fact that you've had to learn how to keep a home from falling apart means that you've discovered new avenues for being boring that never existed as personality options before. So when you go to a party or hang out with friends, instead of discussing the incendiary genius of Bob Stinson's guitar work in the Replacements' early oeuvre, you find yourself ranting to everyone that you know about how to save a bundle on garden mulch. (Get it at that place on Strickland. Ask for Steve.)
You Start To Think Like An Asshole
The rewards of homeownership are pretty great, and thus it's turned into kind of a status symbol. There's a reason the U.S. government conspired with the real estate lobby after World War II to make owning a home synonymous with achieving the American Dream. But homeownership is a privilege, and not acknowledging that kind of privilege is a bit of a douche move. And demanding that privilege while insisting it doesn't exist is an even douchier move.
It's this kind of thinking that regards anyone without houses as people who just didn't work hard enough to earn them. And when that gets ingrained in your head, as it has with the creaky pundits in this country who are screaming right now about how the current generation is ruining the economy with their avocado toast and paper towels, you slip into asshole-dom. You wonder why those millennials aren't buying houses, and instead of getting to the root of the issue with insight and compassion, you figure that it must be because of all of the mimosas and Nintendo Switches those fools are buying.
The point of all this is that you need to tread carefully if you don't want all these new changes to turn you into a dickhead. Because while we all become adults, we don't have to become dickheads. But there are intense pressures pushing you in that direction. In your quest to keep those damn kids the hell off your lawn, don't forget that you're intensely lucky just to have a lawn.
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