Lessons Learned From My First Year Of Home Ownership

This week marks exactly one year since I officially closed on my first house. It’s been a whirlwind of a year and while it’s been a lot of fun, there have been many hard learned lessons taught to me along the way! To commemorate my one year anniversary as a homeowner, I thought I’d write a quick little post to share some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way…

  • Don’t bite off more than you can chew – When looking for houses it’s easy to make a list of improvements and changes that you’d like to/need to change with the house if you bought it. Well, once you buy the house you actually have to do those things, and it’s never as easy as you thought it would be during your walk though! Know your limitations as a handyman and know your true appetite for taking on improvement projects. As soon as my things were moved in my motivation to work dropped 150%!
  • There’s always more to do –  This is something I always heard people say about owning a home, but now I can fully appreciate it. It seems for every little project you finish, you’ll find two more that need to be done! It doesn’t matter if it’s decorating, yard work, home improvement projects or even cleaning. There is always more to do, and you’ll never be “done”.  Plan out your projects ahead of time and you’ll save a ton of stress.
  • Not having a landlord is awesome! –  I love the freedom of being able to do whatever I want with only myself to answer to. I can put as many holes in the wall as I want, I can play my music as loud as I want and I can adopt a dog without having to clear it with anybody. I imagine it’s pretty comparable to being financially independent vs working 40 hours a week in a cubicle.
  • Not having a landlord sucks! –  On the flip side… I hate not being able to pick up the phone any time something breaks or being able to totally neglect the routine maintenance and upkeep of the property.  Mowing the lawn, shoveling all the snow, and fixing all the annoying things that break fall squarely on my shoulders now. I guess I could pay someone to do those things, but that would get expensive real fast!

    A learning experience…

  • A house costs more than the mortgage –  This is something I knew going in, but your mortgage payment is just the start of what home ownership costs. There was certainly some sticker shock when it came time to pay property taxes (especially here in New York!), water bills, garbage pickup, and all the other little things I never had to worry about paying before!
  •  Budget for repairs and then add 10% – Now 10% isn’t a scientific number, but you’ll always want to budget a little more for repairs and unexpected home related expenses than you think you’ll need. The unexpected happens more often than you’d think when owning a home, and it’s always a good idea to have a little extra stash of cash available for when it happens.
  • Learn to Do It Yourself –  I’ve never been a handy person by any stretch of the imagination. But when it comes between learning to do something yourself and paying someone to do it for you, you’ll pick up a lot of skills you never thought you’d have! If only my 7th grade shop teacher could have seen me work on the electrical wiring, he wouldn’t have believed it was the same person…
  • It’s Weird. –  A poignant thought, I know… but it really does feel weird to think that I own this building and little piece of land that it’s built on (well, I’ll own it at some point over the next 15-30 years if you want to get technical on me). It feels so adult! I feel like I must have pulled a fast one on the bank to convince them to give me a mortgage for it!

Home ownership has been a great experience so far and I’m really looking forward to continue making this house into everything I want it to become. It’s not easy by any means, but in the end it’s a rewarding experience.

Do you own a home? What have been the most rewarding parts of it? What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?


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23 Responses to Lessons Learned From My First Year Of Home Ownership

  1. I’m really not handy and I can’t say that I want to learn how to do certain things myself. I’ll do landscaping and things of that nature, but when it comes to electricity or our water pump, heather, or A/C, then I’d much rather pay somebody.

    The thing about owning a home is that you finally feel at home. I never felt that way when I rented. The pain is that there are always things to do and something always needs to be fixed.

    • There are definitley things I won’t even attempt to fix myself and will pay someone for. But for most of the minot stuff, if I know screwing it up won’t be catastrophic, I’ll give it a go myself

  2. Pauline says:

    I have bought a couple of months ago the house and 90 acres of land. It does feel weird to think that little dot on the map is all mine. I love it though. Thanks for the heads up, I am already getting lazy on the home repairs!

  3. On the bright side, you are about to get to experience another joy of home ownership, and that is the ability to claim mortgage interest as a deduction on your taxes!

  4. I’m in my first year of home ownership and you’re right, it’s SO strange. We are learning DIY for sure; done a few projects and I’m already starting to feel a LOT less useless at it.

  5. We own a mobile home that is parked in a trailer park. In a lot of ways, it’s comparable to having a house in an HOA, except that my fees to the park are higher than my mortgage!

    And it’s actually because of the park that we are selling and moving. Next time, I’m definitely buying something that is sans-HOA so I won’t have to deal with cons of both renting and owning.

    • wow, the HOA fees are more than your mortgage? That’s insane! Do you get more for that money at this park, or are they just really expensive for no reason?

      • Actually, it’s mostly that the mortgage is really low. Including insurance that is paid in escrow, the mortgage payment is under $300.

        That said, the place does have a pool, which is uncommon for trailer parks.

  6. Scotty Crider - Less Job More Income says:

    I love owning my home (well, the bank owns it for the next 12 years or so) but I agree that sometimes not having a landlord sucks! I never knew there were so many little things to take care of…it’s easy to feel nickle and dimed to death.

  7. We’ve had ours for about 3.5 years now and it’s great. At the start, there was a big rush to get everything done right that second, but now we’re much more laissez faire about it. Someday we’ll redo the floors. Someday we’ll redo the shower. It’s a good balance.

  8. These are awesome things you have learned in a short amount of time. All very true. Congrats on the one year anniversary!

    The most rewarding part of owning a home for me is not the building itself, but the memories you build there with your family. My kids know this is their place. I think the memories for them will be richer having been in one consistent place rather than if we were shuttling around every year to another apartment or rental property.

  9. FI Fighter says:

    Good stuff, and I’m glad to see that home ownership has been a positive experience for you so far (for the most part).

    I’ve been a landlord now for about half a year, so I’m finally able to see things from the other side of the lens. It’s not so simple, but I try to remember all the bad experiences I’ve had with landlords, and do the opposite. Hopefully the tenant appreciates it and we can have a harmonious relationship. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but so far, so good!

  10. Shilpan says:

    One of the biggest mistakes people often make when purchasing a home is to buy more than what they need. It’s partly because of their agent’s ability to sell a home for what they qualify for rather than what they can afford based on their personal finance goals.

  11. Haha, had to laugh at the “not having a landlord is awesome/sucks.” My husband and I had the same thoughts when we first bought our house. Who was going to fix the leaky toilet?

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  13. I think that one of the biggest mistakes that first time homeowners make is not thinking about the cost of repairs, in terms of money and time. Buy a home that needs too much work, and the house can end up running a part of your life! Best to be a homeowner when ready for all the extra work that isn’t involved when you’re renting.

  14. Pingback: Principled Money Posts #29: karate, writing challenge and awesome writing : The Money Principle

  15. My husband and I are also in our first year of ownership closing February 28 and we love having something that is finally ours. Home is actually home. You took the words from my mouth when you say you never felt like that when renting.

    We have a condo and want to buy an actual house within the next 2 years then use this as a rental. I did my first fix it project 1 week after moving in when the hot water in one of the bathrooms didn’t have any pressure when turning the handle. I felt so accomplished when I ended up fixing it lol.

    I could go on about the joys and benefits of homeownership, but that’s enough for now!

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