One of my neighbors, a newly minted first-time homeowner, finds herself amazed at how owning a home has expanded her wish list of big ticket items. Now that she has a yard, she wants a swing set. Now that she has a deck, she wants a grill and a patio set. And so on.
I myself experienced the same onrush of consumerism when I first moved into my house. It’s amazing how little I needed or wanted to make me happy in a one-bedroom apartment as compared to a four-bedroom home.
You’d have thought my bank account grew along with my extra square footage, but it did just the opposite. For some reason I felt rich. There was all this space, and I needed to fill it with stuff, fast. In my new homeowner’s haze, I bought the latest washer and dryer, new furniture for every room, new dishes, and on and on. Of course, I stopped short of buying the things I should have bought, like a snowblower, a rototiller, and all those other heavy duty tools that make being a homeowner a lot less work.
Back when I lived in an apartment, making do with less never bothered me. I didn’t own the place, and I wasn’t about to invest any more than I had to to make it a home. My wish list was a lot smaller. Sometimes I yearn for those simpler days when I could just call the landlord to complain about a leaky toilet or a rotting porch board.
Here I compare a select list of things I wanted as an apartment dweller to those I want as a homeowner.
Apartment Wish List vs. Homeowner Wish List
1. Potted plants ($5-$15) for my two windowsills vs.
Shrubs, perennials, and annuals for my yards of flower beds ($500-$1000) – don’t even get me started on a lawn.
2. Countertop wine rack ($25) vs.
wine fridge ($1000 and up), kegerator ($430), and a rolling bar cart for the hard stuff (starting at $100)
3. New futon mattress cover ($25) vs.
Living room set with sofa, love seat, armchair, and ottoman ($1500, and we’re talking Bob’s discount)
4. Place mats that match ($20) vs.
New kitchen cabinets, countertop, lighting, floor plan ($45,000)
5. A 2 x 3 area rug for the front door ($15) vs.
three 2 x 3 area rugs (one for each entrance) and four 5 x 7 rugs to cover hardwood floors
6. A new mop ($12) vs.
Maid service (who can clean all these rooms and have time for anything else – I pity the mega-mansion owners!) ($195/month)
7. A wreath for the front door ($20) vs.
A new front door ($2500)
8. A light bulb to replace the one that burnt out 2 weeks ago ($2) vs.
Stylish exterior wall lights worthy of new front door ($80)
My, how the costs of home ownership add up. What’s left when you need a new boiler, you might ask? I found out the hard way, and boy did it cut short my spending spree. Now I feel guilty buying a $2.00 clearance bra.