There’s just something about buying a new house. You might decide to go with the basic model – or you can upgrade all your finishes and get marble counters, hardwood floors and inset lighting. You’ll end up with all new appliances. And, when you move in, everything is fresh and clean and ready to go with no extra work on your part. Just put your couch in front of your television and have a glass of wine.
If you’re new to home ownership, a new house is probably your best option. There’s a lot less maintenance in the beginning. Sometimes you even get a warranty, so those little things will get fixed without too much intervention. But there comes a breaking point. You’ll need to start putting in some work eventually if you don’t want the small “issues” to become big ones. Or, of course, you could just cut your loses and move on to the next new house and start afresh.
But – if you were raised in a home where you learned about basic house upkeep, you’re probably pretty handy, and could consider getting an older model. If you are prepared for the work, why not pick a fixer-upper. You know the one – she’s been neglected a bit. You might be able to see that the porch is sagging, and the roof needs to be replaced. But she’s got great bones. With a little TLC, this house could be very livable. No, there aren’t new appliances, and yes, that is seventies style wood paneling. Once you move in, you might even realize that damp smell you missed during the open house because the previous owner had gone ape with the potpourri. But, unless there are major cracks in the foundation and you haven’t done your homework with a home inspector, you can make this work.
Generally, I think relationships are much the same. If you’re both in the new home phase of your life, you can move in, buy furniture and just live in the moment for a while. You might not know about being handy, because your parents were never very good at it, and you didn’t have any other role models. If you’re smart, you’ll realize that your relationship (like a new home), needs some basic upkeep. You’ll have to change some light bulbs, maybe fix or replace a toilet, but there are hardware stores that will teach you everything you need to know. Similarly, you’ll need to get out with friends, make time alone together, and spend time communicating in a relationship. It’s the little, everyday things. If you don’t talk about them, they tend to become big things that over-arch your relationship, and suddenly your basement is flooded on Christmas Eve and there’s no one you can call to help you out of this mess. You either bail out the water or your Christmas dinner is ruined.
If you’re both in the “fixer-upper” relationship, you’ve probably tried out the new home already. You realize that you have to work on your own skills and tend to the relationship. Constant upgrading is necessary to make it work. There may be some big things that go wrong once you move in – but because you’ve already had the new house, you are better prepared – and you have a plumber on call (even on Christmas Eve).
I don’t know that you can mix the two types very well. If someone goes in looking for a new house, and you’re looking for a fixer-upper, you’ll find that you’re at odds over everything else too. A fixer-upper isn’t easy to live with, but sometimes neither is a new house. It’s all about what you’re ready to accept, and what coping skills you have to handle any problems. In the end – they’re likely all manageable – but you need to have the same mindset.
But sometimes, you find that you’re not a new house person. And you’re not an old house person. In fact, you might not want to own a home at all. You have to live somewhere, but sometimes just renting is just the level of commitment you’re looking for.
If you’re really lucky, new or old house, it’s the right house for you and you get to stay there a long time.
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