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Yes, You Can: Buy a House by Yourself, Part 1

Apartment life; still have the trash can

This is part of my Solo Living: Yes You Can series. Click here to find the intro and all the topics.

My journey to buying my first house alone is a long meandering one, but it's worth telling and makes me proud that I was finally able to take the jump. Buying a house is one of those things that can seem daunting and impossible. The first step you have to overcome is just overcoming the negative thought in your mind that it's impossible. Once that bridge is crossed, it's really just a matter of putting the pieces into place. Often to reach this place, you have to reach a pain point where your current situation is so heinous and unbearable that the pain and struggle of buying a house seems the lesser of the two evils. You might think of this as the tipping point, or the point of no return. It's the point where going back is harder than moving forward.

When I became an adult, I moved to North Carolina alone with no previous connections to teach at a private school. I was matched with a roommate through a random telephone conversation I had with a parent whose child would be in my class. For the first decade or so of life in the Tar Heel State, I lived with various roommates. These were friends I had made through church connections. Each one lasted a couple years, and they all ended okay for the most part.

After that time, I wanted to try living alone, and the rent was affordable. I lived in cozy 1-bedroom apartments at two different locations. It was a new experience living by myself, and I enjoyed the experience of knowing all the messes would be mine. I had plenty of furniture by that time from various moves. Often a church member would want to get rid of an old chair or piece of furniture, and they would just give it to me.

living with my sis was an adventure
After about four years, there was a hitch in my plan. My younger sister decided she wanted to move to North Carolina and had the idea that we should live together. I wasn't too eager to go back to sharing a place with someone, especially my sister. But eventually she convinced me, and we shared a place for a few years. She then met her future husband, and they got married fairly quickly.

I then had a quandary: what kind of living situation would work best for me? I was very close to paying off my college loans, and I wanted to complete that task as soon as possible. I no longer felt that it was affordable to live alone, yet I didn't now anyone that wanted a roommate anymore. Many of my friends were now married and the single friends I had were in situations they liked already. Did I want to find a roommate and get locked into a contract with someone? Something told me that wasn't a good idea.

cramming all my possessions in one room was an opportunity to purge

So in the next season of my life I started down the path that would lead to my buying a house "tipping point" -- I began renting rooms in other people's houses. Instead of renting an entire apartment, I would find a house advertised with a room for rent. The first situation was a walk-out basement with a private entrance in a large suburban home. It was quite roomy, and there was even a pool table downstairs. I had kitchen and laundry privileges, and it was nice living in a neighborhood, rather than a series of apartments all stacked on top of each other. The other two situations were not as nice, and frankly, the landlords turned out to be very controlling women. One left passive aggressive sticky notes all over the home to tell me all the ways I had failed to do the right thing; the other started out seeming more relaxed and accommodating, but turned out to be just as unpleasant in the end and was merely saving up her complaints about me to be served up on one big platter at a later date.

This was my rock bottom -- my tipping point. Continue to part 2.


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