Yesterday, I celebrated the anniversary of something that has made me feel extremely pleased with myself. Two years ago, I paid off the mortgage on my house!
For as long as I can remember, I’d fantasized about having two homes. I was a voracious reader as a child and would often pore over stories about people who had more than one home. Part of me would wonder, “Why would anyone need more than one?” but another part thought that it must be terribly cool.
Sitting at home in my working-class neighborhood in Washington, D.C., I tried to imagine what it would be like to say, “I’ll be at the country house this weekend.” The only people my family knew who had another house were those who rented them out for the income. We didn’t know anyone who had two places to just live in! This had to be the true meaning of paradise.
After moving to New York City, I would spend summers with friends in share houses in the Hamptons, where a group of us would pool our money and rent a house for a month. In the good years, we splurged and rented for the entire summer. It was a tremendous amount of fun, but I always thought it would be so much better without all the extra people. (Some of the folks in our share house were there not because we really enjoyed them, but because having them made it more affordable.)
Every summer, while driving out to our rental, I’d think about how nice it would be if I were driving to my own vacation home. And though dreams of marriage were always kind of fuzzy in my mind, I fantasized that my husband and I would have a second place to dash off to whenever we needed or wanted. The husband thing never happened, but the more important part of that dream did — I bought a country house.
I already had a co-op in the city and buying a home in the country was incredibly exciting, but also very scary. One mortgage is a big step; two mortgages are … well, even more daunting. But I did it.
It was tough sometimes. My co-op in New York has a super and I had gotten very used to having someone take care of whatever needed fixing. The house in the country doesn’t come with a super and I, being single and all, couldn’t call upon hubby to do the things a super typically does. Trying to get the boy-of-the-moment to do it can also be quite tricky. Some are more skilled in that regard than others, so it’s a little hit-or-miss.
Nevertheless, having a second home was (and is) every bit as wonderful as I imagined it would be. I love my place in the city, but it’s small. My house in the country allows me to entertain family and friends (and even their kids), which brings me a lot of joy. Even the dog is delighted to have a yard that he can run around in on his own and without a leash.
Some people call it a vacation home, but I just call it my other home, because I’m there all the time and go there way more often than I could ever go on vacation.
I bought the house in 1996 and, with a 15-year mortgage and accelerated payments, I paid that baby off in 2013. When I was a kid, I recall that my parents and their friends would have “burning the mortgage” parties. I didn’t do that, but I should have. When I mailed in that final payment check, it didn’t feel like that big of a deal at the moment. But then it sunk in.
When I say I’m a homeowner, I actually mean a homeOWNER. It’s mine, not the bank’s. I did it all by myself and it feels great. It’s one of the most grown-up things I’ve ever done. Paradise, baby.