Earlier this year I started thinking about home ownership. The timing made sense – as the majority of my friends enter their late 20s, they raise the topic more so I start thinking about it too. I myself may enter a new state of permanence where homeownership makes more sense. Next May/June I graduate with my PhD, and if I land a tenure-track job, I could end up staying wherever I go for the long-term.
Holy sh*t, I thought to myself when I looked up one-bedroom homes right outside the city I live in now. Who the f*ck has $72,800 for a down payment and can afford $3,000 in rent every month? A subtle panic settled into my chest: should I have actually settled for one of the mediocre men who pursued me in the past so that I could afford a home? Maybe I should walk over to H*rvard’s business school and seduce a man of color right now? No wonder people engage in amatonormative romantic relationships with these home ownership prices! Even though I do not know where I will live next year by virtue of my job-seeking status, I still freaked myself out a bit perusing these exorbitantly-priced, only-available-for-couples-who-both-work-in-big-tech-or-as-pharma-executives one-bedroom homes.
When I reflected on my emotions about home ownership, I first thought about the normie guide to adulthood: get married, have kids, own a home. I’ve unlearned and/or don’t care about the first two tasks on this list. Marriage is an amatonormative construct rooted in patriarchy and there are so many fulfilling ways to spend one’s time outside of raising children. Yet, I’ve had to reflect more on my feelings toward home ownership, because even though home ownership may be easier with
a rich yet most likely boring man male partner, ostensibly it could serve as a marker for having “made it” not as tied to patriarchy and amatonormativity though of course there’s so much research about anti-Black racism in homeownership that really home ownership is also problematic and can’t be separated from white supremacy and also it’s kind of problematic for many non-Native people to own land in the United States but, anyway.
I also think about Caroline Knapp’s statement “consumerism thrives on emotional voids” from her amazing memoir Appetites. The void in my life right now: certainty. I have no idea how I will fare this job cycle and no clue where I will live this year. In that regard it makes sense on something that feels tangible, like HOA costs, the monthly mortgage price, total number of square feet available, etc.
Over the past few weeks, I have taken time to pull myself back from the void of home ownership angst by reminding myself that, like, home ownership isn’t really what matters. On one hand, yes, it definitely does matter in terms of financial security given that I’m not a trust fund baby nor do I see myself sharing a home with a romantic partner in the future
like honestly can you imagine a man who has the emotional intelligence, confidence, and social justice aptitude to top me?? that’s what I thought. At the same time, when I think about my closest friends, I do not care about whether they own homes – I focus more on their kindness, social justice attitudes and actions, resistance of white supremacist patriarchy, humor, etc. And, despite thinking that settling for a m*n would make home ownership more feasible, I feel proud of myself for never having relied on a male romantic partner even when life has felt difficult.
I also feel proud of myself for my coping during this time of uncertainty. No thoughts of disordered eating or food restriction have emerged, rather, I’m living my best life by processing emotions and events and other people with close friends, playing tennis and jogging around Cambridge to Le Sserafim’s “Antifragile” and Cassie’s “Me & U,” and reading books. No matter whether I end up moving or staying, it’s nice to know I’ve already built a strong foundation – a home, if you will – within myself.
How do you feel about home ownership? Or how do you feel *about* feeling about home ownership? I am not going to say anything about cost of living in case someone on an academic search committee randomly stumbles upon this blog (highly unlikely but) however I recognize that my cost of living is super high in the city I’m at, only second to NYC on the east coast of the United States so. General reactions to this post? I’ve had three first-round interviews so far, waiting to hear back from those schools and a few others so wish me luck! Until next post.
9 responses to “Home Ownership??”
Thomas, I just want to say that it is such a comfort to read your blog posts each week! There is almost no one in my life who feels the same way as me about stuff like amatonormativity, doesn’t want anything to do with marriage and all it represents, and for whom having children isn’t a major life goal, so it’s good to be reminded that people like me in those senses exist 🙂 As someone who is not planning on living a ~traditional~ life—I’m currently in a polyamorous relationship where I only live with my partner half of the time and generally prioritize my own autonomy/friendships, which has been working really well for me thus far—I’ve definitely noticed how difficult it can be to have to rethink how I’m going to fit myself into life milestones/goals that are designed around the lifestyles of married, monogamous couples. I personally haven’t thought a ton about home ownership yet (I’m only two years out of undergrad), but I too feel the draw of the financial security that seems like it would come with it. But then it also feels scary to think about ever affording a home on my own with my current financial/career trajectory! (Currently in a master’s program and applying to PhD programs this year.) This post is a good reminder, though, that home ownership can both 1) be a life goal that I can look forward to/be something to work towards that is relatively in my control and 2) not be the be-all-end-all, and not something that’s actually necessary to living a fulfilling and meaningful life (like you said). Anyways, sorry for the long-winded comment, and good luck with the job hunt process!
This comment made my day, thank you so much Rowan for sharing this! Love questioning amatonormativity and the heteronormative path of marriage and children. I’m glad it sounds like you’ve found a relational situation that works for you at least for now that you’re being mindful of what feels best for you instead of just going with some societal default. I feel like you in regard to the financial aspect, and at the same time I feel like you have time to figure it out especially given where you are in your career stage – not like that negates any potential stress though. I hope PhD apps are going well and thanks again for this thoughtful comment. (:
I think having a safe, affordable and decent place to live should be a basic human right. But our system with zoning laws that discourages density, govt that pushes development in green spaces, red tape etc… it’s just so difficult now. When I have a conversation with anyone about buying their first house, they are so discouraged. Inflation and interest rate hikes haven’t helped.
For someone like you, it’ll probably require a dual income (ie. two sugar daddies or mommies).
I hope the rental market will be better and bylaws, govt policies will help renters and also increase the number of units in the marketplace. In some places, renting is looked down upon – I have no idea why. Govt should also figure out how to discourage homeownership as a way of generating immense wealth.
I do hope you will find a place of your own that won’t bankrupt you.
I’m kidding, of course, about the dual income. 🙂
Yes, I appreciate you raising all these important points about home ownership and its follies! As well as the policies/structural issues that make home ownership difficult. I would not be opposed to a wealthy person financing my lifestyle tbh! And at the same time, I am glad to be moving somewhere in a few months that is more affordable (: Thanks for reading and commenting as always
Excellent coping strategies – I heartily approve. And how wonderful to be walking around in the footsteps of Caroline Knapp!!
I bought my first flat on my own, aged 25, however I did luck out by buying on the safer edge of a sketchy area. I took my “wedding money” from my parents that they’d been saving since I was born female towards my deposit (unwillingly but of necessity as you can imagine) and then knew (sob, right?) I would never have a big white wedding (our wedding decades later cost less than £1,000 yay). But I did then have to live on cereal and beans on toast and have a cash-paying lodger for a few years, and my mortgage went up after a bit and it got tricky but I managed. I did only get this house because I threw in my lot in the heteronormative way, however I could have got a smaller one just for me. But I was early in doing this and there’s a freedom in renting, too.
Wishing you the very best in your applications, you are super cool and a credit to anywhere you work, and people will recognise that.
Thank you so much for these kind words, you’re right in that eventually people did recognize my efforts which was nice! I appreciate you sharing your journey and I think for me this further highlights how there’s no shame in renting, especially given how systems such as white supremacy and patriarchy disenfranchise people from owning homes (and how homeownership on native land is an eh concept anyway). I’m glad to be moving to an area that’s slightly more affordable in case I do want to own a home later on. (:
You are doing amazing things, Thomas. Almost done and dusted with your PhD. I agree with your sentiments on this post, that there’s a sort of normative guide to adulthood. Just this week I overheard to Chinese (straight) guys in the office talk about finding the right one, getting married, buying a house – and they seemed genuinely dead set on this path in life. Nothing with that, that’s their life. But that creates so much expectation about how one should live their lives. Cost of living is definitely not cheap here in Australia, be it renting or owning a home. It’s much affordable in places further away but then again, you spend a lot of time driving to places here if that’s the case. At the end of the day, each to their own and people will value different things in life. That cookies and cream froyo looked amazing. Hope you are doing well 😊
Thanks so much Mabel for affirming my accomplishments so far and for recognizing and respecting people’s different choices when it comes to their lives! I feel like this idea connects to what you wrote about recently related to how different people can use their blog for different reasons. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. (: