Buying a home is a huge hassle, but so is living in an apartment. I live in a college town that is constantly under construction with a transient population. This means that landlords rent out places that should have been condemned five years ago for a premium.
Unless mommy and daddy are shelling out the big bucks, landlords will bend you over and put as little money as possible into your place. I’ve lived in apartments that range from Syrian refugee tent to somewhat livable to crack house. Surprisingly, living in the fraternity house for two years was probably the cleanest place I lived in the six years of undergrad and grad school.
After renting and living in pseudo “young professional” housing, the Mrs. and I got tired of cutting a rent check every month that is $3-400 more a month than a mortgage. Our property manager was about as likeable as a hemorrhoid, and it got tiring having to live under other people’s rules at 26. So rather than save up for a ring and all that jazz, we jumped ahead and bought a place.
Really, it was a shot in the dark. So many places were out of our price range because the town continues to grow each year. Even a shanty shit box of a house that looks like they filmed the Brady Bunch in it was too much. I never really wanted a townhouse, but for someone that would rather have pets than kids, it seemed to be the right move. Not a huge liability, plus we have the option of renting to a student when we move.
After she scraped together a down payment (I contributed a little), we found a townhouse in our price range. Closing on a house is a huge hassle, but that first month of writing a mortgage check is much more fulfilling than shitting away money to a soulless slumlord. Our townhouse happens to be in an area with lots of “diversity.” Everyone is super nice, it’s on the edge of town, and we have been thoroughly welcomed by someone from every walk of life, from lesbians to rednecks to a biracial toddler who doesn’t give a single fuck. We have a lot of renters, but there are some dedicated homeowners there, too.
Something I never thought about until actually owning a home was that other people care about your place, solely so when they get out of Dodge, they can make more money than they spent based on other property values and all that. A lovely letter from the Home Owner’s Association came in the mail the other day, and as you may have guessed, it included a bill for our annual dues. Not a crazy amount, but more than I expected. It also stated that we were required to attend their annual meeting.
Armed with knowledge from my good friend Crash, I had a foolproof guide for to what to expect with a Homeowners Association Meeting. While he may be an upstanding citizen, I am what some people may call a “degenerate.” To be honest, I had no desire to meet, make decisions or do anything on a Thursday night after a long week. Growler from local brewery in hand, I did what you probably shouldn’t do, and drank four high test beers before this meeting.
I know, I know, not that big of a deal. I don’t drink as much as I used to, so four eight-percent beers hit me a little harder than I thought on an empty stomach. The meeting was at 6:30, and I started around 5:30, giving me a solid hour to pound a few and walk down the street 1/10 of a mile to our official meeting place – the shared yard in between two town homes in the next row over from ours.
I’m a big fan of leisure wear, and I frankly don’t give a flying fuck about what people think of my attire. It’s getting cold in these parts, and I figured pajama pants, my Gold Cup Sperry’s that my puppy has chewed on, and my Dirty Dick’s OBX shirt were the perfect way to present myself to the neighborhood. I also decided to bring my dogs, because why not? Everyone else on the street has little ankle biters, and I figured they should meet my two pit bulls so they know whose house not to fuck with.
Leashes in hand, I casually strolled up the street. The meeting had already started. Someone from the end of the street was bitching about someone else leaving their kid’s toys in the yard, another about roofs and a third about varmints in the neighborhood. Happy to chime in, I told them my larger dog has taken a liking to killing possums (he’s killed two at this point) which prompted the neighbors to ask for his services. Establishing dominance is the name of the game.
Most of the people had lived there for at least five years to my three months. We did some other voting on stuff that didn’t matter, like painting the lines on the street and what to do when people park in each other’s spots.
Next, there was voting for officer positions. There had been no Vice President for a number of months. No one really seemed to want, so with some beer muscles, I thought “why not?” Someone had to say something to break the awkward silence after they asked for nominations. I knew these people for less than 30 minutes, but after a unanimous and unopposed vote, ya boy Bernie is now the VP of the neighborhood.
I have many reactions and ideas. One of them will be to institute a block party style kegger to meet everyone. Another? Maybe a neighborhood watch. The possibilities are endless but one thing is for sure: It’s good to be king..
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