When I first put together my Thirty Before 30 list in August 2011, I only included goals that I really wanted to accomplish, and were both realistic and within my control. That’s why I wrote, “Finish revising The Right Exposure” and “Query literary agents” instead of “Get published,” since I don’t have much control over whether a publisher wants to publish my books.
There was one goal on the list that I wasn’t sure would happen before I turned 30. It was a realistic goal, but the timing wasn’t completely in my control. I added it anyway because it’s been a big dream of mine for years, and I thought having it on the list might help motivate me to achieve it sooner.
That goal was 28. Buy a house.
Today, two years later, and one year before I turn 30, my husband and I close on our first home.
Needless to say, we’re over the moon!
To fully understand what owning a house means to me, you need to know a little about my past.
I grew up in a nice suburb north of New York City with my two parents. I was an only child with a fur-sibling, a miniature poodle named Butternut. I loved our house. It was a white colonial with black shutters, a huge backyard with a swing set, and gorgeous original features on the inside, like multiple fireplaces. It was, admittedly, a bigger house than necessary for our family of three (plus a small dog), but I loved growing up there. All of my favorite childhood memories are from that house–coming down the stairs on Christmas morning to see what Santa left me, summer backyard birthdays, sleepovers in my room, practicing tap routines in my socks in the hallway, the garden my mom helped me grow. I could go on and on.
Then, my junior year of high school, my parents separated and for financial reasons, we needed to sell the house. I was devastated. Not only was my family falling apart, but we had to leave our home. To make things worse, my mom and I moved into an apartment in the same suburb, but since it didn’t allow pets, we had to give Butternut away. (We gave him to my mom’s friend from work, who provided him a loving home and let us visit, but of course we missed him like crazy. It was depressing.)
My mom did her best to make our apartment into a comfortable home for the two of us, and for that I am extremely grateful. She even gave me the bigger bedroom, and made sure it was painted and decorated soon after moving in. We had to adjust to living in an apartment building instead of a private home. We eventually got used to it, but at the end of the day, it never compared to our house.
I still have dreams that take place in that house.
Fast forward to my early twenties, when I was living in Brooklyn with my then-boyfriend/now-husband. Even before we got engaged, we watched a lot of HGTV and dreamed of owning our own home. We loved Brooklyn but hated renting. We couldn’t wait to have our own private house, where we could decorate however we wanted, not have to deal with landlords or loud neighbors, and where we could build family memories like the ones I had in my childhood home.
After we got married in 2010, we began saving in earnest for a down payment. We made a lot of sacrifices. We even moved back in with my mom for a while so we could save what we’d been spending on expensive Brooklyn rent. (My mom, by the way, also dreamed of owning her own home again, and by this point she had purchased her own apartment. She was our inspiration!) Then last fall, we moved to a rental apartment in an area of Connecticut that appealed to us. In the past few months, we’ve fallen in love with our town, and decided we wanted to stay. The only problem was that this town–and the Northeast US in general–is expensive. We still had a long way to go before we’d have enough saved to buy a house.
Or so we thought. We ended up meeting a realtor who showed us some homes, including one that was smaller than what we originally wanted. But it had so many other great features, was move-in ready, in a perfect area, and listed at an amazing price. It’s an ideal starter home–a place where we can set down roots.
And now it’s ours. It’s an amazing feeling.
There are a lot of things about this house that I’m excited about. I’ve been pinning all sorts of inspiration photos in anticipation of decorating. But what I most look forward to are all the memories we’ll create. The BBQ’s we’ll have with family and friends on the deck in the backyard. The Sunday morning breakfasts we’ll cook together. And if we’re lucky enough, hopefully one day we’ll bring our own kiddo home to this house, and he or she will run down the stairs on Christmas morning to see what Santa left behind.
It’ll be priceless. And I. cannot. wait.
(That’s the last of my secrets! For now…)