Buying a house; others are downsizing


houseTom, the Mayor, an old FantaCo buddy, asks an Ask Roger Anything Question.

Roger, My wife and I own our house. Do you ever regret buying a house at the age when others in our group are thinking about downsizing? This last winter was mild for us; I really didn’t have to shovel, thank God!

Although I’ve probably touched on this in passing, I should explain my ambivalence about home ownership.  My parents did not own their house. Instead, they rented it from my maternal grandmother. So I had no experience to emulate.

When they finally bought their place in 1972 in Johnson City, NY, near Binghamton, they kept it for less than three years before moving to Charlotte, NC. Initially, they moved into a rental before eventually buying another house.

I lived in rental units my entire adult life. Mostly, I was fine with it. Sure, a landlord could be a pill. And on one occasion, everyone in the building I had lived in had to vacate because the owner wanted to upgrade the place.

Still, it wasn’t all that bad. For one thing, I am not what you call handy. Once you get past a hammer, screwdriver, and wrench, I’m pretty hopeless.

When I was in junior high – what they call middle school now – we had shop, where we were supposed to make wooden and ceramic items. I was indisputably terrible. I was slightly better at metal shop in ninth grade, only because the machinery was far more precise than I could ever be.

So having a house at all is rather scary, as I noted here and here and probably elsewhere.


But here’s a fact. My father was 52, and my mother was almost 51 when they had their first grandchild. I was 51 when I had my only CHILD. My wife and I still have a teenager living at home in the summer.

Similarly, I was 47 when I owned my first house. Technically, 46, if you count the house I moved into when I first got married, which my bride had purchased independently. But the place we live in now is still a newish experience.

Yet, my wife asked me last year what I will do with my stuff. I didn’t know how to answer that; I’m still using my CDs and books, and probably counterintuitively, I’m still buying some. It will kill my brain if I stop interacting with new stuff.  Then I’ll be… what’s the word I’m looking for? Oh, yeah, OLD.

Oh, and BTW, Mayor, I take specific pride in the quality of my snow shoveling. I don’t do that lame shovel-width snow removal. Instead, I clean the whole walk and salt it if needed. I learned that at FantaCo, we needed to make the sidewalk safe for our customers. If I can no longer do it satisfactorily, I’ll hire someone.


My wife has wanted to fix the kitchen since we bought the house in 2000. The room was poorly designed, with the stove, the built-in silverware drawer, and the sink too close to each other. She hates the cabinet space and the wallpaper, among its flaws.

She wants to fix it and keep it long enough to appreciate the improvement. So we’ll downsize… eventually. I have been removing some items that don’t bring me joy, but I’m not going all Marie Condo. Heck, Marie Condo’s not even all Marie Condo anymore.

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