I grew up in a mobile home. When people hear the term “mobile home,” I’m sure that many picture the stereotypical “trailer trash” that is often portrayed. But our home was diligently maintained by my parents with a large, gorgeous yard in a rural area. But that trailer stigma is there. I remember when our mobile home was towed away because my parents had bought a brand new double wide manufactured home. At our housewarming party, a guest sincerely complimented my mom on our new “trailer.” But after the party, my mom was really hurt by the comment, which I didn’t understand. I was in 5th grade and now had a huge bedroom with carpet and wallpaper that I got to pick out myself. I still remember the name of my tulip-patterned walls (Shimmering Regina). I felt pretty baller, not that I knew what that meant back then.
We had a great home on some great property, but I always had the sense that my parents wanted more. More within reason though. My parents were practical people, which I picked up on as we would drive through fancy neighborhoods.
“Look at how big that house is,” Dad would marvel.
Mom would respond with something like, “Can you imagine how much it would cost to heat that place in the winter? And forget about trying to cool it all down in the summer!”
“Those utility bills must be crazy,” Dad would agree. “And can you imagine the taxes??”
So those are the kind of thoughts that I started to have when I would see big, fancy houses. That big beautiful house at the top of a hill? “Oh my gosh, when that driveway ices over in the winter, how can you even drive on it?” The house with four bathrooms? “Ugh, I wouldn’t want to have to scrub four toilets.” The fancy lighting in the foyer hanging from two-stories high? “How the heck do you change the bulbs when they burn out??”
No, my parents had it right. But as I grew older, I started seeing flaws with their property. That large yard I mentioned? Yeah, that is A LOT of grass to cut. They also had flowers and gardens that needed to be weeded, hedges that need to be trimmed, leaves that needed to be raked. Oh, and did I mention that we had a pool? A POOL! Do you realize what a maintenance nightmare those are?? I started thinking that my parents were also crazy ones. It doesn’t matter what kind of a house you have, there are a lot of responsibilities.
I predicted apartment-living for my adult life. I’d be a city girl who would not be spending my time shoveling snow or concerning myself with how the sun was going to hit my tomato plants. When something breaks, I will call a landlord and have my only problem be temporary inconvenience.
But then I started dating a guy when I was 22. Less than 5 months later, I was moving into a house with him. It was a brand new home, but it was practical: three bedrooms, one and half bathrooms, basement, small yard. This was manageable, especially since there was a man to handle all the homeowner junk.
I know, that’s not how a modern woman is supposed to think. But I grew up thinking that houses were basically the devil, so I needed to know it would all be okay.
Eventually, we got married.
Eventually, we got divorced.
I was often asked why I moved out, as apparently the thing to do is kick the man out of the house and squeeze every penny you can from him. Some people have told me I didn’t get a good lawyer. No, I had a fabulous lawyer. The problem is that a lot of people don’t realize that not all women turn into greedy witches during a divorce. I wanted our split to be as clean and painless as possible for us both. Plus, home ownership is terrifying, remember? I had zero desire to own a house on my own.
So it happened about a decade later than I thought it would, but I ended up renting an apartment. All of the positives about apartment living versus owning a home are true. There are some definitely trade-offs though. Like, instead of being outside mowing your lawn, you get to listen to your upstairs neighbors practice for their tap dancing bowling league.
That’s my only explanation for what the heck goes on up there.
Next month will be two years in my apartment. Overall, it’s been a good experience and was clearly the right option at the time. But after actually experiencing apartment life and being able to compare the two choices, I find myself really wanting my own home. I would definitely miss the conveniences of renting an apartment, like being able to just call maintenance in the middle of the night when my ceiling starts leaking and have it be their problem. Then again, if the tap dancers upstairs hadn’t overflowed their bathtub, it wouldn’t have been a problem.
Maybe scrubbing four toilets wouldn’t be so bad.