Growing up, I always knew I wanted a house.  Yes, sir.  Nothing would be better than owning your own home with a basement, a backyard, and a kitchen island for setting stuff down on when you get back from doing groceries.  I looked forward to having a garage and a front yard and sump pump (whatever the hell that was).  And years later, after much hard work, I was finally able to afford my own home.  One in Montreal and then, later and for many years, in Vancouver.  And in time I came to realize – I didn’t want a house.

I didn’t want to mow the lawn or tend to a garden or change the damn battery in a sump pump every year.  I didn’t like the fact that, if I wanted to go out, I’d have to get in my car and drive somewhere.  I grew quickly weary of the upkeep and the little expenses.  So when we moved to Toronto, we bought a condo.  And in time I came to realize that everything I thought I would hate about apartment life – being downtown, being so close to your neighbors, not having a backyard – were things I truly loved about my new place.

Ever since I was a kid, my parents instilled in me the importance of home ownership (and the sad existence that awaited those unfortunate enough to have to settle for an apartment).  My mother, like most Italians, viewed it as one of life’s greatest achievements, and loved the hell out of my homes, first the one in Montreal, then the one in Vancouver.  Especially the one in Vancouver.  Every few weeks, she asks me if I miss it, like it’s some ex-girlfriend I dated for 17 years.  I tell her – honestly, no.  I think the only thing I truly miss about that place is the basement gym (because, frankly, walking down two flights of stairs is MUCH easier than taking the elevator down to the third floor) but, aside from that, not really.  But I honestly don’t think she believes me.

It’s like she didn’t believe me when I told her that, when traveling, I’d prefer to stay at a hotel rather than with friends or family and that the reason I don’t want to go to Italy is because I’ll be expected to stay with relatives.  She found this altogether crazy.  Given the choice, who wouldn’t rather stay with relatives?  Or with their mom for the full  thirteen day duration of their holiday visit?


I don’t know.  Maybe someday I’ll change my mind.  I’ll grow tired of socializing and being in the heart of it all and I’ll prefer to be in my own home, a little more isolated, with a basement and a backyard and a kitchen island for putting stuff down on when I get back from doing groceries.  And I’ll look to tending a garden, replacing that sump pump battery, and hiring someone to fix and repaint the water damaged ceiling after the central air conditioning unit in the attic overflows.

But I doubt it.



16 thoughts on “On Home Ownership!

  1. ” Every few weeks, she asks me if I miss it, like it’s some ex-girlfriend I dated for 17 years. ” Haha, I love that, it’s so Mama. Mine is the same way, home ownership sums up all existence in modernity.

  2. Sounds like someone might be glad to be home! LOL!

    I don’t know if I’d ever be able to handle being in an apartment style condo long term – I just have too much outdoors stuff with no where to store it. I would have to have a separate storage unit somewhere just to handle my kayak, bicycle, and motorbike, not to mention all the various tools and supplies that I use for trail maintenance. That is one thing I liked about my townhouse – it was close to everything and had a sense of community while at the same time offering some conveniences of living in a house such as a garage and a small yard. Also, I rather enjoy doing light maintenance stuff around the house so that’s actually a bonus.

    Have to agree with your Mom about your Vancouver house’s awesomeness! But it was really big for just two people, no question.

  3. I have a house. The first thing that broke when we moved in was the water heater. A big chunk of cash when we did not expect it. This was before home inspections. I like having a yard but not the work involved in keeping it nice. We have replaced the roof shingles twice in the last 25 years and the price has gone up each time. We have neighbors on both sides but we don’t know them as they seem to change constantly. My dream is for a small bungalow house on a lot of land with privacy. Laundry room on the main floor with everything in decent condition. Houses are a lot of work.

  4. ha ha funny. my Italian parents instilled same values so I get it. But having experienced apartment living with psycho residents that make life hell for everyone else, I can happily put up with the inconveniences of owning my own home. I ain’t going back

  5. Gee, Joe. Not sure where ‘that’ rant came from? but what does it have to do with shopping for a “condo/apartment” in or near the heart of Montreal??
    In your December 21st entry you seemed to ‘hint’ at, via your mention of Akemi’s desire and enthusiasm, being open to the idea of at least checking some out. ??????

    And it sure seems like it’d be a wonderful move. You could keep your apartment in Toronto and possibly? short term rent it out to former-current work colleagues when you are not there?. You’d both get to spend more time with your mom in her remaining years and she would get to make you awesome Sunday dinners once a month, which I’m sure would make her very happy. You’d have an excellent dog sitter near by (maybe not always available, but I’m sure more often than not) via Andria & Daisy when you need to travel. It’d give Smoke Meat Pete more opportunities to redeem itself. And you would likely have the opportunity to torture Lemke with hot peppers on a semi regular basis.
    What’s not to love about it, eh??

    Oh. And Did I mention? Abundant hot peppers & the prospect of getting to torture a willing participant?

  6. You are right for not wanting to have a house right now. Houses are for retired people who are well to do enough to have a crew manage the place. Basements are for the birds, so to speak. I owned a house back in 1992. Worst experience ever. Despite the house being at the top of a hill, I got flooded and did not have flood insurance. Flooding rarely occurs on that street so I never even thought of flood insurance. Well, I lost the brand new heating system and everything else down there and ended up finally losing the house in receivership when my comic store(s) went south the following year. Ever since, I rent an apartment instead & have been at the same apt for 15 years now. If I have a problem, the landlord has to deal with it and thankfully he’s a friend. When you are getting 7 figures a year and want to relax in a gated community or a quiet cul-de-sac or a rural area with a nice big plot of land, maybe then consider a one story. My dream house was a one story 5000 square smart home with an indoor pool for about a million in Vegas back when I had visions of grandeur once my script sold and I was a producer with a nice back end deal. That was dashed in 2002. Now, I am content living in a kind of windowless bunker in the back of an old bldg that is so quiet, even fireworks outside sound like dull bumps. Enjoy your apartment living while you can!

  7. I wanted a mansion with lots of rooms and a huge yard when I was much younger.
    But then when I finally started making a decent living and needed a place to stash my stuff, I didn’t have enough money (or I should say I didn’t want to spend too much) to buy a house. So I got a condo instead. Then I caught the travel bug!!! Totally worth it.
    I still wonder once in a while when I visit friends’ houses though … … but when I thought of the maintenance and upkeep I had to do for the bigger place … Totally turn me off! XD

  8. Here’s why I like independent (not gated) home ownership:

    No landlord. No condo association. No homeowner’s association.
    No shared walls with loud or filthy or criminally inclined or drug addled or mentally unstable neighbors.
    If I have any of the above as neighbors, I can put up a fence. A really big one.
    I don’t have to ask permission, or pay extra, to have pets.
    The entire building won’t be evacuated if I accidentally burn a steak.
    Less likely to have rodents and roaches…or a pee smell in the common hallway.
    I can decide what kind of utilities come into my house.
    I can decide how to decorate and furnish my house (e.g. flooring, wall color, window dressings, etc.).
    If I wanna get in the pool nekkid at night, who’s gonna stop me?
    No limit on how many people can visit, or stay overnight. Not that that’s an open invitation, or anything…


  9. You are pointing out all the reasons home ownership can be actually expensive and not for everyone. There is nothing wrong with an apartment or condo. Be smart and get what suits your needs (and budget) and don’t try to keep up with “the Jones”. I own my house for 29 years now. My next place will be where they serve you at least one meal a day in the dinning room, have someone to do your laundry, clean your 400 square foot apartment, and check on your every day to make sure you didn’t expire.

  10. We owned a home for seven years. Truth is, it was stressful and while there were definitely perks (we have rented from some awful landlords – one who accused my then newborn son of throwing toys in the toilet when the toilet needed maintenance) – the constant upkeep was overwhelming. I love city life and could see us opting to get a condo when we head back to the US permanently.

  11. I can relate not wanting a house. I’ve never wanted a house, or own an apartment either actually.
    I know you’re told to want these things, but I feel it’s a lot of work and energy that could be put into other things entirely.

    I always wanted to live in a house truck – the old New Zealand Bedford trucks with beautiful Totara and Kauri little houses on the back. They would have stained glass windows, they smelt so good and there usually were 1 or 2 travelling close together. I’ve loved those since I was 6. I just love that everything had 2 or 3 uses and you didn’t have to do a lot of cleaning.

    I hate the feeling that I’m going to stay put in one space for too long – and I hate having a lot of stuff. I spent two years once living out of a suitcase only – and realised I really don’t need much of anything to be happy and more importantly had no distractions for the work I was engaged in.

    The only thing I have a fetish for is books, lots and lots of books. It’s a worry. I ran the first Tiny House building course a few years ago – it even got put on tv, 15 minutes of fame, aye?. And I was thinking of having one of those, but it won’t fit all the books. I have been thinking of even going smaller, like a DIY campervan so I can travel everywhere. The only problem is all my books.

    Some of them can go on Kindle, but a lot of them are first edition history books, and they’re the books others base all their theories and ideas on, which I like to debate (having the original sources and they’re too lazy to track them down). They also have different smells, textures, different coloured pages, and covers and all the things you don’t get with an electronic book.

    But large houses? Only useful if you have a lot of dogs and cats.

    I looked up sump pump battery, I still not sure how you would use that thing. I agree also on the relative thing, avoid them if you travel.

  12. I own a home outright now. I don’t even pay property taxes because I have the proper disability rating from the VA and this county gives me a break. However, without my resident handyman, this is going to get expensive. I can only lean on the goodwill and hard work of friends and neighbors for so long. Already had to buy a new gas fireplace insert and pay for a plumber to install two new faucets, and the new downspout out front. I will be paying for lawn care come spring. I have to beg a ride, take the bus, or use Lyft if I want to go anywhere.

    My basement is fully finished, I have a large backyard with a huge maple tree, and a full garage. I love my house. I do not love being alone in my house. I do not want a roommate, as I love my privacy and freedom. I would be a fool to pay someone to dispose of all my crap, store the rest, pay movers, and go pay rent somewhere. Nope, this is the house I live in until I die. I’m stuck so I have to enjoy it.

  13. I loved owning my home. The love of being secure, no one telling me what I could or couldn’t do, my large dogs, etc. I gave it up to live in Israel where we have (albeit as bigs as our house) an apartment. Love most of my neighbors. Don’t love not knowing if lease will be renewed or rent raised. House costs here similar to NYC. Apartments very expensive too. But while I miss the owning of a house, the tradeoffs to be here are worth it.

  14. All great reasons for a condo. Condos aren’t an option in my area. The only decent condos are in Downtown Memphis and the crime rate there is ridiculous! I guess we aren’t urban enough for condos.

    When we retire or if something happens to my hubby, I’m probably going for a condo near the gulf. Condo lifestyle would be a good retirement option for myself. Not sure if my hubby would like it though. He enjoys his hobby space. Plus, he likes having a “hobbit hole”.

  15. If you’re going to own a home…buy a farm! All the joy of home ownership without close neighbors. 🙂

  16. Having a house is easier when you have a dog. However I totally get your point, gardening and stuff, I feel like a farmer these days. 😂

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