What’s It Like to Own a Home in Your 20s?

Hado Photo
Hado Photo

I feel like watching friends purchase their first homes is a bit like watching people get married. First, a few people will do it at a young age, much to everyone else’s astonishment. Then, there will be a lull for a few years as people bop around, and then…boom–everyone is hopping on the bandwagon!

I feel like home/condo ownership is a hot topic and is something my friends and I talk about fairly often. Of course, with so many people living in cities, renting could easily be our future…if only those amazing rent controlled apartments in NYC weren’t so hard to come by! I decided to poll two of my gal pals who each work in different industries and live in entirely different parts of the country to get their take on what it’s been like to go from renter to owner. (One thing they do have in common? Great business/financial sense!).

I remember how exciting it was when each of them told me they had bought their own place, and it has been fun to admire the decorating process see how it’s unfolded for each of them over the past several years. I’ve visited each of their places a handful of times (side note: Maddie lives like three minutes away from my Grandpa! #smallworld) and could totally imagine myself in either of their cities living in one of their gorgeous abodes (but have also seen how much work has gone into making them that way–I visited Allison during her kitchen reno, after all!). I’ll let them take it away…

Allison, 26

City where you own: Boston

Age when purchased home/unit: 23

What inspired you to buy? How long had this been a goal of yours? I was looking for a new apartment and wasn’t able to find anything super appealing to me. At the same time, I came to the realization that I had money for a down payment (I had been saving for years, had a high paying job right out of college, and my parents were willing to give me a small loan of their own) and knew that this money would be well spent investing in real estate.

What has pleasantly surprised you about home ownership? Being my own landlord. After purchasing, I re-did the kitchen and took down a few walls (which was a huge pain but worth it in the end) and made tons of changes to the condo to make it my own. Also, how much my property value has increased in the past few years. I’m very glad I bought a condo before the market skyrocketed like it has since.

What was a major wake up moment? Being my own landlord. A few months ago the ice maker in my fridge stopped working and cost several hundreds of dollars to repair. I’ve had a broken burner on my stove for more than a year now that I don’t think I’ll get fixed until I plan to sell or rent out the place. It doesn’t seem worth the money!

How do you handle tasks like yard work (if applicable) and maintenance? Do you hire a professional service or do these projects yourself? After re-doing my kitchen (by professionals), I had this idea that I would do the backsplash on my own to save money. Three years later, I still have no backsplash. I’m not as much of a do-it-yourself person as I once thought.

What do you think is a common misconception people in their 20s have about home ownership? Making any assumptions about people who own. I know people my age in many different income brackets who own or are looking to own their own homes. Also, depending on the market, home ownership might make sense for someone even if they plan to only be in that city for 5 years. Prices can increase a lot in 5 years, and in my experience, it’s been enough time to really make the investment valuable.

Hado Photo
Hado Photo

 Maddie, 27

City where you own: St. Louis Park, MN

Age when purchased home/unit: 24

What inspired you to buy? How long had this been a goal of yours? It seemed like a smart investment. I didn’t want to waste money on rent, and it seemed like a no-brainer to buy a house.

What has pleasantly surprised you about home ownership? It feels like home!! I was worried about the “feel” of my new home. I went from a trendy, cozy apartment in a cool neighborhood to a completely different type of feel. I live in a neighborhood where I am the youngest homeowner by a few years, and I wasn’t sure if I would feel like it was home when a large part of my decision to buy was for investment purposes. Surprisingly, I have never felt more comfortable and happy with where I live!

What was a major wake up moment? I have these at least once a month. I may be coexisting with mice right now…but don’t worry, I am finding a solution and soon will be mice free. Stuff like this happens all the time. Something is always breaking and there is always standard maintenance. Tending to these areas is not my strong suit, but I am happy that I have to learn to problem solve outside of my comfort zone. I once cut off power to half my house because I thought I could handle a “small” electrical issue on my own… that one I needed to call a professional for. 🙂

Having rented before, what do you now appreciate about being an owner? Building equity, and taking pride in home ownership.

How do you handle tasks like yard work (if applicable) and maintenance?Do you hire a professional service or do these projects yourself? First, I try on my own. Then, if I can’t figure it out, I will call a professional. I was surprised how much I have learned from just from trying and doing a little research. With that said, the craftsmanship of some of my solutions might not be as good as a professional, but I’ve sort of accepted that for right now, it’s good enough. Owning a home can be a huge money pit if you let it be, but I try to be smart about what I can do myself and knowing when I absolutely need a professional (see electrical example above!). I might not have the best yard on the block, but it’s nice enough for me!

What do you think is a common misconception people in their 20s have about home ownership? I hear a lot of people talk about how they don’t want to buy a house because they might move in the near future. I think that is a huge mistake. If you live in well-populated market and you are smart about your purchase price, you’ll most likely have a good option to sell or rent when you decide to exit. There are so many personal and financial benefits to home ownership, and the financial process really isn’t as intimidating as it first seems. (Disclaimer: Maddie is not responsible for any investment decisions made based on her opinion of home ownership :)).

Thanks, ladies! Brb, off to scour Zillow… 😉 But seriously, my hope is that these tips will prove useful for other people in the “should I buy or should I rent boat,” whether that’s now or in five years. Owning isn’t glamorous 100 percent of the time, but it’s good to hear that it isn’t necessarily as scary as it seems!


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