I’ve never owned a house but I’ve made plenty homes.
Apartments, flats, a studio, houses. You name it, I’ve rented it. You can make a comfortable home out of rented accommodation no problem at all but as for the physical four walls with a lid on top. Nope.
In my 20’s I always felt that having a mortgage would pin me down. Rightly or wrongly I found the very idea constrictive and the literal translation of mortgage (death pledge) utterly disconcerting.
All around me my friends bought their houses yet I never did. I was glad I never had a mortgage when Naomi and I left Scotland on our travels. We met plenty other travellers enduring the headache and anxiety of covering bills whilst they cavorted around South East Asia whilst we were pretty much free to roam. A few years previously, when the economy crashed I was grateful that I never had to endure the dread of negative equity and sinking house prices.
Yet with pros you will always have cons. The short term-ism which goes hand in hand with renting means you never truly invest in your future. You wont buy that couch, that bed, that awesome piece of art. You constantly tell yourself, ‘What’s the point? I’ll be out of here in six months anyway.’ The ‘forever’ items aren’t worth buying, or they are already there waiting for you in your fully furnished apartment. I’ve been repeatedly told that I’m throwing my money away, that I’m paying off someone else’s death pledge. And I am. Hands up. You got me. And if I want to look at uber long term renting then I can kiss the idea of retirement goodbye.
Naomi and I have a new problem. Not unique. But new to us. The question has been bubbling away for a while now.
Where is home? That is an entirely different question when put into context that we emigrated over four years ago.
It’s the ultimate question you can ask any ex-pat and you’ll get a different answer each time.
‘Why would you want to go home?’
‘Some day I’ll go back.’
‘Home is for holidays.’
‘Back home the coffee is always in the same cupboard.’
‘You’ll never know where home is. You will always think it is the place you just left.’
That particularly cheery last quote came from a Polish bloke I work with who has lived in Australia since the 80’s. Since. The. 80’s. And even he is still none the wiser. Mind you he is possibly the most miserable person I’ve ever encountered in my life.
(I think I have just passed judgement on someone for the first time on this blog. Oh well, it’s the truth.)
A particularly common answer to the question Where is home? is ‘Why would I go back? Nothing changes at home.’ It relates back to the ‘… coffee is in the same cupboard’ gem. Yeah, maybe nothing changes at home and who is to say that is a bad thing? There is a lot to be said for continuity. Most people in the would shudder at the idea of having to up-root every year or so. It never used to bother me.
Home may not have changed but maybe I have.
(Speaking of home my mum is trying to Facetime me so I must go.)