Well, it's official: I'm a homeowner. Honestly, I wasn't quite sure I'd ever see the day. But my boyfriend and I combined forces, and we're now the proud owners of a lovely two-story, three-bedroom house in sunny Las Vegas. While I received a lot of helpful advice leading up to our move-in date, however, I quickly discovered that there are a bunch of things no one tells you about buying your first house. It's been quite an adventure and the ultimate learning lesson, and now I'll be prepared for any future purposes — but boy, was I caught off guard.
The whole process is a lot harder than I ever expected — endless hoop-jumping, emails, phone calls, and paperwork. I don't know how anyone handles this on their own. And seriously, if you're a homeowner all by yourself, major props to you. It's not easy. I knew it was something I'd eventually want to do, though; while there are so many upsides to renting, we wanted our money to be invested in something, instead of just basically tossing it away every month.
Houses are going quickly right now in Vegas, so the whole thing happened in the blink of an eye. The experience has already taught me a lot. If you're on the same road to homeownership that I was just on, here are some things you can expect — even though it's possible that no one will tell you about them. But that's why I'm here: To talk about the things that need talking about. You're welcome.
1. You're Going To Spend Money Out The Fanny
My boyfriend and I nailed down a rough estimate of what our new monthly expenses were going to look like as homeowners, and the number only gave me mild heart palpitations. What has sent me into full blown panic mode is all of those "new house expenses" that I was, to be fair, warned of... but clearly didn't take seriously enough anyway.
The handyman came to fix the hose to the washer, repair the toilet, and put up a special gate for our dog. Now another handyman is coming today to do a million other things, like put in our microwave, because holy moly do I miss microwaves. Then there was the deep cleaning. The tile cleaning. The carpet cleaning. The air duct cleaning. New locks. The security system. Random fees for literally everything. At this point, I've stopped counting and started drinking more wine.
So, in case you haven't been told — or even if you have but you might be underestimating it — you're going to spend money. Plenty of it. But rest assured that this will settle down. It comes with the territory of buying a house.
2. You Might Not Have The Slightest Clue WTF Is Going On
If Adulting 101 is laundry and cooking, buying a home is getting your PhD. It's loans, insurance, banks, accounting, the HOA, and more paperwork and confusing words than you'll ever want to experience. My boyfriend, who's a total numbers person, would tell me something about home loans, and interest paid, and something about accruing fees, and blah blah blah, and I'd have to tell him, "I'm sorry, but can you please translate that into the language of my people?" Honestly, you might as well be speaking Dothraki. All I know is that I signed on the dotted line, and if we don't pay what we owe on time, they'll take the house, our money, and my first born. (OK, maybe not my first born, but you get what I mean.) Honestly, I haven't felt this stupid since my Intro to Calc class in college.
3. It's Not Going To Feel Like Home Right Away
While talking to my mom on the phone the other day, I admitted a scary truth that made my armpits sweat: I miss our old apartment. "Is this it? Is this what it feels like?" I asked her. She explained that this feeling is totally normal. I've been incredibly concerned with how the upstairs is freezing but the downstairs is sweltering, the uncomfortable way my feet stick to the tile, and the way my butt feels on the toilet seat in the master bath — and it didn't quite line up with the cozy home I had imagined that always smells like apple pie (despite the fact that I never bake).
But a house doesn't automatically become your home. You have to make it your home. And that takes time. But it'll get there, and it's going to feel amazing.
4. It Will Probably Take You A Few Months To Settle In
My life is busy. I have three part-time jobs, a boyfriend, a dog, and a novel I'm trying to get published, in addition to the fact that I train at the gym five days a week. I barely have time to scratch myself when my nose itches. So, I took advantage of the weekend we moved in, because weekends are slightly less hectic than weekdays. "I'm totally going to unpack, like, everything in two days," I vowed. And yet, here I am, over a week later, still unable to find the toilet plunger.
While I've gotten most of the essentials unpacked and put away, there's still random stuff everywhere, and it's giving me cramps. You can't sit at the kitchen table because it's covered in paperwork and bottles of hand sanitizer and dried flowers that I'm scared to move because every time I do, they flake off. If you want to enter the master bath, make sure you step over the 400 travel size bottles of shampoo we stole from the last hotel we stayed at, my collection of bobby pins, and the 20 sticks of deoderant we've somehow accumulated between the two of us.
I have yet to find a place for the rest of this stuff — but I've made peace with the fact that I probably won't deal with the last several boxes of belongings and the selfie stick laying on the middle of the kitchen floor until the weekend.
5. There's A Good Chance You'll Be Living In An Empty House For A While
Want to enjoy a leisurely afternoon lounging on our luxurious leather sectional? Joke's on you — we don't have one! And unless someone decides to sell me one for free, we probably won't have one for some time, mainly because I refuse to spend thousands of dollars on something we put our butts on when I could spend it on something more exciting, like student loan debt. The floor is comfortable enough, right? And hey, while we're on the subject, the kitchen table looks like a table for ants in our now larger kitchen, but it doesn't really matter since it's covered in stuff anyway... right?
This house is in desperate need of new furniture. But it just ain't gonna happen yet, and that's OK. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Eventually, we'll have cozy chairs and a table fit for a queen.
6. Don't Expect It To Look Pinterest-Worthy Anytime Soon
This kind of goes along with my previous point. I've been doing my Pinterest homework and dreaming of ambient lighting, black and red accents, and the gorgeous backsplash for below the kitchen cupboards. But for now, it's empty, impossibly white, and your voice echoes.
While the thought of turning a house into a beautiful home is super exciting, I've learned that a more reasonable first goal is to get everything unpacked and put away — because seriously, this is a huge job in and of itself. I've lost track of how many hours I've spent running up and down the stairs with my arms full, looking for a bathroom that actually has toilet paper in it, all while yelling at the dog to quick licking the walls. One thing at a time, folks.
7. Prepare For Bugs
I know that this largely depends on the area you live in, but I'm also hearing that the battle of the bugs is common for homes in general, as opposed to apartments. At our last apartment, there was not a single bug, much to my happiness — because I've also experienced waking up to cockroaches crawling up my arm, and let me tell you, it's... shall we say, a tad traumatizing.
So you can imagine my horror upon finding dead cockroaches in the house before we moved in. "We will spray every inch of this house, inside and out," I told my boyfriend. And we did.
And while I haven't spotted a single cockroach since then (knock on wood), I've killed a wide array of other creatures, including a spider that was in the shower with me. In the shower, people. It's beyond disgusting, and all my efforts to keep this place clean don't seem to stop the creepy crawlers from coming in. The least they could do is pay rent.
Alas, I just need to accept it, because it looks like my boyfriend and I aren't the only ones who recently moved in here.
8. Repairs Will Be In Order
This house is about 15 years old, but you wouldn't automatically know it. It really is beautiful — and in great condition. As such, the normal wear and tear I expected didn't seem to hit this house too much... but it's still there. The washing machine sounds like a jet engine; one of the toilets is busted; and if you're not careful with the dishwasher, the motor starts to run but water doesn't come out. A few minutes later, you'll smell burning plastic. There are bleach stains on the carpet, and we have yet to acquire a functioning garage door opener — but again, this is to be expected.
All things considered, we're probably pretty lucky. While there are a few boo-boos here and there, this house is by no means a "fixer-upper." We ended up in a beautiful home in a great neighborhood. If it needs a little love, that's all right. This is another good thing for all new homeowners to keep in mind.
There are so many details and moving parts; but if you're able to own your own home, congratulations! It's an exciting time, and you work so hard for it. Just remember that it's not all going to be rainbows and butterflies. The hard work doesn't end once you've got the keys, but that's OK — it's still a really fun step forward.