2017 marks the year that Colby and I will start saving for a down payment on a house. We have an idea of how much we want to save for a down payment, how much house we can afford, and a good idea on what we would like in a house but through renting we learned some things we wouldn’t have previously thought about. When we made the decision to move and rent the house we live in now, we considered it to be our “practice” home. A house that we would learn stuff in and help prepare us for home ownership without all of the financial obligations. We have been here a year and a half now and there are definitely things we have learned that we will take with us when we go to purchase our own home. So here are 10 things I learned from renting this house.
- I absolutely despise hardwood floors. I don’t think I can accurately convey just how much I dislike them. Don’t get me wrong, I think hardwood floors are absolutely beautiful but the upkeep on them is ridiculous. No matter what I do or how much I vacuum, sweep, and mop I never feel like my floors are 100% clean. Hardwood also attracts pet hair like crazy and you can see everything so much quicker. You are also limited to what you can use to clean them with and additional upkeep is needed that other floors don’t require. If it wasn’t for renting this house and experiencing hardwood floors first hand I would have had no idea that I did not want them in our own home when we go to buy.
- Grass grows faster than you think. You might laugh at this one but I never realized just how fast grass grows! This is the first place we have rented that has had a yard that we were responsible for. This meant we were now responsible for mowing the grass, general yard maintenance and snow removal. We were OK with having to mow the grass but we did not realize how fast grass grows and how often we would actually have to mow. We found ourselves mowing at least once a week, sometimes twice a week and our last mow didn’t happen until well into the Fall. This isn’t a big deal and we obviously still want a yard but just something that took us by surprise.
- Mail only gets picked up daily if you have a box by the road. Now I am not sure if this one applies everywhere but it does in the area where we live. The house we rent, and most in this area, have mailboxes that are either on the porch or attached to the side of the house. We were told that mail carriers are only obligated to check for outgoing mail daily if you have a roadside mailbox (meaning they are along the road and can drive up to them). If you have a mailbox on your porch or on your house, mail carriers are not obligated to check for outgoing mail. They only check for outgoing mail if that house has incoming mail that day. Say what?? This might just be our area or maybe I just never knew this growing up but this one took me by surprise. As someone who runs a business online and frequently mails out packages I was a bit taken back by this. It was always my understanding that mail carriers job was to pick up and deliver mail but I guess that is not the case. This is one thing I would have never thought to ask about when purchasing a home but now I know. While the answer won’t be a deterrence in buying that home it is still good information to know.
- More bathrooms the merrier. In our 6 years of renting, we have lived in places that have had 1 bathroom as well as 1.5 bathrooms. While we do just fine with only 1 bath there are definitely downsides to it (stomach flu anyone?) and no real upsides. Most days it works out just fine but sometimes it can be an inconvenience. I can say that, without a doubt, after living with both 1 bath and 1.5 that we will not be buying a home unless it has at least 1.5 bathrooms.
- Height matters. When we first looked at this rental one of the things that made us want to move here was the basement. Not only the fact that it had a basement but how large it was. There was ample room for a laundry area, a work bench for all of our tools, storage, and room for a home gym. What we didn’t think about though was the height of the ceilings in the basement and if it was a low bearing ceiling. Big surprise to us, some of our gym equipment barely fit in the basement due to the height of the ceilings. This is something we never would have thought to look into when purchasing a home. Seeing as how we would like a home gym in the house we purchase it might be good to find out if equipment will even fit before buying.
- Garden hose + outdoor outlets. This is another one of those things that probably wouldn’t have crossed my mind to look for. Shortly after we moved in and planted a garden we talked about needing to buy a hose…then we started looking around to see if we could even have a hose outside. There was no water spout on the side of the house. Now I am sure there are probably ways to install one (but we rent, so no one is doing that) but it is something we now know to look for when we buy a home. For whatever reason I just assumed all houses had one. Same goes for outdoor outlets. Our current rental does not have any but man are they handy to have. So yet again something we now know we want in a home and will pay attention for when we buy.
- Pay attention to the indoor outlets. In our situation something we learned is that older homes tend to only have 2 prong outlets. This means for a good bit of things you will need to buy the adapters to create 3 prong outlets. Now we know to pay close attention to the outlets in a potential house. If the house only has 2 prong outlets this means it will either require buying lots of adapters or it will need electrical work to rewire the house. Not sure about you, but I do not want to buy a home that needs to be completely rewired.
- I absolutely need a fence. While Colby and I would really love a farm with no other houses in sight, realistically we know, for our starter home, that that probably won’t be the case. While we plan to look for a house that has at least another house space difference between ours and our neighbors, one thing I know for sure is, it has to have a fence. While we have neighbors where we rent, we don’t live right on top of each other…we have a good bit of space between us and the next house. But, every time we go out in our yard I can’t help but feel like we have no privacy and the other houses can see what we are doing. Personally, I want to be able to go out in my back yard and relax and not feel like my neighbors are right there. Because we rent this house, I have figured out that if we do happen to have neighbors when we buy, it needs to have a fence already or we will need to put one up.
- Check The Drywall…You might be thinking, you want to do what? Why do you want to check the drywall. Well friends, let me tell you about our adventure in installing shelves in our office. When we installed the shelving above my desks we had no issues but the shelves above Colby’s desk were a different story. The drywall was so thin that every time we tried to hang something up, including using anchors, they would pull right out of the wall along with the actual drywall. That is a huge issue if you want to hang stuff up in your home. This issue requires either repairing or installing new drywall. We never would have thought to find out about the drywall in a home (ie. how thick it is, when was it last replaced, etc). While not a huge deal to replace it is a bit of an annoying task and I would like to know about the drywall in a home I might buy.
- Neighbors and Noise….When you rent luckily you have the advantage of being able to move if you have trouble with your neighbors or decide you don’t like the area. When you buy a house that really isn’t an option. Which is why we have learned that when we go to buy a home we will visit the area multiple times on different days at different times. We will find out as much as we can about the area, about the house itself, and about our neighbors. We want to know when the most noise occurs, will we get woken up early in the morning by something, is there a ton of traffic, etc. While we haven’t had any real issues with our neighbors there have been some things that would drive me crazy if we had bought this home and not rented. Our one neighbor never uses their driveway and constantly parks their car on the road directly behind our driveway. This makes it incredibly difficult to back out sometimes. Not a huge deal but if I was buying this home it is something I would have wanted to know. There are also a TON of dogs in this neighborhood, which means there is a TON of barking and noise. Another neighbor has two dogs that bark pretty much around the clock and for the first 6 months we lived here, they woke us up around 4am every morning. We also noticed another neighbor LOVES to mow his grass at 7am every single Saturday lol So if you are trying to sleep in, it can be bothersome. Obviously, none of these things are huge issues but they are something I would want to know about if I was purchasing this home.
Alright folks, there you have it. 10 things I learned from renting this house and how we will use that information going forward in purchasing a home. Have you ever rented a house before? If so, did you learn anything from renting that helped in the process of buying a home? I would love to hear from you.
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