Why I Have Not Bought a House

Sometime in the next couple months my wife and I will likely purchase our first home. As a friend of a friend said concerning that and my values which I clearly convey on here about money and community, she said:

“Isn’t that Hypocritical?”

The honest truth is, it might be. For the next few days though, I want to try and articulate some of what has gone into the decision and where we hope to go in the future. In hopes that even friends of friends will continue to hold me to the values I acknowledge and convictions I have.

In our current culture, I think it’s probably important to start with why I have not bought a house before I even begin to discuss our decision to buy. I’m not sure how many reasons I’ll list so I’ll just use some bullet points.

  • Debt is a Bad Thing. In our consumer driven, credit-card swiping society, I think this statement is becoming more and more uncommon. As the value of your almighty ‘credit score’ increases people are becoming more and more convinced that debt is good (not ridiculous debt of course, but where do you draw the line?). In my journey of questioning our culture and continually checking my faith to Scripture rather then society I feel the statement above is quite obvious.
    [sidenote: Did you know the quote, “The borrower is slave to the lender” is actually by Benjamin Franklin? (update: actually proverbs 22:7 is pretty close)]
  • Renting Makes Sense. People tend to talk about buying a house like it’s a no-brainer and that renting is ‘throwing away your money.’ First of all, buying a house causes you to ‘throw away’ money on closing cost, interest, mortgage insurance, taxes, and more. In the same way that insurance can sometimes make sense because it transfers the risk to the insurance company for a small fee, renting put’s the risk of house problems and cost into the hands of your landlord (Which has been a might good idea in my opinion).
  • A House is a part of the ‘American Dream.’ And, as you know, I’m quite skeptical of the U.S.A. Dream. I do know too many young people who have stepped into home ownership, with the support of friends and family and church members, and gotten in way over their heads. That dream forced them into jobs and hours they didn’t want, projects and expenses they hadn’t planned on, and ultimately consumed much of their lives.
  • Home Ownership is available to the privileged. Many in the world do not have the resources to own a home, why should I? Why participate in a profit driven, redlining discrimination, capitalist market, that only some can afford to be a part of?

I think there are more reasons but we’ll leave it at that. Here’s the honest, but possibly hypocritical part of this. I think at this stage buying a home is the wisest decision for my family and for building community, but I recognize that it’s entirely possible I’m twisting my values to justify my selfish behavior (I don’t think I am, but I recognize I’m not a purely righteous person). Therefore, I leave it up to you, friends and readers, to challenge me, converse with me, and help me think through this decision while keeping with my values and trying to follow.