Saturday, April 2, 2022
I’m here in Temecula surrounded by boxes. My home in Rancho Santa Margarita is going on the market soon, and this week she’s being primped, groomed, and dressed in white, getting ready for the big day. I have new dreams now which this sale will help make possible, and I’m moving closer to family.
Whether you call it a crisis, a shortage, or a bubble, housing has been in the news. Pandemic measures changed people’s lives. Whether they lost their jobs, retired early, or were told to work from home, many responded by moving out of the city. My gardener moved to Idaho to be near his daughter. One of my granddaughters moved to Texas so her growing family could have a bigger home. When my youngest son was told to telecommute, he and his family moved from San Diego, California, to Temecula, a city of 110,000, surrounded by rolling hills and fruitful vineyards. When I saw how much the price of my home had gone up in five years, I decided to sell the house and rent instead. Temecula looks like a lovely place to relocate.
Not that easy! Have you tried Zillow lately? Houses pop up and are gone the next day–both sales and rentals. I binged on Zillow. I wasn’t alone: “Your Distracted Co-Worker is probably on Zillow,” reported the Wall Street Journal on March 17, and I was right there with them. Every time I called to see a house, it was taken the day before. I filled out applications which required every financial document known to man, plus references and a $40.00 non-refundable fee. There’s no comparison shopping. It’s grab and go. After submitting two sets of applications to two different companies, I had all my information at hand and all my income and bank statements saved in one digital folder. So the third time I talked to an agent, I submitted his company’s application plus supporting documents within an hour, met the agent at the house the next day, and signed the contract.
So here I am, in Temecula, surrounded by boxes. I’m switching from homeowner to renter by choice. Why? To be free from the burden of home maintenance. To try out a new location while leaving my options open. To be prepared to move proactively when my housing needs change. To cash in on an unexpectedly profitable investment while the time is right.
I’m hoping to trade home repairs and upkeep for flexibility and freedom, like the woman I read about a few months ago who sold her home and rented a place near the beach. I know rents can go up, but a house has unexpected expenses of its own. It sounds attractive to live in a place where the repairs and maintenance are somebody else’s problem.
Before I moved, a professional mover came over to help plan every step of the move. He spends one week a month in Southern California and lives in . . . (you guessed it) Idaho. The move went smoothly and here I am.
Will renting be the answer for a rolling stone like me? Or is it simply a case of the grass being greener?
I’ll let you know.
Today’s Notable Headlines
“There’s never been such a severe shortage of homes in the U.S. Here’s why,” NPR, March 29, 2022. https://www.npr.org/2022/03/29/1089174630/housing-shortage-new-home-construction-supply-chain
“Touring an open house this weekend? Avoid these three things,” LA Times on Yahoo!News, April 1, 2022. https://news.yahoo.com/heading-open-house-weekend-avoid-120048417.html
“More and more millennials regret buying their first home,” Business Insider, Feb. 2, 2022. https://www.businessinsider.com/millennials-regret-buying-first-home-housing-market-2022-2
“Is it better to rent or own a home? Here’s how to decide the right move for you,” CNBC, March 30, 2022. https://www.cnbc.com/2022/03/30/how-to-decide-if-you-should-rent-or-buy-a-home.html
Articles available by subscription
“Your Distracted Co-Worker is probably on Zillow,” Wall Street Journal, March 17, 2022. https://www.wsj.com/articles/your-co-worker-is-on-zillow-real-estate-porn-11647448641
“Homes Earned More for Owners Than Their Jobs Last Year,” Wall Street Journal, March 17, 2022. https://www.wsj.com/articles/homes-earned-more-for-owners-than-their-jobs-last-year-11647518400
Why am I doing this?
The pandemic hit like a tsunami and the ripple effect will be felt for decades. World upheavals, deglobalization, housing shortages, the Great Resignation, supply chain disruptions–we’re navigating changes not entirely caused by the pandemic, but accelerated by it. Since March 11, 2020, this blog has examined the modern pandemic experience both in the media and in everyday life, drawing on my experience as a medical technologist, a historian, and an ordinary person living through extraordinary times.