My home is attached to other homes

“Well, there’s only one thing wrong with that… my grandmother lives in a Condominium.” Sound familiar? It may, it’s the last line of ‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’. Charlie Brown was making sure that his fellow peanuts knew that even though they were traveling over rivers and through some woods, his grandmother didn’t live in a house, but rather a condo. (skip to 1:20 mark 😉 )

 

 
I had to have the concept of a “condominium” explained to me. “It’s like a house, you own it, but it’s connected to other peoples homes like an apartment.” It wasn’t the most precise explanation. And Cracking a dictionary wouldn’t have helped me get why people buy houses with shared walls.

 

Where I grew up everyone lived in a house. A few were fancy, others were delivered with wheels attached. But they all had some ground separating them from the neighbors. Apartments were for city dwelling sitcom characters and fresh-faced college students. I simply assumed my adult existence would have the privacy and benefits of owning a stand-alone home.

At 24 I bought my first place. I needed the help of a couple government grants, my mom’s signature, and some compromises. For a moment there were traditional homes in my price range, but the good ones were scooped up by people with buying power. The rest were in poor shape and in need of heavy investments to become liveable. It was early November and the grants I needed for my down payment could potentially disappear in the new year. I put an offer on my townhome and I spent Thanksgiving painting over the wall that separated me from my neighbors to the north.

Living in a townhouse has its perks, I don’t have to worry about mowing the grass, plowing the driveway, or cleaning the gutters. My shared walls and relatively recent build mean I don’t have to stingy with my furnace. Not bad for a starter home in a desirable community.

I assumed that I would upgrade to traditional home long before the thirty-year mortgage was paid. A year later I’m not so sure of that assumed future. The condition of the Utah housing market is dimming my prospects of owning a traditional home. It’s somewhat likely my next address will be just a larger townhome.

My region of the U.S. is seeing a massive stage of growth. High-density housing is a necessity to help provide an affordable home for everyone. Sharing walls is compromise people around the world make so that they can afford to live where they want to. The expectations that I formed while being raised in a rural town make that compromise a tough pill to swallow.

There’s a decent possibility that the rest of my life will be spent living in townhomes or condo communities. I wonder If I were a few years older if I could have slid into a house before the market started its steep upward turn. I’m so grateful for what I have. But the dimming of that assumed future is a strange feeling me and my peers will just have to deal with as our interpretation of the American dream continues to change.

 

 

 

 

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