How I Bought My First Home at 21

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I remember being a child and the thought of having my own space always was an exciting prospect. Coming from a family of six with four boys (yes, no sisters) let's say life was rather loud and hectic in our home.

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Being the middle child (leftmost in the picture) I never had a room to myself until I was twelve years old. I remember feeling like I had won the lottery when I began moving my things into my room. What a marvelous day that was.

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Over the next (nearly a) decade before I bought my first home I was forming my perspective, views and opinions about money. I believe it was these formative years that gave me the most important ideas about money that I now implement each day in adulthood. To learn more about the money habits I witnessed in my childhood click here.

Now on to the actual process of finding my first house.

I remember the months preceding I was looking at houses on Zillow, Trulia and a local house database for literally hours each day. The price range I was able to afford at that point was between $150-200k. In the area in which I live (Northern California) there was NOT nearly enough inventory to meet the demand in late 2014-early 2015. All the homes that were in my price range were disappearing within a week. A large portion of these homes were being bought by cash investors and of course being rented out. As the frustration mounted 10, 20, 30 times over I felt rather discouraged. I thought to myself “what about the small person like me who wants to buy and LIVE in their home.” Thankfully, after I came to terms the timing may not be right for me to find my house something changed.

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I ended up walking into a home about four months into my search and I felt a sensation that I had not felt previously. The best way for me to describe this was a feeling of being at “home” as I walked through. Walking on the laminate floor that was buckling, the light pink tile in the bathroom and the cabinets from circa 1958 it was love at first sight

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Well, maybe not love at this point but I definitely started envisioning how the place would look when I was all finished. My creative mind began working on the setup for the bathroom and the tile I wanted to put in there as well as the kitchen. To see the updates on my first home click here.

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After sitting and reflecting on the factors that allowed me to buy my home at a young age I was able to conclude on these:

  • Draw a line between “needs” and “desires.”
    • I really really really enjoyed Chipotle and Panda Express (and still do). I remember at my height eating at these places four to five times a week. My downfall here thinking of my finances on a monthly basis. This doesn't account for all the yearly expenses or things we simply don't think about until they happen (ex. property taxes or car registration). I wrote a short piece on the benefits of a yearly spending track to help those wanting to prepare for buying a house or other large purchase.
  • Persevere through the turbulent times
    •  Buying a home is truly a lifestyle decision. It is something that has changed the way I see the world now. I am not able to rely on a landlord to fix or replace the things inside of my house. I, myself now take on that responsibility.  Before being a homeowner I did not know that rats would attempt (and succeed) to inhabit my home or that I would walk out one morning to half an inch of water throughout my kitchen floor. These are two things I had to deal with my first year of home ownership.
    • Your friend circle will treat you differently
      • I lost major popularity in my friend circles during this time. There is no way of beautifying this fact. My friends whose main objective in life was to hit the bars Thursday-Saturday disappeared quite quickly from my life. But the friends who respected my decision to completely overhaul my spending, our friendship and relationship deepened and I am grateful for this.

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Although during these times I felt as though I was missing out on my “20's” experience I look back a few years later and would not replace this experience for anything. This really hit home when I hosted my first housewarming/dinner party. I received many compliments from those close to me on the updates and how the place looked after the remodel was finished. This is when I felt in my heart I had made the right decision. I knew from the beginning I was making a smart financial move but I did not feel peace in my heart. That day my heart was happy.

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And lastly, I have the freedom to do as I please with the interior and backyard without having to ask permission from anyone! (Within reason of course.) Although a tough road for a while there I had an awesome experience with my first home and look forward to reaping more of the financial benefits in the years to come.

What do you think? What's your story on your first home? Was your first home a good or bad experience? Are you hoping to buy a home in the near future?

Always Moving Forward,

||| Max

Writer at Max My Money | Website | + posts

As a certified credit counselor and syndicated writer at MaxMyMoney, Max has coached over 250 Millennials to help take the stress out of money. When Max is not coaching, you'll find him reading financial books, indoor cycling, or visiting local pawn shops looking for swiss-made watches.