Homeownership and the single girlI had some friends over for dinner, themed as the meeting of lapsed and current comic book geeks. It was boy, girl, boy, girl, with a difference being the girls were property owners and the guys were renters. Anyway we're talking about various things comic and non-comic related and Nora and I get to chatting about home repair things like sanding. The guys start zoning out a bit. We're talking power tools, POWER TOOLS! And the guys are zoning out, what's wrong with them? On other tangents of home repair, stuff breaking down, and such the guys start getting smug. Ha, ha! We don't have to deal with that nah nanny nah nah.
There are a lot of things that are a joy and a frustration with being single and owning a home. Then throw on the being female part and it adds another layer. First off, there is only one income and one person dealing with the repairs, maintenance and improvements. Sometimes you can get your friends to chip in their labor for the price of tasty beverages and snacks, but for the bulk it is all on you. A plus of being single, is I don't have to compromise on what it is I want. I can paint the house whatever color I desire and any other improvements are limited only by my finances. Being female is problem when it comes to dealing with some tradesmen. I don't like being talked down to and I don't like dumb assumptions about what I want because I'm a woman. Also the weak girly arms and the lousy upper body strength in general is annoying when taking on some household tasks, like hanging drywall. I mean, I could do it, but I tire out easy.
I know I'm not a freak of nature, as about 1/2 of single women are homeowners. I mean once I figured I was going to stay in the DC metro area for a length of time, it just made sense to buy something, after several years of renting.
I remember a male colleague (a renter who I might say earned 2x more than me) asking me about my decision to buy in relation to a guy I was dating at the time. My answer was "what about him?" I didn't see a ring on my finger, so whomever I was dating had no relationship to my homebuying wants or needs. Over dinner with the comic book geeks, we girls tried to explain to the guys, that should Mr. Right come along, we ain't moving. We do like our houses, they fit very well into our lives, and unless he has something that is amazingly better than our homes (which we put in hours and days of sweat equity in), we ain't moving. He'll have to rent out his property. Besides, most of the (datable) guys we know are renters. Course, I'm willing to move for a house closer to the metro, a Mercedes, swimming pool and room for a pony.
Going back to another point, being the only income for this household, and being the only one in the household, a household of one, impacted what I could buy and where I could live. I could rent a better location, closer to the metro but buying, even before the crack fueled crazed housing prices was hard. I didn't make that much, entry level professional's salary and qualified for some housing programs, but even with that, there just wasn't a lot in my price range, especially for a fee simple (not a condo) house. Almost everything I saw needed work. From the research I did, I knew what metro-able neighborhoods I could afford. Logan, no. U-Street, maybe something falling down. Columbia Heights, only east of 11th, maybe. LeDroit, eastside of 2nd. Now, as a single homeowner the problem is with inaccessible equity I can't tap into because of the single income. The notion of 'safe' was another issue, as a single woman, I had to play around with. I mapped out Shaw according to my comfort level, coloring streets and blocks by my willingness to walk down them. Do I worry when coming home at night? Depends. If I am feeling unsure, I take a cab or grab a 90something bus from U Street.
With the current housing prices I don't know if a single woman can buy a house in Shaw. She's got to be making a lot of money if she can buy because even shells are going for well over 200K. There are condos coming up, but throw on condo fees and that's a big monthly payment. I don't know if the streets are safer or if I've gotten more comfortable. The gangs of kids are more annoying than scary.