The unexpected lessons I learned buying a house in my 20s

Owning a home is one big checkmark off of most bucket lists for 20- and 30-somethings. It’s your very own space, where you can do whatever you want and make any design choice! While it’s true that home ownership is a rite of passage for many, but that doesn’t mean it’s all paint colors and hanging photos.

First, let me back up a little. My husband and I have relocated quite often for his job since we married in 2012. We started off in Michigan, spent some time in Minnesota, moved on to California and now we’re settled in Ohio. Yes, that’s four states in three years for anyone counting. This job is (hopefully!) more permanent, so we decided to buy a house. (An added bonus: Coming from the San Francisco Bay Area, we were just happy to spend less than a million dollars for a house!)

This summer we took Route 66 across the country and were pleasantly surprised that the moving company arrived with our belongings the same day we did (you mean I don’t have to sit on the floor for a week like I did last time?!). The fun ended after that.

Here are five things I learned in my first month as a homeowner.

Someone has to fix things

 The screen door hinge the movers broke when they left? That huge wasp nest on the deck? All the screens the previous homeowner removed for some reason? Yeah, we have to fix those. Ourselves. There’s no calling the landlord here.

Contractors have their own schedules

Speaking of calling people, we also have to call the contractors to fix the issues that showed up during inspection. And if one of those contractors ends up being 40 minutes late, too bad. Apparently that’s just how they work.

Buying appliances is a lot harder than it may seem

There’s deciding on color, of course, and brand. But then you also have to decide where to purchase the appliances from…and though we’re saving several hundred dollars, that’s where we messed up. The big-box store better known for selling electronics that I won’t name presented us with myriad issues before delivery. As it stands, it appears that we will receive said appliances a month after ordering them (and no, in case you’re like the helpful customer services folks on Twitter and wondering if the appliances were back-ordered—they weren’t).

There are just so many things I don’t know

For example: Besides burning down this newly-purchased house, how in the heck can I remove the spider that resides in the very tip-top, furthest away corner in my two-story foyer? (You might think I should leave the spider alone because it’s not hurting anything. You’d be wrong.)

Cleaning is a big-time investment. Seriously. Going from a two-bedroom apartment to a four-bedroom house is a shock. After vacuuming all that carpet I have to get another device to dust and clean the hardwood floors. And this is just the amount of cleaning that occurs with two people and a dog; I can’t imagine what happens when you add small children!

Clearly there are awesome things about homeownership, too, like the fact that my dog now has his very own yard to frolic around in. And for my husband and I, we’re certainly paying less on a mortgage than we spent on rent in the Bay Area. But neither of those diminishes the fact that owning a house is work. Next summer we’re planning to remodel our original 1970’s kitchen. Wish us luck!

Elizabeth Xu is an Ohio-based freelance writer focusing on travel, pets and education. She’s pretty sure Disneyland is the best place to spend a day, though Ann Arbor, Mich. is a close second (Go Blue!). Follow her travel adventures on Twitter @ElizabethMXu.

[Image via iStock]