Content writer Christina Neal talks about how becoming a homeowner has inspired her to take an interest in gardening and think about some decorating (much to her surprise).

I shocked myself today. I got up on this sunny Saturday morning and cut the grass. It may not sound like a big deal but anyone who knows me will be surprised. I’m not a gardener. I don’t even like plants and I’m not that bothered about flowers. In fact, I find it hard to tell the difference between plants and weeds. I can relate to a point made by a comedienne who once said: ‘I don’t really like gardening. I only go out in the garden to fart’.

OK, I’m not quite that bad (I would say that!). But taking care of a garden has been a necessity rather than a pleasure in the past. I used to mow the lawn at my mum’s house when she lived alone and couldn’t manage. That’s the extent of my gardening history. I’ve just not had the urge to do anything more than that until recently.

Being a homeowner

So what changed today? Well, it’s been just over two weeks since I became a homeowner for the first time in four years. I have lived in my house as a renter since September 2017, and now it’s finally mine. I love being a homeowner. It’s not just about having an asset that will grow in value. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t matter as I do tend to think about the future.

But it’s more than that. I have an emotional connection to my new home. I feel like I want to improve the place as it’s worth my while. It’s not the biggest, most luxurious house. In fact, it’s definitely seen better days. It’s a bit tatty. Yet I love having a home that belongs to me. A place I can decorate as I see fit. I’m already planning how to redecorate. I can’t wait to get rid of the old fashioned black and white wallpaper on the stairs that’s been peeling for years now. My partner fixed the broken shower door today. It may sound trivial, but he had the confidence to do it because the house belongs to us. You just don’t feel right about making changes or even improvements when a place doesn’t belong to you.

We both feel that the possibilities are endless. Even if we only stay here for the next five years (though I suspect it’ll be longer), we are keen to put our stamp on the place, smarten it up and make it look very special.

The benefits of buying a property

This is the first property I’ve rented. I owned five properties before this one. You just can’t compare the two in my view. Being a homeowner is far more beneficial. When people compare renting to owning a property, they often talk about the benefits of not being tied into a mortgage if they choose to rent. Yet how many of us really want to rent, unless we have no choice? Or unless you plan to spend your life travelling around the world and renting in different locations as you go? If you’re the kind of person who has the travel bug, I get it completely. If you’re on the move, don’t tie yourself down. But if you prefer to settle in one place, like me, then renting just doesn’t make sense if you can afford to buy.

Renting means the owner makes all the profit while you pay the rent and in some cases, bills (which I certainly did). It also means you can’t do basic things like hang pictures where you want them, drill holes in the wall, or re-decorate. And some landlords won’t allow pets. We were fortunate in that respect. Our former landlady liked cats, so we were able to move in and adopt a lovely tabby. I wouldn’t have moved here if that wasn’t possible. I have so many plans for my new home I don’t know where to start. So I’m not rushing into any major decisions. We do have some damp to take care of. That’s clearly going to be a priority. But otherwise, I can still wake up every morning safe in the knowledge that the home I own is mine, and at no point can a landlord contact me and tell me they want their house back. And I get to choose the wallpaper. What’s not to love?

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Christina Neal is MB Associates’ content manager and author of the books The World Marathon Book and Supercharge Your Confidence.

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