Why I gave up my life-long dream of buying a house

Published: November 16, 2021 at 7:00 am

In this article, Vishal discusses why he decided against buying a house and how his mindset towards owning property changed over the years.

Note: The following is a point of view and not a recommendation against buying property. It is worth sharing it with the freefincal community as it is a well-thought-out view suitable for Vishal’s circumstances.

My family has lived in rented accommodation for all our lives. Buying a house was my parent’s dream. It became mine too as I realized the pain of paying rent, tacking landlords and constant moving. Unfortunately, I did not do well in school and struggled to get into college. I did several jobs after graduation, and none of them paid enough to service a loan. My parents passed away in quick succession, and I regret not earning enough within their lifetime to fulfil their dreams.

I wish the young earners reading this have better luck than me in fulfilling their parent’s dream. My view about buying a house has changed a lot due to my particular circumstances. I am not trying to claim that renting is better or one should delay buying a house. It is an extremely personal decision, and as Pattu sir often says, it must be planned holistically after considering our long-term goals, particularly retirement.

After their death, I felt a big change. As an only child, I felt I no longer had any roots anywhere. Soon I got an opportunity to work in the Dubai hospitality industry. It allowed me to work my way up the corporate ladder and learn to speak and write proper English.

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I thought I would be homesick when I went there but realized I had no “home” anymore. Soon I got married and had two children. I was posted in Hong Kong for three years while my family stayed in Dubai. Then I realized home has nothing to do with real estate. If you are with your family, you are home.

After we became parents, both my wife and I started learning personal finance and stumbled upon freefincal before making any big investment decision. It was a game-changer for us.

Retirement planning and our children’s future became our number one priority. We regularly started investing for these goals and accumulated enough within eight years (thanks to our double income).

At this stage, we thought about buying property in India for future use but did not due to our son. Our daughter is outgoing and raring to be independent after school. Our younger son is a loner. He loves fine arts and is quite creative but does not socialize much. He is likely to be unhappy if he relocates to study alone. Worried that it might disrupt his education, we have decided to move wherever he chooses to study. We believe he would need our physical presence for a few more years.

This has again changed our mindset toward owning property. We may need to support our son for  5-6 years after school, by which time I will be almost 55 and my wife 54. At that stage, we could buy a retirement villa to spend the evening of our lives or travel living in service apartments or even hotels.

My journey has made me realize the difference between a house and a home. Home is where your loved ones are. Not having a house makes us that much more flexible to cater to the needs of our children.

I want to conclude by saying that having a piece of land or space that we can call our own is extremely important, but we need not define happiness with it. Buying a house was and is my lifelong dream, but life had other plans for me. Thankfully, our regular investments have made us financially secure to tackle these changes.

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About The Author

Pattabiraman editor freefincalDr M. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He has over ten years of experience publishing news analysis, research and financial product development. Connect with him via Twitter(X), Linkedin, or YouTube. Pattabiraman has co-authored three print books: (1) You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18) for DIY investors. (2) Gamechanger for young earners. (3) Chinchu Gets a Superpower! for kids. He has also written seven other free e-books on various money management topics. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India,” an organisation promoting unbiased, commission-free investment advice.
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