Why We’re Still Renting

photo taken a few weeks before moving to texas

A question I receive every single week without fail is this: “Why are you guys still renting?” Usually it’s followed by “why don’t you just move?” And there is so much to unpack there. (That feels like half a pun.) As someone who loves interior design and has been planning our forever home for a decade, I always have interiors on my home and the desire to make a house our own again is always on my mind. Let’s dive in.

O and I got married in 2011. I was freshly 21 years old, he had just been signed to the then Redskins after years with the Rams so we packed up the home that was very much his in St. Louis ( I never lived in it, only visited it for a few days at a time and definitely had no hand in the design) and I was so excited to buy the first home that was ours. We had exactly one day to look at 13 homes and buy so we could settle in before he had to report for training camp because, fun fact, we got married in the wild year of the NFL lockout.

We ended up walking into a home that was exponentially bigger and more expensive than what we had in mind and got that feeling. We knew it was our home. O is a professional investor and makes incredibly wise and calculated decisions when it comes to real estate. For this reason, we knew any changes we made to the house would need to be minimal and universally pleasing because we knew we wouldn’t live in Virginia forever and had resale top of mind the whole way through. Aside from ripping out some very orangey-red floors in exchange for dark wood, painting our existing orangey-red cabinets white, adding custom drapery and some beautiful light fixtures, we didn’t change a thing. We knew we wouldn’t get any return on our investment and told ourselves when we moved one day, we’d build our dream home and we are a patient people. It’d be worth the wait.

We moved to Texas to be near family and put down new roots in a thriving real estate market which is O’s world. Our plan was to sell our Virginia home, turn around and renovate the home we owned in Maryland (we buy and renovate houses, hence the number of homes under our belt) and sell that to turn around and build our “dream home.” I was so confident in our plan that I felt hesitant to sign a six month lease on the house we’re renting. I remember looking O in the eye and saying, “don’t you think we’ll be out of there by then?” To help you understand-we had countless “bites” on the Virginia house before we even put it on the market and I was just positive there wasn’t a world in which we didn’t sell that beauty in a week. Well, a week passed. Then two. Then twenty. Then fifty.

Our Virginia home was 8,000+ square feet, the monthly mortgage payment was a painful amount of pennies and our plan had crumbled into dust. I had a good friend who had an almost identical asking price for her home of the same size and zip code who put her home on the market a month before us. We checked in every now and then- “any progress?” “nope–you?” “not one.” Those were hard long, hard months, friends.

Finally, a year later, our house sold. It was glorious and encouraging but it was still step one.

Playing professional football for nearly a decade is such a unique gift because of the obvious financial blessing that comes in return for years of work, sacrifice and commitment to excellence (and a torn calf, broken toe, shattered shoulder, a hole in his chest, countless concussions and some other fun surprises i’ll spare you.) I remember one year at Bible Study when O was freshly retired and still tender after leaving the sport he had woven into his identity for over 25 years of his life, we met a new couple for the first time. As we were peppered with questions from the husband, he finally dropped the bomb that I’ll never forget. He, an accountant, said “isn’t it such a downer to know its pretty much impossible for you to ever make that amount of money ever again?” And O, being O, said “well I don’t think that’s true, but it was such a blessing while it lasted.” And the man couldn’t let it go. He pushed on, “No, really. The likelihood of you ever making that amount of money in one year, outside of a miracle, is so small that it’s borderline impossible.” What a guy (insert upside down smiley-face here.)

And that’s the thing. We are blessed to have the income from playing a professional sport. That’s there in the savings account. It’s wonderful. Then there are the investments and the real estate. That’s also wonderful. But we want to be a people that lives off of our current income rather than our savings. And as we switch over our team from Virginia and Maryland to Texas, we are very much in the beginning phases of something. And here in the beginning phases, we have had to be patient.

I have been so exasperated and frustrated here in the waitings sometimes. I can look at the numbers and say, “there is literally no reason we can’t just buy a house right this minute!” and O will always remind me, we’re doing this the right way. And the right way has been the long way.

So when many-m a n y- people ask, “what is the reason you guys don’t just buy a house?” The answer is probably the reason why anyone doesn’t buy anything they really want at any given moment- because wisdom takes precedence over desire.

So while I help friends and family design their spaces and make selections for rental properties and renovations of our own, I whisper to myself “one day, I’ll get to do this for us.” And that thought alone is enough to make me tear up. It’s going to be so, so special.

Until then, this house with all its orange-peel textured walls and brown carpets and tan walls has been the scene for three-and-a-half years of memories, was a warm welcome for our baby, the background for countless milestones , shelter from countless storms and home for our family of five. Not home forever, but home for now. We’re grateful for what we have in this moment and wait in giddy anticipation for what’s to come.

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