We accidentally started house hunting recently. I say accidentally, but it was sort-of intentional, and mostly, we fell into it. It feels like the natural next step, interest rates are low, our apartment is starting to chafe a bit.
But house hunting means admitting that neither of us plan to be at our jobs for more than another year. So does buying a house based on these jobs make a lot of sense? And do we decide where we want to live, and build a life around that, or do we decide what we want to do, and build a life around that?
I do not know the answer. But it seems to make sense to ask myself that age-old job interview question: where do you see yourself in five years? And for the first time in my career, I have a real answer.
I see myself working in either public interest, or at a small firm (fewer than 10 attorneys) – but a bigger office than my current one. I see myself working collaboratively with others. I see myself having a strong relationship with my coworkers. I see myself going to court no more than once a week. I see myself doing some legislative lobbying work, some outreach work, and some academic work. I see myself doing work that is challenging but not exhausting; well-paced and well-managed. I see myself with more support than I currently have. I see myself working at a place that has secure-ish funding, so that every year, I am not at the mercy of a single grant being renewed. I see myself working the hours that I want to work (and I think that I want those hours to be something more like 7am-3pm) and being able to have the spare time after work that I need to stay in shape, stay healthy, and have a good relationship with my family. I see myself being able to sleep at night. I see myself being able to talk about my job at parties without bringing the room down. I see myself having a commute that doesn’t make me feel miserable about my work or my house.
If I expand that, to where do I see myself living in 5 years, I still don’t see the answer. Do I have small children who I’m preparing to send to an inner city elementary school? Do we have a backyard and an adorable corgi? Do we have a back patio and an adorable beagle? Do we have a garden or a garden plot? Do I have small children who we load into the rear trailer behind our tandem and pedal around the local trail on the weekend? Do we have no children and a life filled with travel and adventure? Do we have children and a life filled with travel and adventure?
Home ownership, it seems, is maybe something that you should do when you feel ready to settle down, when you are at a place that you are happy with, in your career and everything else. My friends who bought houses when they were in a state of flux seem to have regretted it, or at least wound up with lousy commutes. And I remember the lease we signed five years ago two weeks before my then-boyfriend got laid off. How stuck I felt. That was a one-year lease! This is a HOUSE!
But then I consider how terribly happy we are here. How we committed to building a life here even though I didn’t have a job. That committing to that for the future doesn’t seem impossible. I have job options here and I like practicing here. So…why not commit to living here? Why not continue to be terribly happy? (The property taxes are insane in this city, that’s why.)
Has anyone else faced these issues? What did you do?