It's good to call a house your own
By Glynn Moore| Columnist
Monday, November 09, 2009

During this season of intense leaf-raking, which I prefer to call a national emergency, I am once again reminded that occasionally there are advantages to renting instead of owning a home.

I am comforted that a yard full of leaves is one of the few downsides to owning a home, however; the others are too piddling to bring up here.

(If I were to try to list them, the only other homeowner handicaps that come to mind would be grass that needs mowing, weeds that need killing, fire ants that need killing even more, tree roots that invade sewer lines, bushes that have to be pruned, driveways that crack, plumbing that springs leaks, dogs that break out of your yard and have to be chased down the street, lawsuits from people who are bitten by that runaway dog or who trip on that cracked driveway, rooms that have to be repainted and redecorated, appliances that need replacing every few years, lakes that rise in the garage or basement from your defective water heater, basements that flood, heaters that don't heat, lightning strikes and falling trees that damage the house, property taxes and insurance that don't go away, and the assorted costs of outdoor paint, siding, gutters and a new roof after a big hailstorm.)

Where was I? Oh, yes, I was praising the virtues of living in your own home instead of renting. You need to make up your own mind, but I remember a few places along the way that made me yearn for a mortgage payment instead of a rent payment.

There was the downstairs apartment in college that was lovely except for the woman upstairs who wore Minnie Mouse-style shoes that clop-clop-clopped wherever she walked. Once, when her husband was out of town, she invited me up to "the apartment," but I was too irritated by her loud walkabouts to consider climbing her stairs.

At another complex, my next-door neighbor was similarly affectionate, except that she charged for her kisses. She was always receiving eager company at all hours, which made sleep as impossible for me as it was for her.

After getting a new job in another town, I rented the nearest apartment, which was still eight miles away in the next county. I felt the rent should have reflected the fist-shape hole in a windowpane and a matching one in the bedroom door, but apartments were at a premium so I lived with the damage.

I figured those previous tenants merely had been passionate people -- until I started getting calls from someone who had sold the former resident some friendly pharmaceuticals but hadn't been paid in full. She was the meanest woman I've ever spoken to. By phone, anyway.

I've rented a few houses along the way, too. I had a total of one good landlord (and landlady) during that time, and I made a point of telling them so. All the others gave me no reason to stick around, so now my wife and I live in our own home.

MOORE WORDS: One of home ownership's little treats is the mortgage, literally: "You won't own this place for 30 years, Jack." The Online Etymology Dictionary says otherwise: Mortgage comes to us from the Middle Ages' Old French mort gaige, or "dead pledge," because "the deal dies either when the debt is paid or when payment fails."

That much hasn't changed a bit with the passing of centuries nor the falling of leaves.

Reach Glynn Moore at (706) 823-3419 or glynn.moore@augustachronicle.com.

From the Monday, November 09, 2009 edition of the Augusta Chronicle
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