When A House is More Than An Investment
“After you leave home, you may find yourself feeling homesick, even if you have a new home that has nicer wallpaper and a more efficient dishwasher than the home in which you grew up.” - Lemony Snicket
Next week, my parents will complete the sale of their home and journey back to the Philippines. Whether they end up staying in the Philippines for the remainder of their retirement or come back is yet to be decided. For the past few months, our entire family has gone through the exercise of cleaning out the house that we’ve called home for the past 23 years. My sisters and I have lived away from this home for many years, dorming in college, getting our own apartment, buying our own places, but we still refer to this place as home. It has been bittersweet to liquidate the contents of this house, but deep down we know this is the right move for the financial security and retirement dreams of our parents.
A House is A Home
This post is about all of the ways a house is more than an investment. As a personal finance writer, educator, and follower of the FI movement, I understand how a house can be a strategy towards financial independence, but a house is also more than that.
This house was the product of my parents dream to come to America.
This was years of savings, side hustles and overtime.
This is the only house my youngest sister ever knew.
This house address is one that we will internalize for years to come.
This house is where I learned to cook.
This house is where my brother-in-law nervously asked my parents to marry my sister.
This house is where I got picked up for my first date.
This house is the background of prom photos, Easter photos, Christmas photos and family gatherings.
This house is how my parents sent 3 daughters to college, using equity to help pay for tuition and reduce our overall student loan debt.
This house is where I invited my now-husband to spend our first Christmas together.
This is the house where my parents and new in-laws had our one and only Christmas dinner together.
This house is where my sister prepared for her wedding day.
This house is where we’ve celebrated many birthdays and blew out many candles.
This house is where my dad always barbequed for Easter, rain or shine.
This house is where we welcomed family and friends on their first visit to the United States.
This house has sheltered our family through 23 summers and 22 winters.
This house is where my parents proudly hung up our diplomas.
This house is where 3 girls were raised. The original sisters of Sisters for FI.
This house is where I’d like to think my parents completed a part of their dreams for them and for us.
I’m glad that we were able to be together to sell off this house as family, reminisce together and take part in the last days.
My parents bought this house in 1995 for $158,500. It’s public record so I’m sharing the price. The house was put on the market for $310K and sold above asking in 2018. I will keep the final price until it becomes public record. So by those pure numbers alone, the net post sale would be $151,500 after 23 years, but those numbers are not that simple. Over the past 23 years, my parents have paid for up keep, getting a new roof, a new sewer system, new windows, painted, landscaped, etc. Equity was taken on the house to help pay for our college tuition and other bills. It was refinanced several times. Time was spent to maintain and keep it updated. I’m not going to go into the full numbers, but just roughly looking at it, my parents will be able to take a few thousand dollars back at least.
In the end though, while this house is/was an investment, it has also been more than that. It has been the primary shelter for my family for 23 years. The memories that we shared in this house are priceless. So when you start calculating whether a house is an investment or not, don’t forget that a house is also a home and its people (not numbers) that have made it into a home. So find a house that you can call home. Make sure it’s just right, not too big, not too small. And most of all, make sure you are present enough to enjoy it with the people that matter. In the end, isn’t that what FI is about.