On Sunday we helped a young family from our small group move into their new townhouse. While we moved boxes from their old apartment to their new, larger home, I thought deep thoughts.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. I thought a lot about ice cream because the day was hot and I was really sweaty. But I did think a few deep things before the sweat shorted out my brain cells.

I stood in their apartment-sized kitchen and looked around with fresh eyes. I’ve spent the last few years thinking about simple living and minimalism, so I pretended we were moving into that very apartment. It was a very exciting mental exercise, and I think I could have found a spot for almost everything we need in the kitchen. Easy? No. Possible? Yes.

Considering that I spent the first years of my marriage desperate for a real house with a real kitchen, this means I’m either mentally unstable or I’m actually learning something from all the simple living blogs I read.

While we can’t discount my probable mental instability, we can at least agree that it’s fun to look back at life and think about all the things we could have done differently. I wonder what would have happened if we’d chosen to move into a larger rental like our friends just did. They considered buying a house, but realized it’s not a good time for their family to be making long-term housing solutions. So they found an affordable option with a yard and a washer and dryer, and decided to be content with renting for the near future.

finding contentment in renting

I’m proud of them. When we were their age I thought we had no other option but to buy a home. I think we could have saved ourselves a lot of hassle over the years if I’d been content to rent a while longer.

But try telling that to a hysterical mother of a five-month-old who has to drag her laundry to the laundromat every week. Between the laundry and hauling the groceries up the stairs, I wanted a house and I wanted it RIGHT THEN. So we bought one. And we catapulted ourselves into taxes and repairs and the world’s ugliest bathroom, coupled with the world’s dumbest floorplan. Also, the house had the world’s most dangerous stairs.

Renting a while longer probably wouldn’t have been that terrible, is all I’m saying. We certainly could have solved the laundry problem without catapulting us into an ugly bathroom problem. I wish I would have at least looked at other options and calmed my nutty self down.

I’m sure there would have been other problems if we’d rented longer, because no choice in life is ever perfect. We would have been throwing money down the tubes in rent, but guess what– after we bought our house the market plummeted, so we just threw our money down a mortgage tube, instead. So even that huge point has been wiped out by the cold, hard truth of our experience.

I’ve learned a lot of things through the cold, hard reality. And that’s why it’s so fun to watch our young friends make their own decisions. I encourage them with this thought– it’s all sort of a giant crapshoot, really. You’re always benefiting somehow, and losing out somehow. Everyone gets to decide what benefits and sacrifices mean the most to them, and go from there. The best decisions can be wiped out in an instant from circumstances beyond your control.

So if you’re living in a tiny apartment, be thankful for the good parts. If you’re living in your starter house, be thankful for that. And if you’re almost forty and have already made a lot of your big life choices, watch your younger friends and offer a few words of encouragement when you can. That time of life is so hard, and every choice feels so important, and they need an old person to tell them it’s all going to be okay.

Because it is,  you know. It’s all going to be okay.

6 Comments on Finding contentment in renting

  1. Robin Hamilton Fogle
    August 18, 2016 at 3:06 pm (1 year ago)

    As a fellow owner of a house with an ugly (pea-green) bathroom, I feel your pain. And what were we thinking when we chose a house with a kitchen the size of a postage stamp? If only we had known then, what we know now!

  2. Jessie Clemence
    August 18, 2016 at 3:46 pm (1 year ago)

    Yes. My desperation was so much louder than the sense of waiting!

  3. memyselfandkids.com
    August 18, 2016 at 8:46 pm (1 year ago)

    I was in my mid-upper thirties when we moved into our home. Home prices are expensive here and I loved living in the city. I’m not going to be one of those people who hangs on their house for years and years after the kids leave. Who needs it? Remember – assisted living is for me.

  4. Jessie Clemence
    August 19, 2016 at 8:23 am (1 year ago)

    I remember that post! It’s not a bad option. 🙂

  5. Sheila Buehler
    August 19, 2016 at 8:38 pm (1 year ago)

    From an even older person…it is. It IS going to be ok!

  6. Anonymous
    September 26, 2016 at 8:24 pm (11 months ago)

    Thanks for this. We’ve been renting various apartments since our marriage 5+ years ago, and I’ve often longed for a HOUSE of my own. We’re just about to rent one, but I’m really grateful now for the journey it took to get here. You can find contentment in any and every situation.