thoughts on my first month of homeownership

Confession: I’m writing this blog post in a fit of anger at my newly purchased fixer upper. The fact is that my first month of homeownership has NOT gone swimmingly… not even remotely. I’m not really sure why I thought it would go well, or every remotely bearable, but the truth is that nothing could have prepared me for what I’ve learned during these past 30 days. It’s a combination of stuff I wish people had told me (I probably wouldn’t have listened anyways) and personal limitations/hangups. My hope is that in sharing these things with you, I’ll feel less alone in this ridiculous struggle with a 1908 bungalow that I’m borderline convinced is trying to break my spirit (75% joking).

getting REAL and HONEST today on the blog: sharing my thoughts on my first month of homeownership. thinking of buying a home? pin for later & read more on jojotastic.com

Time

When it comes to home improvement, every single thing takes WAY longer than I ever could have known. I’ve been here for a month and STILL don’t have a new roof. Between waiting for overbooked roofers to give estimates and countless rainy days, the work hasn’t even started yet. I find this to be incredibly infuriating because if there’s one thing that was a major callout during my inspection, it was to put a new roof on ASAP. Then there’s my water heater shenanigan: in order to install a new one, I need to move my washer and dryer. In order to do that, I need a handyman to cut a load-bearing wall. Seriously, it is one thing after another.

Trust

Remember when I mentioned personal hangups? Well, here we go: when you own a house, you have to trust people. You just do… and I hate that. There’s no way for me to know that the roofers or plumbers aren’t lying to me. I’m not versed in this stuff, so I just sort of have to go with what they tell me, which feels insanely risky. It feels like a totally unbalanced relationship, but what else can I do?? I’ve read countless books about homeownership, googled everything, but still. I am not a plumber. The best I can do is select people based on reviews and cross my fingers. Ugh.

Decision-making

Let me tell you a story about a disastrous IKEA trip. I’m practically an IKEA pro: I could navigate the store in my sleep. I once needed a new mattress and some shelves and was in and out of the store within 30 minutes. I’m a beast at IKEA. Except when it came time for the obligatory I-just-moved-IKEA-run recently, I was totally paralyzed by indecision. I couldn’t even commit to a set of white shelves because I was worried that the shade of white was slightly too yellow (probably because of crappy store lighting). So I didn’t get ANY form of storage and I live in a house without a single closet. I walked out of the store with a garden pot and a curtain rod.

Something I’ve come to realize is that decisions feel heavier now that I own a home. Almost like they are more permanent. I’m here at least for the next few years, which means I’m not picking up and moving and shedding home decor pieces as I move, like I did as a renter. Instead, this is a space to truly make my own, to fill with what I love and only that. No pressure. Nope, none at all.

Pressure

Speaking of pressure, my biggest struggle during this first month has been the comparison game. Because of what I do, it’s easy to slip into a game of comparing myself to other bloggers. I see everyone else’s Pinterest-perfect kitchens and hate my fixer upper tiled-covered-countertops and 1970s cabinets even more. The truth is that everything is brighter, shinier, happier on Pinterest and Instagram — no one else’s walls are hella crooked and no one else has a terrarium growing on their roof. That’s how it feels at least. It’s been so hard to remind myself to stick to my budget and my plan. I can’t just demo and remodel my kitchen right now, I simply can’t. So I have to make do… but that’s really freaking hard when I see everyone’s marble countertops.

getting REAL and HONEST today on the blog: sharing my thoughts on my first month of homeownership. thinking of buying a home? pin for later & read more on jojotastic.com

This barely even scrapes the surface of how hard this month has been. So many of my quiet moments have consisted of me sitting on the edge of my bed with my head in my hands, crying. Asking myself what have I done. Is this normal? I have no idea. Maybe I’m just not cut out to own a fixer upper. It’s one month in and I’m so stressed out and don’t even feel like I can pick a new washer/dryer.

What do you guys think? Has this happened to you?

photos via Instagram.

  • LMell

    You are not alone. In fact your post has made me feel like I’m not either! I’m in month 3 of single woman house ownership and I am convinced my 1890 beauty is trying to ruin me. I have considered saging it to get better juju going!! After my bathtub flooded my dining room, my pipes froze during a cold snap, and I discovered I have a mouse problem (this was month 1 alone) I was worried I’d made a huge mistake. That I wasn’t cut out for it. I feel incompetent sometimes and relying on others is very hard for me too. I can’t make any decisions for fear I will spend money and make the wrong choice. But, owning property is a huge accomplishment and an investment in my future. And I try to remind myself that this is what home ownership is and to put on my big girl panties! Take is slowly and stick to your budget and just be proud of your home and how it evolves into something very you. Good luck – I look forward to sharing in your process!

    • i’m so glad we are in this together! and you should totally sage. i did!

      we are totally in the same boat when it comes to this experience and i so deeply appreciate your advice and encouragement. lots more to come, including some before photos next week, so stay tuned ;)

  • Amy

    My husband bought the 1887 apartment he had been renting without giving it much thought (before I met him), and I frequently coach him out of the head-in-hands what-have-I-done agonies. So just imagine I’m there! Babe, it’s a gorgeous place! I will talk to the plaster guy for you! I swear to God that it won’t fall down, it hasn’t yet in over 100 years what are the chances! It just needs some love to reach it’s full potential! We can totally pull out that asbestos tile ourselves! Let’s just ignore the basement, it gives me nightmares! Seriously, you can do it, it’ll look so good. Give us process posts, I love construction!

    • thanks so much for chiming in! i love that you’ll be here with me in spirit ;)

  • beks

    I knew my 1906 Victorian was going to need some work, but a few things I didn’t realize were: The “renters” that came with the house were more like “squatters” leaving PILES of garage (urine testing kits, VHS tapes) + several 100 dollars in unpaid bills behind. That, yes, its going to take years to get an older fixer upper to the point you’ll go barefoot / use the ’10 second’ rule (or the stove at all), and that the decisions you make are permanent and you will have nightmares about choosing knobs and joy at choosing a toilet. I’m two years in, I’ll let you know when it gets easier :)
    -beks, from Bellingham!
    House pics on instagram #hopeandsqualor

    • beks

      …and if you need a new washer or fridge and yours are old enough you can get them free (which really helps with decision making!) via Puget Sound Energy’s green appliance program, no income or any other weird restrictions!

      • thankfully i did NOT buy the house i saw that had squatters, but definitely have found some interesting paraphernalia… thanks for sharing your story and best of luck as you keep at it. and love that appliance resource!

  • Helen

    I actually stopped blogging because I found my very slow house renovation so stressful (and I had a second kid, game changer)! Just do you best to pace yourself. I think you might be surprised by how much your audience wants to hear about the nitty gritty specifics. I always love reading blogs that done on about roofing or plumbing or other super house specific things. You may just have to do that type of blogging for a bit and it will make the pinterest worthy posts seem that much sweeter!

    • thank you so much for the encouragement! i am already working on a post with lots of un-styled, super-real ‘before’ photos. be sure to check back in :)

  • Girl. My walls a HELLA crooked. Our house was built in the 30s and definitely settled over the years :) I’m right there with you about some of the disappointments of owning a new home. One of my biggest wishes was a beautiful NEW kitchen (the Pinterest one you’re talking about!) but with all the other expenses (I wish I knew JUST how much everything cost before!!) that remodel is just not in the cards. I’m reminded often by my husband that the house isn’t a one and done deal. We’ve got years to make little changes and nothing will ever be quite ‘done.’ But you should feel like an ace that you HAVE the house!

    • we should do a seattle renovation collab! ha could you even imagine?!

      thanks so much for weighing in <3 let's meet up soon, k

  • Kam Martin

    Joanna! This is so you. Every new phase in life is stressful. Until you tackle it, learn it, process it. I actually cried the day they gave us the keys to our new house. All I could think was how much money we were in debt, and how hideous it all was. 8 years later, countless small renovations and updates- we’re ready to move on and find our next new dump. ? Home ownership in this city is an achievement. No small task. And don’t overthink comitting to updates, and changing your mind later. What might work now, might not be what you will want later. Live in your house for today- best advice I was ever given. If you need bookshelves today, don’t worry if you’ll still want them in a few years. Get the bookshelves. just because you own a home doesn’t mean they need to be your bookshelves for forever. Good luck! And if you need contractor or handyman recommends, I know a few amazing (well priced) guys. I bet your realtor does too. Realtors are a wealth of good home fix it recommends!

  • Kam Martin

    Joanna! This is so you. Every new phase in life is stressful. Until you tackle it, learn it, process it. I actually cried the day they gave us the keys to our new house. All I could think was how much money we were in debt, and how hideous it all was. 8 years later, countless small renovations and updates- we’re ready to move on and find our next new dump. ? Home ownership in this city is an achievement. No small task. And don’t overthink comitting to updates, and changing your mind later. What might work now, might not be what you will want later. Live in your house for today- best advice I was ever given. If you need bookshelves today, don’t worry if you’ll still want them in a few years. Get the bookshelves. just because you own a home doesn’t mean they need to be your bookshelves for forever. Good luck! And if you need contractor or handyman recommends, I know a few amazing (well priced) guys. I bet your realtor does too. Realtors are a wealth of good home fix it recommends!

    • Kamela! you better believe i cried the day i got the keys… and the day my offer was accepted… and when i signed everything… and wired the down payment… every single aspect of this process has been so intensely emotional.

      i would LOVE recommendations! and if you need an amazing realtor for your next new dump (LOL), let me know. mine is incredible. <3

  • Thanks for sharing this <3 I'm currently in the "holy crap I want to own a home so badly but can't quite yet" stage and obsessing over how great life will be when I have my own space. I think it's good for me to be taken down a notch and reminded that, while some stuff will be really cool, it's not all sunshine and roses over there either. Best of luck, you'll get through this and hopefully it won't be long until you have a cozy space you can relax in :)

    • thanks so much for chiming in from another stage in this weird little process. i totally have been where you are at the moment and do encourage you to slow down and take your time. oh, and to brace yourself ;) best of luck in your search!

  • Jennie

    Totally normal! We didn’t realize our 1925 house was a fixer-upper, but we were so wrong. A huge ice storm that damaged our roof and ruined our ceiling sat for 6 weeks before we moved in, and took about 5 months to deal with (turning all that water damage into mold, too). That was just the first thing on the list. Most of the money spent this first year has been no-fun, unseen improvements. I am the most impatient person, but looking at pictures of the past year here has shown how far it’s really come. It’ll feel like home soon!

    • ohmygoodness! i don’t know how i’d handle a giant ice storm on top of everything else! so glad you hear you survived the first year — it definitely gives me hope <3