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4 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Buy a House

The author has lived in an owned home and been a renter—and owning a home definitely has its downsides.

Although buying a home is a goal for many, avoiding a mortgage could possibly save your sanity.

Although buying a home is a goal for many, avoiding a mortgage could possibly save your sanity.

Everybody on social media encourages people to purchase a house, especially on Twitter. They will shame you even if you give them every good reason you have in your arsenal as to why you’d rather rent. But don’t get caught up in their absurd reasons to buy a house.

Anyone looking to purchase any type of real estate, especially when it comes to land and/or a house that they’re going to live on, should know the downsides of it. And the downsides can be seriously awful, especially when you’re blindsided by them.

For most of these, I’m going to use the house (mostly the land) my mother bought back in 1986. I’ve lived in different places, in various areas, and when I tell you that their house is one of the best examples that I can use for this after all the times I’ve moved, just trust me on that.

1. Monthly Utilities

If you've lived in apartments your entire life, or you've only lived in one or two houses for the majority of your life, and on top of that, you've never moved around from place to place (for example: you've always lived in a city, but you've never lived in any rural area), you may think utilities are the same anywhere and everywhere you live, but that's not true.

Generally, in apartments, the utilities tend to be lower; although some people will tell you that the basic utilities—i.e., electricity and water—are the same, it all depends on where you end up purchasing your property.

Back in 1986, when my mom decided to purchase a parcel of land out in the country area of South Carolina, the only thing she saw was a peaceful place, flush with greenery during the spring and summer months, lovely with fiery foliage during the fall, and barren yet pleasantly so during the winter. The neighbors we'd have were good people, and clearing off the land was routine. Therefore, they put a house (a double-wide, to clarify) on the land.

I guess it wasn't long afterward that my parents noticed their electric bill was beginning to be unusually high. Since we were living in a rural area, the water and electric were meshed together as one bill (in most rural areas, the water comes from the well that is dug on the land, which is powered by the electricity fed to the house, which is why there is no separate bill for water).

However, even taking that into account, when our light bill jumped to over $400 during the 1990s, there was some reasonable cause for concern. At most, for a house our size, and with the number of people in it, the electric bill should've been in the two-hundreds every month, although that seemed a bit high as well.

After a while, the people at the electric company who would process the bill asked us if that was a business or a house, because only businesses had electric bills that high in the area, but nope, that was our house.

If you're wondering why my parents didn't just switch electric companies, they tried, but we couldn't. See, where we lived, we only had one option in which to get our electricity; therefore, we were stuck with a company charging us astronomical rates, and we had no idea why.

My parents inquired, and the company had no idea why we were being charged so much, so their solution was to blame it on us. Their answer was that we were simply a family that used tons and tons of electricity even though we knew that we used the average amount the same as anyone else in our area that were with the same company, yet no one we knew was being charged nearly as much as we were.

Most people's bills in the area were somewhere around the normal mark, between $150 and $200, and they had combo bills the same as us (water and electric meshed together).

Over the many years that my parents owned that particular parcel of land, they put two different houses on it, and even with the second place, they eventually started having the same issue—astronomically high utility bills from the same company.

The bill would always be normal for the first year or so, and then it would start creeping up with no explanation. No additional electricity would be used, but they'd be charged more. The highest I've ever known the bill to get was a little over $600 for a single month. Keep in mind that was just for electricity, nothing more.

A couple of years ago, an employee claimed they had a revelation as to why our bill was so high, and it had something to do with a mechanical issue in our laundry/utility room. Remember, this wasn't the original house that we'd started having problems with the first time, and in the original house, my parents didn't have a central cooling and heating system, so claiming that was always the problem is ridiculous.

Nevertheless, they went along with the discovery, but nothing really changed. On average, they pay at least $400 a month for basic water and electricity usage, and there's nothing they can do about it unless they move. In most people's cases, that would be incentive enough to have moved ages ago anyway.

If you're thinking that the only thing you'd have to do is ask around to see if anyone else's bills were as high before moving in, you have to consider that aside from the fact that some people just flat-out lie about things, you also have to think about the fact that no one else may not tell you if they have that high of a bill in the same area.

So yeah, you could definitely buy a house, truly believing everything is okay, and then get slapped in the face with regular bills so high—and with no solution to them—that you'd eventually be forced to find somewhere else to live.

2. Maintenance

It doesn’t matter if you move into a brand-new house or a house that’s already been lived in; the bottom line is that repairs and upkeep are a constant thing if you intend on purchasing property, and if you don’t intend on doing a majority of it yourself, you’ll be in for some hefty spending whether you like it or not.

As far as indoor maintenance goes, you need to have money set aside for the cleaning/maintenance and/or replacement of your hot water heater, and on top of that, you have to understand what type of hot water heater you have and how to use it, along with who is the best person to hire for its maintenance (unless that person is you).

In addition to the hot water heater, there’s the possible ceiling repairs and maintenance; floor, walls, and carpet maintenance and possible replacements; electrical wiring issues; piping and bathroom issues that will undoubtedly arise; and on top of all that, you have to consider the possibility of flooding and insurance.

Home insurance is NOT cheap, and yes, it’s annual, same as most of you pay your health and car insurance, as well as your taxes.

I’ve heard people complain a lot about being put on lists at their apartment complex when they need something repaired, and they act as if having their own house and having to hire someone would make those repairs magically less difficult.

Of course, that’s not true at all. Hiring repairmen on your own will not make things less difficult, and in fact, they may overcharge you, depending on whether they think they can get away with it. And as someone who’s been in both situations of having to hire people, as well as living in an apartment complex and having a set maintenance man come in, I’d take the apartment situation any day. Being in an apartment takes a lot of the stress out of the situation for me, especially when it comes to having something larger and more expensive repaired like a central air and heat appliance.

Putting a down payment on a regular house, or a mobile or modular home, is one thing, but you need to have enough money saved up and set aside at all times—and I mean, at least two grand upon moving in—for spontaneous repairs that you may have to make.

Also, you need to know of some trusted repair people that can come in and actually do it for you in a reasonable amount of time. If you think waiting three or four days for a repairman to come and fix something in your apartment, try waiting a week or more for a repair person to show up at your house to fix the central air during a heatwave.

3. Outdoor Home Maintenance

I made a comment on Twitter a few years ago that I wouldn't want a house unless I was loaded since I didn't want to mow my own lawn. Apparently, my tweet rubbed one girl the wrong way, and she went on to say how "some people" think no one wants to own houses since they'd have to mow the lawn, rather than the fact that they can't afford to buy a house. I had to assume she'd only lived in places like apartments—or something like it, or rather in a city with possibly no lawn at all—to make a statement like that because yard upkeep is more than about appearances; it's about your safety, too.

If you live in a rural area and you don't maintain your lawn, you could run the risk of creating nests for large (sometimes poisonous) reptiles like snakes. It could also be a breeding ground for rats, especially if you live near a large planting field (i.e., corn, cotton, soybeans).

Another thing to keep in mind is that rural land tends to be much cheaper than land in other places, although it does depend on the particular area in which you're looking, along with which state you're looking. Therefore, when it comes to keeping up a full acre of land filled with grass, weeds, and flowers, among other things, you'll definitely need a good lawn mower, and they aren't actually cheap.

You will also need to maintain your lawn mower the same way you maintain your car; it needs gas, it needs repairs, and it'll easily run you two grand just to get a decent mower if you're buying the type that allows you to sit and drive. It also depends on the place you live that will determine how often you have to mow your lawn, so if you hire someone on a regular basis throughout the summer months, it'll still be expensive.

I've only attempted to mow any type of lawn maybe once in my entire life, and I hated every single second of it—and I didn't make it through the process all the way. So while I do like looking at houses with nice, beautifully manicured grass, I know how hard it is to maintain that type of lawn; it can take anywhere from a handful of hours to a full day to mow a front and backyard, depending on its layout of landscaping, and of course, its acreage. And depending on the type of grass you have, there's a chance you'd either have to mow it at least once a week or twice a week.

When you consider an area where the grass grows back very quickly, and on top of that, the temperature can climb higher than 90 degrees practically every day during the summer months, the idea of mowing the lawn can be akin to torture—that is, unless you like mowing the lawn. You also have to consider that some people have terrible allergies, and you may not know that until you're actually in the midst of cutting the grass.

Another thing to think of when it comes to outdoor maintenance is house washing, which is what you'll probably have to do once or twice a year; again, that depends on where you live.

Houses don't magically clean themselves. When you see a house that looks murky and dirty on the outside, that means it hasn't been washed, probably for anywhere from two years to five years to ten years, or ever. It does take a little while to wash a house, but it's well worth it, even though plenty of people don't seem to like washing theirs—which you should keep in mind.

Aside from raking and burning leaves practically every week during the fall months, after you're done with the season where you're cutting grass and hosing off your lawn mower and wiping it down to prevent it from rusting and falling apart, there come the winter months.

I'll mention piping again when it comes to winter because it's very important that I do. You have to watch the weather like a hawk, because if you don't let your faucets run lightly during the night, they will freeze, and if you have to call a plumber out to repair them because they broke, you will be charged an arm and a leg. Just something else to keep in mind.

Although toilets are an inside issue, if you live in a house that doesn't utilize a direct line to a sewer system, you'll probably have to have a septic tank placed on your property, usually underground. You'll have to be careful where you drive and where you allow other people to drive when they come into your yard since you shouldn't drive over the underground tank; you can actually damage it without knowing it if you drive a car over it.

You'll also have to be careful about roots from trees and other plant life growing underground (and even above ground) since it can also damage a septic tank. There are products that you can buy to prevent buildup of various sorts that you flush down your toilet either once a month or once every three months, but even then, depending on the type and size of your septic tank, as well as the size of your family, you will have to have your tank cleaned ever so often and that will probably you somewhere in the neighborhood of $600.

If you don't live in a place where you have to worry about temperatures possibly breaking records during the summer months, then this part probably doesn't apply to you, but for where I was born and raised, we definitely had to worry about this, and if you're buying a place where temps can be extreme, you'll end up needing a central cooling system in your home.

I don't know a ton of people who move to a place only to end up being surprised by how hot it can get, but I'm sure those types of people exist, especially when it comes to regions down south. Hearing about how hot and humid someplace is tends to be a lot different than experiencing it, especially if you visit the area at a time when it isn't as hot as it normally can get; and trust me, there are places down south that can get absolutely scorching during the summer months.

My brother, who grew up in the same place that I did, moved away to work when he was still in his early 20s. He came back years later, in the middle of summer, thinking that he'd traveled to enough hot places on the earth to be able to handle the southern heat of our region without a problem, but was very soon taken aback by the stifling heat and was happy to stay indoors with the cool, circulating air rather than going back outside for anything.

You have to maintain those large, outside central air conditioning units the same as you do everything else, and there is no "in-house" maintenance man to call to fix it, nor is there any easy replacement when you do need a new unit. Just because you think you can scroll through the yellow pages and find someone at the drop of a dime to fix your unit when it goes on the fritz doesn't mean that it'll work out for you.

Particularly during the summer months, some of those central heating and cooling repairmen are backed up for days at a time, so even though you're in your place suffering and sweating to the point of dehydration, you may have to wait anywhere from a full day or two, to a week for repairs to be made. The repairing depends on which individual or company you call to come and do it, but if they show up too quickly, that could be a bad sign.

Skilled workers who've been in the business for a while will usually be backed up doing work during the summer months, and if you can get someone to come out to your place within an hour or two, I hope you know who you've hired and you're aware of possibly being gypped if you don't know the person.

The thing about outdoor central air conditioning units is that they serve as central heating systems as well, and if you get a house with a unit, it's already equipped to heat your house during the winter months. Sure, there are alternative ways to heat your house during the fall and winter seasons (usually dangerous) and other ways of doing it during the spring and summer, but the convenient way—especially if your place is already equipped to handle systems of central air—is with that single unit.

You will need to change the filters yourself, and other than that, there are other issues (mainly to do with other areas of cleaning and filtration), and you will need to be diligent about them.

4. Terrible Neighbors

I found this out the hard way: There's little to nothing you can do about abhorrent neighbors. There are a handful of laws written, but depending on where you live, they may as well not even exist. Ironically, there's more you can do about ridiculously horrible neighbors when you're living in an apartment rather than if you own your own home, even if those "neighbors" are renting the house.

Things can supposedly be done if they're harassing you, and harassment generally includes these things: they're setting fires in the yard, which in turn, is causing smoke to pervade your home, or they're playing loud music. My parents had/have neighbors that are doing both, plus plenty more.

On top of the loud music and fires, they're drug dealers that keep around their place trashy, and they've had multiple (in this case, more than five) out-of-control dogs running around. If the first thing you want to ask is whether I contacted the police, I will say that I had no choice, and they were about as useful as if I'd done nothing.

Police told me to get photos of the dogs, specifically on our property, since apparently, that's the only way they can, or will, do anything at all about a dog even if the owners have shown that they have no control over their oversized pet(s), or even if they pose a danger to you. I got took multiple photos, showed the police, and they gave the tenants a WARNING. Despite my having photos of the dogs on my parents' property, police came out to question the neighbors in question a few months later, and in spite of the evidence, the neighbors claimed their dog was never off their property, and the police simply believed them, no more questions asked.

As for the loud music, they use subwoofers, which are basically just blasting bass at anyone within blasting distance, and that bass cannot be recorded for evidence. The police told me that if I couldn't bring in a recording of the sound, they had to drive out and hear it themselves; the catch is, they would only drive out after 10 PM since loud music in that area is only illegal between 10 PM and 7 AM—that gives anyone fifteen hours straight to blast music as loud as they want, and it's perfectly legal. There's literally nothing you can do about it.

Where my parents live, they don't even consider it harassment unless whatever the person is doing is illegal, even though that doesn't even make any sense. The other neighbors that live nearest to my parents wouldn't/won't call the police to complain about the noise. I was the only one doing it, therefore I just looked like someone who didn't like the new people living near me, on top of the fact that whenever the police came around after 10 PM, they would put on their bright blue lights, basically warning the neighbors to turn the music down.

Obviously, if they're being warned, they're going to turn it down, so when the police actually got near the house, the officer would say he heard nothing and would leave seconds later. In their reports, I have no doubt that they put they showed up without their blue lights on, stayed between ten and fifteen minutes, and left after they heard no sounds coming from the house.

Of course, after we tried to stand up to them, they began to play the music, specifically after 10 PM. They knew no police were going to show up to hear them, and I would be the only one calling the police (which I obviously stopped doing), so everyone would just suffer.

My mother and I ended up moving out while my father stayed in the house. This happened not too long ago. There's a lot more to this story, so don't be surprised if you see a person (hint: it'll be me in the flesh) filling in the blanks on YouTube in a video in the future sometime this year because that was the strangest, and one of the worst things, I've ever experienced in my life, and I'm not young.

My parents bought that land back in the 1980s, and we'd never had any issues with any neighbors or anyone in the surrounding areas before, and that all began in 2021. It was a totally peaceful, beautiful area where everybody chilled and kinda kept to themselves for decades, until recently.

In fact, part of the problem was that we had the type of neighbors that "minded their business" and "didn't want to get involved" in anything. I know that social media makes people who act that way seem superior to others in some way, but trust me, you do NOT want to live around those types of people in real life.

You want neighbors that look out for one another and who'll stand up for themselves and anyone else who clearly needs their help; the last thing you want are neighbors who'll turn a blind eye to your suffering and pretend that everything is all right when that's not the case at all.

In case you're wondering why I didn't hire a lawyer, I did go that route, but in the place where I live down south, if you don't live in an affluent area, you just have to deal with the neighbors blasting music at you at all hours of the day. Your only options are to live there and deal with it, or move—so we moved.

Had we been in an apartment, it would've been easy to evict tenants that were behaving that way, but because we'd been living in a house in a rural area, we couldn't, so being considered a homeowner living in the middle of nowhere was the ultimate negative.

Owning a Home Has Other Downsides

Other things I didn't mention when it comes to reasons why it's not good to own a house: issues with basements, fuse boxes, flooding (past, present, and future), foundation issues, having to shovel snow for weeks at a time (if you live in those types of areas where it snows a ton), rising taxes, and home insurance.

In conclusion, my only point is that too many people on social media act as if when you buy a house, your mortgage payments and utilities will be your only financial worries, when that couldn't be further from the case. They seem to think that it's' terrible to rent an apartment and that mowing the lawn, raking leaves, or cleaning out the gutters on your house seems like nothing at all when in actuality, those are serious points to consider before you buy a house.

When people don't understand things like what it means to buy a car or a house, and they get a little money (maybe a windfall) and go out and buy a brand-new car or house, they're' always shocked when owning something like that takes more time, effort, and money than they initially thought.

Plenty of older people that I know—and some people who aren't so old—bought a house years ago, realized what a hassle it was, and promptly got rid of it and moved back into an apartment the first chance they got. The truth is, when you move into a decent apartment complex, a lot of people (most commonly former homeowners) will tell you that the rent they pay every month is worth the peace of mind.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.