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Do you know why you want to move?

Lately, my husband and I have had some deep conversations about our future. What we want it to be like, what it looks like, and the kinds of adventures we’d like to experience before leaving this beautiful planet called Earth.

None of us expected these conversations to turn into a discussion about selling our house and becoming tenants.

A rather strange turn of events for us after a lifetime of “owning” our own homes. We are both looking for home ownership, as if being a renter is the worst financial plan of all!

Who knew we would be serious about selling our home, putting our equity down, and letting someone else worry about the care and maintenance of the home.

I have to admit, the thought is a bit disconcerting, to be a tenant again. I, personally, have only been a renter twice in my adult life, and then only for short periods. My first rental experience was when I got married for the first time at 19 years old. Yes, you read that right! 19 years. And, the other when I got divorced at 28 years old.

With the exception of those two periods of my life, I have owned a home.

Or, to put it more precisely, he lived in a foreclosed house.

All these years I’ve prided myself on owning my own home (I’ve owned seven homes) only to wake up to realize it was just another fancy way of saying I’ve always been a renter. The only difference is who I pay rent to: a lender or a landlord.

I wish I could say that, at this point in our lives, we had no mortgages. Unfortunately not. After 18 years here, we still have another 14 to go on our first 30-year fixed mortgage.

Somehow it feels like a life sentence, a debt that will follow me to the grave. Every month the balance just goes down, moving slower than a sloth. In fact, a sloth moves faster than our mortgage balance!

Barely a tooth is made in the amount we owe.

Oh, but wait, what about that home equity line of credit? Oh yeah that! It seemed like a good idea at the time, to have equity in our home to pay for improvements and upgrades to our home.

At least that’s what all the financial experts suggested was a good idea. And, we drank the Koolaid, we got sucked into more debt.

Years later, to our regret, we owe almost as much on our second mortgage as on our first mortgage.

Which brings me back to the conversations about becoming a tenant…

Do you feel the need to move?

Have you ever wondered why you have that urge?

Is it because you want more space? A better neighborhood? A nicer home? Job changes or economic reasons? A desire to downsize to a smaller home, now that the kids are gone?

Or, could there be a deeper reason, one that you haven’t considered?

There are many reasons why someone might want to move. It has been a dream for most Americans for generations. However, most of us tend not to question our true motivations for doing so.

Perhaps we listen to the financial experts who say that home ownership is the only way to go. Many say that being a renter is a financial dead end. That we are throwing good money. Thus, we dive into home ownership without evaluating whether it actually fits our desired lifestyle.

Maybe we had a bad experience, or two, as renters. It could be that we had the landlord from hell, so we decided to never rent again, pushing ourselves to own the home.

It could be that we have a spouse who wants to own a home and we go into the real estate market.

Or, perhaps, the nudge from one or two new little ones: the desire to nurture the security of our own home.

Whatever the reasons, I would like to encourage you to stop and evaluate them. To not just dive in without really understanding why you have the need.

To define what you want. The lifestyle you want. To assess your financial well-being around the idea. To clarify the reasons why you want to move.

Get crystal clear.

Ask some deep questions: Why do you want to move? Is there a reason you don’t want to stay in your current home? What exactly do you want to move into? And how much will this cost you no matter which path you choose?

For my husband and I, our reasons for moving were to be maintenance free, debt free, mortgage free, increase our liquidity, have more freedom to travel, and have more flexibility. Being able to move more easily into the future without the burden of fixing up the place and selling it.

We had to be clear about where we wanted to move forward. A detailed list of wishes and duties. For example, the size of the house, condo, or apartment. The monthly rent. The type of owner we wanted to attract, the setting, and the convenient location.

We also made a complete list, along with dollar amounts, of what would need to be done at our current home if we decided to stay. This gave us the ability to compare it to what it would cost to move.

A reality check.

So how about for you? If you feel the need to move, have you asked yourself: What are my reasons for doing it? Do I really know what it will cost me to move? How much would it cost to stay? And what exactly do I want to move to?

Why not take the time now, while it’s just on impulse, to fully assess your motivations? There is no right or wrong.

It is, after all, the most expensive financial commitment of your life. Why do it in a hurry? Take your time. Do not rush.

In the long run, you won’t regret taking the time to clarify the true motivations behind all of this.

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