What’s Behind Door # 3?

As I mention repeatedly, I commute between my place of work downtown and my home (with my parents) in the suburbs. And I’m not going to lie – lately, it’s really been getting to me.

In January, I made moving out one of the things I wanted to accomplish on my yearly wish list.  

So I started scouring the MLS listings. I’d go through the weekend condo sections in my newspaper. I’d pick up those free condo guides … and the resale home guides. And I’d look. At the houses … and the prices. And I’d sigh.

And then I’d look at some of the online listings for rentals. And I’d look at the prices. And I’d sigh again.

Last week, it really stressed me out. 

I’d already been putting pressure on myself because of the declaration I made on New Year’s Eve. And the commutes as of late had been taking a toll. On top of that, my friends have constantly been saying, “You’re going to move out this summer.” Trying to make the case for renting. Adding to the pressure I’ve already been putting on myself.

This past week, it was almost too much. I was talking with a co-worker, who is always kind enough to give me a lift halfway home, and I just blurted out how tired I was and how I was thinking of just sucking it up and renting a place. Understandably, she said why that wasn’t a good idea. I almost had a meltdown in the van.

That was when she suggested I should really sit down and talk with someone with financial expertise, to try and figure something out.

So yesterday, that’s what I did. I went to see a mortgage broker to have some questions answered, and finally get some hard numbers to determine if I could make goal # 6 happen this year, once and for all. 

The good news? I have awesome credit.

The not-so-good news? I cannot buy this year.

And the not-much-better-news: I could move out. But if I did, I’d probably be paying the equivalent of the mortgage I can not yet afford. And do I really want to move out, only to move back home six months from now because I can’t afford rent, utilities, food, etc.?

Friends – do you know what’s more “humiliating” than living at home with parents at the age of 31? Moving out because the pressure is too great, and then moving back home within a year because I can’t manage my money and pay the bills.

There is nothing wrong with renting. I went away to school, and although for shorter periods of time, I’ve lived in three apartments in two cities. (It was also cheaper than it is here in Toronto.)

But moving into an apartment, when I’m stressed and frustrated, would probably be the worst decision for me to make right now. I’d be even more frustrated and constantly worried.

(And it doesn’t matter how money you make. There are people out there with salaries in the high-five-figures, even six figures, who are practically bankrupt because they’re financially irresponsible. Moving out and renting will not instantly make me fiscally responsible. You have to be like that going in. If you’re not really good with money going in, that’s not going to immediately reverse itself when you get yourself a landlord.)

The mortgage broker did suggest one other option, one I’ve been staunchly opposed to: 

Learn to drive. Buy a car.

Anyone who knows me knows that I haaaaate driving.

I am the person who did not wake up on her 16th birthday and run out to the Ministry of Transportation to write the learner’s permit test for her 365.

I am also the person who, when everyone found out about the impending graduated licensing program in 1994 and ran out to get their full licenses before the deadline, didn’t bother to run with the crowd. 

Oh yeah – did I also mention that I’m the person who (a) failed her computerized testing once before getting her G1, (b) waited until almost a month before said G1 expired to take the exit test and passed by the skin of her teeth, (c) did the same thing almost three summers ago, went to take her G2 exit test, only to fail, and then by the same stroke of luck got the exact same examiner on her second attempt, and really failed?

That is the history between me and driving. Since my spectacular, humiliating failure, I’ve never again gotten behind the steering wheel.

However my pride is starting to make me pay.

Actually it started last year, when I kept looking at my expired licence (which still can be used as ID, so long as the Ministry of Transportation lovingly affixes a “official ID only” sticker onto the card before they hand it back to you). Back then, I was still getting by as a pedestrian. But that sticker was getting on my last nerve. So I thought, maybe I’ll just get a new one, just in case I do decide to give this driving thing another go.

So last June, I read my old-and-falling apart driver’s handbook, took a couple buses down to the Ministry, did my multiple-choice written test (they’re back to pencils and paper, folks) and got my ID. I thought that would do for now.

But in the last six months, Life decided to up the ante.

The number of transportation situations in which I’ve ended up saying to myself, “I could have avoided this, if I had a car”, have been multiplying. Transit that doesn’t work. Friends having functions in suburbs I never travel to.

And it’s really annoying me big-time.

Okay, people who have been saying to me, “learn to drive” … you were right. Okay? You were right. Consider this the first and last time you read me saying this, because it won’t happen again for a long time.

(I guess the only silver lining from failing my driving tests is that I wouldn’t have to wait a year to take my G1 exit test.) 

I’m still not entirely convinced yet that buying a car will be the remedy to the situation.

Amid all these thoughts swimming in my head, I’ve been reminded of the conversation a couple weekends back that I was having with a  pro-renting friend. She told me about friends who, like me, were also saying that they’d stay home and save money, until they could buy. And she said something to the effect of:

“They say that. But where’s the money going? It has to be going somewhere.”

That’s what I have to figure out. This is what is fueling my frustrating decision.

So in the meantime, I now have to set my goal and develop my plan. Crunch some numbers. Then take a deep breath … 

And suck it the hell up. 

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4 thoughts on “What’s Behind Door # 3?

  1. stine says:

    sounds like you’re just gonna have to take the plunge…

    but I would definetly try to get your license before you move. it will come in handy one day. and while you are at home there is at least one vehicle you can practice with.
    if you buy a car you won’t save money – it will just end up becoming a bottomless pit, but you will enjoy the freedom that comes with it.

  2. dicampbell says:

    I’m not moving out right now.

    If I take the plunge in my current mental state, I’ll be moving back home within a year, crazy and broke.

    I only plan on moving out once.

    Like I said, I’m sucking it the hell up … and staying home for at least the next 12-18 months.

  3. Julie says:

    you know what, di? i think that since you’ve made this concrete decision, things will get easier for you. hopefully your frustration will subside and you’ll be able to focus on saving for your future. it will happen, and you’ll be that much more satisfied for it.
    I SUPPORT YOU! (although i can’t wait for you to be closer 😉 )

  4. stine says:

    sounds like you have a plan and that’s great! i’m sure you feel relieved about making a decision.
    and that’s what i meant about taking a “plunge”, making a decision… because you were clearly frustrated with the long commutes – but now that you have an end date set, it won’t seem SO bad. Time will fly by!
    now, when you do eventually move, come to ma neighbourhood!!! 😉

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