The other day my 4 year-old daughter, Josie, asked, "is our next house going to be our last house?" I thought about the best way to respond and then decided to just tell her the truth. "Probably not," I said.
When we moved to Mountain View, we knew we would have to rent for at least 5 years to save for a down payment. Now that we are more familiar with the housing costs in Mountain View, it's looking more like 10 years.
Some of the things we love about renting are: not having to worry about repairs; not having to pay property taxes; and not being stuck in a home that we may outgrow.
Renting can feel liberating and less stressful. But we are slowly learning about the challenges of raising small children in a rental.
The family that we are renting from moved to China. They aren't sure if or when they will move back.
So in the back of my mind, I always worry that tomorrow is the day they will call and ask us to move. Our children are so happy and settled that I would hate to make them move again right now.
Kids can be kids and, well, my kids are messy. We've tried our best to cover every inch of carpet with a rug, but somehow stains always manage to land on the few inches that aren't covered.
The stick figure family that Josie drew on her closet wall in permanent marker isn't something that I will admire nostalgically 15 years from now. It's a blaring reminder that we won't be getting our security deposit back.
Every month or so, we drive around Mountain View to look for other houses to rent, just in case. Like many other families, we often feel overwhelmed by the prices and the limited availability.
It's challenging to rent in Mountain View and still save money for a house, college, not to mention a rainy day. I sometimes wonder if we'd be better off living somewhere less expensive.
But we spent so many years living in a city that wasn't a good fit for us. We're finally happy. Mountain View feels like home, and we hope to find a way to stay here and still save.
I used to think growing up that my parents had all the answers. That every time we moved or changed schools, my parents were certain it was the best decision. I now realize that no parent has all the answers. We all just try our best. Some decisions work out better than others.
Josie doesn't know it yet, but her father and I are doing everything we can to eventually buy a home that will be our family's last house. It's just going to take a little longer to make that happen in Mountain View. But I'm sure Josie will one day agree that it was worth that wait.