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I bought a house in 2012. It was his 1940s summer home in rural Wisconsin that had been converted into a year-round residence. I got it by stealing — $84,000 — and for good reason. The siding was an ugly dirty yellow. Wooden siding was randomly pasted inside the main wall. The carpet was old and matte. Water seeped into the basement every time it rained. The back porch (which used to be the Sanki room) seemed a little sunken. But I was excited to own my own home and do some work to make it better.
Six years later, I’ve made enough updates to turn it into my home.The siding was replaced with red brick, which I absolutely loved. Neighbors complimented me regularly. I removed the carpet and replaced it with flooring. That ugly wood-paneled wall became a pretty sheet of drywall painted in an accent color. Others replaced the roof, made sure the foundation was solid, and discussed waterproofing the basement.
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Then divorced and sold the house. I was thrilled.
I am Chicago by birth and heart. From the moment I moved to Wisconsin, I dreamed of returning to Chicago. But with all the repairs I had done to the house, I couldn’t afford it. Plus, my spouse was keeping me in Wisconsin. About, the inside was nerve-wracking. I was tired of cleaning up drowned items in my basement or finding random stuff that former tenants had stuffed into my walls (just ask about the toolset I found behind the panel…). So, after my divorce, I became newly single and separated from my home.
The repairs saved me a lot of extra money and I ended up opening a savings account with a profit of $40,000. After that, I paid off all my credit cards and other bills (except student loans), and my credit score went up about 150 points, barring a temporary drop from losing a lot of assets. Selling my house helped me improve my money management skills and give me a new start in life.
I was also able to move back to my apartment (first Milwaukee, then Chicago). I moved out of the suburbs I hated living in and moved back to the city where I felt like myself. And it was a calculated choice. I prefer having a landlord who can handle all the maintenance work that occurs rather than trying to take care of it myself and pay for it myself.
I’m glad I bought the house and sold it. I learned what I liked and disliked and what I needed in a new home if I bought it. It was expensive to learn, but I prefer renting.