Author Topic: Getting Over the "stupid, ridiculous" Emotional Attachment to My House  (Read 16457 times)

BPA

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So, I can be FI in six months to three years if I move.  Property taxes are high in Hamilton ($2,500 for a house valued at $190k) and I still have a mortgage of just over $100k.  I like my house, but if I sell it, I can buy another where I spend summers that is much nicer for less than half the price, and they have much lower property tax.  Income tax is slightly higher, but I don't care much about that because my income will be much lower. 

So, because I want to FI sooner, I want to sell within the next two or so years and move down east.

But I have this stupid, ridiculous emotional attachment to my house standing in my way.  I think it's because it's the first house I bought, it feels like home, and somehow it has become my symbol of making it as a single mom.  I love my neighbours too, but I love my neighbours down east as well. 

How have others overcome emotional attachments like this one? 

Thank you in advance for any responses.  :)


TrulyStashin

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I totally get this.  I bought my house at auction in 2004 -- as freshly minted single mom who had just recovered from two floods in 2003.  When my ex-husband learned I was attending the auction, he laughed at me.  I won the house at a great price and have worked really hard to improve it over the years.  It has been my family's anchor to good schools and a middle-class life.  I LOVE my house and yes, it is a symbol of my hard work and badassity.

I too am thinking a move is imminent.  My youngest is graduating in two years and a 3,000 sq. foot rancher on 1/2 an acre is more and more of a burden every day.

I think the answer is to turn our eyes to the next thing.  Acknowledge what this house has meant to us, but start envisioning a future and what that might look like.  I routinely house hunt in various neighborhoods via Zillow or biking/ driving through.  I have identified three possible areas and I imagine myself working in the garden in the cute little bungalow on Georgia Ave, or riding my bike to work from the Cape Cod on Hampton Ave.  I see an article on decorating a kitchen and imagine what I could do in the new space that I can't do where I am now.  Essentially, build a new mental landscape and move into it.

Picturing our future self living in that space and in that life makes the transition easier.  But, on moving day, it is okay to cry.

appledumplins

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My wife and I recently sold the house we had lived in since before any of our kids were born. We had watched the kids and the neighbor kids grow up in the house. In fact, my two daughters were born IN the house (upstairs in the bedroom). Also had some fantastic neighbors.

I was really sad the last time that I left the house--didn't want to leave. Now two months later and I have no desire to go back there. I would like to see the neighbors, but I don't miss them or the house.

BPA

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I totally get this.  I bought my house at auction in 2004 -- as freshly minted single mom who had just recovered from two floods in 2003.  When my ex-husband learned I was attending the auction, he laughed at me.  I won the house at a great price and have worked really hard to improve it over the years.  It has been my family's anchor to good schools and a middle-class life.  I LOVE my house and yes, it is a symbol of my hard work and badassity.

I too am thinking a move is imminent.  My youngest is graduating in two years and a 3,000 sq. foot rancher on 1/2 an acre is more and more of a burden every day.

I think the answer is to turn our eyes to the next thing.  Acknowledge what this house has meant to us, but start envisioning a future and what that might look like.  I routinely house hunt in various neighborhoods via Zillow or biking/ driving through.  I have identified three possible areas and I imagine myself working in the garden in the cute little bungalow on Georgia Ave, or riding my bike to work from the Cape Cod on Hampton Ave.  I see an article on decorating a kitchen and imagine what I could do in the new space that I can't do where I am now.  Essentially, build a new mental landscape and move into it.

Picturing our future self living in that space and in that life makes the transition easier.  But, on moving day, it is okay to cry.

Thank you for "getting" me!  I look at the mls listings and bought a cheap travel trailer in a campground in my desired area to see if I liked it.  I LOVE it and I've made some pretty fabulous friends.  I need to work on the visualization aspect.  While it's easy to imagine myself going on some fantastic bike rides along the shore and in the national park, and cycling down to the fish market to pick up one fresh inexpensive fillet for supper, and thinks I've already done, I am a bit stuck imagining myself in a different house.  I need to work on that.


BPA

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My wife and I recently sold the house we had lived in since before any of our kids were born. We had watched the kids and the neighbor kids grow up in the house. In fact, my two daughters were born IN the house (upstairs in the bedroom). Also had some fantastic neighbors.

I was really sad the last time that I left the house--didn't want to leave. Now two months later and I have no desire to go back there. I would like to see the neighbors, but I don't miss them or the house.

Thanks so much for sharing this story.  I am hoping that by using the equity of my current house to buy a much nicer one, I will feel much the same.  I think that while I am in transition I will come back to this thread for reassurance.

impaire

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I don't have the same attachment to a house, but living on a different continent than my entire family, far from where I started my adult life, I do have my heartstrings stretched at times.

So here's a tiny tip that works for me when I need to manage the emotional attachment to something: I keep a symbol of it, that is, I keep the emotion. It could be photos, a physical piece of the object, an invite to an event, something like that. For instance, for your house, I may simply take some really great photos to display later, with or without the family you raised in the picture. Actual good photos you could frame and hang in the new house. It'll serve just as well as the symbol of your badassity throughout the years (and could be a conversation starter!) Another way would be to salvage a distinctive part of the old house and transplant it in the new house, either as a useful implement or as art/decoration. You'll keep the emotion, but you'll get rid of the mortgage. You're not really "getting over it" this way, but why would you? It's an important part of you :)

Wow, I'm feeling all hippy now. With this kind of tip, YMMV even more than usual, but I hope it helps!

OzzieandHarriet

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I am NOT emotionally attached to our house -- but when I've tried to envision a less expensive option, I can't, unless we wanted to move to a much, much cheaper area of the country. We bought right before the housing boom got going, so there is not anything to be had in this area for what we paid. Maybe a studio condo in a scary neighborhood.

Maybe what you think of as an emotional attachment to your house is more the attachment to that part of your life, or just being younger.

BPA

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I don't have the same attachment to a house, but living on a different continent than my entire family, far from where I started my adult life, I do have my heartstrings stretched at times.

So here's a tiny tip that works for me when I need to manage the emotional attachment to something: I keep a symbol of it, that is, I keep the emotion. It could be photos, a physical piece of the object, an invite to an event, something like that. For instance, for your house, I may simply take some really great photos to display later, with or without the family you raised in the picture. Actual good photos you could frame and hang in the new house. It'll serve just as well as the symbol of your badassity throughout the years (and could be a conversation starter!) Another way would be to salvage a distinctive part of the old house and transplant it in the new house, either as a useful implement or as art/decoration. You'll keep the emotion, but you'll get rid of the mortgage. You're not really "getting over it" this way, but why would you? It's an important part of you :)

Wow, I'm feeling all hippy now. With this kind of tip, YMMV even more than usual, but I hope it helps!

Excellent points.  I was thinking of transplanting cuttings from one or more of my trees at home if that's allowed.  I like the pictures idea too.  Thanks!

BPA

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I am NOT emotionally attached to our house -- but when I've tried to envision a less expensive option, I can't, unless we wanted to move to a much, much cheaper area of the country. We bought right before the housing boom got going, so there is not anything to be had in this area for what we paid. Maybe a studio condo in a scary neighborhood.

Maybe what you think of as an emotional attachment to your house is more the attachment to that part of your life, or just being younger.

You know, the attachment to being younger thing is something I've not wholly thought out, but it's relevant, I think.  I'm 45 and firmly in middle age now.  I felt young when I bought the house and feel much older now.  Some of it has to do with health issues that have cropped up with me in the last five years.  Quitting my job and its resulting stress is something I hope will improve my health. 

Hmmmm.  Maybe I could look at the selling of the house and reaching FI sooner as something that helps me be healthier and feel less old.  And not that I would be younger in the new house, but I'd feel younger.

Thank you so much for this food for thought.

Jamesqf

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Emotional attachments are neither stupid nor ridiculous.  Suppose someone said they wanted to get over a stupid, ridiculous emotional attachment to their spouse?

OzzieandHarriet

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I've been thinking about this today, and realized I do have an emotional attachment to our investment property. DH and I had this romantic idea that we wanted to live in New York City (and maybe we still will do it, who knows?). When we sold a house I had bought before we met that I had been renting out, we took the money and bought a studio in NYC. The idea was that we'd rent it out for a while and then take it over to use for vacations, quick trips, etc., and see what it was like to live there. Well, that's such an obviously impractical thing to do, and I can see it now, but at the time I talked myself into it making sense. And now we have to sell it and never used it at all. And will lose money on it, too. But what makes us both sad is that we love the apartment -- it's really nice, for what it is, and it's in a wonderful location. OTOH, it's way too small for us to actually live there, so if we did want to move there we'd have to buy or rent another place anyway. And it totally makes sense to take whatever money we make from the sale and invest it. It will certainly help me feel better about my leaving my job (one more week to go!). But still.

MissStache

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I don't have any advice, but I just wanted to pop in and say it sound like you are being really hard on yourself for this.  It isn't stupid or ridiculous to have an emotional attachement to your home!   And it sounds like you faced some challenges while you were living there, so it is natural that is represents your accomplishments! 

I have the same thing about my car- I bought it right out of college all by myself and paid it off early.  I feel like it was the first "big girl" thing I ever did and I'm proud of myself for it.  And goodness!  That is only a car!  I can't imagine how I would feel about it if it was my home. 

It sounds like you know what you need to do and you'll get there eventually.  It's ok if it isn't the easiest thing to do!  Congratulate yourself on doing well enough that you're so close to FI :)

totoro

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I'm guilty of this sometimes.

Have you considered:

1. withdrawing 80% of the home equity
2. buying your second place with cash
3. renting out the first place and having a tax deductible mortgage paid for by tenants?

The advantage of this approach is that you retain your home as an investment.  You can reverse your move at any time.  This only works if the numbers demonstrate good ROI.


TrulyStashin

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I'm guilty of this sometimes.

Have you considered:

1. withdrawing 80% of the home equity
2. buying your second place with cash
3. renting out the first place and having a tax deductible mortgage paid for by tenants?

The advantage of this approach is that you retain your home as an investment.  You can reverse your move at any time.  This only works if the numbers demonstrate good ROI.

And if you can stand the emotional impact of having tenants (potentially) trash a place that means so much to you.

totoro

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I'm guilty of this sometimes.

Have you considered:

1. withdrawing 80% of the home equity
2. buying your second place with cash
3. renting out the first place and having a tax deductible mortgage paid for by tenants?

The advantage of this approach is that you retain your home as an investment.  You can reverse your move at any time.  This only works if the numbers demonstrate good ROI.

And if you can stand the emotional impact of having tenants (potentially) trash a place that means so much to you.

Seems kind of melodramatic.  I have eight rental units, five of which were owned by me as a primary residence previously.  No trashing has occurred.  Luck?  Maybe.  I like to think that if you screen well and are in a good area and know your neighbours you are probably lower risk.

BPA

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I'm guilty of this sometimes.

Have you considered:

1. withdrawing 80% of the home equity
2. buying your second place with cash
3. renting out the first place and having a tax deductible mortgage paid for by tenants?

The advantage of this approach is that you retain your home as an investment.  You can reverse your move at any time.  This only works if the numbers demonstrate good ROI.

I hadn't really considered it since I would be an absentee landlord, but I will think about it.

As for someone else trashing my home, in all honesty, it's not that nicely decorated or anything.  I could buy something much nicer for half the price down east.

SnackDog

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Our neighbors once kept a junker car in the street about five years after it stopped running because it was used to take Mom to the hospital to deliver each of the five kids. I think one may have been born in it. The wife finally got fed up and had it towed.

meadow lark

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"One may have been born in it."  That is reason enough to get rid of it!  When that happens where I work I always tell the Dads - go get that car detailed TODAY.  It always seems to happen when it it 100 degrees!

hybrid

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Emotional attachments are neither stupid nor ridiculous.  Suppose someone said they wanted to get over a stupid, ridiculous emotional attachment to their spouse?

Then I would answer that an emotional attachment to a person is far different from an emotional attachment to an inanimate object.

IMO people get too sentimentally attached to things not worthy of the emotional investment.  At the extreme you have hoarders who are bound to their "stuff".  Closer to the middle you have people who live in very cluttered homes because they have "stuff" they "might" use one day, inevitably don't, and they are less than optimized.  And then the case of the house... I am very fond of my house and my neighborhood but at the same time I have to be aware that times change, situations change, and opportunities will present themselves.  If there is a truly compelling reason to move (and not simple wanderlust) then I should be prepared to take that step.

To the OP, make a decision based on what is truly best for you going forward, and not what was the best decision for you 1, 5, 10 years ago.  If you are better off moving, move.  If not, stay put.  It's just that simple.  Don't let some misplaced loyalty to the house make the decision for you.  Figure out the reasons why you are so fond of it in the first place.  Maybe there are darned good reasons not to move. 

When it comes to inanimate objects everything should be on the table at all times.  It's just stuff, and it either is useful stuff or it isn't.  It won't love you back, it will either help you or burden you.

Kenoryn

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Re: Getting Over the "stupid, ridiculous" Emotional Attachment to My House
« Reply #19 on: October 15, 2013, 08:50:16 AM »
Getting to this a little late - but I just wanted to say that I too am currently in Ontario in a $200K house with $2500 property taxes and looking into moving out east for retirement (New Brunswick) because everything is just so damn cheap out there, and it's where my partner is from. My parents moved from the GTA to Eastern Ontario to retire, for the same reason. Where is 'out east' to you?

I am most worried about leaving family behind. :( None of them has any money so they couldn't visit me - I would just see them when I could visit them.

Deano

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Re: Getting Over the "stupid, ridiculous" Emotional Attachment to My House
« Reply #20 on: October 15, 2013, 03:36:10 PM »
It's a good time to sell in Hamilton, but I'm not sure if the happy fun real estate days will last. Something to consider anyway.

BPA

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Re: Getting Over the "stupid, ridiculous" Emotional Attachment to My House
« Reply #21 on: October 20, 2013, 12:01:06 PM »
Getting to this a little late - but I just wanted to say that I too am currently in Ontario in a $200K house with $2500 property taxes and looking into moving out east for retirement (New Brunswick) because everything is just so damn cheap out there, and it's where my partner is from. My parents moved from the GTA to Eastern Ontario to retire, for the same reason. Where is 'out east' to you?

I am most worried about leaving family behind. :( None of them has any money so they couldn't visit me - I would just see them when I could visit them.

It's Prince Edward Island for me.  :)  I spend summers there and love it.

BPA

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Re: Getting Over the "stupid, ridiculous" Emotional Attachment to My House
« Reply #22 on: October 20, 2013, 12:06:53 PM »
It's a good time to sell in Hamilton, but I'm not sure if the happy fun real estate days will last. Something to consider anyway.

I've been thinking that since the CBC ran its series on real estate in Hamilton.

And, as it turns out, I am actually loving my job again and don't want to leave yet.  That means staying in the house is the best idea for me for right now, but I might kick myself in a couple of years if work starts driving me nuts and I didn't sell now.

To the poster who articulated that attachments to people are different than attachments to inanimate objects, I agree.  I had nearly convinced myself to move since I could love another house again and then started really enjoying work again.  Last spring was hell.

I have started selling off things that have sentimental value but that I do not use.  I guess that is my prep for when I decide to finally sell this house.