Have you ever found that perfect job, business opportunity, or even person on the internet? Let’s pretend for a moment that you just found the job of your dreams online and are so thrilled that you shout out loud… just a little… remember, we’re only pretending here… but that’s how excited you are.
You read it over and over on the internet and say, Wow, that’d really be a great opportunity and something I’d excel at. You ponder for moment, scratching your chin and daydreaming about that perfect job in the perfect location (thousands of miles away) with all it’s perfect qualities. Soon you become infatuated and engulfed by the idea and decide to pursue your passion!
I’m sorry, but you just bought a house and you’re too poor to go chase your dreams… Tough Luck! If you really want that job bad enough, you’re going to take a hit of thousands of dollars… And last time I checked, losing thousands of dollars is not a good investment strategy or even possible for college grads with a ton of debt.
My story – Dodging the Bullet Three Times.
My parents are real estate investors and I absolutely love the stuff! Capital appreciation, tax write offs, debt pay down, sweat equity – How is that not exciting! Okay, I might be a bit of a nerd, but you have to admit, real estate has some pretty sweet ways of building wealth, and no matter how cool you are, you should enjoy wealth.
In high school I would look for possible investment properties and drool over the classifieds and newly minted internet. Then college rolled around and I kept trying to convince my parents to co-sign on a college house with me. They politely said no, in their all knowing and understanding ways, God bless them. After studying abroad I took a job my senior year as a Realtor to learn the ins and outs of the business and was thrilled at the chance to follow what I thought was my passion.
Being a Realtor taught me this: times and people change, including me.
I was the worst Realtor out there, I’m not ashamed to say it. I was completely unmotivated by the product because I began to realize I wasn’t impressed with huge houses like I used to be and pulled a 180 by realizing I wanted experiences, not a huge McPrison. When sitting in with clients this is how it typically went:
Her: “Honey, what do you think about siding color?
Him: “Oh Darling, I’m not sure, what color do the Joneses have?”
Her: “It might be burgundy… or… oh wait, is it mauve?”
Him: ” I thought it was a bit of a lavender in there as well”
Her: “Well what do their neighbors have, I liked their neighbors siding…”
Him: “I think it was a taupe, that’s a shade that’s really in right now.”
Her: “Maybe we should go drive out there and have a look? Ryan, would you mind taking us there?”
It took all my effort not to just stand up and shout… “It’s a f***ing spec home, they all look the same, who cares!?! When you die nobody will mention the color of your first home’s siding!!!”
However… since I couldn’t shout at my clients I silently floundered for a year and a half until I made the best decision of my life… I quit! Free at last, free at last, the shackles of un-fulfilling work were off!
But let’s backtrack a moment here…
What I didn’t mention in this story is that during my time as an assistant siding color picker I had put in offers to three properties, one even with my sister, which all fell through… THANK GOD! If I owned a home back in Wisconsin I would not currently be writing this article a few blocks from the beach in Hawaii, which is where I moved to follow one of my passions. I would not have taken a gamble with my life to follow a dream and have come up better than I had ever hoped. Nope, I’d be shoveling my driveway, making mortgage payments, and doing work I didn’t enjoy.
Looking back I realize that although I may have made a few bucks in real estate, I would have completely restricted my mobility and the ability to follow potential passions and opportunities, which is why…
Houses could be one of the worst investments ever… especially for young people. You know, all the recent college grads clawing their way to get the $8,000 tax credit, because it’s soooo much money. If you’re a college graduate reading this who has passions and career goals outside of the city you live in… Don’t do it! Don’t give into the lure of the tax credit!
The world is becoming more and more mobile, career opportunities across the country or even world are no longer uncommon. Therefore, if you’re buying a house, you’re limiting the opportunities to grow in new cultures, experience a more fulfilling career, and advance in your field of choice. Although you may not have as much equity in a house, you sure as hell put a lot more equity into yourself.
The choice is yours, but I choose freedom.
About the author: Ryan is a blogger over at Planting Dollars where his ramblings include Personal Finance, Investing, Mobile Living and Following your Passions. When he’s not compulsively checking his email or blog stats you’ll find him following his passions for scuba diving, weight lifting, and exploring his home state of Hawaii.