By Carol Bogart
Reading recently that sales of existing homes in March were at their lowest in 20 years, I thought, “Wow, good thing I sold the farm when I did.” My farm, I knew, would likely be the last real estate I would ever own.

It wasn’t the first.

When my son was born, I reluctantly gave up nearly two decades of carefree apartment living to provide him with a back yard. I thought every kid should have a yard. And a swingset. And a sandbox. And a dog.

Our first house was in a Denver neighborhood where homes were so close together that having a single tree per yard was a lot. Property lines were typically outlined in six-foot “privacy” fences.

Once having made the shift from I-don’t-have-to-maintain-anything high rise living to uh oh! Has the roof sprung a leak? – it wasn’t long before a postage stamp backyard did not seem big enough for a growing boy.

Also, I’d evolved from balcony container plants to flower beds, and wanted to vacate my space in a community garden in favor of a garden right outside my door.

So – we moved.

The next house was more house than we needed, and the yard was big enough to be a lot of work. I learned you can’t just plant stuff. You have to tend it. If you don’t, pretty soon those cute miniature roses are overtaken by grass and weeds.

Deciding to return to my roots, I sold that one, too, and moved back to Ohio. This time, I largely left existing landscaping alone. I had begun to yearn, though, for the rural lifestyle of my childhood. I wanted Mike to experience the joys of catching tadpoles in springtime, crayfish in summer, and making forts out of bales of straw and hay.

The farm I found had everything. A stream, a woods, hills for sledding and a big red barn. What it did not have was a habitable house. And therein lay my home ownership downfall. I decided to build.

I thought I’d done everything right. Got three bids. Checked the builder’s references and looked at examples of his work. Specified the materials I wanted (Pella windows) in the contract. Even so, he took me for a bundle, and that was it.

The money I’d inherited from my folks was almost gone. I no longer had reserves to keep up with any needed maintenance, and on a farm, things regularly need repair: fences, the well, the septic, the barn roof, the pond pump. The list goes on and on.

So, when I moved to pricey California and saw that even if I still had every dime my parents left me, there’s no way I could afford to buy a house here – I thought, oh well.

Since 2003, I’ve been a renter, and you know what? It’s OK. No leaking roof to fix. No walls to paint. And best of all – no lawn to mow.

Carol Bogart blogs at  Contact her at

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