Rent or own?

According to neighbor Garland, our house along with five others was built over a wetlands that adjoined a creek.  The Creek, which feeds into the Four Mile Run, once ran down the middle of the street behind our house. Today its overplanted with trees and contained in a huge concrete culvert in the median strip.

Side yard after we installed the drainage system, 1987

Side yard after we installed the drainage system, 1987

Backyard before the drainage system

Backyard before the drainage system

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Working on the compost bins, 1980s

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repairing the compost bins, 1990s



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Soaking wet after he installed the rain barrels, 1990s.  Anything Else???

Owners of the houses have coped with varying degrees of water issue resulting from the closure of access to the creek for years. Once upon a time, we shared a portable sump pump with the neighbor and ran the water to the nearest storm drain (which runs across the backside of our property).  Later, using my design, David built an elaborate system of underground pipes and attached it to a permanent sump pump in our crawl space. For years these pipes have channeled the water from under our house into the back yard.  The elaborate system of pipes sends the water from under the house into the rain garden.

This week, the sump pump under the house stopped working (completely rusted) and I called our plumber who installed another one for around $700.

I asked David to show me exactly what he had done before the gardens were established and brick pathways laid out.  For a few moments, he was confused and couldn’t understand what I was asking him.

The piping travels in a huge U-joint and doubles back on itself.  It ascends vertically from the crawl space then runs between the house and the sidewalk to a window well in the front yard.

It then travels under the brick walk where I constantly fight moss (now I know why this area is always damp), to the garden lining the other side of the walkway which lies next to the neighbor’s property but inside our fence.  The water then travels under our fence between the front and back yard and under the damp brick floor of our lean to a drain next to our shed which reveals the now visible pipe.  Next the piping goes under the shed floor into the back yard side garden where it follows the edge of our brick walk to its terminus in the gravel walk.  The pipe then travels along the gravel walk to the rain garden in the far left corner of the back yard.  Here the Chokecherry and other shrubs, as well as a Holly tree fill the corner.

When I looked in the crawl space, I noticed water running from under the house.  The culprit must be another broken pipe because the front yard cannot be draining this much. At any rate, the sump pump is now churning away, carrying the run-off water to the back yard.

Now that David is fading and can’t remember how he dug up the entire yard laying this elaborate drainage system (there’s much more to this), all the maintenance stuff is falling on me.  Living in a house built in 1977 with hard running water is making things difficult.

Our quarterly water bill was $700 again this August.  In comparison, Kathy’s bill was $110.  I must do something about these high water bills we’ve had for over a year.  So far I’ve replaced copper pipes over head in the ceiling at least three times (insurance covered the damage), water heater, toilets, faucets (indoors and out), and now have had the sump pump repaired.  Next comes repair of pipes under the house?

                                                                —000—

This week, I read an article in PBS’ publication Next Avenue about how many seniors are choosing to rent instead of continue to own property.  A gal at the pool, who recently moved into a newer rental property told me she would NEVER own a home again.  Statistics show that rentals are becoming very popular and on the increase.  I am a not ready for this type of move because I like looking out my window at the breakfast table and watching the bird feeder in the morning, but some days I wonder.

24 thoughts on “Rent or own?

  1. The problem I see with renting is that your rent goes up from year to year, but your Social Security payment does not. I plan to sell the house when and if B and I need the money to pay for assisted living.

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  2. I toyed with the rental idea but, since I have 2 sons nearby who are in the building business I decided to stay put. I plan to live here for the rest of my life and am slowly changing my small house to accommodate my needs as I age. So far, so good ….
    Sorry for your water woes !

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    • We will get the waterworks fixed. Building a rapport with the plumber. One SIL in the building business. He just replaced shed and porch roofs. As long as we have help, we will stay here. No where to go anyway!

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  3. Let’s see now, the pipe that runs from the back to the far side crosses over to the near side, angles around to the other side, then makes a turn emptying all the water in the crawl space where it runs out to provide water for the garden on the opposite side and then……….oh well, whatever it does, or wherever it goes, I just wish you’d send some of that water out here, especially if you’re paying for it, ’cause it’s dry as a bone here!

    As for rental vs home ownership, I, too, occasionally would welcome not having responsibility for care of a house, but the various issues that arise with differing types of rentals seem more troublesome overall. I like having the distance between neighbors and being subjected to only my own noise. Living in place still is most appealing to me as just not geared to adapting to retirement community regimen. Maybe I’ll change my mind — have been cautioned, “Don’t wait until it’s too late!” I guess they mean until I’m too decrepid to meet acceptance criteria to get into independent or assisted living,, or even skilled level.

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    • Thank you for reminding me of the downside of renting. The last time I did, I lived in “affordable” housing (euphemism for subsidized housing) and had a drug dealer, a sexual pervert, a prosititute, and a crazy old man living in the house behind me who yelled all day. I think I will stick to the water issues. Got the plumber coming Monday to crawl under the house and find and fix the broken pipe.

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  4. I love my house in Honolulu. It is so much better than living in a condo/apartment, because it is located on a quiet street. Very little traffic and fewer neighbors. I detest urban living. The suburbs are better.

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  5. I sometimes regret opting for a house with all the exterior maintenance, yard, etc. But I do love the added privacy that space gives me, not to mention a place for my dog to tend to business. And rent in greater Denver is sky high. Not sure I could manage it now even if I wanted to.

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  6. I rent by choice. I had downsized and planned to move to a condo, and I decided even at sixty something that I was not going to do any yard work or outer house maintenance. I moved planing to get a condo and then I ended up sharing a large rental house with my sister who is a master gardener and has the patience for all the above. Granted we rent from a relative-allowing us to paint our own colors-but the knowledge that all the gutter cleaning, and broken tree repair falls on someone else makes me in no way regret my decision. Once I no longer have a dog her in a year or so, I will down size further.

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  7. A group of us were just having this conversation this morning. The others are all older than me and were discussing another couple, also older, who are considering moving to a retirement home. Except, like you, they like their backyard and don’t think they can give that up. My backyard is nothing special so it wouldn’t be hard for me.

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    • We have checked out all the local retirement options and find them all a bit pricy. The options close to DC are full of General military officers, retired diplomats, and other high ranking government officials and their wives or widows. Until one of us is incapacitated or on our own, we probably won’t consider moving into a retirement facility. Even then, most of the people I once knew are dead or moved away.

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  8. That seems a very elaborate drainage system. David must be very handy to do such a thing. I can’t imagine us tackling such a task. I can see we will eventually move out of our house. We have to do a lot of fixing up first.

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  9. I would go to maintenance provided rent in a heartbeat, but Patty still wants to be in her dream home. We did this for 4 years between this house and the previous one so we could be close to our granddaughters for a while. We had a spacious 3 bedroom apartment with all maintenance services included. No lawn mowing or repairs….just dial the number and have it taken care of. Even had underground parking. I’ll get back to this someday…just don’t know when.

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