(Not) Keeping Up with Our Parents: The Decline of the Professional Middle Class

By Nan Mooney | Go to book overview
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8
A QUESTION OF EQUITY

Rent Rich or House Poor

Denise and her husband, Evan, knew they wanted to own a home just as soon as they got married in their late twenties.

“We wanted the tax break,” she explains. “We were tired of just throwing away rent money every month. But even more than that, we loved the idea of our own space. We wanted to be able to paint the outside of our house whatever color we chose, to be able to play music as loud as we wanted, and walk around naked whenever we felt like it. You can't do that in a rental place.”

Though they saved enough to buy a small two-bedroom home in a middle-class Maryland suburb, they wound up staying there only a year. When Evan decided he wanted to apply for the police force in the Virginia neighborhood where he grew up, they had to move to become residents of the state.

“We sold the house and started renting again. It did feel like a step backwards, but at that time it was no big deal. To be honest, we hated the house and the neighborhood. We figured we'd just save our money and start over again. This time we'd find something we really loved.”

It took years of saving and living in a rental apartment but, two years after the birth of their first child, Denise and Evan found a three-bedroom freestanding house they loved, easy commuting distance for both of them, with a big yard for their son and the new baby Denise was expecting. Even better, it was just ten minutes from the Eastern Shore town where Evan had grown up. The only catch was the $450,000 asking price, a huge stretch but one they decided they could just manage.

-163-

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