The Worst Decision I Ever Made in My 20s: Buying a House

[ disclaimer; I wrote this not to scare you guys from buying a house, but merely sharing my experiences and get some of my point across. Bu...

[disclaimer; I wrote this not to scare you guys from buying a house, but merely sharing my experiences and get some of my point across. Buying and having your own house in your 20s is totally cool and awesome. But then, there's a lot of things goes behind the scene that most of you won't even realized now that it's there]

Most of my friends will hate me for saying this. Afterall, the best investments around here is still properties; house, lands, apartments, you named it. So, in just a few months after my 20th birthday, I bought a house. A small cute home near an airport, 15 minutes from the city by car and 10 minutes by bike (traffic jams ftw); 7.5 meters times 12 meters. Three bedrooms, two bathrooms. Perfect for a small family, too big for a 20 years old. 

I paid quite a fortune for this house, and it's under my name. It's a sign of significant success from my workplace (I earned quite a lot as an account executive). My parents also donate me a huge sum for me to be able to have the house repainted and renovated a bit since the contractor did a lousy job on the house. 

Most of my friends (which is around my age) were envious with the revelation that I already had my own home. After they graduate from college two years later, some came to me asking for a few tips on managing the household, as they just apply for a mortgage. 

The thing is, two years later; I (slightly) regret(-ish) my decision on buying a house. 

People think that owning properties makes you a great investor, that you have invest on something you could sell or rent later. Now this is where most people are wrong.

Once you buy a house, you get comfortable and settling down, you get attached. You don't want to sell the properties because you thought the price could get higher and higher with each day goes by. You think that "this house is my accomplishment, I won't sell until I get the right price".

Then you started living in it, on your first month you pay for electricity and water you realized you can save a lot more by not turning on the air conditioner. Then you realized it's hot as hell. In the rainy season, it feels better (I save 40% more money on rainy season because of this) but in Jogja, in the middle august, it feels like you're living in the middle of the Gobi. It doesn't help that your place doesn't really have a lot of big trees as a shade because tree leaves are troublesome and you have to rake it up every evening. 

You then realized that there were ants and mosquitos. You constantly battling your food vs ants and the winner, you can guess: it's the ants. You can't leave food recklessly and had to stay clean, and cleaning a house everyday is a chore when you got 9 to 5 job in your hand already.

Then you realized that you have to pay for taxes! As every year goes by, your house started to deteriorate and need maintenances, but the taxes keep bubbling, and you hate the government so hard for making you pay for a mere shelter. The house maintenance itself were always a pain in the arse as something is always not right, when you think you can relax, the water from the tap starts leaking, there will be lightbulbs that needed replacement, your cable tv not working, your internet not working, such and such. 

Well, when you think it's over, came your neighborhood watch. You pay for security, trash pick-up service, and a few neighborhood fundraising you have to attend or your neighbors will start talking about you behind their back. Sometimes even if you attend and help out they will still talking about you behind your back. Nobody is to be trusted these days (although I have a few amazing neighbors whom I'd do anything for them, just as they'll do anything for me). 

You then realize everything that has a price tags keeps getting more expensive. There's phone bills, electricity, water, internet, cable tv, and at first you'll think "oh i won't need cable tv" then you realized that you need that form of entertainment after long days at work and the local channel were not as entertaining anymore. Then you'll say "broadband internet? a 3G/4G modem will do since my office had a good internet" and then you realize the cable tv came with broadband internet and it's so much cheaper you only have to add a few more thousand rupiahs to it, and there you are swayed by the power of advertising only to realized that their connection sucks and you have to spend time waiting for technicians to take care of them.

But then people always say this to me; when I got married, I don't have to worry where will I live with my husband, I got it all sorted out.
No you're wrong.

My carport were so small that it fits only one car and one or two motorbike. Both of us were driving. Imagined how we scrambled to fight for the rights on using the carports.
You then realized your significant others consume just as much electricity, water and phone as you. And it's time where you share the bills, but somehow you want everything to go with your way and don't want to compromise. Sharing the bills means you compromise in how long you get to use the phone and the goddamn air conditioner (without the AC I will be only paying 1/3 of what I paid each month, seriously) and you don't want that privileges taken away from you. But on the other hand you're happy to have someone so handy at home that could save you money from calling maintenance technicians.

Then you start comparing your expenses and it's a lot bigger than when you still renting. And you were swayed to rent again and sell your house, but then you already have too much furnitures and love the house (because it's your accomplishment, remember?)


Having a house has its own perks and downside. I was lucky that I get to learn this at such young age, So hopefully by sharing this experience with you, you can consider what will you need to make that house your home. Because buying a real house, needs a lot of consideration and weighing every options that you have. Be smart and be wise. 

In this economy a lot of things could happen. Mortgage can rises, property prices bubbled up and then went south. There's more to investment than just lands and houses. If you think you are not ready to managed a house of your own, think again, you might be right. But if you think you are capable of doing so on your own, go ahead. It's always good to have somewhere where you can cool off privately.

Much love from the duck-chess.

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  1. I'd like to ask if you don't mind. I'm currently live in jakarta, well you know the condition right here.. So if.. You're going to buy properties in Jakarta would you rather buy house or apartment? Considering the price, the maintenance, and the society. Thank you in advance and stay awesome duck~

    1. Hi Danu, thanks for the very awesome comment, Duck is happy <3

      In Jakarta I would consider three things:
      1. access, since you know traffic jam is really bad, I would prefer a house close to train station, transjakarta shelter, highway gates, security and that would be very costly if you ask me. Considerin access I will choose to buy an apartment
      2. Maintenance, are you a gardening kind of person and willing to scrub your porch? do you have more than one car? if you are, i would choose to buy a house because it's cheaper that way. In apartment you sometimes have to pay ridiculous money for parking. The apartment is easier to maintain but it is very costly as there's a fee for that and sometimes it's the same price with renting a house in downtown bekasi.
      3. Price: apartment only lasts for 30 years if you consider for paying an investment. (you don't want to live in a run in building don't you?) but if you're single or just starting to live with your significant others or just starting a family, an apartment is a good way to start managing a full house as the house require heavy maintenance too.
      4. Society: jakarta wasn't filled with a lot of busybody if you live in a gated community or an apartment but if you live in the slums or very dense neighborhood you'll see one or two popping out. remember, preman is everywhere.

      I know you personally so I will go with house, as you're not as lazy as I am. Plus you cook so much, as cooking (the smell) might be a hindrance for your neighbors if your apartment wasn't equipped with proper exhaust system (and most of cheaper apartment wasnt equipped with one! in my previous apt, my fart smells will linger for around half an hour. If you have pets, it'll be easier in a house too, because most apartments doesn't allow pets.

      Hopefully this will help you <3 love from the duck. happy house hunting!


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