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To Rent or to Buy?

By Sarah Sacco

March 23, 2011

The burning question in our not-so-normal life these days is this: to rent or to buy? You see, we just started earning enough money to be able to fully pay for our own housing! Yeah!! We've been working towards this goal for years, now -- and finally the day is here. Time to celebrate some measure of self-sufficiency.

And we are. But, I guess there must still be some part of me that wants to have a "normal" American life. The one with a white picket fence, a home mortgage, 2-1/2 kids, mowing the lawn for weekend fun, you get the picture.

So we've been looking into buying a home. After all, they say prices are as low as they are going to be and interest rates are low -- the opportunity of a lifetime. Pressure. Lots and lots of pressure. We started out actually getting approved for some funding -- turns out we can get some but for the price everything is a dump -- not even fixer-upper status. For two people with chronic illnesses, one with a depressed immune system, and a person under age 3 this is just WAY out of the question. We did consider buying something terrible and trying to get on Extreme Makeover, Home Edition, but thought that was too dishonest. :-)

Then we looked into a charity that helps out folks in that situation. Really great program, actually. We even applied and started the whole process. They called yesterday even to let us know we are qualified.

So you are wondering why I'm writing this blog, especially on an HIV site. But the thing is that our HIV status makes us look at life differently -- to ask some really tough questions. Looking at a 30-year mortgage is just one. Is there any way we might actually be able to pay that off? Carmen Anthony is 55; there is about NO way, even if he wasn't sick, that he is going to be working in 30 years! Then, I look at myself. I am starting to see some things coming along -- nothing huge (maybe just the difference between 20 and 30??) but I can feel a whole lot less energy than I did even just a few years ago. Is it pessimistic? Or just being honest?

How on earth would I be able to manage working full time, caring for a sick/dying husband, raising a child, and taking care of a home all at once? Not to mention the fact that my own body is not exactly getting any younger, spryer, or healthier as the time goes by. I'm not thinking worst-case here -- just looking at what is likely to come. It sounds like a recipe for foreclosure, an anxiety attack, or worse.

Plus, given such a scenario I know that I will want to care for my family, personally. Is it really worth it to miss out on precious time just to say that I "own" a home? Surely it doesn't make our house any less than a home if our name isn't on the title? Anyway, neither way seems really to be a good answer. If we rent, we give up a bit of a dream -- a hope that life might somehow be "normal." If we buy, we give up time with our family and make ourselves particularly vulnerable financially. A rock and a hard place. What is normal anyway?

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See Also
More on HIV and U.S. Gov't Housing Assistance


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What's Normal Anyway?

Sarah and Carmen Anthony Sacco

Sarah and Carmen Anthony Sacco

Carmen Anthony, Sarah and Abbi often ponder the meaning of "normal." Anthony's music brought him healing after his diagnosis with AIDS in 2000 when he was given six months to live. Sarah was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 at the age of 23. They met at a support group and embarked on life's adventure together. Then, along came Abbi -- a precious gift free from HIV! Life as a family with AIDS is not what anyone imagined, but it is full of music, blessings, and chaos!

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