Q: What are three to five things you would tell me before I bought a house?
I've never spent a half million dollars on anything before
Ty: Good question, INSAHMDOAB, and an even better observation. Buying a house, your first home in particular, opens up a Pandora’s box of worms with regard to questions. But, I’m here for you. I have answers to your questions. Why does it hurt when I pee? You have VD. Why does she look at me that way? Because she hates your ass because you gave her AIDS. See, done. This shit is easy.
So you’re in pursuit of the American Fucking Dream (AFD ™) incorporated, huh? Three to five things? C’mon? It’s me…Ty! Three to five? I’m going to give you the max plus (MaxPlus is a division of Middlespace Enterprises, ME ™). You’re getting six things and no invoice.
1) Half of a million dollars? It's not real money, first off. So, get over your poor ass. You don’t have a half million dollars and you will never have a half million dollars. Please. You’re not rich. You’re poor (John Edwards will set you straight too [clicky]. You’re going to spend credits. Units. Points. Tokens. Yeah, you're going to be using tokens (after your hard-scraped down payment - that's real money (certified check), but that’s about the same amount as buying a car and we're all over that by now). Unless you show up at your closing with a box of crack-stained cash, it's not going to be a heartbreaker, money wise. So, don't let a half million dollars bother you too much. You're using a half million of your airplane miles for all it matters.
2) Half of a million dollars? In most markets (places where people with any sense live) a half mil ain't really that much. It's modest, really. Of course, we have to ignore the poor as always. You could buy loads in a poor neighborhood, but then you’d be stuck with the stink; you’d be poor too. [I love that I just wrote that a half million dollars (units) isn't a lot. Good the fuck for me. I don't even have a job!] So, get over believing it's a pain. Look around. Every toothless Buford is buying a house (using sub-prime or interest only loans - the mopes!).
When I was, like, nine years old, I got my hands on a $20 bill as a gift from someone. That was a lot of money. The decision-making involved and the pains of the budgeting involved were intense. That twenty needed to be fully optimized for fun and longevity. I was fucking CEO of the $20 bill corporation of America (TDBCoA ™ a division of Max Plus ™).
3) So, half a million dollars isn't a lot of money and it's not even real money. So, now that the money hurdle has left you a writhing heap on the track, let's get to what' is really important: community + amenities = lifestyle.
First off, if you even remotely have a remote notion of having a goddamn child, think long and hard about where you're going to buy a house (and when I say “remote” I mean Raiders-win-the-Superbowl-2008 remote). You want your kid to get a great, free education and not get their asses kicked every day by some wannabe gang-banger. You want your child unpregnant, unraped, unmolested, unkidnapped, and undrugged. Don't buy a house in the ghetto (urban pioneers) then get knocked-up and then decide that you live in the wrong neighborhood for a great and free education. Either suck it up and buy into the “right community” or fine the bread for a good and expensive private education or some combination therein. Because, repeat after me: moving sucks.
I hope to never move again. If for some reason I have to move, I’m not even packing. I’m going on vacation with two sets of keys. When I drive from the airport, I’ll just go to the new house. I’m not packing. I’m not staging. I’m not managing. I’m not moving. I’m not (Do you here me? I mean it!) going to move.
Pick smart the first time. Sure if things change over time, you can blame external causes.
3) If you are a "handy man" then save some dough and pick yourself a "fixer-upper." That’s what they say. Sure that rat hole looks promising. Sure, you've got mad technique with the reciprocating saw. Sure, you have the patience for 17-month renovations. But, remember this: fixing shit takes time. Fixing shit costs (real) money. The phrase that comes to mind is: money trap. If you're handy, that's great. But, if your new dream home is really a rattrap, then you'll be broke from tithing to the Home Depot gods (and you'll be there every Sunday, leaky pipes will be your new football).
4) Wow! Look at that beautiful yard for the kids! If you like spending your weekends pulling weeds, fertilizing, and mowing grass like some country mope then, yeah, get a house on a big ass plat. Lawn mower. Weed whacker. Trimmer. Hoe. Rake. Chemicals. Hoses. Etc. Etc. Costs (real) money. Takes (real) time. You'll be broke with regard to money and you'll be bankrupt with regard to time.
How many mopes are always fixing stuff? Do this, go to Home Depot or Lowes (both trademarked, I’m sure) on a Sunday morning. Look around. Misery. Wanna be one of those mopes? It’s a nightmare.
Speaking of nightmares. Amazon ™ just delivered my copy of Chris Nieratko’s “Skinema” via Vice Magazine. I also got “Dear Diary by Leslie Arfin (also via Vice but irrelevant). So, I’m reading “Skinema” in bed and kind of doze off to the strangest, most bizarre, most vivid dreams ever. It’s like the book is coated with special secret drugs of something. Great stuff, fucked dreams.
5) Get a house where you can walk to stuff (grocery, beer, ATM, independent restaurants, chain restaurants, parks, playgrounds, coffee, public transportation, neighbors' houses, pool, etc.). Walking is the best. Even if you never do it, a place where you can walk (safely) to stuff is cool. You get to know your neighbors, you get to know yourself. If you do have a kid, you can walk little mini mope around in a stroller or wagon or some shit (minivans are weak, by the way). Soon, after walking around for a couple of weeks, you'll become mayor. Everybody will know you and do stuff for you. If you have a dog, you'll know all the dog people right away. Welcome to mayordom.
When you walk, wave to people, say hi and stuff, generally ignore them. Don’t let them engage you in stupid suburban banter about “Dale’s lawn” or “The Rodgers’ new deck.” Fuck that shit. When you walk though, pick up the trash (people will notice this and start doing it too). When you walk, sing a little song. Remain an enigma far above the fray. People will wish they were you and do stuff for you. Remember names, blows them away every time.
Those suburban destination tracts suck. You know, the kind of tracts where each house looks identical, where the garage is the key street view feature (speaking of street view, WTF?) and you never see anyone. Your life becomes “indoors only.” If you live like this: drive to work, park in the parking garage -- drive home, park in the garage, you'll soon become an indoor liver. Indoor living bites. You don't get to know anyone and soon start hating your housing investment, your life, and yourself. Get outside people. Indoors livers soon enough close the garage door, leave the motor running and end it all. Suckers.
If you have a bike? That’s great. If you ride it. You rule. Ride that motherfucker! Ride like the wind. Learn how to pop a wheelie again! Burn out! Get a bike trailer and drag the kid around. Bunny hop. Ghost ride it. Crash it!
6) My advice? What would Ty do? [WWTD is a registered trademark of TDBCoA, duh!] Condo at Leisure World ™ would be tops on the list. Remember wanting to be older and having a fake ID and shit? Those were the days. Then remember wanting to be younger (to get action or eternal beauty of something)? Be old again, it’s gonna happen to you anyway. Tell the Leisure World ™ people you're 55 (bribe someone if you have to). Tell ‘em you just look young. Leisure World, my friends. Leisure. They do all the work and there's not a child in sight.
If you cannot move to Leisure World ™, find somewhere cool, work at home as much as you can. Sit outside. Walk around. Ride your bike. Get WiFi (or use other peoples – if you get WiFi, make it public and encourage everyone to make theirs public you can use your software firewall -- revolutionize).
Speaking of the whole "What Would ______ Do?" trip, I recently returned home for a short trip to a bag full of those stupid rubber band bracelets first used for the cancer crowd (LiveStrong ™). These bracelets had, "What Would Trace Do?" on 'em. Those silly ass rubber band bracelets soon had immense meaning and inspiration. There isn't a situation now where I don't ask myself (or look down at my wrist and ask), "What would Trace do?" Nine times out of 10, it's the absolutely correct answer. Big ups guy who sent me the bracelets (I owe you) and big ups to Trace. Trace, Trace, Trace. [obligatory clicky]
Anyway, INSAHMDOAB, make sure you buy a house where you are SURE you will be comfortable for a while because moving sucks. You are using 500,000 units (that's like 1,600 iPods), so think hard. Before you buy it, get a beach chair and sit out on the lawn of your prospective home for a few days (Thurs - Sun). Walk around at night. Ride your bike there. Knock on the neighbor's doors. See what it’s like in the middle of the workday - try it out like a new pair of Wheelies ™.
Just a guess!