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How and Why I Bought a House at 23

I purchased my house at 23-years-old. I had been in a ‘real job’ for 9 months, and already wanted an out. I got myself into an apartment lease that was waaaaay too expensive, making me live paycheck to paycheck, and I was miserable at my job. The work was fine, I was an IT Consultant and actually enjoyed programming and figuring out these problems and such… it was just that I felt little respect in my workplace.

Granted, I was the youngest person there by three years and I was straight out of college (the only one to not have worked at the headquarters for a year before moving to a smaller branch) AND was the only other female there out of about 15 people, but I just felt like gaining respect from my superiors was going to be an uphill battle. And frankly, I just wanted nothing to do with it.

The corporate life just was not for me. My suits were always too big. I got blisters on my feet from my heels. I always felt rushed when it was lunch hour, making sure I wasn’t late to avoid the side eye when I got back. I would even nap in my car on lunch breaks just to get a break. So, the first thing I had to do to get away from this job was get out of my money sucking ridiculous rent apartment. I decided to look into other housing options thinking, “What is the CHEAPEST place I could possibly live in?” Well, in Denver, cheap rooms that aren’t in disaster houses are hard to come by. It’s a sellers/owners market. And even more so, mortgages were cheaper than rent prices, so I decided to looking into buying instead. To my surprise, I qualified for a mortgage! (Being in a legit job on paper has it’s advantages in this category and apparently I qualified also because of my tech background, which I had no idea about.)

I tried to be modest and buy a tiny studio apartment that cost a mere $600 a month (cheap by Denver standards), had exposed brick walls and a little balcony too. I thought it was perfect, something small and manageable and I would have my own space. It was also really cute and charming, so I could try to rent it out on the weekends and go up to the mountain or when I’m out of town or something. Turns out there were 5 other offers on the table, and ultimately went to the buyer with the biggest cash down payment. (I had none, I was planning on borrowing from my parents for whatever it would be, so I was shit out of luck.)

To my surprise, as I was hunting again I learned of a first-time home buyers grant, an NHF grant. The grant gave up to 5% of the home towards the down payment, and it was SO easy to qualify for! All I had to do was make under $90k in Denver county (uh, done..), take an online course for $99, and contribute a minimum of $1000 towards the home. THAT’S IT.

Insane, right? That’s cheaper than moving into a new apartment considering it is usually first and last month’s rent with a deposit.

So, after that I asked my broker what was the largest amount I could qualify for. If I could get a bigger house, I could rent out the other parts and potentially lower my payment on the mortgage even more. So, as soon as I went looking this time around, I found a gorgeous newly renovated home that had original exposed brick walls like I wanted, three bedrooms, two baths, and a pretty decent sized backyard.

Before I even looked at the home, I put up an ad on craigslist for roommates. I wanted to see how much interest there was and around what price I could get. So I started on the high end of what I think I could get and posted photos of the property, and within a few days I had quite a few responses, so I knew this could work out quite well. (In Denver, it’s also pretty much impossible to not find a roommate, there are so many people in need of rooms there!)

Boom. A month later, I had a three bedroom house to my name and two roommates paying most of the mortgage for me. I was able to get out of my job, and I had a sublease on my apartment for the rest of my lease.

Since then, I turned the master bedroom (that was originally mine) into an Airbnb that pays twice as much as a roommate would, which provides a great source of passive income, and could run without me for short periods of time (for now).

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