Own vs. Rent a Home

As some of you know - my family and I moved to Virginia last year. We decided to rent a home in a family friendly neighborhood before we decided exactly where to settle in and purchase our next house. Getting to know the area was important to us this time around. We have moved 7 times and purchased homes quickly each move. Our past experiences told us to just be patient.
We are happy in the home we have now and the kids are content in their school. Only one more year of elementary school for our twin boys then off to middle school. They do NOT want to be the "new kids" again this year. So with that in mind we have been searching for a place within the school district but weren't finding exactly what we wanted. We had been planning to purchase our own residence all along until we talked to our financial adviser.
We love several things about the lifestyle we have here. One being this trail along a creek located right in our backyard. It leads to two playgrounds, a community pool, a pond - plus the YMCA, where I work out. We walk to a lot of places like the farmers market, a restaurant and the library. The kids can hang out and explore with friends close by. They fish and find turtles and crayfish right here. I feel that they are safe when playing out and about - plus they carry a cell phone so I can reach them.
This is our community pond that we walk Mazi around. It is a loop of about a 1/2 mile from our home and back. We see little ducks and geese along the way.
Maybe in a couple of years our kids won't care about exploring and having neighbor kids to play with - our family needs may change dramatically in a matter of a year or two.
There is a pool house and lots of families here so it fits our lifestyle for now.
The homes are nicely kept in our neighborhood and they look a lot like these two above. Some have brick or stone but many are 'vinyl boxes' which some people may call our neighborhood a "vinyl jungle". Most homes were built 10 to 12 years ago. 
Finally, after one year living here, we are just barely feeling like we are settling in. Marc (my husband) works close by most of the time - travels to DC here and there, too. The friendliness here in the southern part of Virginia is refreshing. A pretty short commute for Marc was important to us, along with a safe and fun place for the kids to play.
Renting has been a pretty good experience so far. The only thing I miss is being able to do what ever I want to the interior. But our landlord is pretty liberal with letting me paint walls and I have redone the kitchen floors. I asked him if he would let us do a few more things to the home - then we might stay a while. He agreed. (yay)
After hiring a professional accountant to guide us with our financial decisions, we discussed long term goals and reviewed our finances together. In the end, we came to the conclusion that renting this house gives us the freedom to "up-size" or "downsize" depending on what kind of year we are having. If an opportunity came along that we could move closer to family - that would be ideal. We aren't tied to the area long term. I still get super homesick for my family out west and dream of living in the mountains.
We have been, and still are, home owners since 1996 (we are currently using our home in CT as a rental property due to the slow market). Our accountant said - "You need to change the way you think about home ownership. It's not the kind of investment it used to be" - especially if we may move again in the next few years.
So this year - I am embracing 'renter-ship' and making this place home. I like that our long term options are open and that we aren't "stuck" anywhere. I am scared of a negative equity situation and for now, there are a lot of nice homes to rent. As my husband and I say - home is where we are all together.
I was a tiny bit disappointed for a minute about our decision because I go nuts with decorating our house - it's my creative outlet and hobby.  So, to make me feel better, my husband got me a new car instead.
For those of you who knew my other car...a 2000 Ford Expedition with paint on the bumper, a gallon of Wethersfield Moss spilled in the back and large enough to fit every tool I own in it - along with messages in sharpie on the leather from my boys - (some not nice).
This is a huge upgrade and I am appreciative - my husband is the sweetest guy in the whole world - truly!
Plus...I got the color combo I love - white with tan leather interior - Yes! I feel like it's my birthday but really it's our 20th wedding anniversary coming up. Amazing how time flies. High school sweethearts and still in love.
I don't take any of our good fortune for granted.
We'll see what tomorrow brings and try to just really love today.
Keeping the important things in mind isn't always easy but focusing on love and relationships is the key to real happiness. I believe that.

I hope Happiness finds all of you!

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