I (we) have been struggling with whether or not to buy a house back in the US. We are currently on our first assignment in NZ and gearing up to bid for our second post. Of course, we have no idea where our second post will be but we do know it will involve consular training in DC. Thus, home leave plus training and possible language training following. So, we could be looking at up to a year in the States before our next post.
Is this long enough to justify buying a house? Oh, yeah, and we want to buy one in North Carolina-where we lived last. It is a scary prospect. The boys and I will live away from Dad for the duration so that they boys can go back to their old school in NC and have a sense of belonging to a community.
As most State Department families know, it is nice to think of having your own place to go back to for R&R and home leave instead of cramming the family into a hotel or grandma's couches. But is the expense and worry worth it? Can it be justified when you are going to leave it vacant for most of the time? The town we are from doesn't exactly have a thriving rental climate plus, I don't like the idea of people being in "my" house when I am not there.
We have always been nomads even before the State Department and have bought and sold 5 homes in 5 communities over 15 years and never thought of them as investments, they were simply our home. I cannot believe how conflicted I am about this decision. Most spouses I have asked thought it was a no brainer. Of course I should buy a house back in the States if my husband was on board. Many spouses I speak to long to go back to the States and have a sense of "normalcy" for their kids. Maybe it's because I am new at this, but I look at it differently. Yes, I do miss things about the States and I love it there but this is the life we chose. When we decided to leave corporate America and all the material things associated with it, we knew it would be difficult and different. We knew we just signed ourselves up to disrupting our children's lives every 2 to 3 years until they left for college. We knew we would live wherever the State Department decided we would live and have ugly curtains if that was what was in the cards for us (just had to get that in). Now, we are talking about trying to recapture a little bit of what we had back in the States. A safe, comforting place to go back to if there is trouble where we are posted.
I dunno, I really don't. Surely renting a place can be a better decision during these uncertain economic times? But, then, we wouldn't have a home that we could go back to every time. If we bought a house now, it would be paid for by the time we retired - a bonus. I guess I need to think about it a little more.