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I Didn't Want To Disappoint My Parents, So I Bought A Condo

06/15/2017 04:12 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 11:45 EDT

born and raised


Growing up in a Filipino/Indian household, I was always told there were only two options when it came to moving out -- either buy your own place, or get married and buy a house with your partner.

Unfortunately, both scenarios meant I'd be staying put for a while.

Don't get me wrong, my parents are great but after living on my own while at university, the last thing I wanted to do was move back home.

woman apartment balcony

(Photo: Jeff Bergen via Getty Images)

So I casually brought up the idea of renting. After all, one of my best friends moved downtown at 17 and she seemed to be doing just fine financially.

The idea was shot down immediately.

"Why pay someone else's mortgage when you can pay your own," my father would say.

"But I can't afford a mortgage!" I'd grumble back.

"So stay here and save," he'd respond and the conversation would be over.

At the time I felt like I was being punished for not taking better-paying jobs while I was in school -- or even for not taking on more jobs than the six I was already juggling.

I'm even embarrassed to admit there were more than a few nights where I'd go to bed wishing my family was rich and that someone would just give me the money to get my own place.

My sister was in the same boat -- no moving until she could afford to buy a place of her own.

Having five years on me (and a better penchant for saving), she bought her two-bedroom condo in 2012 and ever so kindly let me move in under the caveat that I'd buy my own place within two years. Even with a steady paycheque I felt like I'd never be able to save up enough to put a down payment on a one-bedroom-plus-den (spoiler alert: I never did!).

The pressure that I felt from my parents I suddenly started putting on myself.

But a deal was a deal, so at the year-and-a-half mark I made multiple bank appointments in search of a mortgage approval. Being my voice of reason and my negotiator, my dad accompanied me to every appointment.

I remember meeting with countless bank managers who all promised approvals for amounts that went way beyond anything I could responsibly carry as a single 25-year-old.

My dad offered to co-sign if it made me feel more comfortable. But I was scared -- what if I lost my job and the bank had to repossess my place? What if I failed and had to move back home?

The pressure that I felt from my parents I suddenly started putting on myself.

So I waited another year, saved up a little more and purchased my own one-bedroom condo in 2015 a mere week before my 27th birthday.

I was terrified and cried on the night of my closing. All the money I had spent years saving was gone, and in its place was an empty 600-square-foot condo.

joy condo

Finally, a little reading nook to call my own!​

For the first six months I counted every nickle and dime to make sure I wasn't overspending and yet I still always felt like I had no money to my name.

"Your money is your property," my dad would remind me (and sometimes still reminds me today). When I look at it that way, I feel a lot better. I feel like I made the best decision for me.

But even now as I watch my friends search for their own homes I'm torn with a mix of emotions. On the one hand, I want to tell them to take the plunge. Put in as much as they can and lock in on the low interest rate. On the other hand, I want to tell them to wait for housing prices to drop a little, to save a little more or even to rent for a little while.

Because even though I'm happy I bought, I can't help but wonder why I took my father's "no" as the final word.

What would have happened if I refused to wait and buy and opted for renting instead? What could my parents have possibly said or done to convince me I was making a mistake? Would I have saved since I wouldn't have to pay condo fees and property taxes? Or would I still be watching those interest rates, wondering when would be the best time to buy?

Born And Raised is an ongoing series by HuffPost Canada that shares the experiences of second-generation Canadians. Part reflection, part storytelling, this series on the children of immigrants explores what it means to be born and raised in Canada.

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