Rent (not the musical)


Recently, I was at Target, and I saw a stainless steel toilet bowl brush.

The first thing that I thought was, “I want that one – it’s so nice and shiny.”  Then, I thought, “It’s too expensive – I’ll just buy this plastic one for $2.99.”  And I did.

See, stainless steel toilet bowl brushes are designed for home-owners, people who never move, people who do not have to think about spending $15 on something that in a few short months, they will just want to throw away – because who is actually going to lovingly pack up something designed to scrub feces?

I am an unrooted, unfettered, tumbleweed of a girl.  I have never owned a home – at the rate I’m going, I may NEVER own a home – and in the past 11+ years, the longest that I’ve ever stayed in one domicile is TWO. ENTIRE. BLISSFUL. YEARS. in a studio in the Wallingford neighborhood in Seattle (in Washington, in the United States, in the world).  It was a 1920s building, with crystal doorknobs and coved ceilings and hardwood floors.  Shoot, I loved that place.

But prior to that, and ever since then, I have moved every 12 months or less.

My constant moving, nomadic lifestyle, and sporadic homelessness have led to the occasional identity crisis, the random revelation, and the frequent emotional breakdown to my mother.

But while I have a deep soul-ache for a sense of rootedness and home (oh mercy, do I ever), there are a lot of great things that come along with being a gypsy of a renter.

When the hot water heater breaks, someone else fixes it.  When the window needs replacing, someone else does it.  When the horrible neighbors raise their ugly voices, you just move.  When your mom gets cancer, you just head to Colorado.  When the housing market crashes, you just don’t even care.  You never need to talk about the most boring terms imaginable like “HOA” or “APR” or “HUD” because when you ask yourself “WWJD,” you realize he would just wander the earth loving people*.

Some people think of renting as “throwing money away”; I call renting “exchanging money for freedom and flexibility.”

Maybe someday, I’ll find myself in a situation/season/city where buying a home would make sense – and in that event, I hope that the house has a breakfast nook and plenty of closet space and at least one interior brick wall.  But for now, I rent.

And at least this way, I don’t find myself justifying $15 on a toilet bowl brush.  Seriously, America.

*Not solid logic when it comes to renting vs. buying.  But definitely a truth, in and of itself.



  1. Val on October 12, 2011 at 8:40 AM

    “Some people think of renting as “throwing money away”; I call renting “exchanging money for freedom and flexibility.””

    AMEN! I totally see it this way too. I am paying for the convenience and the freedom to NOT BE IN CHARGE. Amen.

  2. Emily on October 12, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    I love renting!

    Even at the stage in American life where owning a home seems like the next steps, I’m just not that interested.

    And speaking of toilet bowl brushes – Joey has now surpassed his brother in gross habits – he sneaks into bathrooms and dumps the left over slime from the bottom of the toilet brush holder all over the floor and then plays gleefully with the slime and scrubber until I find him and scream in my head – and sometimes out loud.

    I’m gagging just thinking about it.

  3. Lan on October 12, 2011 at 9:43 AM

    i will tell you, i own my condo and i do not own a stainless steel toilet bowl brush. i use the disposable brushes.

    owning, tho has its perks, really is a pain in the rear.

  4. Mary on October 12, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    In keeping with your “lighten up your life” declaration, I’d like to point you to Mindy Kaling’s (Kelly, from The Office) new book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and Other Concerns). She has a hilarious bit about dating men v boys, which is particularly poignant here:
    “The walls were painted; there was art in frames. He had installed a flat-screen TV and speakers. There was just so much screwed into the walls, so much that would make you lose your deposit. I marveled at the brazenness of it.”
    So true…from one happy renter to another – cheers!

  5. Mary on October 12, 2011 at 11:07 AM

    Also – Rent (the musical) – AMAZING.
    Will you light my candle….

  6. Juliette on October 12, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    I cannot WAIT to visit your gypsy home in LESS THAN A WEEK!!! :D

    Also, I am so glad you are loving Parenthood! I thought about you while I watched it last night and have been praying incessantly for you very own Adam Braverman. (speaking of, how cool of a last name is that?) Anyway, I also decided on Monday night that you should take Sarah Bareilles’ spot next to Ben Folds on The Sing Off. You would be an excellent judge.

    Also, I think our toilet brush is stainless steel. And i think we bought it for an extravagant amount of money because what else do you do with Bed, Bath & Beyond gift cards?!

    i love you. I can’t WAIT to see you!

  7. Grace on October 12, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    oh, Annie, I so relate to “I have a deep soul-ache for a sense of rootedness and home”, and wonder sometimes if that ever really goes away this side of heaven. We were created for so much more than anything this broken world has to offer. “. . . He has planted eternity in the human heart. . . ” Ecc.3:11

  8. kim on October 12, 2011 at 5:35 PM

    I LOVE RENTING!!!! it is the bomb. I used to have a house and I am SO over it. renting is the greatest thing ever. people who say you are throwing money away need to get a life and see what happens when the fridge breaks.

  9. Amanda on October 12, 2011 at 8:26 PM

    “I am an unrooted, unfettered, tumbleweed of a girl.”

    This is why I need you in my life. Because my life is so not that. And sometimes I wish it were. But it can’t be. And that’s ok. But I still like to at least KNOW people who are unfettered. And, it’s just fun to say.


    P.S. I predict that, one day, you will be fettered like a mug. I mean that in the best possible way.

  10. Beth on October 12, 2011 at 9:10 PM

    I amen and second what you wrote. I counted in my head yesterday that in 10 years I have lived with 15 different people in 6 different places. I long for a home and for that crazy feeling of, “I don’t know- I may not be here next year, next month, next season” to go away– but love all the perks of being a renter :)

  11. Hitoshi Yamaguchi on October 12, 2011 at 9:30 PM

    Never mind the $15 toilet bowl brush.

    You need the $6400 toilet.

    Finally: I can plug my iPod into my toilet.

  12. Sarah Kate on October 13, 2011 at 10:23 AM

    We are renting as well. With the housing market as it is and the ever unpredictable “Where will God take us next” question, I nearly break out in hives when I think about living somewhere THAT permanent. Maybe we’ll buy if/when the economy improves. Right now we have super cheap rent and are able to continue paying off debt. Broke people shouldn’t buy houses.
    P.S. I LOVED your little studio in Seattle as well. One of my favorite vacations.

  13. Kate Andre on October 14, 2011 at 7:41 AM

    Or you could be one of those home owners like me- I am one of those home owners who wants to move and remodel every 12 months…. so, yeah, pray for my sweet husband ;)

  14. Michelle Ferguson on October 15, 2011 at 7:28 PM

    My husband and I feel the exact same way about renting. We also may never be home owners because of the benefits you mentioned. And, aside from each other, and the tiny human we care for, maybe we’re a little afraid of committment..hard to say.

    Also, you should know that every time I read your blog, I am inspired to blog. I am even inspired to mention you on my blog. Don’t be creeped out by that.

  15. Matt on October 17, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    You have no idea how many people I’ve told, “Don’t EVER buy a house/condo/etc.” We’re still trying to sell our place in Utah, and I can’t put into words how stressful a situation it truly is. Be thankful you’re a renter. Owning a home is overrated. Big time.

  16. wrecklessgirl on October 19, 2011 at 12:32 AM

    it’s posts like these that make me believe that we have nothing not in common with one another.

  17. Deb on October 20, 2011 at 10:00 PM

    If you move back to Nashville I will buy you a shiny, silver toilet bowl brush of your own. I promise.

  18. Allie on October 20, 2011 at 11:27 PM

    I just saw an episode of hoarders, which may be the exact opposite of what you’re describing here. Between the two, I’m choosing the nomadic, rootlessness.

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