The view from home: How growing up in rented or purchased homes affect the way we see the world

Back to Article
Back to Article

The view from home: How growing up in rented or purchased homes affect the way we see the world

Mingjie Zhong

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Eric Photo

Sophomore Eric Wang.

He says “I don’t know” the most, followed by “I haven’t really thought about that.”

For sophomore Eric Wang, there’s not much about his house that makes an impression. He makes a bland observation: the garage is colder than the laundry room. When he thinks of his house, it isn’t his hardwood floors that come to mind—rather, it’s a sense of the everyday, of normality and stability.

Wang’s parents bought their house two years before Wang was born. He doesn’t hold an emotional attachment to his house and wouldn’t care if his parents sold it and moved away—as long as it is after he graduates from high school.

“I’ll probably stay over at a friend’s house [if I come back to visit],” Wang said. “Moving [has] never occurred to me to be a big problem.”

Wang feels a sense of security, comforted that his family doesn’t have to deal with the potential rules and restrictions of landlords in renting. It is possible they will remodel the house after he leaves for college.

On the other hand, senior Sabrina Zhai recalls that when she was in third grade, her parents remodeled the house they purchased in Cupertino three years earlier. She remembers noticing the blend of Victorian and contemporary interior design, with fancier dining room chairs and a skylight. Her parents had personalized their house in ways that Zhai believes they would have never been able to do in a rented home.

Sabrina Photo

Senior Sabrina Zhai.

Zhai grew up in this house—one that accumulated twelve years worth of memories for her and her family.

She recalls the parties the most. Her parents love hosting parties, she says, and for a period of time they used to host a party every weekend for family friends. Attendees would bring food for a potluck dinner, Zhai would spend hours cleaning every inch of the house before the gathering and, of course, someone would break out the cards and mahjong. After the party, her parents would give her guests a tour of their home, showing off every single room—especially after remodeling.

“I definitely do think that having a bought house does give you that luxury of, first of all, remodeling it,” Zhai said. “And showing off aspects of it. Buying that house gave me the [opportunity] of living in a more luxurious home.”

But since Zhai is a senior, her parents are thinking of moving after she graduates. Zhai is a little reluctant; for almost every New Year’s Day of her life, Zhai has watched the first sunrise of the year with her brother on the roof of her home.

Zhai says that after graduating college, purchasing her own house isn’t her top priority and financial stability comes first.

“If you have the money to spare, I would definitely go for buying,” Zhai said. “Because a home is something that is [closer] to your heart. But if finance is an issue, which it is for many people, then renting is a reasonable choice.”

Cupertino’s expensive housing is often an obstacle for people trying to rent or purchase housing. But Wang’s family is financially stable, as both of his parents are software engineers. He often discusses possible careers with his parents; the jobs and majors they consider are ultimately STEM-related.

“I would go and have various interests and like various majors [in STEM],” Wang said. “And my parents would kind of push me toward computer science [because] there [are] lots of jobs and [they are] all high paying.”

But Wang isn’t fretting over the future just yet. He doesn’t feel any pressure to have an especially high-paying job—although his parents may say differently. Likewise, the pressure to buy a house, be it in Cupertino or elsewhere, is absent—he’s never even considered it.

Shuvi Photo (1)-min

Freshman Shuvi Jha.

For freshman Shuvi Jha, the pressure to purchase a house in her future is not prominent either. Her attachment to her current rented home is as strong as she imagines her attachment to a purchased home might be; her home is where her family is, and that’s all Jha wants.

“I’m perfectly fine with my rented home,” Jha said. “It has all I want. [But purchasing a house in the future] depends on where I am at the time, if I’m financially stable…I guess it has more of a final feel to it—[But] if it’s just me, I’ll just go to the rented house. It’s cheaper [and] does the same thing.”

Jha feels that tenants of purchased homes may feel a stronger attachment to their houses, but the difference would be slight—for Jha, at least.

“I really don’t think it matters that much whether you live in a rented home or a purchased home,” Jha said. “At some point you’re going to have to leave that home…You’re with your family, you have yourself, you have your morals…That’s going to keep your memories intact in a way that a purchased home could never do.”