On April 27, 2001, I bought my first home. That was six years ago today. It's amazing how fast time goes by. In those 6 years I've worked at several companies, paid off 2 different cars, lost a lot of weight (and gained some of it back), had my salary go down, had my salary go up, adopted 2 pets, done various upgrades to the house, etc.
Home ownership is an absolutely amazing experience. I lived for a good 6 years before I bought this place in various apartments. I never really felt at home in those apartments though. They were just a place to stay. I never knew my neighbors, I never really much cared about the condition of the apartment (it wasn't mine after all). I found it interesting that whenever I talked about my apartment at the time, I never refered to it as 'home'. I just called it 'the apartment'.
Now that I am a homeowner, for the first time since moving out of my parents house, this place truly feels like 'home' to me. Do I miss the house I grew up in? Very much so. That place will always be the very definition of home to me. I still at times wish I could buy that house and move back in. Of course since it's currently located in a fairly bad neighborhood, I won't do that! :) Despite the fact that this place isn't the house I grew up in, it feels very much like my home. I am confortable here. I'm happy here. I have no desire to move. Is it huge? No. But then again, I don't really need that much space. I'm just one guy (and 2 cats). My little 3 bedroom townhouse is perfect for me. Plus, I bought it before real estate prices in Florida went completely insane, so I'm sitting on a nice little investment that isn't too outrageous on the mortgage payments.
I love being a homeowner. Is it expensive? Yes. Is it a hassle? At times, yes. Once you've lived as a homeowner though, there is no going back. I never want to live in an apartment again. It just wouldn't 'feel right'.