The 3 Things That Made Me Want to Sell My House During the Pandemic

published Dec 9, 2020
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Living room with Eero Aarnio hanging bubble chair and vintage brown armchair
Credit: Andreas von Einsiedel | Getty Images

I thought I’d be emotional when my home hit the market. But instead of getting teary when it appeared on Zillow, I just felt relieved. 

Let me back up: I bought my rowhouse only four years ago, and up until stay-at-home orders began in March, I had no intention of selling it in the near future. It was my escape, my happy place, and something I was immensely proud of.

When I told friends and family I wanted to sell my home in the middle of a pandemic, I was met with disbelief. But after the better part of a year in the place full time, I came to realize how the two of us weren’t a good fit for the long term. 

Open-concept living went from fun to stifling.

When I first toured my home, it was love at first sight with the open-concept first floor. I envisioned myself entertaining there, prepping drinks in the kitchen while friends lingered on the couch with my expertly arranged cheese plate.

But as the probability of friends visiting dropped to zero, the open-concept layout started to feel stifling. I could always see my makeshift office set up in the kitchen while I was attempting to unwind (read: doomscrolling my Twitter feed) in the living room each evening. Aside from throwing a sheet over my computer to hide it at the end of the day, the open concept left little space for boundaries.

In James Clear’s “Atomic Habits,” he highlights the importance of creating zones within the home to set healthy habits through the mantra, “One space, one use.” My open concept entertaining space left little room for boundaries. It was easy to overwork myself when I never truly left my office.

A lack of privacy became starkly apparent.

As a freelancer, my office used to be anywhere, which typically meant posting up at the coffee shop around the corner for hours each day. In the time of COVID-19, both my partner and I are confined to our house, jockeying for workspace and asking for silence during countless conference calls.

It took only a month into the pandemic to realize privacy was a major issue—the house is the architectural embodiment of TMI. We only have one locking door in our home (and it isn’t even the bathroom, which happens to be a sliding door). Neither of us had a space to retreat to for calls, “heads down” time, or just to be alone for a moment to scream into the void that is 2020.  In the wishlist for my next place, my top priority is doors that close and allow us to have some privacy. 

Home is where the… everything is.

To me, the house used to be a place to come back to after a workday, not the place I spent every waking moment. Knowing that we will spend more months of living and working in a finite space, I came to understand the house just didn’t suit my life anymore. It wasn’t about it being too small or outgrowing it, but more about “out-functioning” the space. 

In a time where our future is uncertain, the one thing I did know was the thought of locking down in my once-beloved house for at least another six months left me with a sense of dread. The idea of selling and settling somewhere new was frightening, but the risk sounded better than the guarantee that I’d come to hate my house more and more. It felt like a bad breakup where neither party coincides. 

I know I’m not the only person feeling this way. Since March, the number of homeowners undertaking improvement projects has spiked dramatically as people adjust to their new lifestyle. We’re all trying to make the places we’re confined to feel like home again. But the things that I began to resent my house for were integral to its design. Instead of throwing up walls and slapping on doorknobs, I thought an amicable split was the way to go.

I went through my house for the last time in early November, to collect any proof of my living there before the buyer moved in. As the soft light streaming through the kitchen windows made the space look brand new, I realized it wasn’t the house, but me that changed.