"I Got Hit By A Truck" And 24 More Ways Millennials Became Homeowners

·19 min read

Recently, I asked millennials in the BuzzFeed Community who own their own homes to share how they did it, and I got so many amazing responses that I literally couldn't read all of them that week.

CBC / Via giphy.com

There were over 700 submissions on an anonymous Google form in addition to dozens of public comments on the site. All of the stories are really interesting and they really show how different the millennial homebuying experience is compared to how things were when the boomers were our age.

I think sharing these stories is really important — and not in a "if they did it, you can too" kind of a way. After all, everyone's situation and needs are different so it would be kinda rude and weird to make that assumption.

Instead, what's great about these stories is how they demystify what goes in to buying a house these days. When you see that annoyingly perfect couple on social media showing off their great new place, you don't see the family inheritance and/or years of hard work and budgeting that got them there. You don't know what other debt they may be carrying, their personal struggles, or all of the privileges that they may enjoy. But through these kinds of stories, you can peel back the curtain a little bit and see how people are really making homeownership happen.

So here are even more stories from millennials sharing exactly how they ended up owning their homes:

1."I purchased a mobile home. They sell for $40–60k. I pay $400 a month in 'lot rent.' Utilities are low, and it’s big enough for one person and a job. People tend to laugh that I live in a trailer park. But I’m 27 and none of my friends own homes. And when I sell, it’ll be a big down payment on something bigger."

Mobile home parked under a shady overhang with patio seating outside

—Anonymous

Marioguti / Getty Images

2."I literally got hit by a truck. It was owned by a large shipping company. I was on my way to work in April of 2020 and there was construction on the major interstate through my town. Traffic came to a stop, but the truck did not and hit me at full speed."

"Luckily, I made it out with minor cuts, heavy bruising, and a concussion. I filed a lawsuit and won less than I had hoped, but it was enough to cover a down payment for a house with a FHA loan. I joke with my friends that being hit by a truck was the best thing that ever happened to me because there's no possible way I would have been able to save the down payment money otherwise. Living the millennial dream."

—Anonymous

3."Right before the pandemic started, my husband's friend sent him a Facebook post for a job opening for a ferry operator about an hour away from us. The deal, however, was 'live-aboard,' but it was free rent. Even though the job paid less, we took it because we were already living in a tiny apartment and paying $1800 per month, so we might as well live in a tiny apartment and pay nothing. We moved right before everything shut down."

"My husband's old job completely closed down, so he would have been unemployed had we not taken the opportunity. He also got to be out of the house working so we wouldn't get on each other's nerves. Around August or September of that same year, my husband wanted to quit, which meant we had to move. By that point, we had saved up enough for a down payment on a home.

We called our realtor friend, and we looked at five houses in one day. The house we fell in love with had been on the market for over 70 days, and the price had already been reduced by $25,000 (super unheard of as the housing market was really beginning to boom then). We put in an offer, and it was accepted the next day. They even agreed to cover closing costs!

We were able to buy the house using my income and credit, and we closed and moved in October. It was a whirlwind year, but I think it's a lesson in saying 'yes' even when the opportunity sounds off-the-wall. Had we not said yes to that ferry operator position, we never would have had the opportunity to buy our house. That job was a huge blessing, and I'm thankful for it each day."

—Anonymous

4."When my husband and I were just starting out in 2011, we were broke and I had student loans. I met a real estate agent when I served her at a restaurant. She let me know about the USDA home loan program. At the time, you only needed to have $1,000."

Server taking a couple's order at a restaurant

"That was our down payment for a bigger rental. We had good credit, qualified, and bought our first home. She is still our friend and I am forever thankful for serving her at work that day. We would have never been able to have a home today if it wasn’t for that program."

—Anonymous

Kupicoo / Getty Images

5."After college I worked as many jobs as I could and lived at home, saving my money. As I earned more, I didn’t change my spending habits: cooking at home, not really going out and no outside coffees except on weekends. I had a credit card I charged to a bit and paid off every month, so I built up my credit. Once I had a down payment saved, I purchased a decent condo, and then lived with a roommate for four more years."

"Really look at your expenses and cut down to prioritize savings. Be willing to live in a starter condo or home in a less good part of town and work your way up. Get a place with two bedrooms and cut your costs by sharing your bills. It is so hard, but possible if you keep in mind that buying today doesn’t mean you have that home forever. Also be willing to learn how to fix things yourself. You can YouTube how to fix most issues and it will save you a bundle."

—Anonymous

6."I have a twin sister who was in a car accident a few years ago. She received a settlement and that's the only way we could buy a house. We also qualified for a USDA loan which doesn't require a down payment. Even without a down payment, it still cost a couple grand to get the house."

—Anonymous

7."My husband and I lived in San Diego as a teacher and a brewery taproom manager. We loved our careers but knew that we would never be able to own in the wild housing market there. So we researched smaller cities that had things that we liked (hiking, camping, beer, restaurants) and decided on Spokane, Washington."

Couple surrounded by boxes in their new living room

"Through the pandemic, we saved up a chunk of money for closing costs/fees, worked on upping our credit scores, and eventually took out a loan for down payment and did an FHA home loan. We bought in an 'up and coming' area for $280k. It was a lot of sacrifice uprooting our lives, but ultimately we’re happy owning a house and living in a pretty cool place with our same careers."

—Anonymous

Edwin Tan / Getty Images

8."When I graduated from college, my parents let me move in with them and pay a small rent. I worked two jobs totaling 80 hours a week for a year. It was my down payment on a house the following year. Now my mortgage is HALF what most of my friends pay in rent."

—Anonymous

9."My family (myself, husband, and two young daughters) came to the US from Brazil nine years ago. Even though my husband has a relatively high-paying job in the tech industry, we thought we'd never be able to buy a house due to credit card debt, the costs of having kids, and the demands we have on us as immigrants (having to travel to see family, helping our parents financially, etc)."

"Our lucky break was an almost yearlong stint of freelancing work that my husband was offered in 2020. He was able to take it on due to the pandemic and working from home. He sometimes worked around the clock between his regular job and the freelance gig, but it paid off. We paid credit card debt and started thinking about buying a house. It seemed far-fetched and daunting, but in casual conversations with coworkers (who were also immigrants like us) my husband got valuable tips and contacts for us to start making inroads into this process.

Once we put the whole thing into motion, contacting potential lenders and exploring what it could look like, we felt like things were going even faster than we could wrap our heads around. We still pay a PMI as our down payment wasn't all it should have been, but it is totally worth it. I fully appreciate that we were very lucky to have had the opportunity for extra income. The fact my husband has a healthy network of contacts and works in an industry that has space for freelancing was absolutely essential for us to be positioned to buy a house."

—Anonymous

10."My single mom bought land and built a house in my name. I therefore legally own both the land and the house. She built her dream home where she’ll live until she retires somewhere in the tropics. After that, I get to either rent it to someone or have it for myself. Basically she paid only once for my mom’s dream house and my future home. I’m currently studying abroad."

Construction worker building the frame of a new house

—Anonymous

Artistgndphotography / Getty Images

11."By riding the coattails of privilege. At 26, some years ago, I found myself divorced and pregnant with my first child. My ex-husband disappeared and I forged on taking care of my pregnant self, just holding on to enough money to not starve. After many near brushes with homelessness, I met a man. Married said man. So how did he afford to buy a home?"

"Simple. He was absolutely privileged. His parents paid his way through school, unlike mine (I’ll be paying student loans until I die). He was GIFTED a down payment on his first home in Seattle and sold that home four years later for $130,000 profit. Parents with money get you a long way in life. I never knew just how poor I was until I met his family."

—Anonymous

12."My fiancé and I bought our first house this past summer. Both of us make good money, but we would not have been able to afford the house without a generous gift from his grandfather. We are both under 30 and people were always surprised to see us touring homes. The man we ended up purchasing from asked if we 'did YouTube or something,' which, I guess, was his way of asking where we got the money."

—Anonymous

13."At the start of the pandemic, I moved back in with my parents. My apartment lease was up a few months later and I wasn’t going out much, which allowed me to save up my down payment. I was also fortunate that my office offered a home buying program and legal insurance that I participated in."

Young woman hugging her mom

"I got rebates back from my closing costs, and my legal fees and title insurance were covered. Had it not been for staying with my parents for the year and a half, and the homeowner benefits my company provided, I don’t think we would have made the same decision.

With current rent increases, we will end up breaking even by January 2023 and then it will have been cheaper to own than rent. My partner and I ended up in a small condo. But it works well for us and where we are in our lives right now."

—Anonymous

Peopleimages / Getty Images/iStockphoto

14."I was privileged and fortunate enough to not need to take out student loans to go to college, and I was then able to land a very well-paying job when I graduated. I also lived with my parents for two years rent-free, so I was able to save up the funds I needed to put a down payment. Even then though, I could only afford to buy an apartment and not a house."

"I absolutely love being a homeowner, but I would not have been able to get to where I am without an immense amount of privilege and support. I wish it was enough to say that hard work is all millennials need to be able to own a home. But with inflation and how ridiculous the market is, it's really more about the leg up your parents can give you than how much money you make or how much you work."

—Anonymous

15."My husband and I were both working low-paying jobs but lived in an affordable town and kept a tight grip on our expenses using the You Need A Budget app. We saved almost half our income each paycheck for four years, then used that as the down payment on a starter house. It helped that neither of us had student loans through a combo of scholarships, aid, and working through school. Now our home has almost doubled in value and we are looking to build our dream house. It hasn’t been easy, and there were times where we basically ate beans and rice, but it was so, so worth it."

—Anonymous

16."I am in my early 30s and purchased my first home two years ago. I was able to do this because I married my long-time partner (also a millennial) and they inherited money from their father’s life insurance and investment accounts after he died when they were in middle school. That money has grown over the years and wasn’t touched until after they turned 18. It’s enough that we both can live together in a 900 square foot condo in a city we love, and work at middle-income jobs."

Woman comforting a grieving man

"If it wasn’t for my partner’s inheritance, I would still be about five more years of saving away from my first home. I feel so immensely lucky to have a partner who is so giving and sharing — who truly thinks of our home as 'ours' and reassured me all the time that the safety net is real (I didn’t grow up in a financially stable home). At the same time, I also feel sad because seeing my partner still struggle with the loss of their parent is heartbreaking."

—Anonymous

Fg Trade / Getty Images

17."I got hit by a dump truck twice and it messed up my neck. I filed a lawsuit and got a decent settlement. If I didn’t have the money to put down, I wouldn’t have been able to get a loan. I bought my first house at 25 but I have a lot of chronic pain."

—Anonymous

18."My boyfriend and I wanted to move in together. Each of us had our own apartment, so we decided to buy a house. All we had to do was figure out the down payment. So we started hustling. We would find free or really cheap items on NextDoor or at thrift stores, clean 'em up, paint them, reupholster them, or sometimes do nothing but take nice photos of them and sell on Facebook Marketplace."

"Sometimes we would net as little as $10, but we kept going until we had saved up more than $5000 in six months. I also received student loan repayment assistance from my school (another $5000) and with some added savings (mostly from living really lean — we didn't drink any alcohol during this time to save money), that was enough to get us a $390k house!"

—Anonymous

19."I am 33 and just bought my first house with my husband. I have been saving for several years on my own, but wasn’t comfortable buying until now because I kept moving for my career. I’ve been at my current job for a few years now and finally felt confident that I was going to stay to put down roots."

Couple unpacking boxes in their new kitchen

"Six months into living here, I met my now-husband, and we were able to combine our savings for a $600k home. We are in a very high-demand area, and I don’t think we could have afforded to buy here without being dual income, no kids. Our house was listed at $550k. We offered $600k with full appraisal gap and free rent-back for 60 days. There were seven offers on the home, and the full appraisal gap and free rent-back is what got our offer accepted.

We did not have financial help from parents or other family members — we paid for all of it ourselves. We both have graduate-level degrees and both make about $110k/year. We do not have any student loan debt because our degrees are STEM-related and we got full scholarships. We chose not to have a wedding so we could put all our savings into the house. We don’t expect our families to contribute money to a wedding. Overall, I feel so fortunate to have found a partner that shares the same financial values as me. With inflation and the high demand for houses, I’m not sure I could have bought solo."

—Anonymous

Catherine Delahaye / Getty Images

20."My partner and I are are in our late twenties. I've saved my whole adult life for a down payment. We had no debt. We make good money. We had to buy a house with our friend, who lives in a separate living space in the basement and we live upstairs. Even with three of us splitting the mortgage, it's still super expensive."

—Anonymous

21."My husband and I got married young at 21 and spent the next ten years renting studio or small one bedroom apartments. We shared one car and worked multiple jobs when we could. It was really rough and I don't recommend it, but it was the only way we could save up a down payment. We got lucky right before COVID hit and found a fixer upper in our price range."

"Since then we've been renovating it ourselves with skills we learned on YouTube. Sometimes I'm not sure it was worth all the stress of working 60+ hours a week, a strain that's left me with chronic health problems."

—Anonymous

22."I spent nearly a decade after graduating from college in the Great Recession saving up to buy a home. I work in government and started off making in the upper $30ks in a high cost of living city before moving to a lower cost of living area in the exurbs and more than doubling my salary to the $80ks. I was making slow but decent progress until my savings got a huge bump from working tons of overtime in public health during the pandemic."

Woman painting the walls in her new home

"I looked at about 12 houses and put offers on four before I finally got an offer accepted on a townhouse for $35k over asking and 5% down last year. I beat out eight other offers! I did have to borrow a small amount from my parents for unanticipated issues that cropped up, but I’ve already paid them back. It’s not the single family home that I wanted, but it otherwise checked almost all the boxes.

For reference, I’m a single lady in my 30s and everything I bid on was $15k–$35k over asking and I still repeatedly got beat out."

—Anonymous

Barton / Getty Images

23."We did a home renovation loan instead of a conventional mortgage, so we only had to put down 3% of the purchase cost instead of 20%. We ended up buying an old property that needed some work and had been sitting on the market for almost a year. Because the purchase price was low (due to the work needed) we didn’t have to pay much upfront. Then the renovation cost was rolled into the mortgage."

"We raised the value of the house so much with the renovation that we ended up with over 20% equity in the house and got to ditch PMI [private mortgage insurance]! Not sure if we just got really lucky or what, but it turned out perfect."

—Anonymous

24."I bought a duplex in early 2020, right before the market went wild so I was really lucky. I used an FHA loan, which only requires you put 3.5% down, and negotiated to have the seller pay closing costs, so my upfront cost was only about $10k (I'm in a low cost of living city). I live in one side of the duplex and rent out the other side, which pays for most of my mortgage."

"When you purchase an investment property, the lender considers your potential future rental income when they are determining how much house you can afford, so an investment property might be more in reach than you would think."

—Anonymous

25.And finally, "Strictly from hard work. I started off as a server in a small brewery. I’ve been there for nine years and now I’m the general manager. When I was in my early-mid 20’s I saved anything extra after paying bills. I built my credit up after buying a car and paying on that loan. With all of that, I was able to apply for a first time home buyers program before the pandemic hit."

Man moving boxes into his new home

"Hard work pays off, and for people like me who were never handed anything you just have to believe in yourself. Now at 29, I’ve owned my house and car for over two years and am currently working on owning the brewery I work for. It’s definitely possible, you just need to be willing to work."

—Anonymous

Blackcat / Getty Images

Note: Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.

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