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A HOUSE IS WORTH HAVING ONLY IF IT FEELS LIKE HOME

DEAR ABBY: I am 23 and my husband is 27. We've been married for two years. Since our wedding, I have felt an overwhelming amount of pressure to "settle down and buy a house."

One friend's boyfriend recently bought a house. She lives with him. Every time we get together she brags about how important it is to buy a house and not "waste money" by renting an apartment.

My husband and I are happy renting because it allows us the money to travel and experience life together. The thought of being tied down to a mortgage at 23 years old for the next 30 years doesn't sit well with me. I am new in my career and have no idea where it may take me.

I understand that buying a house is a good investment. I often feel as if we are the "minority," as it seems everyone is rushing to settle down, have children, buy a house, etc.

Is it wrong that we would rather wait, enjoy ourselves traveling and doing what we like to do, and then follow the status quo and sign a mortgage that will tie us down for the next 30 years? -- FEELING PRESSURED IN MARYLAND

DEAR PRESSURED: Have you ever heard the saying, "Different strokes for different folks"? You appear to be pressuring yourself as a result of your friend's bragging. Whether or not to buy a home is a personal decision, and one that can vary from couple to couple (or person to person). You do not need to "keep up with the Joneses" or do anything you don't feel ready for.

A house is more than a roof over one's head. It can also be a reservoir of money that accrues as equity. If you're afraid that if you buy a home you will be trapped for 30 years, think again. People have been known to change homes several times in a lifetime. However, because you and your husband would prefer to take your time and wait to buy until you're more established in your careers, then that's what you should do.


DEAR ABBY: I am a cat person. I'm not particularly fond of dogs, especially when they jump on you, try to lick you or sit in your lap, etc. This is regardless of the breed or size.

My question is, when visiting someone who has a dog that behaves like this, what should I do? It makes me really uncomfortable, and sometimes I don't even want to visit someone's home if I know I'm going to be slobbered on or have my clothes soiled or damaged by their dogs. -- UNCOMFORTABLE CAT PERSON

DEAR UNCOMFORTABLE: A way to ensure it won't happen would be to talk to the dog owner in advance, explain that it makes you very uncomfortable when animals do this and ask that the dog be kept in another room while you're there. But if you are looking for a guarantee, ask the person you want to visit with to come to your home or to meet you in a pet-free place.


Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.


Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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