Real estate
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    We took the plunge: Marriage and a Cape Cod rental

    Diyou Wu for The Boston Globe

    The ’70s had just turned the corner and so had our lives.

    We were engaged to be married, and the world was engaging our generation. Every weekend found us at the beach. Sometimes we drove along Route 1A in Salisbury and followed the coast to Maine. Other times we crossed the bridge and traveled Route 6A to Provincetown. The best times were with our friends, and a group of them had rented a cottage in East Falmouth. They called it Sha Na Na, after the popular 50s-style rock group.

    We thought the place was Shangri-La. We would walk to Association Beach and swim across a narrow channel to Washburn Island. The island is uninhabited and a perfect place for twentysomethings to just enjoy being young.


    Or we would walk in the other direction to Eel River and get in a rubber raft, a Sunfish, or a canoe and paddle around, enjoying the sun-kissed, gentle waves. We could also walk to the end of Seacoast Shores Boulevard and watch the sun set.

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    Wouldn’t it be heaven if we lived here forever?

    That thought did enter our minds. We were getting married and saving to buy a house. The rental home our friends had for the summer had an interesting plan. It was only four rooms, yet it slept six. The two bedrooms were narrow, with built-in bunks. The bunks were fun. Even more fun was the spiral staircase that led to the basement — an open space and a place where card games could be played, parties held, and the music turned up without disturbing the neighbors.

    The house was new, and the builder would often drop by to see whether we needed anything. One time my fiance asked him how much a house like this would cost him to build. (Keep in mind, the year was 1970). I forget the exact amount, but it was in the $20,000-plus range. “Or,” he said, “I’ll sell you this one for $18,000.”

    To this day, hubby can’t resist a sale.


    Why would we want to live here?

    We’re trying to decide between a king- or queen-size bed, not built-in bunk beds, I said.

    We’ll rent it out.

    The roof is flat. It looks like the Alamo.

    It’s a good deal.


    But ... shouldn’t we be buying a real house first, not a rental property?

    To this day, hubby can’t resist a sale.

    Since I was new to the art of arguing persuasively, I was sweet-talked into agreeing. Within months, we were married, and a few months after that, we signed papers to own the rental. We didn’t even have the money for a down payment. My charge cards were still in my maiden name, so I borrowed the maximum: $1,500 from Visa and $1,500 from MasterCard. Hubby did likewise. Our $6,000 down payment was totally borrowed. You can’t do this nowadays. We lived in an apartment and started saving again.

    Forty-five years have passed, and we still own the property. At first, we rented to the same friends who introduced us to the place. We rented the bunks, not the place itself. (For $250, you could room with us for the summer, we said.) It worked well, until we had children. Then the place itself was rented until the mortgage was paid. Now it’s all ours, for all time.

    Our children loved it and our grandchildren, well, they love those built-in bunk beds.

    Faith Flaherty is a member of the Senior Scribblers’ Writers Group in Franklin. Send comments to and a 550-word essay on your first home to Please note: We do not respond to submissions we won’t pursue.