I was leaving a friend’s housewarming party on a street of nice single-family homes in Los Angeles a few years back when my curiosity got the best of me. I pulled up Zillow on my phone, entered her address and blinked at the property’s purchase price. I suppose I could have just asked her. In Los Angeles, talking about the cost of real estate is common, and I’ve often heard people comparing their refinance interest rates or saying how much they had to pay over the asking price. But by pursuing the information privately, I could digest my feelings about not being in a position to afford a house of equal value because I came from a different family of origin, because I was unmarried, because our writing careers had unfolded differently.
This emotional aspect of homeownership isn’t discussed in articles that make the choice between buying and renting seem