The only reason I can think of that the refund will be so big is because of Shrub's tax cuts. In the past, what I owed or got back was +/- $100. I then looked at my itemized deductions and realized that owning a house REALLY makes a difference. I did an itemized vs. standard deduction calculation and it turns out I'm saving about $2000 /yr. That ain't chump change! So I'm encouraging all of the yungins out there to start saving up for a house as soon as you can. And if it's hard to save, at least keep your credit rating as good as gold. I've heard that the FHA may start making 0% down loans available.
I bought my first house when I was 28. It was a small place in Yuma AZ. The neighborhood was o.k. (there was only one drive-by shooting while I lived there), and the house was nothing special, but it was mine! And the mortgage cost was the same as rent in the local apartments. I then upgraded significantly when I moved to ABQ thanks to lower interest rates and a small inheritance from a dead aunt. I pushed my limits as to what I could afford, but the move has paid off. I haven't had my placed re-appraised, but all of the new homes in the area that have sprouted up are all well over $200,000. After location, location, location, the next rule in real estate is to own the smallest house when surrounded by large expensive ones.
I was chatting with another fur a while back about trade offs. I've been encouraged to move to SoCal because that's where all of the furry action is. I tell them that I just can't afford it. ABQ may be a shithole to some, but it's very affordable. So the trade off for me was to have spent 15 years living in small out of the way places (Vale, OR, Yakima WA, Yuma, AZ) where I was alone and isolated but able to save a good deal of money because living was cheap and there was nothing to spend money on, as opposed to living in LA or NYC where there is always something happening and there are great opportunities to meet folks, but the cost of living eats up paychecks and owning your own house or condo could be out of your reach. Perhaps it's like most things in life, there are benefits and negatives to most everything. Ying and yang and all that. *shrugs* All I know right now is that it may have taken a lot of years to have finally achieved some degree of happiness, but I'm going to make the most of the ride until I can't ride no mo'.