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The rules in my game say I don't need to buy a house. So what happens in the game if my house is destroyed per the board? Playing the other night I landed on two squares that we treated differently. What was correct?

First square: "Burglary. Pay $50,000 if not insured." I figured an apartment or whatever I'm living in could be burglarized so I paid it. Should I have?

Second square: "Tornado destroys house. Pay $125,000 if not insured." I don't own a house - hence I did not think I should pay this square. Should I have?

[Edit]: The version I have is Hasbro 2005. The rules state "Draw 2 House Deeds at random from the deck. Decide which one, if either, you want to buy."

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The issue of semi-optional housing exists in the 2003 version of the rules, and unfortunately there isn't an official clarification on what to do, leaving it up to house rules.
The easiest of which is to just use the mandatory purchase rules from the 1991, 1994, or 2007 versions.

There have been a number of changes to the way buying a house works in The Game of Life since Milton Bradley published the first modern version in 1960.

Before the 1991 printing houses were not an integral game part, but from 1991 to 2003 owning a house was mandatory, with a single house deed being drawn which must be paid for: BUYING A HOUSE rule from the 1991 Game of Life instructions

The 2003 update moved to an optional selection between two house deeds, resulting in the rules gap you encountered. Buying a House rule from the 2003 Game of Life instructions

This issue was potentially somewhat hidden by the large variety of themed versions released in 2004 of which most carried the optional house purchase rules, but didn't have the conflicting instructions due to their customized boards.

Hasbro never issued a clarification on how to resolve the problem of non-existent house destruction, but very few board games of that time published any form of errata.
In the 2007 edition they again returned to a single randomly selected house deed, and in 2010 the rules were updated to allow players a choice of starter homes, requiring at least one be purchased: BUY A STARTER HOME rule from the 2010 Game of Life instructions

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    Crazy you found all this history! After 7 1/2 years I'm finally marking an answer. Ultimately this means my edition is ambiguous and house rules apply.
    – Paul
    Jun 1, 2023 at 19:35
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I'm not sure what version of the game you are playing. From Hasboro's rules for LIFE:

BUYING A HOUSE When you reach this space [the red one that has a stop sign and the words BUY A HOUSE], stop --even if you have moves left. Draw 1 House Deed at random from the deck. Pay the bank the price on the deed (not the insurance amount; that’s a separate transaction). If you’re short on cash, you must borrow from the bank. Then spin and move again.

You do have to buy a house. So if your house was burglarized or destroyed by a tornado, you still have to pay the money. Note that having a tornado doesn't make you get rid of your house, you just have to pay to "repair" it.

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    The rules that came with mine are different. I don't have them on me however they say to draw 2 house cards not one. Then the rules say "Decide which house (if either) you wish to buy." The "if either" is part of the rules.
    – Paul
    Jan 19, 2016 at 20:23
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    @Paul I've never heard of that. The game in my house has the rules that I found above. At least in mine anyway, there is no way to avoid buying a house, so you are always assumed to have one so this never comes up.
    – Becuzz
    Jan 19, 2016 at 20:25
  • I'll update with the exact text from my rules as well as the maker, year, etc. tonight.
    – Paul
    Jan 19, 2016 at 20:26

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