Is it possible to own a domain or website for life?
Yes it is. As long as you can pay for the equivalent annual registration/renewal, you can own your domain or website for the rest of your life.
The most common reason that terminates an individual or group’s ownership of their website is the incident when they accidentally forgotten to renew their domain name registration. This is very frustrating specially, if you have already invested so much time and effort to build the website content and boosting its popularity. Once the domain got expired, it is very usual that someone, other than the original owner, would almost instantly re-registers that domain and parks it to earn from the traffic that supposedly yours. The original owner could still bring back that domain to his/her ownership but he/she has to buy it from the new owner at an incredibly high rate. This method of acquiring expired domains is actually legal and allowed in the industry.
To avoid losing your domain, you have at least two ways;
1. If you have control of your domain registration control panel. You can set an auto-renewal to your domains. It should be free and simple, just make sure that you maintain enough funds in your account. If you don’t have access to your domain registration control panel, you may ask your web hosting or domain name registrar to create such setting to your domains.
2. Renew your domain many years in advance. You can advance the renewal of your domain for around 15 years or so. With this, you are guaranteed that your domain will not expire in at least 15 years. Combining this with auto-renewal will surely put your domain in your property for life.
Of course, you should also not forget renewing your web hosting account, though, you could always find a new web host that you like.