Americans want more house. Bigger, better, flashier. And they are not afraid to move to get it.
I bought our 1460 square-foot, starter home back in 2011 for $107,700. We paid the mortgage off by June of 2014. The home is now worth $131,000 and contributes to 32% of our current (March 2017) net worth.
Keepin’ Up With the Jones’s
Since then, we have been tempted many times to upgrade our housing situation and get something bigger and nicer, in a ritzier neighborhood with established, wooded backyards, and more. Not only can we easily afford it, but there would also be several logical benefits to the move:
- Zoned for better schools (from 7,6,7 to 10,9,8 on elementary,middle,high)
- Bigger lots, houses not right on top of one another
- Better quality construction, the little details that starter homes miss
- Established lawns, bushes, taller trees
- Larger, shaded back yard
- Wrap-around porch, possibly (we’d love this)
- Affluent neighborhood, reputation, all the superficial stuff
Up Down, Up Down, Left Right, Left Right
We’ve gone back and forth on the topic since becoming debt free. We even started saving $1,000 per month toward the goal of upgrading, as well as adding chunks of cash here and there when possible. I’m so glad we took action because that account now sits at $45,365. We’ve also increased our savings rate (for this goal) to $3,300 per month.
The name of the savings account has changed multiple times:
- “New House Fund” – goal was to buy a bigger/better house
- “Real Estate Investment” – goal changed to investing in a rental property
- “New House Fund” – goal changed BACK to bigger/better house
- “Backup Income” – goal changed to quitting my job in a couple of years
So, “mixed feelings” appropriately describes our last few years of meandering.
No Move After All
We have made the decision to hunker down, save/invest as much as possible, and prepare to quit my job in 2019. The 50,000 foot direction is that we’d like to take a six month road trip before our oldest daughter starts kindergarten that year. And that just won’t be possible if I’m working the 9-5.
We are both attempting to build new streams of income which will help supplement during the 2019 trip. In light of that, the last thing we want to do is incur the expenses of selling a house, moving into and fixing up a new, larger house.
Not the least of these reasons is that we just don’t need the extra space.
Listen, 1460 sqft is the largest house I have ever lived in. I grew up in both 1bed/1bath and 3bed/1bath houses which were a lot smaller. I’m not a minimalist by any stretch, but we simply see a diminishing ROI when it comes to lifestyle/happiness impact.
♫ Under Pressure♫
Our grand revelation might just be a no-brainer for you, especially if you are in debt, or if you are not a high income earner.
Remember that I am a VP/Director in Information Security. I have no debt, and live on a killer, zero-sum budget. Two words: Cash. Flow.
If I cared enough about what others thought, I wouldn’t be driving a honda accord and living in a starter home. Historically, though tempted and pressured, I have always let my actions with money show that I just don’t give a damn what they think.
Doesn’t mean it’s easy. Doesn’t mean my wife and I aren’t human.
This month marked a special moment in our lives. My wife and I looked at each other and said, “We’re not moving!” Why? It just doesn’t align with or support ANY of our life goals:
- Go on fabulous explorations of this world
- Spend more time together as a family
- Live a healthy, balanced lifestyle
- Generate more income while spending less time doing it
- Build a real estate portfolio (similar to #3)
- Build one or two small businesses (similar to #3)
These goals can all be accomplished without changing the size, location, or construction quality of our home. So we have made up our minds, and we are pushing on to the planning phase our mission.
What About You?
Are you contemplating a big upgrade? Have you had any major decisions that have hung out there for a couple of years? How do these decisions support your long-term goals for family, life, career?