Most of us know when starting a search for real estate if this will be our FINAL house purchase OR if this is just a stop along the way. Having an idea of how long we might live in a particular place can affect the way we shop for it. And how much we invest in it.
John and Sherry from Young House Love discussed this in a recent podcast of theirs and I thought it was such a good topic that it needed to be explored further. Some of us buy a house with good intentions of having it be our “forever home,” a term my husband claims he only learned from watching HGTV with me. But after living in a place for a few years, we begin to wonder if we made the right choice.
Dave and I knew when buying our first house that it would not be our forever home. My dream was always to build my own home, and pass it onto future generations of my family. With the growing trend of remodeling and making a place with a history and character your own, I’m not sure if I am still on the “new build” plan. But I can tell you some reasons I know our house now will not be one I will live in forever.
~ 5 Ways to Know you are Not in your Forever Home ~
Not your ideal neighborhood.
Location, location, location. Your realtor, friends, and family tell you this from the start, but it really is one of the most important aspects to look for when buying a house.
I would give my neighborhood a 5 out of 10 if 10 is my ideal place to raise a family. It’s safe and quiet, which I love. We take walks all the time around the neighborhood which is basically one big loop. There’s a decent number of foreclosures, which unfortunately, you can find in the nicest of neighborhoods as well as the worst. There are some homes that are cute and well kept, while others clearly do not have any pride of ownership. The worst part about my neighborhood though, is you can’t really walk anywhere other than inside of it. The surrounding streets are all too busy and there is nothing really close by that you would want to walk to, like a store or restaurant. I would love to live somewhere close to a downtown area where I could walk or bike ride to a coffee shop rather than drive 10 minutes. Specifically some mom-and-pop places rather than big box stores or chain restaurants. A Target close-by is nice, but I need some funky storefronts to give me creative inspiration sometimes.
2. Not a great school system.
You might not care about this as a newlywed still in the honeymoon phase, but it will matter to you in a few years should you have children. Even if you are unsure about sending your children to a public school, your taxes will still be paying for it, so its worth investigating.
3. Not enough space.
Some things can be done to a small home if you have the funds and abilities to do so. Additions can be made and bedrooms or bathrooms can be added. But if you do not have the money to add on, or your property doesn’t allow you the space, a house that is too small can get really annoying, really fast. Think about how many children you might want, and if they would all be able to have their own room, or if the rooms are big enough to double up. Think about how you might want to entertain in the future. I remember not caring if we had a dining room when we looked for our first house. I thought they were stupid and we would just eat in our kitchen. Now that we have kids, I suddenly have the desire to host people. I wish I had the space to host birthdays and holiday dinners and our eat-in kitchen just isn’t big enough.
The too-small-kitchen-problem can be a huge headache when there are several people to cook for. And if there isn’t seating in the kitchen, be prepared for your guests to constantly be in the way when you’re hosting a get together. Counter and cabinet space are huge items to look for when searching for a forever home. Do you want a pantry in your kitchen? Does it have one or room to add one? How about bathrooms? Is there one on each floor? Will you have to share with your kids? BIG no-no if that’s the case. Have a master bath. You won’t regret it.
4. Outdoor living space
Another thing I didn’t want when we were looking for a house but now I would kill for. At 25, I didn’t really want the responsibility of mowing a lawn, and I REALLY didn’t want the responsibility of a pool. Here we are nearly 5 years later, and I want both! Not exactly the responsibility, but the luxury. The space to put up a swingset or a patio big enough to host dinners outside. And a pool? Let’s just picture this large pregnant woman sweating it out in this summer. Now lets picture her in a pool 🙂 Pure joy!
5. Natural Light
Yeah… So this is totally not something I looked for at all when looking for our first house. Which way does your house face? North, south, east or west? Which rooms in your home get the best light? Main living areas, like your kitchen, living room or dining room should receive the best light. If bedrooms are on the shadier side of the house, that’s probably okay with you- if you don’t want sunlight streaming into your room at six in the morning.
Our kitchen was at one point in time, the back of the house, lined with windows and a sliding door to the backyard. But the previous owners added on a den to the back of the kitchen, now making it the center of the home. This was fine with us when we first looked at the place, but now that we live here, we realize there are no stinking windows in our kitchen! The attic is right above the kitchen so we can’t have skylights, and I’m stuck cooking in a dark kitchen at any time of day. If i want to do anything in there, I have to turn on all the kitchen lights. Nuts right? First-time home buyer mistake.
Moral of the story is, a lot of things can be fixed in a home that isn’t perfect when you buy it. The above features are things to look for that really are not going to change over time. You want to consider each of them BEFORE buying your home.
However, if you’re reading this thinking Well great, Leah. NOW you tell me! have no fear. There ARE still several ways you can love your home right now, as is! This follow-up post is great for those of us who have decided we are NOT living in our forever home, but aren’t actively moving out of it either. Part of adulting is being able to work with what we’ve got- right? Keep reading Mom By Design and let me show you how!