Almost exactly one year ago, we bought our dream house. It was a 2,700-square-foot Spanish mission-style house with two master suites, a fireplace in the kitchen and a 1,200-square-foot courtyard in the middle of the house. We bought the house for an incredible price and we renovated every square foot–from the glitter popcorn ceiling to the yellow, vinyl, floral-printed floor.
But as we walked down the long hallways and shuffled stuff from room to room, I started questioning our decision to upgrade. Our previous home was nothing to be ashamed of, but we always dreamed of more. You know, extra bedrooms, a larger yard, a bigger kitchen, the whole nine yards.
Something about the new home never felt right. I couldn’t get settled. I shared my heart with my husband and, to my surprise, he agreed. We talked for hours on end about how to make the home work. I cried many tears, and we finally agreed to put the house on the market and try again. Here are the top 5 reasons we decided to sell our forever home:
1. It was too darn big.
This house had almost 4,000 square feet inside the compound walls, including the courtyard. Everything about the house was so much work. I had floors upon floors to mop and vacuum. There were dozens of windows to clean. We had miles of baseboards to dust. (Okay, let’s be honest. I never did that. But if I ever did develop a deep cleaning routine, I would have to spend a lot of time cleaning baseboards.) And we couldn’t forget the weekly lawn maintenance in the courtyard. I spent all day cleaning the house, at least double the time I spent cleaning our previous home. Worst of all, it never looked clean because, by the time one end was spotless, my young kids epically destroyed the other 3,000 square feet.
2. We had outpriced our friends.
None of our 30something friends with young kids were buying in our neighborhood. Most homes were priced 100K over what we paid for our house. We didn’t think it would bother us, but it did. We just had moved from a close-knit community with friends every few houses. (True story, we used to have community dinner parties, weekly pool parties, and neighborhood trick-or-treating adventures.) But our only neighbors in our dream home were twice our age. They were nice and hospitable, but they weren’t our friends. I also started to mourn for my children because they would not grow up with kids their same age next door.
3. It prompted us to be wasteful and overspend.
It’s too easy to overspend when you have a lot of room. When you have cupboards, closets, and cabinets everywhere you turn, it’s easy to justify buying the extra gadgets and knick-knacks. I also found that I lost things quickly (rolls of tape, scissors, batteries, etc.). So, I bought the same things over and over again. Plus, at the time we moved into the new home, we just had paid off about $50,000 of our $81,400 in consumer debt. I was used to pinching pennies, so living in such a big space felt wasteful. (There is really something to minimalism!)
4. It hurt our family unit.
This one really bothered me. First, my husband and I were so busy working, we stopped enjoying lazy afternoons and weeknight bike rides. Second, we had so many family rooms, we never saw each other! In case you were wondering if more family rooms make a better family–it doesn’t. In fact, there is something to be said for proximity. When your family is all together, you have more opportunities to talk, laugh and enjoy each other’s company.
5. It never felt like home.
For all the reasons above, the house never felt like our home. It was a burden, and my family resented it. We knew it was time to move on.
We made the decision to sell over Thanksgiving weekend. Thanks to the hot seller’s market, our house was under contract in less than a week. Best of all, we were able to use some of the house proceeds to pay off the last bit of our $81,400 in consumer debt. (Yes, we’re 100 percent debt-free now.)
Now our family of four is renting a 1,300-square-foot house and looking to buy a new house. But not a dream home by America’s definition. We’re in the market for a home that’s smaller, functional, more affordable, and our for-real-this-time dream home.
What about you? What’s your ideal dream house?
Jane and her family were able to pay off $81,400 in consumer debt in a little over two years through a combination of good old-fashioned frugality and flipping their “forever” home. She blogs about saving money in creative ways at JaneSaves.com.