Guest post from Erin of The No Drama Mama
Sometime in past eleven years, the home my husband and I purchased in our early twenties silently worked its way from our five-year plan “starter home” to our forever home.
Considering the housing market plummeted, it’s become paramount that we find ways to fall in love with the house we have and not the idea of a bigger, better house out there somewhere.
When you look around your house and find your list of grievances is stacking up (making the idea of moving feel like the only option) here are a few ways you can fall back in love with your starter home:
I personally don’t love cleaning, but every so often (when I feel like my house’s limitations are annoying me) I spend a few hours cleaning up. I usually find myself feeling a lot less fed up with my house when I’m done.
When you spend time improving your surroundings, it’s harder to distance yourself emotionally from a place you put sweat equity into.
When you purge unnecessary things, you often find that you have a lot more usable space than you thought. I often say that many times when you think you have a “space problem”, what you actually have is a “stuff problem”.
When my husband and I needed to find space in our two-bedroom townhouse to add an additional bedroom, decluttering the basement opened up the perfect space. Decluttering and renovating turned a storage space into our beautiful master bedroom.
3. Make A List of Positives
Staying in love with your current home requires making a conscious effort to remember the things that made you fall in love with it in the first place.
Did you love the open concept design? The wonderful neighborhood? The spacious backyard? Write it all down. This should help you focus on the positive aspects of your home instead of dwelling on its shortcomings.
4. Think About Your Long-Term Goals
Think about your long-term financial goals. How would a larger mortgage affect those goals? Will it make it harder to travel? Will it make it harder to help your children with college expenses when the time comes? Would you like to pay off your home early and see some life-long dream fulfilled?
I constantly remind myself that when my family found transitioned from two incomes to one, our lower mortgage payment kept us out of financial trouble. If we had bought a much larger home, we definitely could not afford for me to stay at home with our children — and I am grateful for that!
5. Consider Renovating
Think about whether or not a renovation project or two could give you the extra space or functionality your home is currently lacking. It’s usually vastly cheaper to renovate than it is to move to a bigger home.
6. Consider Utility Bills
When my husband and I first moved into our home from our apartment, we were shell-shocked by the utility bills. Since our apartment had heat and hot water included with the rent, the first winter in our new home threw us for a loop and we felt pretty house poor at the time.
The mortgage is not the only cost to consider when contemplating buying a bigger home. You have to think about the higher costs for utilities too.
I still look at larger houses in awe, but now it’s more like, “Wow, look at that beautiful large house! I bet it costs a fortune to heat in the winter!”
Sometimes bigger isn’t always better, especially when it comes to heating and cooling costs!
7. Cultivate Community Ties
For years after I moved to a rural county in upstate New York, I thought about “home” as simply the geographical location of my house. It took years until my oldest child started school to really form community ties.
That was also when I met neighbors who would become my second family. Now our families are so close, we’ve practically taken an oath not to move out of our neighborhood unless we move together.
Do you have strong community ties? Is a bigger house worth it if it means losing those ties?
If you’re holding back like I was, I strongly encourage you to explore your town and surrounding areas. Shop local stores, visit the library, and perhaps join a service organization and give back to your community. A house is just a building, but a community creates that feeling of “home.”
Home is where your heart is and when you make room in your heart to be grateful for what you already have, you can fall back in love with your starter home.
Erin Johnson is the author of “So, You’re Broke? 18 Drama-Free Steps To A Richer Life.” You can find her blogging at The No Drama Mama.