We have lived in our house for over 4 years now. It’s an open concept townhouse in a prime location, with 3 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. A finished basement, hardwood and stone counters throughout. Finished backyard with a deck and patio…wait this starting to sound like a listing for the house.
We Like To Move
Did you know that according to a study by comFree 28% of Canadians feel the urge to move every 5 years? We are approaching that mark in our house. I have told family and friends that I don’t want to move right now or at all. Most people look at me with some side eye because we live in a “starter home.” They say once the house gets too small we might change our mind. I’m not so sure about that.
Housing is Emotional
When we started looking for a house back in late 2010 we probably saw about 50 houses. I’m not kidding, it was a thorough search. There was not a single house that I was willing to put an offer down on. Scott was game but I was holding us back. I’m not sure why, there was always something wrong that made me hold off. People kept saying things like, “it’s your first house, you aren’t going to love everything about it”. Or “just get something and look to upgrade in your second home.” That made me feel like I was just settling. Some of the houses we walked into were either had safety issues or they didn’t take care of the house. I knew it was a sellers’ market (still is now) but the least you could do is remove the dirty dishes in the sink.
Things just didn’t feel right so we kept looking and kept driving north through a pretty bad winter; much further north than I really ever wanted to go. I thought I had no choice because of the budget we had at the time. When I finally admitted to myself that I didn’t want to move that far away from the city we looked at our budget and increased it. We accepted the fact we were going to get a smaller house and started again in a whole new area. For perspective we were looking at getting a fully detached 2 car garage house for about $300K 55km north of the city. That changed to a semi/townhouse for $400K 35km north of the city. Those 20kms did make a difference in what we could afford and what size house we could secure.
Starting All Over Again
So we started looking all over again, this time much closer but I didn’t feel much different. I still would have an issue with almost every single house that came across. There was one house that I did like but it was a little over our budget. We were firm with what we wanted to spend, so we passed. Other than that it was strike out after strike out.
Originally we were looking in the re-sale market. I have only lived in homes that were only ever lived in by my family and so they were much more familiar with the new home process. Also I come from a family of trades so I knew that either way if we had to do a reno or starting from scratch we would be fine. We decided to start looking into new homes. There weren’t a lot around and so you had to sign up for various builders to let you know when they were releasing home to the public.
A little known fact about me, I love floor plans. When I was a kid I would pour over them in the home section of the newspaper looking at every detail. I was not concerned that I could not envision what I would see in a built house. I know that is a concern for some people who then shy away from a newly built home. Truth be told there are times I stop in new home offices just to pick up floor plans even though I have no plans on buying a house.
Release the Plans
Flash to early spring 2011. There was a release of homes by 2 different builders on the same day just around the corner from each other. Scott and I split up to wait in line at the sales office (yes that’s a thing). And we were not the first people in line either. So the job was to get the floor plans, prices and call each other after if we felt something could work. When I walked into the sales office the first thing I noticed that they were all over budget! But there was a floor plan that was perfect. It was a great house, with a nice flow and just like that I knew we were in business. So I made the call and we met up with the plans.
Since I had not felt like this before about a house I was taken seriously. But the market being what it was we would need to make a decision within the afternoon. We quickly went to my parent’s house and talked through the details. They confirmed that what we were thinking made sense and we were back to the sales office. The doors opened at 9am and we had bought a house by 1pm. Then we went out for sushi to do the cash flow math. We needed to give a $40K deposit spread over 5 months and were getting married in 5 months.
Our Starter Home
By the time the house was built it was 3 delays and almost a year and a half. When we walked in December 2012 I knew we had made the right decision. It was odd walking into a place with nothing but we quickly put curtains up and started making it a home. We have finished the first part of the basement and currently working on the rest. We have taken a place that had no personality and made it into a home that we feel safe and protected in. Is it perfect, no? But it’s a wonderful house and there are so many great things about it. Even if a 2 car garage isn’t one of them. To move now would change everything.
What Does This Have to Do With Moving?
There has been so much effort that has gone into this place, finding it and weeding out the other houses, that to throw it away now would be ridiculous. This house is big for us now but we know that if we expand our family the house will take care of us. There are tradeoffs that you have to make when you live in a smaller place. Mainly that you have to be a lot more thoughtful about what you buy and what you keep. I make decisions and sacrifices but I have a lower mortgage and could pay my house off sooner if I were to stay put.
That is the extra motivation that I need to keep this place for the next several years. If everything goes to plan in the next 10 years we will be mortgage free. Not Sean Cooper level awesome. Still being mortgage free in our late 30s/early 40s has its perks. And unless we are willing to move north of the city to get a bigger house for less money, staying in the same area will require a mortgage upgrade which delays our plans.
So to those who might not know how long it took to find our house, how much love we have put (and are putting) into it and what our future plans are. This is not a starter home. This is our home that we can grow into and want to keep spending our time in for the long haul. We also serve excellent coffee so I welcome you to stop by to understand what makes this place so special to us.
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