Making a Housing Decision

Since before we were married, Sarah and I have discussed building a home in the country somewhere. We’d like to have a home with a small yard and plenty of woods nearby to explore, with neighbors that are friendly but are quite happy to leave us to our own ends, too. We want to wake up to the sounds of a wide variety of birds and witness deer crossing the yard all the time.

Over the years, we’ve held to this dream. It’s been our primary savings goal over the past several years. We would love a home like this.

Recently, we’ve reached a point where we could start realistically planning for this goal. We’ve been looking at pieces of land in the country within the county where we live (as well as adjacent counties) and we’ve even looked at the cost of building a home to our specifications.

Sounds good, right? Well, the longer we look at this choice, the less likely it becomes.

Why?

First, the practical: every piece of available land we’ve seen in the last year has a significant drawback to it. Most of the time, it ends up putting us in a school district we’re unhappy with. When we find land in a school district we like, the land is either located near a hog confinement or has a 7,000+ square foot industrial building on it. Seriously. This is what we’ve found in our area in the last year of pretty regular searching.

Beyond that, though, our needs have started to change. Our two oldest children have built some very close relationships with children their age all around us. I can walk out of our front door and point at ten different house and name the children that live there, some things about those children, and my children’s connection to them.

We’ve also re-evaluated our current living situation. We’re in a school district we like. Three of our closest friends are within twenty minutes of our house. We have access to a wide variety of grocery stores within ten miles of our home. We live in an area where our children have many friends, yet it’s rural enough that I can look out the window of the room I’m sitting in right now and immediately see cornfields and trees.

So, why were we considering moving? One big reason was space. Right now, our three children share one bedroom. It’s something like a barracks in there and our children spend little time in there except for sleeping time. As they get older, that will change. They will naturally want some degree of privacy, and a 70 square foot room with three teenagers (or even pre-teens) in it is a recipe for sibling conflict.

We don’t necessarily want a home with a big increase in square footage. Instead, what we want is a home with the square footage distributed a bit differently.

So, after a lot of discussion and planning, we decided on a different path. It’s a less expensive route, one that preserves what we like about where we live now while also handling the space question.

We’re going to do a significant remodeling, likely next summer.

What does that entail? For starters, we’re going to build a new master bedroom atop our garage. According to the blueprints I’ve seen, this shouldn’t be a major problem, but we’ll obviously have to have an architect investigate the question more seriously.

We’ve asked around for some off-the-cuff estimates for this job and we can already afford the worst estimates for the job (ones that include adding load-bearing beams and other features).

Have we abandoned our dream of a house in the country? No, not really. However, we are realistic enough to know that this home might be ours for quite a while and we want to make the home as perfect as possible for our family as our children grow up. This move will add value to our property, keep the window of opportunity open for an eventual move to the country, and still preserve the things we really love about where we currently live.

Sometimes, the road you envision for the future doesn’t go exactly where you want, but I’ve found that you never regret planning for it.

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