Author Topic: Turning starter home into forever home  (Read 3989 times)

freeazabird

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 188
    • Bmore Bungalow
Turning starter home into forever home
« on: April 15, 2018, 06:26:30 PM »
Anyone decide their starter home should become their forever home? If so, how did you help your starter home accommodate your evolving needs....i.e. Kids, overnight guests, etc.

crispy

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 455
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2018, 07:51:40 PM »
We kinda went backwards and sold our big house and went smaller (around 1500sf when we bought it but we did finish out a bonus room later). Kids take up much less space now at 10 and 12 which is nice. We no longer accommodate out of town guests, but will help pay for a hotel if needed. In the past three years that has cost us about $200 which is a bargain compared to our old mortgage.

I think organizing, decluttering, and using space efficiently is the key to making a smaller space work. We purged pretty regularly in our old house, but we got rid of a ton of stuff when we moved and we continue to purge regularly. We aren't minimalist, but we try not to overdo anything. Our Christmas decorations fit in one tub. We have one set of dishes only and don't have every kitchen gadget known to man. Much of the furniture we have is multi-purpose - our coffee table is a wooden chest that holds games and craft supplies, our TV stand is an old solid wood dresser I bought at the thrift store which holds things like movies and electronics, we have another antique dresser in our entryway which stores things like gift wrap. I like fixing up old furniture so it is fun to find these pieces and fix them up.

Two of my best friends never left their starter homes and they both inspired me. One paid of her mortgage in her 20s so she and her husband have been mortgage free for close to 15 years. The are definitely FI at this point. Making the move we made allowed us to pay off our mortgage which has increased our savings rate tremendously. I think it is wise to make what you have work.

Imma

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1317
  • Location: Europe
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2018, 03:08:11 AM »
We bought our starter home (75 m2/800 square foot, 2 bedrooms and a box room and a basic kitchen) 3 years ago and are planning to stay here until we FIRE and move to a rural area. That means we're planning on staying here for about 20 years, so it's not a true forever home, but we could stay here forever if we wanted to. We don't have children yet, but we feel like we've got a lot of space to accomodate our future family, while the house doesn't feel 'too big' if having children isn't going to happen. Our home is smaller than an average family home in my country, but houses aren't as big as they are in the US. I think 1200 square foot is about average.

We don't own a lot of stuff, and what we own is organized in a clever way. We have built a large pantry in the cupboard under the stairs, just off the kitchen. We enjoy cooking a lot, but we don't own any kitchen gadgets that take up space. We use a French press instead of a big coffee machine, we don't own a blender or an instant pot or any other big thing taking up counter or cupboard space. The pantry has as many shelves as we could fit into it and it doesn't just hold food, but also all of our shoes, all our pots and pans, tools, cleaning supplies and the vacuum cleaner. We have an old hutch in the living room ( I believe that's how it's called in American English) which is a very functional piece of furniture as well as decorative. It has 16 drawers that contain anything from teatowels to flatware to medicine and on the shelves there are a few pieces of inherited china. Together with a built-in cupboard in the main bedroom for all of our clothes as well as a few plastic tubs of 'sentimental stuff' that's all the storage space we use.

Our second bedroom (sewing room / study) doubles as a guest bedroom. We have guests often, but they don't stay for long and they don't expect a hotel-style room. Two bedrooms and a box room is big enough for now, but once we have a family, we plan to do a loft conversion to add a third bedroom on the second floor. A loft conversion will be much cheaper than moving.

rosarugosa

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 103
  • Location: Eastern Massachusetts
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2018, 04:18:48 AM »
Hi Imma,
What do you mean by a "box room?"  I can't quite figure that one out.

Imma

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1317
  • Location: Europe
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2018, 04:31:47 AM »
Hi Imma,
What do you mean by a "box room?"  I can't quite figure that one out.

I searched a bit on google and apparantly that's a typically European thing? A box room is a bedroom that's smaller than the others and is not big enough for a double bed. It's used for storage or as a bedroom for a young child. Ours is 2 x 2m.

Cranky

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1449
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2018, 04:55:34 AM »
We moved into our "starter home" when we needed the most space - we already had the 3 kids and had previously always lived in apartments, so the house seemed pretty roomy by comparison. We turned the basement into a big play room.

And then we just stayed put, because we'd already moved a million times. Kids grew up, house is paid off, kitchen is remodeled... it's a pretty comfortable space. And now the basement is our making stuff space - the treadmill lives there, and my sewing area, and dh's winemaking stuff ...

Loren Ver

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 291
  • Location: Indianapolis IN
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2018, 05:27:02 AM »
I think part of it is realizing that what many people consider normal sized houses in the US today are ENORMOUS. 

DH and I got our starter home about 10 years ago, it will probably be our forever home.  It was built for families in the 1940s.  We don't have kids, but the house is the same design my mother-in-law grew up in with her family of 5.   For our neighborhood it is also one of the biggest houses at just under 1100 sq ft, with three bedrooms and 1.5 baths - we also have a basement which really help.  Most of the houses by us are around 980 sq ft with one bath.  I really wanted two toilets, and am really glad that is what we settled on.  Several generations of families have grown up in these types of houses. 

House guests - everyone that comes to visit knows we aren't fancy.  Most guests get put up in the living room, since it is a pretty big space.  We have a really nice couch, but also inflatable mattresses.  I have also put people in the basement as needed.  We usually have two people spend the night several times a year (my mom and brother, DHs mom and brother) and they seem pretty happy with the accommodations and the company :).

They don't spend the night, but we have guests over almost every weekend for games and such.  The place isn't big, but we can host 5 comfortably indoors if doing a big meal, up to 8 with some negotiation. 

Must haves to make it work - organization.  DH and I are packrats.  We have to actively remove things regularly or the place gets full.  It actually gets full.  So we cull the space every so often.  It also helps that we don't buy things we don't plan to use.  People generally spread to their environment, so a big house gets just as full as a small house.

Our biggest evolving need has been for electricity.  The older kitchen was not designed for microwaves, toasters, and other electricity hogs.  So we have had new lines run giving more outlets and reducing the brownouts.  The kitchen is small by current standards, but only feels small if it is crammed full of counter top objects.  Keeping it clear and organized makes it feel bigger. 

One of the things I LOVE about a small starter home is I only need to clean a small starter home!  I don't want to spend my retirement cleaning a giant house. 

LV

Stachetastic

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 681
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2018, 05:40:01 AM »
We currently live in a 1400sq ft ranch with 3BR and 1.5BA. I'd like to stay here forever, DH thinks we may eventually outgrow it. We have 1 kid full time, and 1 on the weekends. I love how easy it is to clean, but clutter is a constant battle. Like others, I try to have as many multi-function pieces of furniture to increase storage options.

MayDay

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3740
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2018, 05:57:53 AM »
We've moved multiple times but are back in a 50's ranch that is 1600 sq ft, about the same size as our first home.

Several things already mentioned: get rid of crap, realize you have tons of stuff, don't bend over backwards for guests.

Here are a few things we've done (and we do actually have regular guests as we live in a city with a big airport so my family visits frequently).

1. Basement family room has pull out bed.
2. Each kid has two twin beds- one has bunk beds, the other a twin bed with a trundle. This allows a kid to move into the other kid room, and two adults to sleep in the empty room.
3. Did I mention declutter?

We did really want 1.5 baths with kids. That second toilet makes life better. When we had one bathwe luckily lived in the country, and fairly frequently someone was peeing in the woods. Or pooping on a few memorable occasions.

A few of my young co-workers are looking for houses and they insist on huge 3 car garages. We have always had a smaller garage and the world did not end.

Much Fishing to Do

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 382
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2018, 06:13:16 AM »
We did, but the home was already large for us so this might not be very helpful.  Bought the older 2ksq ft house in 2003 for $150k (weren't necessarily looking for a home that large, it was just one of the very few in the right school district in the right price range) when we had one toddler, so tons of space.  Around 2010, now a family of 5, we finished paying off the home.  A few years later we had realized we'd likely never move (great neighbors and great neighborhood, hard to get lucky twice on that one we would guess) and that the house was definitely large enough for the 3 kids (each had their own room) so did our large remodel for cash for about $75k.  Given we already had a good amount of space, That mostly involved adding a very large outdoor space (covered/screened porch) which serves as our main living area for 8 months out of the year, adding a/c, and some beautification the wife wanted (though it was admittedly a very ugly home and now looks amazing...).  Last year we spent about 10k to finish the basement to get full use of the space we have (helps in the winter when we don't use the outdoor space).  I can't imagine why we'd ever want to leave now.

slappy

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 644
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2018, 06:23:57 AM »
We are turning it into a forever home by adding a garage, hopefully with a master bedroom above it.  Our house is small compared to some of our family members', but like another post said, many generations grew up in smaller homes. We have 1.5 baths, and I think adding a shower to our downstairs bath would be great as our three kids grow up. Also, we are going to add a deck at some point.

rosarugosa

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 103
  • Location: Eastern Massachusetts
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2018, 07:38:36 AM »
Hi Imma,
What do you mean by a "box room?"  I can't quite figure that one out.

I searched a bit on google and apparantly that's a typically European thing? A box room is a bedroom that's smaller than the others and is not big enough for a double bed. It's used for storage or as a bedroom for a young child. Ours is 2 x 2m.

Thanks for the clarification!

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5980
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2018, 08:50:46 AM »
Anyone decide their starter home should become their forever home? If so, how did you help your starter home accommodate your evolving needs....i.e. Kids, overnight guests, etc.
Honestly, inertia is a powerful force.  I'm too lazy to move, so likely our first home is our retirement home.

Our home was built in 1947, 2BR, 1 BA.  1146 sf.  No attic, no basement, no garage.

At first, we had a master bedroom and a small bedroom, which was the office.

2 years later we had our kid.  We moved the computer into the large living/dining area (into the corner), and painted and put the crib in the small room.

We also bought a small shed to store a few tools and bikes in the back yard/ patio.

When kid was two, we redid the backyard into "tiers" (we are on a hill), so it was usable.  Moved the 8x4 shed to the front yard.  Installed an 8x10 in the back yard.  More storage!  Tools, bikes, the Thule box.

Fast forward ... have another kid 6 years younger than the first.  Man I need a second bathroom, and the boys' room, even with bunk beds, is TINY.  Move computer into the master bedroom.

Turn the hall open space into an actual closet with shelves and doors.

Just a couple of weeks ago, swap bedrooms with the boys (now 12 and 5).  Now we have the small room, they have the big room.  Swap the closets.  Get rid of a ton of books, toys, clothing.  There's now space for a desk in there (haven't gotten it yet).  Move computer back into living room.

For us, the key thing is really to constantly re-evaluate what is in your house.  And we are not great at that.  The school sends home SO MUCH FREAKING PAPER.  Information, forms, homework, drawings, etc. - add mail and the paper can relentlessly take over the house.  Plus the damn refinancing papers.  (We found a bin with toys and paper in it, including an unopened report card for first grade for my sixth grader).

Books that they grow out of.  Clothing.  I've got a couple of great friends that really like clothing and they hand stuff down.  Well, the problem is that my kids are small, so it's usually at least 2 years of storing the stuff before it fits.  Luckily kid #1 wears stuff SO LONG that by the time he's done, it's either worn out OR it fits the little one.  So, I have to relentlessly go through the drawers and donate what kids have grown out of OR the stuff that they aren't going to wear.  If it's not their style, no need to store it.  This has to happen at least 2x a year.

I need to get better at keeping a list like "store A recycles shoes, store B will take old glasses."

So, I still want another bathroom but at least the swap means we have more breathing room.  Less stuff, more space/ bigger room for the people who need it.  My neighbor thinks we should add a master as a second story, but that's going to be at least $200k.  Um, I don't think it's going to happen.

TheWifeHalf

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 499
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2018, 10:18:50 AM »
We bought our house a year before we got married.  The woman that lived here was an invalid and moved to a home, and we got the house because no one even inquired about it  all summer, and the home she went to wanted the money.  She, and her deceased husband, were the original owners of this 1915 house, a 4 square with a gable roof. They never had any children, so the house was immaculate for it’s age. This was in 1980, mortgage rates were 12%, it’s the best 45,000 we ever spent.  It was not fancy, but very well built, just what we wanted.

I remember a guy coming over and commenting that it was a really nice ‘starter’ home. It took us about 3 weeks to decide it was our forever home. Many of the improvements we made we asked ourselves “Are we doing this with the plan to sell, or stay here.

It is in the same school district I, and my Dad went to (so my kids too).

TheHusbandHalf lived here for a year until we got married, I lived about ¾ mile down the road.

Over the years we :

Painted the outside and fixed the soffit where it was bad because we had to do that to get back our $3000 escrow back from the bank.

Replaced the antiquated septic system which was probably the original. At the same time we put drainage tile in the 1 acre yard, all the way back to the creek (another maybe 500 ft.) My Dad was a drainage contractor at the time and helped do all this.

We put insulation all over, because it had none.  I think there are 30 inches in the attic

We removed a lot of trees from the yard.

We hooked up to the gas line that ran by the front, so we could replace the oil furnace with one that used natural gas, the water heater and stove we switched to natural gas too.

We replaced, and updated the electric and plumbing, and added a central vacuum

There is a bedroom off the kitchen which the invalid owner used, and had a toilet put in the corner. So, we walled off the toilet and made a half bath, and used the rest as a laundry room and pantry.

We kind of redid the enclosed front porch.

TheHusbandHalf built a garage that has a separate workshop with a single garage door, a space for 2 vehicles with a double door, a 20’ wide space, and a back garage door so we can drive straight through to the back yard. I remember when he was staking it out, we kept in mind that maybe we would someday add on to the house and hook the 2 together. (The original garage was Model T sized, with an obvious 2’ ft addition to accommodate when cars got longer.

The house had original oak woodwork, NOT PAINTED! It’s probably one of the reasons we bought the house. That, and no one had come in and remodeled. We wanted to start fresh and were very lucky to find this gem.

About 1992, our financial situation was such that we cold add on. The original was 1200 sf,  the addition and the garage added another 2400 sf.
That’s when we finally hired someone – he put up the shell, we hired him to replace all the windows in the old. I know lots of people look down on vinyl siding, it’s was perfect for our situation, so we hired the same guy to side the whole thing. TheHusbandHalf had experience with building and siding, so as is our way, we kept an educated eye on things.

Then we hired a different guy to pour the driveway

I should add, the mortgage on our original purchase was paid before we started the addition and we had the money saved up to pay for the addition. We try to buy things when we can, not borrow and have only borrowed when a car dealer has a ‘0% loan’ for our vehicles.

So we did the HVAC, electric, plumbing for the addition as well as finishing it inside. Rather than replace the ac/furnace, we just added another. Now that the kids are gone, this comes in handy when only heating what were using. Plus, one time the old furnace needed work, and it was nice to be able to heat the other part with it’s own furnace.

The addition was built with 2 x 4 walls, but we made each a 2x6. (we had done the same for the old part) So, all the walls have the 6 “ ofpink stuff, there is 2” foam and Tyvec wrap on the outside.

I’ve left 5-6 envelopes in various hidden spots in the house, with our house’s history, in case the next owners remodel, a kind of ‘time capsule.’

Last year we decided to hire a guy to do our kitchen. It, too, was 45,000!

There’s just too much of ‘us’ here to not make this our forever home. I have both maternal and paternal grandparents (and their siblings) that live to their mid 90’s, so it could be another 35 years here. It’s a big house, but the utilities are certainly manageable, so we’re going to be herr awhile.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2018, 02:18:56 PM by TheWifeHalf »

Loren Ver

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 291
  • Location: Indianapolis IN
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2018, 10:55:42 AM »
TheWifeHalf - that sounds awesome!

IllusionNW

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 55
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2018, 11:15:05 AM »
Yes, this is us.  We bought our "starter home" during the recession and got it for a steal.  It's three bedrooms and 1600 square feet.  We figured we would stay in it for a while and then move to a bigger home, keeping the starter home as a rental.

Well, real estate prices here have sky-rocketed in the past eight years, and our "starter home" is now worth almost seven figures, which means that a larger home would be solidly in the seven-figure range.  We also now have one toddler and expect to have another kiddo at some point.

Within the next five years or so, we'll probably do one big remodel of the house to reallocate space and use it better.  We have some dead-end areas that aren't useful, and given the size of our house, every space needs a purpose.  For example, we have a formal and informal dining area.  We only use the informal dining area, so the formal dining area is just wasted space (and storage for all our random stuff).  I'd like to convert the informal dining area into a home office space and then use the formal dining area as our only dining are. 

We're also going to create built-ins in the living room area so that it doesn't look like a preschool with all the toys scattered everywhere.  I know lots of folks have a "bonus" area for kids and their stuff, but since we don't have that, we need a better storage system.

seattlecyclone

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4527
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2018, 11:56:06 AM »
Lately I've stopped believing in the "forever home" as something to strive for. We started out with a two bedroom, one bathroom home. It was perfect for us as a couple, and worked okay with a baby as well. Planning for two kids, another bedroom and bathroom were something we were willing to pay for, so we did upgrade to a bigger place.

Due to a weird bit of luck in the marketplace we ended up with a five-bedroom house, paying less than we offered for several three-bedroom places in the same neighborhood. It has plenty of room for kids and guests. But once the kids grow up and move out, the whole second story will become superfluous. Maybe we'll turn it into a second apartment at that time and rent it out, but at this point I'm leaning more toward downsizing into a home that's the right size for a couple again, perhaps with some additional considerations about accessibility as we age. We currently have a nice mountain view, but the tradeoff is a couple dozen stairs to get into the front door. Totally worth it in our 30s, but will we think the same in our 80s?

All this is to say that I don't really get the compulsion to make the same house work at various stages of one's life. As we age and add or subtract members of our household, our needs will change. I think there's something to be said for simply changing homes as your needs change, rather than try to find one that kind of sort of works for your whole life but will always be deficient in some way.

Lmoot

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 640
    • Journal
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2018, 12:16:40 PM »
I think of my house as a home-base, rather than a "forever home". For me, the idea of feeling like I'm going to be in one place forever is boring. Even if it turns out to be the case, and even if it turns out to not be boring. Sometimes planning everything out in life can take some of the zest out. Instead I like to imagine my lil one-bedroom bungalow near my hometown, will be there for me in life whenever I need it...even if I choose to move away.

I did, in fact move away...only 30 min away, but still. And have been renting it out to friends for the last few years as I plan my next step/adventure. But I will never sell it. I even have plans of adding on to it as the lot is large and there is a detached concrete block garage-turned-studio that would be easy to attach to the main house via an enclosed breezeway, laundry/mud room, or even an extra room or den.

I am lucky that it is a charming property in a charming location and that I have an emotional connection to it. Everyone in my family, up to my 88 year old grandmother had a hand in fixing it up, and I even have plants from her garden established there. I can't replicate that anywhere else. Hence, my hope is to live in a state further up north, and keep it as a snowbird house and live here part time in the future.

For guests, you could build a climate controlled shed/gazebo, tucked into the corner of the yard, that can be used for lounging when there aren't overnight guests, and as a little guest cottage. If you have older kids and trust them, it could even be a little private sleeping space for them one day. You could even use it as rental income.

If you live in a place where there is nice climate year-round, put up a cheap outdoor shower. When my cousins and visit my grandmother in FL, they actually prefer using the outdoor shower. If you really want to get fancy, you can include an outdoor toilet...if you don't want to deal with plumbing, you can look into a chemical toilet.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2018, 12:21:50 PM by Lmoot »

Imma

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1317
  • Location: Europe
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2018, 12:17:48 PM »
TheWifeHalf, that's a lovely story! And to think that your home has only had two owners over the course of a century, that's amazing. I'm sure the original owners would have been very happy to hear that you've treated the home they built with so much love.

I agree with others that a second toilet is definitely a great addition. We've recently put one in the upstairs bathroom and it was really cheap and easy to do. I think it cost us about €400 (and we had a guy come over to install it, parts were less than €300!). This house was built before indoor toilets, so the main downstairs bathroom was built in an extension at the back of the house. Our bedroom is completely at the other end of the house and on a different floor.

What I dislike about our smaller home is that we have a low-pitch gable roof, which means a lot of space is wasted. It's far easier to have a fairly flat roof so you can use the full height of the room. We have dormers on both the front and the back to partially solve that problem. The upside of this is that since our roof is very well insulated, we don't lose a lot of heat through the roof.

I have been in a house where they added storage space near the ceiling. They added a row of kitchen style cabinets right below the ceiling. There was a single bed below it, but because they placed the cabinets so high up the ceiling it didn't bother the person sleeping there. I thought this was a really clever way to add storage space. It seems like an ideal space to store out of season clothing or winter blankets/quilts. In our previous home, we used to have storage drawers under the beds for these things.

calimom

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 755
  • Location: Northern California
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #19 on: April 16, 2018, 01:04:18 PM »
My late husband and I had rented various places in our HCOL (SF Bay Area) suburb. Owning a house was something we hoped for but seemed out of reach even with a decent income, reasonable savings. When he died, I moved with our children to a LCOL corner of California. Was that my starter home? I guess, since we/I had never owned real estate before. It was a 1550 SF, 1970s basic ranch style house, open living plan with 3 bedrooms, 2 baths. At the time my kids were 14, 5 and 1, so I shared the master BR with the baby, which worked for a year or two. I got to the point of wanting my own room and due to the age difference, gender difference, it didn't seem like there was a sharing solution among the kids (and I know families around the world share rooms). Because of the septic restrictions I couldn't add an actual bedroom with a closet, but I was able to create a 200 SF annex of sorts off the MBR with doors to the outside deck. My then toddler had the MBR and she and I shared the bathroom with that room being flexible as guest space. When my eldest moved out, I shuffled the other bedrooms and now the MBR serves as a guest room/home office. I still like my little room of one's own. The garage served as my WFH warehouse until my business outgrew it, so now it is where a pingpong table and foosball setup live. Both were freebies, btw. :)

Not sure I believe in the construct of the "forever home". What is that anyhow? I guess some do stay forever, but when my younger kids leave home, and the youngest is 11, I will likely move elsewhere. It's been a good house with 2.5 acres of space, but I'll be happy to live in something smaller with hopefully some sort of Airbnb setup for extra income and a place for my brood to visit.

Kay-Ell

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 108
  • Semi-retired in 2017
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #20 on: April 16, 2018, 01:39:59 PM »
My first house is just under 1200 sq/ft and was the cheapest (by far) house on the market in 2014 when I bought it.  It was a bank owned foreclosure with a lot of serious problems, so I low balled the already low price and got it.  When I bought it, it had a loft bedroom upstairs, and two additional rooms down stairs, neither of which could really be called a bedroom.  The first one, had the front door, and the second one was a laundry room.  I remodeled to place the laundry facilities in a closet with a newer, smaller furnace, opening up what used to be the laundry room into a dedicated second bedroom.  The other downstairs room (with the front door) is an "office" with a pull out couch that can be converted into a guest room for short stays.

About 2.5 years later I had the opportunity to buy another foreclosed house at well below market value - and made the choice to live in it while I remodeled.  My first house, is now a very lucrative rental property and I miss living there very much.  Renovations on house #2 are close to being completed and I've now added a toddler to my family.  I am actually hoping to move back into house #1 toward the end of this year.  I don't know if I'd call it my forever house, but 1200 square feet, two small bedrooms & 1 bath plus an office, and a spacious open concept living space seems luxuriously large for one adult and one child.

I think the keys to making a modest size home work for the long terms are, innovative storage solutions, minimizing clutter in every way possible (a small space can easily turn from cosy to cluttered if your stuff is sitting around in view), and having some flexible space.  For me it's the "office," for some it's a basement or loft or garage conversion.  House #2 is the same size as house # 1 (just under 1200), also with 2 bedrooms and 1 bath, but doesn't have and flexible space.  While that means the bedrooms are both larger, and the open concept living space is also larger, I'd much rather have a bonus room of some sort that can be converted into whatever I need it to be. 

Imma

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1317
  • Location: Europe
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #21 on: April 16, 2018, 01:52:41 PM »

All this is to say that I don't really get the compulsion to make the same house work at various stages of one's life. As we age and add or subtract members of our household, our needs will change. I think there's something to be said for simply changing homes as your needs change, rather than try to find one that kind of sort of works for your whole life but will always be deficient in some way.

Our 'forever home' is not necessarily where we want to stay eternally, but I like the idea of putting down roots somewhere and having a house that could potentially work for a lot of different scenarios. I like the idea of not having to move unless we choose to. Moving is also very expensive, even if you do it on the cheap you still have closing costs, taxes, necessary maintenance, floors, curtains, renting a van, replacing furniture that doesn't fit in your new place etc etc etc. Our move from a cheap rental to our small starter home in the same area all in all cost almost €10k and we worked on a tight budget. So there's something to be said about avoiding buying and selling houses too often. Depending on the market, it can take 5-10 years before you break even on the purchase of a house.

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5980
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #22 on: April 16, 2018, 02:02:08 PM »
Lately I've stopped believing in the "forever home" as something to strive for. We started out with a two bedroom, one bathroom home. It was perfect for us as a couple, and worked okay with a baby as well. Planning for two kids, another bedroom and bathroom were something we were willing to pay for, so we did upgrade to a bigger place.

Due to a weird bit of luck in the marketplace we ended up with a five-bedroom house, paying less than we offered for several three-bedroom places in the same neighborhood. It has plenty of room for kids and guests. But once the kids grow up and move out, the whole second story will become superfluous. Maybe we'll turn it into a second apartment at that time and rent it out, but at this point I'm leaning more toward downsizing into a home that's the right size for a couple again, perhaps with some additional considerations about accessibility as we age. We currently have a nice mountain view, but the tradeoff is a couple dozen stairs to get into the front door. Totally worth it in our 30s, but will we think the same in our 80s?

All this is to say that I don't really get the compulsion to make the same house work at various stages of one's life. As we age and add or subtract members of our household, our needs will change. I think there's something to be said for simply changing homes as your needs change, rather than try to find one that kind of sort of works for your whole life but will always be deficient in some way.

I guess it really depends on what your needs are and why they change.  Hedonistic adaptation and all that.

YMMV, but moving is expensive.  Typical real estate transaction costs here are 5-6%, and my house is currently worth close to $900k.  Any house we'd want to buy would be at least $1M.  That's a lot of money going down the drain due to transaction costs. 

I can think that there are many good reasons to move - really want a better school district (we are in a bad one, but whatever), have a 2BR house but both boys and girls, need to have parents move in, change jobs to a big commute, move to a different city.

But for me, yeah I'd LOVE more space, a garage, etc. - but we can live without it, why upgrade?


That said, I don't necessarily believe in a "forever home" - like I said, inertia is a powerful force - I'd move if I felt the need.  Our house is a great starter home and a great size for a retirement home, why upgrade in between?

Then again, I grew up in a rural area.  My dad lived in my childhood home until he died.  Most of my (8) siblings (aged 46-67) are still living in their first homes.  (Except one, I think.  She just retired and moved to the beach.)  My stepfather is in his 70s and is still living in his first house.  My MIL has been living in the same house for almost 50 years (their first house was a duplex, sold that after 3 years and bought current house).  I guess the idea of staying put is very ingrained.  And being content with what I have, whether it be a house, clothing, cars, etc.

And then again, the expense.  And at least here, the neighborhood.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2018, 02:03:39 PM by mm1970 »

TheWifeHalf

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 499
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #23 on: April 16, 2018, 02:17:53 PM »
TheWifeHalf, that's a lovely story! And to think that your home has only had two owners over the course of a century, that's amazing. I'm sure the original owners would have been very happy to hear that you've treated the home they built with so much love.


My sister is an RN, and about 3 yrs after we bought the house. theowner was one of her patients at the hospital. She explained who she was, and her pateint said "Are they taking care of my house?"

Forever home:
My Dad grew up on a farm about 3 miles from here. In fact, I started my first 3 yrs living in a trailer next to the house. He came from a big family, I have 83 first cousins, 5 on my maternal side, so my maiden name is pretty well known around here. I like it here, but I suppose if something happened, I could move and start somewhere else. I think that's the farmer DNA in me, make do with what you have, and bloom where you are planted.

TVRodriguez

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 381
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #24 on: April 16, 2018, 02:31:45 PM »
Anyone decide their starter home should become their forever home? If so, how did you help your starter home accommodate your evolving needs....i.e. Kids, overnight guests, etc.
Honestly, inertia is a powerful force.  I'm too lazy to move, so likely our first home is our retirement home.

Our home was built in 1947, 2BR, 1 BA.  1146 sf.  No attic, no basement, no garage.

At first, we had a master bedroom and a small bedroom, which was the office.

2 years later we had our kid.  We moved the computer into the large living/dining area (into the corner), and painted and put the crib in the small room.

We also bought a small shed to store a few tools and bikes in the back yard/ patio.

When kid was two, we redid the backyard into "tiers" (we are on a hill), so it was usable.  Moved the 8x4 shed to the front yard.  Installed an 8x10 in the back yard.  More storage!  Tools, bikes, the Thule box.

Fast forward ... have another kid 6 years younger than the first.  Man I need a second bathroom, and the boys' room, even with bunk beds, is TINY.  Move computer into the master bedroom.

Turn the hall open space into an actual closet with shelves and doors.

Just a couple of weeks ago, swap bedrooms with the boys (now 12 and 5).  Now we have the small room, they have the big room.  Swap the closets.  Get rid of a ton of books, toys, clothing.  There's now space for a desk in there (haven't gotten it yet).  Move computer back into living room.

For us, the key thing is really to constantly re-evaluate what is in your house.  And we are not great at that.  The school sends home SO MUCH FREAKING PAPER.  Information, forms, homework, drawings, etc. - add mail and the paper can relentlessly take over the house.  Plus the damn refinancing papers.  (We found a bin with toys and paper in it, including an unopened report card for first grade for my sixth grader).

Books that they grow out of.  Clothing.  I've got a couple of great friends that really like clothing and they hand stuff down.  Well, the problem is that my kids are small, so it's usually at least 2 years of storing the stuff before it fits.  Luckily kid #1 wears stuff SO LONG that by the time he's done, it's either worn out OR it fits the little one.  So, I have to relentlessly go through the drawers and donate what kids have grown out of OR the stuff that they aren't going to wear.  If it's not their style, no need to store it.  This has to happen at least 2x a year.

I need to get better at keeping a list like "store A recycles shoes, store B will take old glasses."

So, I still want another bathroom but at least the swap means we have more breathing room.  Less stuff, more space/ bigger room for the people who need it.  My neighbor thinks we should add a master as a second story, but that's going to be at least $200k.  Um, I don't think it's going to happen.

I relate to a lot of this.  DH & I bought our 1300 sq ft 2 bed 2 bath home before we had kids.  We now have 3 of them.  DH added a 3rd bedroom (carved out of the family room, which used to be quite large).  That bedroom, which used to be a guest room, is now our oldest's room--he now has his own room as of a week ago.  I thought about taking that room for DH and me b/c it gets the most morning light, and then putting the two boys into our larger room, but it was easier to move one kid than four us and our king sized bed, so DS got that one.  Before that, all 3 kids shared the second bedroom--two sets of bunkbeds.

I thought about moving into a bigger house, but I realized that I actually have enough room for the people in my family and needed to get rid of some of the stuff.  I did a big Marie Kondo cleanout a few years ago, and it really helped.  Then I pared down the "computer desk" area, which had gone from the family room to the front room, and now I use the dining table when I work from home.  I only need to put away my papers and laptop to return it to a dining table.  The desk sits in the corner of that same room and is basically a bookshelf with scanner, printer, small file cabinet for taxes and only the most important papers (got rid of LOTS of paper).  I only save about 10-20 sheets of paper for each kid from each school year--bought a closed mini file for each of them that sit in DD's closet.

Our dining room is our front room, which also has the desk, and the piano keyboard, and two armchairs.  The kitchen is big enough for a small table that fits all 5 of us.  That's where we eat almost every meal.  The back room is our family room/living room/tv room/play room where the toys are.  We have no garage, no attic, no basement. 

I like that we do not have an open floor plan because it actually makes the house seem bigger to have more "separate" spaces.

There was an outdoor shed when we moved in.  DH has since built two more.  DH also has built a sort of workshop on one side of the house, protected from the weather by an awning and tarps hung like curtains.  It's all on wheels so we can move it and close down the awning (hurricane shutter) in case of hurricane (we're in Miami).

We use the backyard a lot.  It's got a big pool, a swing set, trees to climb, a treehouse, and a "climbing center" that DH built off the treehouse.  Our laundry room is accessed from outside, and I hang up the clothes outside when I don't use the dryer.

Cranky

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1449
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #25 on: April 16, 2018, 04:30:02 PM »
Forever is a long time, so I dunno about “forever”.

But people have asked us many times if, now that X has happened, we aren’t going to move to a bigger house in a “nicer” neighborhood. And no, we didn’t, because why should we pay more for an intangible “nicer” when this house has been just fine.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2018, 01:40:41 PM by Cranky »

big_slacker

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1291
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #26 on: April 17, 2018, 06:51:23 AM »
That house I grew up in was 1100 sq ft. 2 adults, 4 boys, haha! Houses did indeed used to be smaller, ours was built in 1920 IIRC? They bought in a largely black, working class neighborhood that turned into a war zone and that has now turned into hipsterville.

It is a 3 bedroom, we slept in bunkbeds till we were teens, then we partially finished the basement so we could have our own space. My dad was decent at construction but a MASTER procrastinator. So I slept on a wooden shelf with a futon mattress, unpainted drywall and a battleship grey painted concrete floor until I moved out. Still better than sharing a room. :D

10 years after we moved out they remodeled the kitchen and put new carpet in. Now it's cozy little retirement place. My parents never saw a need to 'trade up' and live a really comfortable life on not a lot of money due in large part to how cheap their house is.

Mezzie

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 823
    • Mezzie Learns
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #27 on: April 17, 2018, 07:17:09 AM »
When we bought our house, we thought it was just right for my husbabd and me. We have no plans to have kids, but we like hosting people and figure someday my parents will move in, so we made sure to have a guest room. Compared to friends' houses, ours is tiny and old fashioned.

Then my brother and his SO had some financial difficulty, so we told them to move in with us. I swear the house grew to fit them. We rearranged some things, decluttered...  If we could add two adults and all their stuff, I imagine most people could raise children in their starter homes just fine. My great-grandparents raised two kids in a house about the size of my (small) living room, after all.

HenryDavid

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 397
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #28 on: April 17, 2018, 07:57:25 AM »
The actual term "starter home" is of course just a made-up real estate marketing term which says "there is something wrong with you if you don't get a bigger house and mortgage (and utility bill and maintenance bill) as soon as possible."

I mean, it's a building. Live in it as long as you enjoy it--possibly your whole life.

It would be interesting to track other expressions which insinuate "this is just a temporary thing you buy until you buy a bigger more expensive thing." Starter car? Oh yeah--anything called "entry-level," as in "entry-level bike." What am I entering? (Answer: I'm entering an endless chain of upselling . . ..)

Zola.

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 335
  • Location: UK
  • Let's do this.
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #29 on: April 17, 2018, 07:58:29 AM »
We live in a smallish 3 bed semi-detached home, which was built in the 1960s.. This is our first home. One huge selling point of the house was the very generous back garden. In the UK, newer build houses are typically crammed together and often have a tiny square for a back garden. I see new housing areas, with some lovely houses, but its suffocating how close the houses are crammed together at every angle.

We have been in the house for 3 years and love it. Its more on the HCOL side, but has so many benefits, close to the city yet quiet and in a good area. We could go bigger, but the mortgage is a very affordable price and we can hope to have it paid off by the time we are in our early 40s (7 years from now), if all goes to plan.

We have a kid on the way, so its hard to say how we will cope if we have one or two more people in the house! Time will tell.

I am unsure whether the big house is for us. We had a plumber in to do some work who lives 10 houses away, he said they have lived in this neighbourhood for 30 years and once their two kids grew up the need to downsize never materialised, they simply reclaimed old space in their house!

I also have noticed with my parents house, its massive, and was an awesome family home. We are a family of 6, but now we are all moved out, the house is way too big for my parents as a couple, and I suspect, even a bit lonely! My dad has talked of looking at downsizing.

My next point is blatantly obvious, but I know FI will be achievable much sooner if we don't move to another, bigger house thats £100,000+ more.

But as I say, who knows, in time we may want a slightly bigger house in a lower cost of living area.




« Last Edit: April 17, 2018, 08:03:45 AM by Zola. »

Mr. Green

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1767
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Wilmington, NC
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #30 on: April 18, 2018, 04:59:16 AM »
We bought a 3 bedroom/1.5 bath 1,200 sq. ft. townhouse when I was 22. Over the years we've made attempts to move up to something bigger but nothing ever completely worked out. Now that I'm not working and my wife just handed in her notice, I think we may never move. The townhouse is incredibly cheap to maintain and we expect to travel a lot. It backs to a great elementary and middle school, which is great for future children. We finished 2/3 of the basement so now the house has another full bath and a big room which could be converted to a bedroom, if necessary. We love the neighborhood and area. While I'd like to have more space and privacy, that would also be more hassle with frequent extended travel.

BTDretire

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2247
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #31 on: April 18, 2018, 06:36:48 AM »
My parents lived in the same home for 57 years untill they died.
I have lived in 5 homes in 34 years, expect this to be my last.

TheWifeHalf

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 499
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #32 on: April 18, 2018, 09:42:58 AM »
I'm want to add this, if only to add to the above 'story"
Our basement was divided by a brick wall (not like brick you see today) We tore it down, but it was holding up the house, what to use? About 3/4 mile down the road there were a few railroad rails they replaced on the tacks, so they just left them there. The HusbandHalf worked for the railroad at the time and knew they were just going to be scrapped.
So one winter evening, when the road was snow/ice covered,  he hooked one up to his truck and pulled it to our house. When he stopped out in the road, the chain broke, so the rail kept sliding! Luckily he wasn't going fast, got it next to the house, and we have a railroad rail supporting our house
(My Dad had a bulldozer that he used to maneuver it)

carolina822

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 53
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #33 on: April 24, 2018, 11:15:15 PM »
I bought my parents house after they moved (they bought it when I was in college, so it's not my childhood home) and it's a little bigger than I need for one person. But they sold it to me at an extremely reasonable price, plus it's in a lovely neighborhood and is on a 2 acre wooded lot on a river. I don't see being able to do any better than that so I can't complain. As long as I am in the area, it will be my "forever" house since a) I like it just fine and b) moving SUCKS. If I move out, it will be to a completely different city or country. And I'd probably still keep it so I can push off having to clean all the random stuff out of the attic.

bandalbumsong

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #34 on: April 25, 2018, 05:41:58 AM »
We couldn't afford a 3-bedroom when we bought, so we found a 2-bedroom with attic space (cost the same as without). If we stick around, we plan to convert the attic space into a master bedroom and bath. We plan to wait until future-kids are roughly school age to make that determination, though.

mbl

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 294
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #35 on: April 25, 2018, 06:44:47 AM »
We built our one and only home on acreage in a rural area when the kids were very young.
1200 square feet rectangular ranch
3 bd, 1 bath
Kitchen, dining, living room all open.

We finished the basement to add an office, full bath and family room with wood burning stove
about 10 years after we moved in.  DH did most of the framing and wiring, a friend did the dry wall and a nephew did the bathroom.

Kids rooms are small(8' 6" x 10').
DH made a toy box on casters.
They'd wheel toys into the living room and wheel them out when they were done.
Needless to say they didn't have a large amount of toys.
They did have a lot of acres to play on and very much enjoyed all that when the weather allowed(upstate NY).
They are grown and on their own now so it's just DH and I ....oh and Ruthie the savage kitty.

I can vacuum the upstairs in under 5 minutes  :).
We moved the washer dryer from the basement to one of the bedrooms a few years ago which makes it quite comfortable to do laundry.

We had always planned on being here indefinitely.    We are very happy here and hope to be able to stay as long as we're able.



totoro

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2080
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #36 on: April 25, 2018, 08:19:43 AM »
Ours is 1400 square feet with four beds two baths.  It was originally a one bedroom one bathroom partially (badly) finished large two-story garage/workshop conversion.  I spent a lot of time on the layout.   

We redid everything and built the bedrooms smaller than average and put two smaller bathrooms side by side - one for the kids and one for us.  I worked with a kitchen designer to maximize storage and put in an ikea kitchen.  I purchased two narrow extendable Ikea dining tables, put them together with an oilcloth tablecloth and this this seats 12 comfortably, works for homework, and can extend to seat 16 and fits the unusual narrow space we had for it.  I bought similar style antique chairs second-hand for the table.

We added some windows to bring in more light and then worked to find second-hand furniture that would fit the space and managed to fit in seating for ten apart from the dining table with three separate seating areas in a small family room and small living area adjacent to the dining area which has a gas fireplace.  We added a large south-facing patio off the living area through sliding doors - it seats eight.  We landscaped the backyard around the patio area and it has a grassy area surrounded by vegetable gardens, fruit trees and landscape plants that fits a large "party canopy" that I bought on Amazon and we have folding tables and chairs that store in our shed.  We've had 40 people here for outdoor events and it worked well and 16 for indoor - tight but doable.   

Only thing I wish I had that doesn't work in our space is a closet by the front door.  Instead we have hooks on the wall and a shoe bench.  Tried a wardrobe but the space felt closed in.  We do use every bit of the house and it is a lovely place now and easy to clean.

Stachetastic

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 681
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #37 on: April 25, 2018, 08:23:13 AM »
Ours is 1400 square feet with four beds two baths.  It was originally a one bedroom one bathroom partially (badly) finished large two-story garage/workshop conversion.  I spent a lot of time on the layout.   

We redid everything and built the bedrooms smaller than average and put two smaller bathrooms side by side - one for the kids and one for us.  I worked with a kitchen designer to maximize storage and put in an ikea kitchen.  I purchased two narrow extendable Ikea dining tables, put them together with an oilcloth tablecloth and this this seats 12 comfortably, works for homework, and can extend to seat 16 and fits the unusual narrow space we had for it.  I bought similar style antique chairs second-hand for the table.

We added some windows to bring in more light and then worked to find second-hand furniture that would fit the space and managed to fit in seating for ten apart from the dining table with three separate seating areas in a small family room and small living area adjacent to the dining area which has a gas fireplace.  We added a large south-facing patio off the living area through sliding doors - it seats eight.  We landscaped the backyard around the patio area and it has a grassy area surrounded by vegetable gardens, fruit trees and landscape plants that fits a large "party canopy" that I bought on Amazon and we have folding tables and chairs that store in our shed.  We've had 40 people here for outdoor events and it worked well and 16 for indoor - tight but doable.   

Only thing I wish I had that doesn't work in our space is a closet by the front door.  Instead we have hooks on the wall and a shoe bench.  Tried a wardrobe but the space felt closed in.  We do use every bit of the house and it is a lovely place now and easy to clean.

This sounds lovely! Do you have a pic or a link to your dining tables? We have a fairly narrow dining area in our home, and I'm always brainstorming ideas.

traveling_vines

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #38 on: April 25, 2018, 08:40:26 AM »
We actually downsized from a 3BR/2.5BA 1500 sq foot "starter home" condo into a 1BR/1BA 1000 sq foot condo. I blogged about why here: http://travelingvines.com/2018/04/why-we-downsized-our-home/

We don't have kids and don't plan to, so that's not an issue for us. As for overnight guests, we have a nice sofa that converts into a sleeper. We also keep an air mattress on hand. It's true, though, that we don't have the most private or luxurious guest accommodations. That was a sacrifice we were willing to make for a home that suits us better 360+ nights per year. For us, it was about prioritizing location over the occasional nice to have. Sometimes we wish we had a second bathroom, but we completed a pretty expensive renovation of our one bathroom so it works better. We try to choose furniture that serves multiple purposes and make good use of the space we have. We have a small yard and we added a brick patio, so when the weather's nice, we effectively have extra square footage. In general, having a smaller space is nice: less furniture to buy, reduced motivation to buy knick knacks and other decor to fill it up, much quicker and easier to clean.

It's really a mindset of finding the ways your space is right, or what adjustments you can make to get it closer to right. Renovations are often less expensive than moving to a completely new house.

mak1277

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 752
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #39 on: April 25, 2018, 08:58:02 AM »
I can't imagine living anywhere for more than a decade or so...I'm pushing a dozen years in my current location and dying to move somewhere different.

totoro

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2080
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #40 on: April 25, 2018, 09:04:30 AM »

This sounds lovely! Do you have a pic or a link to your dining tables? We have a fairly narrow dining area in our home, and I'm always brainstorming ideas.

We used two of these and clamped the legs together in the middle - very inexpensive.  They don't look great without the oilcloth as they are melamine but with the oilcloth and antique chairs they look great: https://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/80361564/

Oilcloth is waterproof and durable and comes in lots of patterns and you can get it cut to fit as it comes in bolts at the fabric store:
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-88_Jvyj3ttE/VInP_dWVEBI/AAAAAAABakw/Etw3-eo8GzQ/s1600/a3.jpg

Also, don't be dissuaded by the narrowness of the table - they are comfortable for big dinners and encourage conversation.

Prairie Stash

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1609
Re: Turning starter home into forever home
« Reply #41 on: April 25, 2018, 10:35:09 AM »
I had a basement suite when I first moved into my house. By renting it out it kept the space empty from my stuff. Then as years passed I had two kids, now the space is converted back into the household. When the kids grow older and out, I'll probably rent it out again, my house will change with my lifestyle.

My house is 920 sf and the suite is 650 sf; furnace, water heater and shared laundry take up the rest of the basement. By having my home adjust it saves me from having to move as my life changes. I get all the benefits of a larger and smaller house at different points of my life, without the hassle. If I ever built a house I'd keep that in mind, seperate side entrance, sound proofing etc.

Having a house that fits every single stage of life is hard, I'm happy that I can adapt my house instead.