Author Topic: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?  (Read 2052 times)

wealthviahealth

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Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« on: September 12, 2020, 06:27:23 AM »
I am in the early-mid stages of looking into buying my first home and am noticing how often my perspective is changing on what I am looking for in this first home. At first I thought it was a no brainer to go with a cheap, small home ( 31 and single so no family considerations yet) but I am now beginning to wonder if this is an overly restrictive approach which I can often take when not it is not necessary.
I have no debt and like most here, hate the thought of a mega mortgage that I feel suffocated by, but at the same time I recognize that a home really should be a place that you feel good about, especially in this current world where my home would not only be my house but also my gym, office etc..
The new city I just moved to is pretty affordable compared to the rest of the country and is certainly trending towards becoming one of the "next hot spots" so prices are on the rise. I am now wondering if by not jumping on a nicer, more expensive home, that I honestly CAN afford if I would regret it sorely in 5-10 years when such a house could no longer be affordable. All the while spending my time in a home that was perhaps too far below my means.
We hear a lot about regrets for buying too much house, curious to know if any one has had regrets from doing the opposite?


ender

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2020, 06:32:55 AM »
It depends on what your needs and goals are.

Our current home, which we bought in 2020, is a lot nicer and larger than our previous home - it also cost 1.5x as much.

I don't particularly regret not buying a super nice home as our first home.

Keep in mind housing is one of the largest fixed costs we have. So your overall goals matter a lot when considering this.

MyAlterEgoIsTaller

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2020, 07:16:52 AM »
I've lived in my very small (700 sq ft) house for 10+ years and mostly have not regretted it - it saves so much time and money over taking care of a larger home, and house problems that crop up are mostly relatively small and simple. 
The only big issue I have with the smallness is storage.  I'm not somebody who needs a lot of stuff, but even so I find that I need to be constantly editing/de-cluttering my stuff to not be overwhelmed by it.
The other issue is that I've been working at home since March and the house is a little small for a full-time office, but of course I hadn't foreseen that need.  I'm making it work fine.
It's not a house that could be added onto easily if my family/household size changed, but I'm a happily, permanently single and childless person.  You sound like you're less sure about the future so maybe buying some more flexibility in your house makes more sense for you.

Steeze

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2020, 08:18:12 AM »
I flip flop on this -

Our house is the perfect size (750 sf) for my wife and I. We are in a nice central location, low maintenance, easy to clean, low utilities, etc.

We have just enough room to have our friends and family stay for extended periods without being too crazy, but not much privacy.

2 years later we have a kid in the way with the prospects of having one of our parents at the house off an on for a year perhaps. That second bedroom is looking really great all the sudden. DW is working from home also.

We could have bought something for twice the price without really stretching ourselves much, but I wanted as little overhead as possible. Seems short sighted now.

Other days I am grateful we have a sensible space that is just big enough for our growing family. We can make it work without needing a mortgage which gives us flexibility in other ways. We didn’t need new/more furniture to fill rooms we didn’t have before in our 350 sf apartment.

On the next house I plan to splurge a bit - I want 5+ acres and a custom home. I’ll probably shoot for 1500-1800 sf + a large detached garage. I’ll spend the money I didn’t spend this time anyways. So it’s not like I’ll never own a house that expensive, I just postponed it.

Other thoughts - transaction costs are high, 5-10% depending where you are, and moving sucks. If you are where you want to stay for 10+ years I say buy the forever home. If you are unsure what happens in 5+ years then get something that is easy to sell, logical to rent, and cheap to own.

The whole buy small, upgrade, upgrade, upgrade, downsize model of homeownership assumes you live in a rapidly appreciating market.

Final thought - there is something great about using as little resources as possible. Sometimes small is beautiful. We waste a lot - but that is not guarantee that your future spouse will feel the same, although you can select for that.

Edit: location, location, location - look at school districts, hospital grades, crime rates, proximity to groceries, churches, etc. The perfect house in the wrong location is not great either. Consider your needs as you get married, have kids, parents get old, etc. Maybe your life doesn’t require all of those considerations, but it is nice to have options later.

Think about things that will annoy you - heavy traffic, on a fire station route, air plane noise, train noise, etc. maybe some of those things don’t bother you, but it could mean a spouse hating your perfect house if they do not share the same tolerances.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2020, 08:30:32 AM by Steeze »

obstinate

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2020, 08:38:45 AM »
We had the opposite regret, sort of,back when we lived in California. We had a home with four bedrooms and no medium term plans to be able to use that fourth. The whole time we owned the house, it sat basically empty. It ended up working out because we made a big profit on the house so it's likely we benefitted overall from having the extra exposure, but we felt silly about it while we lived there.

Then, a slightly similar thing, when we moved to new york we rented a place that ended up being unnecessarily conservative. I wouldn't say we regretted it but it was a little cramped for the year we were there.

I would say that if you have exposure to real estate in a given area you don't need to worry too much about not having the nicest place, unless you plan to eventually double your exposure to that market. If you think you might want a house that costs 50% more than your current one, then if prices go up you'll only lose about a third of the total value of the new place on average (assuming prices affect all dwellings linearly). That tends not to be too big of a deal, especially if you're in a relatively low cost of living place.

Dicey

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2020, 09:41:35 AM »
We always buy with an eye on the resale market. Don't buy a condo if you can afford a townhome. Don't buy a townhome if you can afford a SFH. Buy in a central location vs. out in the sticks. Don't buy a studio or 1BR if you can afford a 2+2. Don't buy a 3+1 SFH when most buyers want a 3+2. You have the chance to make money twice on a home, when you buy and when you sell. Same rule applies to school districts. You may not care, but the pool of buyers may when it comes time to sell.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2020, 10:11:02 AM »
And in bad climate areas, buy a house with an attached garage, not a detached garage.  I've had both and having to clear the walkway to the garage when it is covered in snow/ice is not fun.

JLee

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2020, 10:19:15 AM »
I would also check for Facebook/Nextdoor groups for any neighborhoods you're looking at -- I found out after I bought a house that there's a quarry close enough that the house rumbles when they blast.  Fortunately I'm far enough away that it doesn't bother me much, but people who are closer get foundation/ceiling cracks, rock dust all over their stuff outside, etc.  They don't blast often enough to be able to tell if you're just looking at houses...usually once or twice a week and it only lasts for a few seconds.

iris lily

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2020, 10:22:36 AM »
We always buy with an eye on the resale market. Don't buy a condo if you can afford a townhome. Don't buy a townhome if you can afford a SFH. Buy in a central location vs. out in the sticks. Don't buy a studio or 1BR if you can afford a 2+2. Don't buy a 3+1 SFH when most buyers want a 3+2. You have the chance to make money twice on a home, when you buy and when you sell. Same rule applies to school districts. You may not care, but the pool of buyers may when it comes time to sell.

We always lose money on real estate so I donít worry anymore about realizing a gain when I sell it. I just bought a condo yesterday. Iím quite sure I will lose my butt on it because my household buys when the market is up and we sell when the market is low. We are stupid that way!

But itís fine, we have plenty of money. St. Louis price as you can afford to play around with real estate.The tiny condo I bought is the size I want. I could afford  to buy the penthouse unit but instead I bought a lowly studio unit because that is the square footage I want, I do not want to clean and furnish a big place.It is my Pied a terre  for when I move out in the country in a couple of years.

pdxvandal

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2020, 11:41:41 AM »
Zero regrets. First two homes were small-ish bungalows where I had to scrape together measly down payments just to be able to close the deals. As previous poster said, less maintenanance, lower utiltity bills, etc., which can be helpful if you are underemployed, unemployed or have children in daycare.

I rented both homes out for 2-3 years after moving out of them, making a profit on each, then sold them avoiding capital gains taxes for substantially higher amounts than what I bought them for. The second home I owned for 12 years and saw great appreciation -- buy and hold!

This has helped me buy a face-punch worthy 4 bed, 2.5 bath, 2,300 sf house in a leafy suburb (HCOL) on somewhat ordinary salaries. Having the extra space and quiet is GREAT, especially during Covid times, but I also can't wait to downsize again once children have mostly left the nest. Property taxes, maintenance, monthly payment are way higher. I can afford it though on a combined $130k income and still max out all retirement accounts. So, I guess I'm "winning",for now at least.

I could move 15-20 miles away and probably buy the same house for $200k less, which is certainly appealing down the road. Although my next house will hopefully be closer to 1,500-1,700 sf, single level.

iris lily

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2020, 11:48:10 AM »
In my old age, luxury is not expressed by square footage. Luxury in living quarters is high quality materials, sensible design, good location and handsome setting.

Cranky

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2020, 12:10:58 PM »
It depends on what you mean by ďnicerĒ I guess, and how long you plan to stay there, and the relative costs.

We bought the starter house we could afford 25 years ago, and stayed in it instead of upgrading. It was a little small for a family of 5, but now itís the perfect size and itís all fixed up, and Iím a bit sad about leaving it for our retirement house next year. We do not live in an area where houses appreciate in value.

former player

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2020, 12:37:24 PM »
I get the impression that in the USA there is a thought that bigger is better and that's rather what I get from your question.  As a single person you quite possibly won't use more than one bedroom from week to week but living in a safe, walkable, environmentally healthy neighbourhood will be something you make use of every day.   So I'd question hard your need for more than two bedrooms but I'd also question hard any inclination to cheap out on living in a neighbourhood that doesn't chime with the way you want to live your life.

Montecarlo

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2020, 01:22:21 PM »
If you plan on finding a long term partner, I would go small and cheap.  Chances are anything you will get will not feel like ďhomeĒ to a long term partner, even if itís perfectly acceptable.  Go small and you will save faster than bigger homes can appreciate.

KBecks

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2020, 01:45:28 PM »
I think that you need to look at a range of houses, then make your decision.

I love that we did not stretch hard for our first and only house.  But, we did increase our budget a bit after nothing in our lower starter budget felt right.  Back in 1998/9, we started looking at homes under $150k, but ended up purchasing closer to $170k, so that was a 14% budget increase.

We did feel like we scored well, we also bought a "granny house", with lots of ugly wallpaper, etc.  But it is on a quiet street, easy access to everything, has trees, etc. etc.  It is not a fancy house though.  It is a moderate house.

Now it's all paid off and our family of 5 is comfortable here.  If we upgrade, I'll look for something with lots of nature and spectacular windows.

For now though, this home is very practical.  It is a little cramped and we do not have the home office or home gym setup, but we do have an unfinished basement that is flex space.

SwordGuy

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #15 on: September 12, 2020, 08:04:29 PM »
Not at all.   We always bought houses that were WELL BELOW what conventional wisdom said was "affordable".

That enabled us to roll with life's financial punches much more easily.   It meant we had the money to pay down that mortgage really fast or to invest.  We didn't buy our "expensive" house until after we were rich.   I'm very glad we did it that way.  Otherwise, we wouldn't have been able to retire already.

Duke03

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #16 on: September 12, 2020, 11:55:34 PM »
When I was 25 I wanted to move up in homes.  I live in a LCOL area.  They started building some really nice homes on 1 acre lots for 350k in an area I really wanted to live in.  I could have afforded it at the time, but I thought I was being smart and stayed in my starter home for 3 more years.  I went to look at those same homes and they where all selling for 500k plus 3 years later....

MayDay

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #17 on: September 13, 2020, 06:00:19 AM »
I think its usually a question of how much more it costs and how much more than you really need.

When we bought our second house it was a 2700 sq ft 4 bed house. The price itself wasn't high (LCOL) but it was stupidly too much space with all the ridiculous features that come in mcmansions- vaulted entry, wasted formal dining room, master bathroom the size of a bedroom, etc.

When we moved and bought our current house the two finalists were a 1600 sq ft with 4 bedrooms for 335k, or a 1200 SQ foot with 3 bedrooms for 250k that was much tinier in terms of how the space layout felt. Additionally the small house did not have a usuable basement. It was a pretty tough to decide..... But we went with the bigger one (4 person family with two tweens) and OMG are we ever glad, especially since we have 4 people working/schooling from home!

We also just really LOVE the bigger house because it was so nicely laid out and built. Whereas the small one I don't think ever would have felt like a home we love.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2020, 10:20:59 AM by MayDay »

Schaefer Light

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #18 on: September 13, 2020, 06:36:45 AM »
For me, it was just the opposite.  I bought a house when I was single, and never utilized half of the space in the house (but still had to pay to heat and cool it).  It sold for about 30% more than I paid for it, but I wish I had bought a cheaper and smaller house.

Simpli-Fi

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #19 on: September 13, 2020, 08:55:49 AM »
Moving is expensive, period

Find a place you want to be, find a house you can afford, buy and stay there; you'll thank me in 15 years.

Side note: I've been homeless for almost 3 months (air BnBs and furnished places), and in temporary living situations for almost 6 years...trying to buy a house right now (historically low rates) is very difficult...6 Above list price offers out there...still no contract.

Rosy

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #20 on: September 13, 2020, 09:01:29 AM »
I've moved more than 20 times in my lifetime, bought/sold two homes and inherited one.
2BR/2B - 1250sqft total living space, plus garage is what I ultimately find "best":) for a couple and a child.
Location-location and smart, functional interior layout is everything.

Funny, I grew up in an 850 sqft apartment and ended up in an 870 sqft bungalow plus carport.
It was fine back then just for my mom and me and it is fine for two people retiring in place.

Count me in with the regretters
We could have moved to a 1200sqft place in a better neighborhood 15 years ago.
Yes, I do regret that we did not for several different reasons - it was a missed opportunity.
The area we looked at has tripled in value, we could have kept our bungalow and rented it out which would have reduced our monthly payments, it is a double lot and we could have sold one lot at top price, we would have enjoyed and used the extra space for ourselves and overseas guests...
Financially speaking we would be much better off if we had "bought" a nicer home.

Alas, our neighborhood has improved considerably in the last five years, home values have doubled and we fixed our storage and space for projects issue about ten years ago.
Thankfully, the bungalow is on an acre of property so we were able to add a nice, AC/heat, big she-shed for projects and storage.

The Bungalows interior layout works very well, it is functional, feels surprisingly spacious and airy.
It even works well for entertaining - as long as we use our outdoor spaces.
We enjoy our outdoor dining and entertainment spaces with gazebo, and separate garden rooms like a secret garden, potager/veggie/herb garden and tropical garden area.
It gives me daily pleasure and allows me to enjoy the outdoors even on days/weeks when I have an auto-immune flare-up and can't leave the house.
It is a good place to retire in place because of location, close to everything.
The layout makes it easy to each have our own space which is a huge plus - handy if you need a home office (but only if you have no kids) and great to have during Covid when you are high risk.

There you go - pros and cons.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2020, 08:29:32 AM by Rosy »

Retire-Canada

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #21 on: September 13, 2020, 09:03:55 AM »
We hear a lot about regrets for buying too much house, curious to know if any one has had regrets from doing the opposite?

I don't have any real regrets buying a smaller house and building my investments so I could FIRE. Despite the fact I am very likely to buy a nicer house in the next few years. If you gave me a time machine sure I might buy more house than I did, but heck if you give me a time machine and I knew what the real estate/interest rates and stock markets were going to do I'd be a ton richer than I am.

Looking back at what I knew and the situation I had at hand it was a smart choice. All it takes is a job lose and/or health issue to happen and not being maxed out on your housing expenses seems like a blessing.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2020, 01:16:22 PM by Retire-Canada »

StashingAway

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #22 on: September 13, 2020, 10:19:49 AM »
When I was 25 I wanted to move up in homes.  I live in a LCOL area.  They started building some really nice homes on 1 acre lots for 350k in an area I really wanted to live in.  I could have afforded it at the time, but I thought I was being smart and stayed in my starter home for 3 more years.  I went to look at those same homes and they where all selling for 500k plus 3 years later....

+1. If you buy a "cheap" house, or one that fits a significantly smaller demographic or in a worse location, you may be forgoing a lot of re-sale benefits. It's of course market dependent.

frugs

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #23 on: September 13, 2020, 04:18:49 PM »
Yes, I absolutely regret not buying a bigger home in terms of sq footage and number of bedrooms because:

-10 years after our purchase, the larger homes which didn't cost that much more at the time have appreciated much faster and are worth a lot more than ours

-Because of the above if we buy another home now, prices have gone up A LOT

-Buying and selling fees. The longer you stay in a home the more the investment pays off

-Property taxes. Buying now resets our property taxes and they will be much higher

-Even though we remain childless we find we want those extra bedrooms we don't have because we both now work from home due to covid and each need our own office, and would also like a dedicated guest bedroom

-Moving sucks

- A few months after we bought our home, a larger home in the same neighborhood sold for about $10k more (it was a bit more dated but who cares?)

When purchasing homes, it is helpful to look at the $/square footage. Small homes actually tend to be expensive because for a nominal amount you can get a larger space with so much more. In the moment we went small because we felt stretched but remember that is only temporary. Our mortgage seemed overwhelming back then but after the sticker shock and a few years, it is now DIRT cheap.

Also another quick tip: Use your imagination when looking at homes. We went for move in ready after looking at a few bigger places not recently renovated. We could have easily gone bigger if we had not had everything new and shiny.

Go big or go home!
« Last Edit: September 13, 2020, 04:21:29 PM by frugs »

nnls

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #24 on: September 13, 2020, 07:30:50 PM »
I dont see nicer and bigger, if by nicer you mean better layout, more practical use of space, better design things like that then I would say buy that if you can afford it. I probably wouldnt buy bigger if you dont need it.

ketchup

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #25 on: September 13, 2020, 08:26:36 PM »
Nope, we bought the cheapest house for sale within 25 miles of my parents' house (bad strategy but worked out for us) for $18k in 2012.  500sqft 1bed/1bath.  I was 20 and GF was 19.  We shared it with GF's sister and GF's sister's boyfriend (yes, it was tight, but the lowest living expenses we'll ever have).  Then rented it out and the four of us moved into a much "nicer" rental house for a couple years before we split off and GF and I bought a house slightly less "nice" than the one were previously renting (we were 24/23 then) for $99k.  Now we're renting a big weird old shitty farmhouse, and gearing to sell the previous house for a handsome gain (thanks, weird COVID suburban housing bubble), and probably also unload the early first cheap house for a nice cash infusion too.

Our "nice" hopefully-forever house will be sometime late next year most likely, now that we'll be 30/29, making good money, and will have the upfront cash and ongoing cashflow to actually afford a "really nice" house while maintaining a solid savings rate.  We could have probably "stretched" our budget much further five years ago with the last house, but we really would have been constrained as a result.  I value being able to sleep at night more than living in a "nicer" house.

Our idea of "really nice" house is on a good chunk of land (an acre or two minimum), short commute for me, and reasonable drive to the airport (GF flies a lot for work in years that don't rhyme with 2020).  Size is secondary, but pretty much anything that fits our bill is more than we really need size-wise anyway, so it's not really a concern.  There's definitely such a thing as too big.  I'd probably turn down a 3000 square foot monster, even if it had everything else we wanted.

Jon Bon

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #26 on: September 14, 2020, 07:32:31 AM »
PTF.

I am kind of there as well.  We are either going to add on, or move.

This house was a winner when I bought it six years ago, but my kids keep growing. It's a problem. Luckily we are not manufacturing anymore kids.

I guess I was never at the point where I could have been said to myself well 250k house or 500k house? I mean I likely could have at the time, but I would have been cash poor and house rich for a few years and that is never fun. Sure my income and NW has grown substantially since I bought this house, but no one has that kind of foresight to take that big of a risk.

Buying the ugliest house on the block still works I think, even if its huge and expensive. As long as it is not as huge and expensive as all the other houses it generally works out.






Imma

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #27 on: September 14, 2020, 09:43:23 AM »
I am very glad we bought a very cheap house when we did. It was all we could afford at the time and it was the ugliest house on the street which made the price even better. We got several "nasty" remarks from friends then - not truly nasty, but more like "why buy if the place you own is as ugly as a cheap rental"? They truly didn't get it.

We paid Ä800 in rent for our ugly cheap rental but our mortgage payment is only Ä300(80k at 2,25%). And our rental was 1/3 smaller.
So even after the higher costs of ownership we still saved Ä250/month compared to staying in the rental + we were paying off on our mortgage. We made like Ä2k after taxes back then so that's a LOT of money.

5 years later our house is no longer ugly. Turns out orange ceilings are easily fixed with a few cans of paint. We've done maintenance and some upgrading, but we've chosen modest styles on purpose. This is still the cheapest type of house on the market and the prices have gone up by nearly 50% since then. Our income has also gone up significantly. Our mortgage payment is still the same. As much as I'd love to own a cute old farmhouse on a few acres of land, with everything going on in the world right now I think buying this home at the age of 24 is probably going to be one of the best decisions I've made in my life - together with the person I bought with because that can really make or break your financial succes.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Any regrets not buying a "nicer" home sooner?
« Reply #28 on: September 14, 2020, 09:49:59 AM »
Our "nice" house has come with a lot less stress than our starter house, because it was new, and thus not falling apart. So in that respect, it would have been nice to have earlier.  It would have been way too big for 2 of us, but it's a nice size for 4 of us, especially now that I work at home.  Getting it earlier means we wouldn't have been at such a nice time in the market to buy though, we took advantage of a big dip.

We are incredible homebodies though, so having a nice house is good for us. We rarely leave it.