Author Topic: Downsize 'slightly?' or stay put for now??  (Read 4809 times)

startingsmall

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 680
Downsize 'slightly?' or stay put for now??
« on: July 06, 2015, 07:44:44 PM »
A bit about our current home:  It is 2500 square feet on 5+ acres.  Home was built in the 1980's and later had the garage enclosed (it's done well and you can't tell it was a conversion)... so there are now a total of 5 bedrooms: hubby & I, kiddo, future kiddo, office, and guest room.  It was never our intention to get quite such a big house, but the price was right and so we did it, 2.5 years ago. 
Pros:
- My family members are all located out of town, so the guest room typically gets used at least 15-20 days per year, if not more.
- Great house for entertaining.
- Acreage is attractive to my husband, because he has horses and likes having the option to move them to our house someday.  (Realistically, I can't see why we'd ever do that.... his parents have 15 acres and they already shelled out the cash for fencing & a barn just a few years ago.... our horses live there, with theirs, quite cheaply in exchange for my husband helping some with the upkeep.)
Cons:
- Our 5 acres is ALL grass (except for some monstrous flowerbeds), so mowing our yard takes 6-8 hours every 1-2 weeks during the summer.  YUCK.  Husband does it most of the time, but that's time we can't spend together.
- Cleaning 2500 square feet is INSANE.  I feel like I'm always vacuuming & mopping.
- Big house means we accumulate lots of "stuff."

The current numbers:
Value - $246k per Zillow (which I think is probably relatively accurate)
Mortgage - $206k @ 3.5% (current payment is $970 principal/interest, $105 PMI, plus $332 escrow)

We moved here from a 1930's bungalow.... 1500 sq ft on 0.19 acres.  We wanted more space, and I do think that now having a guest room is a big benefit, but we went too big.  I miss being able to spend our days off taking daytrips, instead of always having to stay home focusing on cleaning or yardwork.  Until recently, I've been alone in this frustration.... but I think my husband may also be starting to agree with me.  We've started to talk about the possibility of moving, especially since we've recently seen a few other homes that we could both agree on.  These homes would come without acreage, but would be closer to his parents' house and therefore make it easier for him to see his horses.  The two homes we're currently lusting after are also in a much better school district. 

The two most appealing options that are currently on the market are a $215k 3/2 + bonus room (2400 sq ft & 0.8 acres... not much smaller but much less yardwork!) or a $190k 4/2 (1800 sq ft & 0.8 acres).  Both would need very mild cosmetic upgrades and one would need to have the yard fenced, but nothing else major that I can tell from the listings.  (Obviously, it could be another story if we see them in person.)

Here's where I'm kinda stuck, though.  Does it really make sense to try to sell our house after only 2.5 years just to downsize 'a little bit?'  Or would it make more sense to ride this house out for the next 15 years, then downsize all the way down to a much smaller house once our kiddos are heading off to college and my parents are less likely to be traveling?  By then, the in-laws may be trying to get us to take their house, though.... so that may not be a realistic plan. 

I was in my first house for only 5 years, and now only 2.5 years in this one, and I just wonder if it's silly to consider bailing so soon.  Maybe we're just fickle.   I lost money on the first house, so that's probably making me paranoid as well.

I feel like a step down would increase our happiness, but I can't decide whether it's a financially responsible choice.  Downsizing 'a lot' would be a clear financial winner, but we aren't ready for anything that aggressive at this point and so I don't know if just a small step down will really have any benefit or if we'll just be creating a lot of costs (realtors fees, closing fees, moving expenses, etc) and headaches for minimal benefit.

Any thoughts appreciated.  Thanks!!

ETA:  Moving to the area that we are considering would lengthen my commute but decrease husband's commute and the amount we drive to visit his parents (a frequent occurrence) so probably a slight overall decrease in driving.  We're in a very car-centric rural area, though, so it won't be a huge difference.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2015, 08:02:17 PM by startingsmall »

mozar

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3235
Re: Downsize 'slightly?' or stay put for now??
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2015, 08:00:57 PM »
If you moved would you break even? For me, moving closer to family and not having to mow the lawn for 6 hours is a no brainer. But I'm biased. I am 16 minutes from my mother and it takes me an hour to mow every two weeks. For me time>money.

startingsmall

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 680
Re: Downsize 'slightly?' or stay put for now??
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2015, 08:06:38 PM »
The proximity to family isn't a huge difference.... we're currently about a 20 minute drive from his parents/horses and this would take us down to about 10 minutes.  So an improvement, but not an orders-of-magnitude improvement.

And yeah, I think we'd break even but I'm not 100% sure.

morning owl

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 230
  • Location: Canada
Re: Downsize 'slightly?' or stay put for now??
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2015, 08:32:22 PM »
Do you have to have all 5 acres be grass? Can't you let some if not most of this grow wild? (I happen to find wildlife quite beautiful, and nicer to look at than grass...) you could plant some native wildflowers and let them spread, just to get something started. Fields of milkweed, or sunflowers, or...

startingsmall

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 680
Re: Downsize 'slightly?' or stay put for now??
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2015, 08:38:02 PM »
I would be 100% in favor of that , but the husband is strongly opposed.  If we're going to stay in this house, he wants to maintain it as good quality pasture in case we decide to fence it and bring out the horses.  If we let it 'go wild,' it would apparently be hard to convert back to nice pasture-quality grass.

When we first moved out here, I was all excited about having land and being in nature, etc.  I've since realized that we had a lot more 'nature' on our 0.19 acres nestled in the oak trees than we will ever have on 5+ acres of grass.  I miss waking up to birds singing in the morning!   Being able to see so many stars in the night sky is a nice perk, but doesn't quite compensate for the loss of the deafening summer din of cicadas.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2015, 08:40:34 PM by startingsmall »

pbkmaine

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8336
  • Age: 63
  • Location: The Villages, Florida
Re: Downsize 'slightly?' or stay put for now??
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2015, 08:44:18 PM »
  Anything that cuts down on mowing gets my vote.

Clean Shaven

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 821
  • Location: Wild Wild West
Re: Downsize 'slightly?' or stay put for now??
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2015, 08:46:14 PM »
Herd of goats?

MoonShadow

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2542
  • Location: Louisville, Ky.
Re: Downsize 'slightly?' or stay put for now??
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2015, 09:11:50 PM »
In my opinion, for what that is worth, if you are going to downsize at all, never do it a little bit.  And if you move, move close to your (or his) work, not close to your in-laws.  But nor should you assume that you will wait till you have an empty nest to downsize in a big way.  From the mustachian perspective, it is more prudent to downsize to shorten a commute than to downsize into a cheaper home.

And the alternative homes you mention are still huge from my perspectives.  I grew up with two other siblings in an 1100 square foot home.  Gender matched siblings get one bedroom with bunkbeds, forever. Teenagers don't have a right to a private bedroom.

As for keeping the extra bedroom for houseguests for 12 nights a year; attempt to figure out how much that extra room actually costs you to keep for a year (mortgage as compared to a smaller home, extra heating an cooling for a year, etc) and compare that to the cost of 12 regular price nights at the nearest motel.  If it would be cheaper for *you*, if you were paying for the motel rental; then the extra bedroom is a luxury item, and you need to treat it as such.

startingsmall

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 680
Re: Downsize 'slightly?' or stay put for now??
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2015, 06:31:22 AM »
Thanks for the feedback!!

Unfortunately, given that we're in a rural area, any hotel would be at least a 20-30 minute drive from our house for our guests.  Doable, but it would definitely limit how frequently my parents, aunt, and brothers come to visit us... and their visits are something that I enjoy enough to make it worth the price. (My aunt and brothers come for frequent long weekends and my parents come for week-long visits... actually, looking over my calendar for the last year, we had a total of 28 nights with houseguests so apparently my off-the-cuff 10-15 nights per year was a big miscalculation!!  And some of those nights included both my parents and both of my adult brothers with their significant others, which is the one and only perk of this big house... but I figured we could always move holidays to a vacation rental instead of doing them at our house.)

I'm with you on a much smaller house and shared bedrooms if we end up with another girl (3 bedroom house - us, kids, and guest/office), but can't get the husband on board so these are the options that are available to me.  Marital harmony has its own value :)

As far as commuting, I only work 4 days per week and one/both of us goes to the in-laws at least 5 days/wk (sometimes at separate times in separate vehicles), so proximity to the in-laws is just as big of a factor as proximity to my work.  These houses are also marginally closer to my husband's work (5 miles vs 7 miles) and one/both of us drive to the church at least 5 days/wk, usually 6. Also, my plan is to go down to 2 days/wk in 4 years, further limiting any value in shortening my commute... and that may not be an option at my current job so it may mean a job change.) Finally, the houses we're considering would be closer to our daycare, so it would also help in that respect for the next 5 years.  Like I said, though, we're in an area where doing a lot of driving is inevitable and the differences that we're talking about aren't big ones.  in terms of our overall annual driving.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2015, 06:43:16 AM by startingsmall »

startingsmall

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 680
Re: Downsize 'slightly?' or stay put for now??
« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2015, 06:34:29 AM »
Herd of goats?

That's what my husband wants, but that takes us right back to the expense of fencing PLUS the stress of caring for animals here and the horses at his parents!  Given that we already own 2 dogs, 1 cat, 3 chickens, 1 ball python, 1 dove, and 2 horses, I'm really trying to trim our herd down and not add to it!

partgypsy

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3988
Re: Downsize 'slightly?' or stay put for now??
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2015, 07:06:41 AM »
Personally if there is a home that better fits your lifestyle, gives you 6-8 hours of your life back every week (maybe more if you include cleaning), and reduces driving, I would be for it.

Just as long as you don't go overboard. My parents in law moved about 10 times, sometimes 2, 3 different houses in the same town, looking for the perfect house/situation. There is no such thing. Get as close as you can, and call it done (why do your in-laws want you to take their home?). I wouldn't even consider downsizing after this, unless there is substantial savings/cost of life benefit to doing so. 
« Last Edit: July 07, 2015, 07:08:22 AM by partgypsy »

startingsmall

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 680
Re: Downsize 'slightly?' or stay put for now??
« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2015, 07:13:38 AM »
why do your in-laws want you to take their home?

They don't at the moment, but they're 65 years old and I imagine that the appeal of maintaining a 15 acre horse farm will wear off as they age.  It's already a constant source of arguments between them, and my husband spends a lot of time there helping his mom with tasks that his dad is unwilling/unable to do.  They say that they'll stay there until they die, but neither of us can really see that happening and expect it will eventually be for sale... and then my husband will want to buy it so that he continues to have somewhere for the horses.

expectopatronum

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 225
  • Location: Texas
Re: Downsize 'slightly?' or stay put for now??
« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2015, 07:50:07 AM »
  Anything that cuts down on mowing gets my vote.

I see what you did there.

partgypsy

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3988
Re: Downsize 'slightly?' or stay put for now??
« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2015, 09:19:55 AM »
why do your in-laws want you to take their home?

They don't at the moment, but they're 65 years old and I imagine that the appeal of maintaining a 15 acre horse farm will wear off as they age.  It's already a constant source of arguments between them, and my husband spends a lot of time there helping his mom with tasks that his dad is unwilling/unable to do.  They say that they'll stay there until they die, but neither of us can really see that happening and expect it will eventually be for sale... and then my husband will want to buy it so that he continues to have somewhere for the horses.

Sounds like you and your husband have a difference in values/idea for the future. What's going to happen when they let you know or you find out they can no longer maintain it? A 15 acre horse farm, that's a whole other level of "mowing" as well as other commitments. Will your husband be retired at that point?