Author Topic: Expecting TWINS - Thinking of buying a bigger house - talk me down!  (Read 3557 times)

hollyluja

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 57
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Portland, OR
Hello! 

I just found out we are expecting TWINS in early 2017, and I'm completely freaking out about everything we own being too small for my growing family.  Starting with the house of course. 

Some background:  My husband and I live in Portland in an 1,100 sq ft 3 bed/2 bath house across the street from a nice city park.  We can walk to everything including public transit.  We currently have a nearly-3 year old boy together, and he also has a 9 year old girl who comes on weekends and about 5 full weeks/ year.  So we will soon be a family of 6.

I've been a follower of MMM for 2 years and we currently are on track to FI in 5 years by saving ~50% of income.  We both work full time and the 3 year old is in daycare.

As you may know, all the West Coast housing markets are INSANE right now.  We bought this house for $300K 3 years ago and to get a "next step up" 1500-2000 sq ft house in this neighborhood would be at least $500K.

I'm considering buying a house big enough for an au pair to partially offset the increased childcare costs.  That house would be more like $600K (starting price for 4 bed in this neighborhood) OR something with an ADU to rent out to offset the price of a bigger house (also ~$600K). 

So!   Talk me down please!  Tell me all about how babies -  even TWINS don't need much space in the first year or so.  Tell me now is a stupid time to buy and the market will look better in a year or two.

LifeHappens

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6521
  • Location: SnowBirdLand
  • Downshifting from 5th to 3rd Gear
Re: Expecting TWINS - Thinking of buying a bigger house - talk me down!
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2016, 10:47:01 AM »
Congratulations on your growing family!

My younger sisters are twins. For the first 2 years, they slept in cribs that were right next to each other.* For a couple of years after that they shared a twin bed. Newborn twins are used to being physically close and want to stay that way. It's a totally healthy part of their development to have them together in a small space. You really don't have to worry about them needing more space until they are at least school age.

*until one of them learned to crawl out of hers and into the other twin's crib!

ysette9

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4816
  • Location: Bay Area, CA
    • Insert Snappy Title Here (Journal)
Re: Expecting TWINS - Thinking of buying a bigger house - talk me down!
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2016, 10:47:22 AM »
First: BREATHE.
Second: congratulations! Wishing you a healthy a pregnancy.
Third: BREATHE.

This is huge and exciting and still a ways away. I would recommend making no significant life changes at this point. If you were in a 1/1 condo then I could see your point, but a 3/2 1100ft^2 house is about what my imaginary dream home configuration looks like in my head. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having kids share a room and babies take up very little space for the first <long time> of their lives.

You'll obviously need to figure out childcare eventually, but that is still a ways off. Who knows how you will feel when the twins actually get here and what other life changes could happen between now and then? I get the hot housing market thing completely (Bay Area here), which is more reason to not jump at making any permanent housing decision until you are crystal-clear on what you are doing, why, and the financial impacts. Honestly, it sounds like you have a fantastic housing situation right now and maybe you just need to rearrange some furniture, get a bunkbed/sofa bed or similar. Good luck!

COlady

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 380
Re: Expecting TWINS - Thinking of buying a bigger house - talk me down!
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2016, 10:53:36 AM »
Breathe! I have 17 month old twins.  On 8/4 it will be exactly 2 years since I received the news....it's a date you never forget. You don't need a bigger house...trust me on this. What you need is to save as much money as you can right now....the first year was very expensive for us. I don't have time to write much more now but I'll check back later. You're going to be okay. I remember how stressed out I was and you will be okay.

hoping2retire35

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1401
  • Location: UPCOUNTRY CAROLINA
  • just want to see where this appears
Re: Expecting TWINS - Thinking of buying a bigger house - talk me down!
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2016, 11:07:43 AM »
Twin dad here. they just turned 4 and we were even crazy enough to have another baby!

Considering you are in a HCOL area getting a bigger house seems out of the question. But thinking you need to go from daycare to au pair or nanny is on the right track. Since you both work you may want to have 1-2 nannys to call on. My wife is a SAHM but if she went FT I think this is what we would do.

for the first 4-6 months the twins will probalby stay in your room for night feedings, then they can transition to three yo room. Does the 9yo get her own room when she comes? is the other an office? Our 19 month old sleeps in the same room as the twins.

did your three year old go to the park when he was walking (1ish)? would you be ok with a nanny taking them across the road at that age to play there? is there a fence around the park? if they head in different directions you want an obstacle between your child and the road, but it is nice to just go outside and not have to get them in cars seats every time.


hollyluja

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 57
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Portland, OR
Re: Expecting TWINS - Thinking of buying a bigger house - talk me down!
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2016, 11:21:09 AM »
Thank you for all the calming thoughts, everyone so far.  I'm definitely leaning toward not making any big $$ decisions for the next year.  My husband has always wanted a bigger house so it's a subject of discussion right now.

hoping2retire35, I wouldn't say a bigger house is out of the question.  I was thinking it might be more tax efficient to take advantage of the bigger deduction and be able to provide rent-free accommodations to an au-pair, rather than being taxed on my income then turning around and paying a nanny, who is then taxed and spends it mostly on her rent.

Right now we have one bunk-bed kids room and one office with a large futon.  The girl ends up sleeping there since both she and the boy are essentially "only children" most of the time and they both get too excited to sleep when in the same room.  I'm planning on putting the cribs in the bunk bed room, which will be tight but do-able.

The park has a "fence" between it and the road.  It's more like a 3 ft high railing, so it's not a very effective barrier.  However, we have taken my son over there most days since he was 6 months old.  The fence is about 20 ft from the nearest play structure, so thus far we've been able to catch him before he gets too far.

ETA:  I am astounded that, even with my constant frugality practice and training, it is so easy to displace my bigger TWIN anxiety onto this issue and think that spending ridiculous $$ on a bigger house will make it all go away.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2016, 11:30:15 AM by hollyluja »

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: Expecting TWINS - Thinking of buying a bigger house - talk me down!
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2016, 11:27:38 AM »
Ours are also due in January though it'll probably be December with the way twins like to come early. We have a nearly-3-year-old daughter too so I guess we're on parallel courses here.

So, all together now...AAAAAAAAAAAAH! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Okay. We have a 3/2.5 house, though it's bigger than yours at just under 2000 SF...there is a nice big playroom on our third floor that's critical in the winter months here in Pennsylvania and we put on a small office since I work from home full time. I really don't expect the twins to take up a whole bunch of space. Tiny babies just want held anyways.

Even more importantly, if you're like my wife, twin pregnancy is hard. It'll take you at least two months to find a new house, probably longer, and by then you're going to be pretty dang pregnant. Do you really want to move houses while pregnant? Of course you don't. Moving is awful and stressful, and it'll really stress out your toddler, who just like everybody else is going to have a hard adjustment to make around the New Year.

If when you regain your sanity around April (that's my goal anyways) you think you really don't have enough room, maybe consider it then. You have enough to do with right now.

aFrugalFather

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 219
    • Life/Finance Blog
Re: Expecting TWINS - Thinking of buying a bigger house - talk me down!
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2016, 11:31:06 AM »
Doesn't portland have zoning that allows for a tiny home in the backyard for caregivers?  How is your back yard?  Also, although we have more space than you, our family of Five (soon to be 6) is 99% in just 2 bedrooms, but I know everyone is different. 

hollyluja

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 57
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Portland, OR
Re: Expecting TWINS - Thinking of buying a bigger house - talk me down!
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2016, 11:36:08 AM »
aFrugalFather, we have no backyard.  OR as I like to think of it, we have a giant yard across the street that the city pays to maintain :)

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp  Aaaaaahhhh!! is what is going through my head.  And "Twins, twins, twins, twins, TWINS!" ( to the tune of Monty Python's SPAM song. 

And yes this pregnancy has been so much harder than the last.  It's ridiculous to think of buying a house when I can barely get off the couch.  I'm just lucky I can work from home (bed) a day per week.  I'm just not sure I'm going to have any MORE energy (or money) a year from now.

Sibley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3456
  • Location: Chicago, IL
Re: Expecting TWINS - Thinking of buying a bigger house - talk me down!
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2016, 11:51:55 AM »
OP, you've got 3+ years before you run out of room. Get through the next 3 years, then reconsider if you need a bigger house. Also remember, bigger house = more to clean, maintain, heat, cool, etc. Are you going to have TIME to deal with a bigger house? You will expand to fill whatever space you're in, that's a given.

Take care of yourself!

hollyluja

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 57
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Portland, OR
Re: Expecting TWINS - Thinking of buying a bigger house - talk me down!
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2016, 11:55:04 AM »
Sibley, that is so true.  I love that right now I can vacuum the whole house from one outlet. The whole house takes ~1 hr/wk to clean if we do a really thorough job.

It is also a great excuse to not accept ugly bulky presents or even worse, family heirlooms.  I would loose that with more space.

Noodle

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1156
Re: Expecting TWINS - Thinking of buying a bigger house - talk me down!
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2016, 12:00:44 PM »
Congrats, Incipient Twin Mom! You are now on a big adventure! Blessings!

As other twin parents have pointed out, infant twins don't take up that much more space than singletons when they are very little. They can share the same bedroom (even bed) etc. Once you need two highchairs, etc it will require more space but the "equipment period" only lasts so long. My twin nieces, now elementary school, are still in bunkbeds in the same room and their parents are very carefully not even breathing the possibility of separate rooms because it is so handy to have a guest bedroom for the various relatives providing childcare. You may very well need a bigger house in a couple years, and I know all about the pressure of a soaring housing market, but you really cannot predict what growing your family by two is going to do. You and your husband may have different thoughts about work. The babies might have health problems that change the equation. I would argue that the wisest course is to wait and see, especially since you have that office space (for instance if you need to move the three YO due to sleep issues.) And honestly, from observing my sister and other twin parents--having extra cash to throw at problems is REALLY helpful when you are completely sleep deprived. Being able to afford a night nurse or takeout for awhile might save your sanity at some point.

RetiredAt63

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 10829
  • Location: Eastern Ontario, Canada
Re: Expecting TWINS - Thinking of buying a bigger house - talk me down!
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2016, 12:03:36 PM »
My sister had twins, she went the nanny/au pair route while the twins were small.  Not only was the salary not a lot more than daycare, the au pair did basic housekeeping and laundry and cooked dinner - my sister and BIL both had high-paying demanding jobs, and this worked really well for them.  If the nanny is not live-in you don't need an extra room.  Having the money for extra help was more useful to them than a bigger house. 

OT a bit - twins.  There are parents of twins groups, you can get everything from the medical low-down to parenting tricks to clothing exchanges to strollers for twins.  Having had a singleton is not preparation for twins, just to warn you.  ;-)

catccc

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1681
  • Location: SE PA
Re: Expecting TWINS - Thinking of buying a bigger house - talk me down!
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2016, 12:13:39 PM »
The most awesome family I know is a family of 8 cousins, 5 girls and 3 boys.  The youngest is in her mid 20s now, the oldest is in her mid to late 30s.  They lived in a small 3 bedroom, 1 bath cottage style house- small eat in kitchen, living area, bedrooms, and bathroom all on one level.  They did have a basement, which was unfinished but basically where the kids would hang out.  There was a girls bedroom, a boys bedroom, and the parent's bedroom.  So that's a family of 10 in what was probably not more than 1,000 sqft.  They all are "successful" by conventional terms, but are very down to earth and take care of one another.  Really lovely family.

An au pair isn't going to save much money if you need to spend $200K for a bigger house with an additional bedroom.

RetiredAt63

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 10829
  • Location: Eastern Ontario, Canada
Re: Expecting TWINS - Thinking of buying a bigger house - talk me down!
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2016, 12:20:20 PM »
An au pair isn't going to save much money if you need to spend $200K for a bigger house with an additional bedroom.
Is au pair the standard term for live-in nanny?  It sounds like a day-time nanny plus possibly some other help so they are not swamped would be fine.  Having a pile of hired help is still a lot less expensive than buying a new house, not to mention a lot less disruptive.  Plus the new house is forever (or until they sell again) while hired help can be cut back as the need decreases.

acroy

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1702
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Dallas TX
    • SWAMI
Re: Expecting TWINS - Thinking of buying a bigger house - talk me down!
« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2016, 12:41:09 PM »
Whooo! congratulations!
We have twins, just turned 6. Piece of cake really, twins are not 200% of the work, they are like 120%. And they entertain each other so well! I can go on about the awesomeness, but just be aware, twins are fully awesome.
Stay where you are. The house is just to sleep, poo and wash in, mostly, right? be outside in that beautiful PNW! optimize your space and enjoy

Tjat

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 562
Re: Expecting TWINS - Thinking of buying a bigger house - talk me down!
« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2016, 06:44:04 PM »
Congratulations. I would think that a 3-bedroom house is fine if the twins can share a room. I think it's tough to ask the 3y old and the twins to share a room so that an office can be free (and used by the 9 year old sporadically). Is it an option to eliminate the office and use full-time as a bedroom? If not, a 4 bedroom house seems to make more sense.

1967mama

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2142
  • Age: 52
  • Location: Canada
Re: Expecting TWINS - Thinking of buying a bigger house - talk me down!
« Reply #17 on: August 02, 2016, 06:53:13 PM »
Bunkbeds are such a God-send for a large family. There are triple bunks, with 3 stacked up, or a double on the bottom and a single on the top.  I've also seen large families where the master bedroom becomes a bit of a dormatory-style bedroom and the parents move into a smaller bedroom.  You can also add a trundle bed to a bunk that slides away during the day. 

catccc

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1681
  • Location: SE PA
Re: Expecting TWINS - Thinking of buying a bigger house - talk me down!
« Reply #18 on: August 03, 2016, 11:21:21 AM »
An au pair isn't going to save much money if you need to spend $200K for a bigger house with an additional bedroom.

Is au pair the standard term for live-in nanny?  It sounds like a day-time nanny plus possibly some other help so they are not swamped would be fine.  Having a pile of hired help is still a lot less expensive than buying a new house, not to mention a lot less disruptive.  Plus the new house is forever (or until they sell again) while hired help can be cut back as the need decreases.

No, an au pair is not just a live in nanny, it is a program that brings young (most countries have an age range of 18 to late 20s -ish) qualified child care candidates to host families via government designated agencies-  there are rules, and in the US the au pair program is administered by the US Department of State.  Rules relate to remuneration, duties, education, hours worked.  Au pairs will do light duty chores that relate to the kids- preparing meals for kids, doing kids laundry, etc.  They are not required to do stuff like clean bathrooms or tidy up a parent's space or serve as general housekeepers.  In the US, the au pair is also required to fill an small (6 credit) academic requirement during their stay.

My sister uses an au pair for her twins in the bay area.  She already had sufficient space in her home and the day care costs there are outrageous, so it made a lot of sense.  Plus, IDK if they just lucked out, but their au pair is amazing.  So good with the kids, a wonderful person, she's really like part of the family.  I think her au pair time has run out but she is still able to stay on a student visa, or while awaiting results of the student visa application or something like that.  She's been with the boys since the were 9 months and they are now 3.5.

Also, their au pair knows other au pairs that have really sweet gigs.  One is an au pair for a single dad w/ joint custody in hawaii.  The kid is only with the dad like, every other week or something, so the rest of the time she just lazes around on beaches.  She knows another au pair who's "child" is like 16- she's basically a hired playmate/chaperone for the teen.  No screaming kids or changing diapers.  Although I guess teenage girls sometimes aren't all rainbows, either...

I wish I had known about the au pair program when I was younger.  I know a recent college grad that was an au pair for the summer in spain.  Seems like a good way to see another country for an extended period!