Author Topic: Have any families with children downsized their home?  (Read 10349 times)

travelbug

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Have any families with children downsized their home?
« on: March 07, 2014, 08:28:47 PM »
Hi

we are moving to a place we loved living and moved away from to expand our business.

It's time now we are FI to go back and we were looking at similar sized houses in suburbia, close to the beach. But I have been not that fussed.

We are currently on just over an acre with a large house (built to sell in this area, as we knew we would never be staying here) and we know that we do not want a huge block again.

But I am thinking that I do not want a huge house either again. The options are to have a 4-5 bedroom, 2 bathroom home in a suburb that would take around 10 minutes to the beach, or we could buy in a beachside suburb with a 3 bed 1 bath house for around the same money.

I am leaning towards the smaller space with "better" location.

Anyone live in a small house with children? We homeschool, so schooling zones are not an issue. (we are in Australia too, in case that makes a difference...)


avonlea

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Re: Have any families with children downsized their home?
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2014, 06:50:55 AM »
Hi, travelbug.  Our family has never downsized but we have only lived in 3 bedroom houses since having children, apart from the first 9 months of our oldest child's life when we lived in a one-bedroom apartment.  Three bedrooms have always provided more than enough space for us.  We have 2 children, ages 7 and 11.  They technically each have a bedroom but still like to sleep in the same room.

If I were in your shoes, I would prefer to live right next to the beach.  How fun!

Also, congratulations on being FI!

soccerluvof4

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Re: Have any families with children downsized their home?
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2014, 07:26:04 AM »
we downsized two years ago. We have 4 kids ranging from 8-15. Our old house was obnoxiously big and had the big lot, pool etc. Moved from a 7200 squ  foot raised ranch with a 6 car garage to a 4200 two story with a 3.5 car garage. In 4 years when two oldest are gone we will move into a 16--2000squ. foot ranch.  It was a simple move for us. Each child still has there own room but we got our costs significantly. Having said that, admitteldly, we got caught up in the "Big house " like the Jones for about 10 years and we did this on our own will and was best thing we did. We didnt have mortgage so was nice to put some money back working for us.

ruthiegirl

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Re: Have any families with children downsized their home?
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2014, 11:53:04 AM »
We did this last year.  We were living in a 2000 sq ft house on a larger lot with high taxes in an area that we did not love.

Dh scoped out a new job in an excellent location -- mountains, camping, long, gorgeous summers.  We rent a small, 700 sq ft duplex.  We have 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom, one small living room and a kitchen/dining room.  Oh, and 4 kids ages 12-2. 

It is a bit tight, but not uncomfortable.  There is often a line for the bathroom. 

But!  We now live within walking distance to an excellent school.   My dh can bike to work.  We max out our retirement account and IRAs for both dh and I and we save 1/2 of our take home pay.  I don't know the exact percentage -- close to 60% of net pay.

We camp all summer long which we love.  We swim in the rivers and play at the beach.  We hike and bike and generally love it here. 

We used to homeschool and I do think our place is a bit small for that, but we could make it work.  It would probably mean more activities out of the home. 

I think the hardest part is the lack of outdoor space.  I have always grown a large garden and we cannot do that here.  It does make me a bit sad. 

We are currently saving to buy another house.  When we do, we will buy something in the 1200-1500 sq ft range preferably one story so we can retire and stay in place.  And our next house will certainly have a nice space for a garden. 

Edited -- I did the calculation and we save 59% of our after tax income which is the biggest reason we chose to downsize. 
 
« Last Edit: March 08, 2014, 12:50:46 PM by ruthiegirl »

scrubbyfish

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Re: Have any families with children downsized their home?
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2014, 12:16:36 PM »
We started in a triplex that I owned -probably 2200 sq feet all told, but I rented out the two suites a previous owner had developed within that- and have moved to progressively smaller places.

We're now in a two-bedroom, 400 sq foot suite with yard. Absolutely love the size. My kid and I are both quite self-contained (conversely, when his two closest friends come over, they always leave a trail of mess behind them with no awareness whatsoever) so it works perfectly for us.

We will move again soon -haven't yet located the new one, but will aim to either share a larger house with strangers or get another 400 sq foot one for just the two of us. I love smaller and cheaper -more activities, less to clean and secure, etc. My son homeschools.

MayDay

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Re: Have any families with children downsized their home?
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2014, 12:38:48 PM »
First house:  1200 sq foot ranch with only one bedroom.  That sucked.  Other than the bedroom issue the space was fine, so we figured 1500-800 would be about right. 

Second house:  760 sq ft rental.  Two bedrooms which worked when kids were little but we have a b/g so nwanted three down the road.  I've bath was hard for DH as he likes privacy.  It was fine space-wise in summer suuuuuuucked in winter. 

Third house:  2800 sq ft, 4 beds plus an office.  We are quickly discovering that this is ridiculous for us, but also that we love having an office type room near he front door as it allows dumping of all paperwork type stuff.  In house one the office was in the basement, so the kitchen was the dumping ground.  Hated that.  When we bought this house we started out looking for 1500-1800 sq ft, but in our market there is very little between old dumpy tiny house and huge new house.  We are currently on the lookout for the perfect house and are being very picky/slow this time. 

Ideal for us would be 1200-1800 with three or four small bedrooms, one of which can be office/guest room, or separate either den or office or something.  Prefer 1.5 or 2 baths, more is wasteful for us.  Half bath in huge basement is fine.  Prefer an unfinished basement so we can finish in some of that space ourselves.  Prefer a ranch as all maintenance is easier to DIY (currently about to pay someone to paint our trim as it is way too high and steep to safely do ourselves,  something I never thought of when buying a two story, having previously only lived in ranches). 


Cassie

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Re: Have any families with children downsized their home?
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2014, 01:46:30 PM »
Grew up in a 1200sq ft house with 5 people & 2 baths. Had to share a bedroom-no problem. Raised my 3 kids in a 3 bedroom-one bath home and it was plenty big.

hyacinth

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Re: Have any families with children downsized their home?
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2014, 02:58:35 PM »
Yes! We have 4 kids ages 7-15 and we sold our 5br, 3 1/2 bath, 6000sf home on 45 acres last summer. It was a beautiful 2 story victorian home with a full attic and full finished basement. It also had a large mortgage and property tax bill to match! Not to mention large maintenance costs--the house was so tall and steep we couldn't power wash it or do repairs ourselves and there was so much mowing and cleaning that we hired help more than once in order to try to stay on top of things (and that's with 4 kids helping! We didn't want to think about what it would be like in 10 years when the kids wouldn't be around much to help!) It had a huge wraparound porch with loads of wood railing and trim that needed repainted every few years...living there also required a 4x4 vehicle to get up and down the long, steep driveway in the winter and we had to own a tractor and/or skidsteer in order to maintain the driveway and land. We ran scenario after scenario to figure out how to stay in that beautiful house and still get ahead financially but the numbers always said one thing: "You have to move!"

The house sold 3 days after it was listed, which was great! Problem was, there was nothing available for us to buy that fit our requirements--we wanted a few acres with no restrictions (kids are into horses and 4wheelers and we want space to hang laundry and garden), hubby needs high-speed cable internet for his job, and we wanted to stay in a particular school district that would allow my oldest to go to public school part-time this year. So we ended up buying a bank-owned piece of land building a home. We've lived in a rental house all fall/winter and will be moving into our new home this spring and we can't wait!

The new place is a 3br, 2 1/2 bath cape cod, around 2600sf with an unfinished basement. Boys share one bedroom, girls share the other. We thought about trying to go smaller than 2600sf, but I'm a sahm, hubby mostly works from home and the kids are mostly homeschooled and they all play either the violin or the piano...anyway, we need a little space to spread out for sanity's sake and noise levels! Surprisingly, building a new home has been a much easier process than we'd anticipated.

We have no regrets so far. Our old house was gorgeous and it was hard to leave it but we're really looking forward to the lower maintenance, lower utility bills, lower taxes and lower mortgage of the new place.

mm1970

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Re: Have any families with children downsized their home?
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2014, 03:24:40 PM »
Hi

we are moving to a place we loved living and moved away from to expand our business.

It's time now we are FI to go back and we were looking at similar sized houses in suburbia, close to the beach. But I have been not that fussed.

We are currently on just over an acre with a large house (built to sell in this area, as we knew we would never be staying here) and we know that we do not want a huge block again.

But I am thinking that I do not want a huge house either again. The options are to have a 4-5 bedroom, 2 bathroom home in a suburb that would take around 10 minutes to the beach, or we could buy in a beachside suburb with a 3 bed 1 bath house for around the same money.

I am leaning towards the smaller space with "better" location.

Anyone live in a small house with children? We homeschool, so schooling zones are not an issue. (we are in Australia too, in case that makes a difference...)
How many kids?  We are two adults, 8 yo and 1 yo in a 2BR, 1 BA, 1146 sf house...

travelbug

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Re: Have any families with children downsized their home?
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2014, 03:41:22 PM »
Thank you all so much for sharing your stories.

mm1970 we have two children, aged 4 and 7.

Our current house is around 3900sq ft (just did calculations in feet so as I can compare...) and is on an acre and a quarter.

We do use every room in the house except one, but I feel it's too large for us and with everything else I do (homeschool, cook food from scratch, run two companies, have a life...LOL I do hire a cleaner as it's my weakest point which I despise doing. The cleaner is a business expense though, so I am OK with that for now).

When we fully retire though I will have to clean myself... So instead of replacing our current home with a carbon copy, albeit close to the beach, the idea of walking one block to the beach rather than drive for 10 minutes (our other option) sounds lovely. DH and I used to live in an apartment in that close vicinity to the beach before we had children and it was so much fun!

I am still searching and wrapping my head around the options as initially I though we could not afford even a small house in the suburbs we like. But we can! And still have no mortgage or any effect on our financial wellbeing.


homehandymum

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Re: Have any families with children downsized their home?
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2014, 05:17:37 PM »
We have three kids and homeschool in a 3bed, 1 bath house.

It is cosy and messy, and I have several times definitely been planning to upsize the house.  But in our part of the world the price differential is huge.

Do the kids share a room?  If so, you'll have a spare room for an office.  If they don't then you'll be trying to use your one living area as living, schooling AND home office for two businesses. 

Unless you can put a little office shed on the property, or something like that.

The schooling etc will depend on what flavour schooling you use. If you do a lot of book work or project work, having to clear the table every time you want to eat will get annoying.  Also, storage space for resources?  It can be done, but will need some creativity and compromise if you're used to having a lot more space.

For myself, if the price difference is really small, I'd be opting for the bigger house while the kids are at home, and downsizing when they leave.  10 minutes to the beach isn't that big a deal unless you plan to be there every day (and in oz, I can see that you might!)

On the other hand, cleaning a smaller house is much easier.  I can't imagine staying on top of the cleaning of a house with 3 bathrooms and 3 living areas, for instance!

I think either way, you'll make it work.  Have a look around the interwebs for tips on homeschooling in small houses.  There are some good tips out there.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Have any families with children downsized their home?
« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2014, 09:38:04 PM »
I had a couple thoughts:
1) You say you're considering two options:  bigger house further from the beach, or smaller house closer the beach.  If you're comfortable in a smaller space, why not save a bundle and buy a smaller house further from the beach?  Is it worth spending the (I'm just guessing here) tens of thousands of dollars in order to spend less time driving to the beach?
2) Three years ago we moved from a 3/2/2 1500sqft ranch in the Houston suburbs to a nearly-3500sqft 4/2.5/3 house in the Chicago suburbs.  We love our current home, but there's a lot of inefficiency in the layout.  We had 4 kids when we moved, and it sure felt snug.  Now we have #6 on the way, and we won't have any issues fitting him/her in.