In my 36 years on this planet, I’ve learned that the best way we can go about our one and only life is to make the best decisions we can make, with the information we have at the time.
There is no one better equipped to make those decisions than yourself.
It is with that outlook that Mr. Stapler and I have decided to buy a modest house in my hometown. You know, the hometown that is very expensive. The one with the 2,000 square foot homes for $570,000. Except that the house we’re buying is only 1,500 square feet. And slightly more expensive.
I read everyone’s comments to my post Will We Regret Buying a House? and took them to heart. To say that I was in a funk for the rest of the week is an understatement! But I picked myself back up and started the housing search in other towns; towns that had lower-priced real estate and still had great schools.
We went to an open house of one such home, but I couldn’t see ourselves there for the long term. It was just enough house for our family right now, but I couldn’t picture two strapping young men living in tiny rooms with slanted ceilings (and one didn’t have a closet). With the property lines so close to the house, there was no place to expand and put a garage. The property was at its maximum capacity, and I could not pull the trigger.
There are several reasons why I want to stay in the same home for the next twenty years. First, there are significant transaction costs involved with selling your home and buying another — 5% commission, attorneys’ fees, inspection costs for the new house, and moving costs. Second, I want to make commitments with our furniture and decor; if I anticipate moving in the next decade, I know I would resist replacing that plastic “furniture” we have now. Lastly, I just hate to move.
Then a house in my hometown went back on the market. I had toured it weeks earlier and loved it, and it was the house I mourned after we started to look at other towns. It’s on an acre of land with mature trees. It’s nothing fancy or flashy, but it is in excellent shape — we could move right in. The kitchen is modest but modern. The bathrooms are small but clean. I could tell that the owners took good care of the house during their 30-year stint there.
When the house came back on the market, I couldn’t resist showing it to Mr. Stapler and crunching the numbers again. Although finances would be tight, we could make it work. Yes, we would have to withdraw our Roth IRA contributions, and that’s not awesome. But what better reason to withdraw them, than to buy the house that we see ourselves living in for 30 years?
Yes, finances will be tight during the first year, while we shell out for both daycare and preschool. But, as my mom loves to point out, being two miles from my parents will relieve some of the childcare burden when Little Stapler can get off the bus and see his grandmother waiting for him at home, ready to engage him in her latest art project. Or his grandfather, ready to explore the trees and rocks on our property.
It’s impossible, really, to know what the view will be like when we emerge from the trees at the peak of our journeys. But we will never know if we don’t take that first step. So, stay tuned for what could possibly be a spectacular disaster or a calculated risk that pays off long-term dividends. Most likely, it will be somewhere in-between.
Have you ever taken a big financial risk that paid off? Or didn’t?