Love It or List It Update
Last summer, we shared about wondering whether to Love It or List It. We also brainstormed ideas to make our home work better for us. We did a minor living room makeover–clearing out large furniture and getting new carpet. We expanded our storage area by making a “shed” under our deck. Lastly, we started using our 4th bedroom on the lower level to better make use of our space.
In addition to tweaking our use of space, I’ve tried to do what I can to build community in our neighborhood, and to schedule play dates with friends from school. But it’s just not the same as spontaneous backyard play.
Eight months later, we are strongly leaning toward listing it, but it has more to do with location than our home. That said, we have a much clearer sense of our wants and needs than we did 10 years and 3 kids ago.
By any standard, we have a nice house in a good neighborhood. But long story short, we’d like to live in a neighborhood with more young families. Our block once enjoyed close community with lots of little kids, but this has proved transient. We really miss that vibe, and I know we can regain it in nearby neighborhoods that are less transient and are home to countless young families, including many we already know.
Will people move away wherever we live? Absolutely. But these neighborhoods were designed with young families in mind, with larger homes, community playgrounds, and walking paths. Google Earth reveals playgrounds and trampolines in most yards. And we’ve been watching home sales in these neighborhoods for years, and there are a lot fewer sales in these areas compared with ours. So we may need to wait a bit to find what we want.
The recent comps in our neighborhood have been strong and therefore it seems like a good time to sell. We’ll pay more for our new home in a thriving market, but because of our equity we can get the kind of upgrade we’d like for a reasonable amount.
This decision has been very conflicting for me, and at times I still wonder if we’re out of our minds. Should we really go through the hassle and expense just to move 1-2 miles? Do we really need a bigger house in a different neighborhood? I’ve concluded that no, we don’t need these, but we would really like more space and more community. One mom from a target neighborhood recently told me her kindergartener goes on a daily walk around the block with her friends. That’s the kind of neighborhood we want to live in, and the type of childhood we want for our kids. I’ve finally seen that it is worth the (one-time) effort and the price to gain these during this season of our lives.
Another thing I’ve wrestled with A LOT is my aversion to excess. I don’t want a too-big house. I don’t want to pay for it, maintain it, or clean it. I love efficiency, and our current home is very efficient. The houses in our desired neighborhoods simply are larger. While I don’t want excess, I can see many uses for more space (and storage!) as our kids and their friends get older.
For a long time I felt like it was somehow morally wrong to say we want more when we already have so much, and others have so little. And greed and materialism are huge risks in our culture. At the same time, I’ve realized it’s not immoral to seek more community and more living space, which we’d love to use in serving that community. And while we won’t be buying another bi-level, there’s a pretty good chance we’ll purchase a house less updated than ours, in order to afford a home in our desired neighborhoods. So it’s not necessarily about getting a “better” house.
What is on my wist list for a different home? It’s pretty simple. Four bedrooms, a larger living or family room, and a pantry. A sun room and fireplace would be great, since those are favorite features of our current house. But I won’t hold my breath. Oh, and not a bi-level. That shouldn’t be too hard, right?
Financially, the biggest trade off would be waiting up to two more years till early retirement, an opportunity cost we’ve calculated, weighed, and found worth it. Also, a home purchase in these neighborhoods will almost certainly appreciate much better than our current place.
Logistically, our plan is to move first, then finish fixing up ours (lots of painting!) and get it on the market. I cannot imagine getting our house ready to sell and show with 3 kids still living here. We’d do it if we had to, but since homes are moving quickly and we can afford to, we won’t do that to ourselves.
Overall, I feel very grateful for our current home and the community we have enjoyed. Making this move from a place of contentment is important. I know a different house won’t ultimately make me happier or make life magically easier. Starting over with new neighbors will take time and effort, and sometimes won’t work out. And there is a chance we won’t find something that checks the boxes in our price range. I’ll be content either way.
Are we insane for wanting to move nearby for these reasons? Any tips on moving with kids?