Saying Good-Bye to the Burbstead
As I write the last post from the burbstead, I find myself reminiscing. Insert the usual cliches–so many good memories, we brought our babies home here, and had some epic parties, too. (Those were the days!)
Pretend to Be Poor was born here as well. During our decade in this home we went from naturally frugal to more financially educated and strategic as we learned about the Financial Independence/Early Retirement movement. This house will always be tied up with our financial journey, in some ways I’m just beginning to understand.
But first, an update from the home-selling front. The day after our last post, we received another offer, which we accepted. Now we’re just praying that closing goes smoothly.
Homeschooling is going fine, by which I mean everyone is still alive.
The process of selling our home is making me realize just how financially conservative we were with our home purchase, and how much wiggle room that’s given us. There’s a reason mortgage means “death pledge,” but I think we’ve avoided feeling that way about our purchase. Keeping the mortgage reasonable is why we could buy first and sell later, which is making selling during a historic crisis less stressful than it could be. It also helped allow me to stay home with our kids, and to invest more, travel more, and give more. Not being house poor is a great way to “pretend to be poor.”
I hope to share more reflections and other details once our home sale is final. But now to say good-bye to the burbstead, which also reflects our evolving priorities.
We slowly transformed our .28 acre suburban plot into what we came to call the burbstead as we raised chickens, gardened, planted fruit trees, tapped our maple trees, kept bees, canning, and split firewood. While our new yard is a little bigger, we’re leaving behind our maple trees, fruit trees, wood-burning fireplace, fenced-in yard, and our desire to have our grass destroyed by chickens.
I’m sure Neil will still grow things; he can’t help himself. He kept pots of peppers and tomatoes on our first apartment’s balcony, and it’ll likely be back to a container garden this year since we’ll move so close to planting time.
Our burbstead hobbies slowly faded as we had more kids. While these hobbies are fun for kids, we had less and less bandwidth to keep up with them. Just as “pretending to be poor” has morphed from me making everything from yogurt to laundry detergent, to us purchasing a larger home, our hobbies and dreams are changing as well.
We’ll also miss the efficiency of our current home. Our first floor hosts our main living area and bedrooms and measures 880 square feet. While we’ve got just as much room in the lower level, it has until recently (can anyone say home office?) served mainly as storage and “extra” space that didn’t run up our utility expenses. I’m looking forward to more first floor space, but less to the utility bills. We’re also leaving behind a high efficiency furnace, a sun room that warms up quickly, and a heat exchanger on our fireplace.
One question nags: what does pretending to be poor look like as we move to a bigger house in a fancier neighborhood? First, our title has never been meant to be take too literally. It’s borrowed from a tongue-in-cheek ancient proverb which raises a still-valid question: Is it better to live on more than you make, and appear richer than you are? Or to live on less, and seem “poor”? Secondly, having a third kid has really tipped the balance on how much time and effort we’ve willing to expend to save money, something that I’ve chronicled here. And wanting more space is certainly related. Lastly, we’ve honed our vision for our growing family over time, and the new house and neighborhood fits perfectly with that. Fortunately, we won’t need a bigger house forever, and, as an appreciating asset if not an investment, we should one day recover some additional costs of upgrading.
We’ll truly be rocking the suburban life in our new home. But you’ll be sure to keep hearing from us about our DIY adventures and backyard shenanigans, as well as principles and tips for gaining financial flexibility.
How have your hobbies changed over time? What about your financial priorities?