6 Advantages of NOT Owning Your Dream House

The following post is from Andrea of AndreaDekker.com:

6 Advantages of NOT Owning Your Dream House at lifeyourway.net
source: Andrea Dekker

Do you have a “dream house”?

Maybe it’s a dream house you know you’ll never actually buy, but you still love thinking about — or maybe it’s a dream house you’re actively saving to buy or build.

Either way, I can TOTALLY relate!

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to buy an old farmhouse, gut it, and renovate every square inch. It didn’t need to be a huge mansion or a cost a fortune. In fact, Dave and I actively sought out foreclosed homes, hoping to find an amazing deal on a diamond-in-the-rough with tons of potential.

I scoured Craigslist and local home-listing sites on a daily basis, and we walked through countless homes for sale. Some had potential, but none of them ever came close to satisfying all the must-have requirements we deemed necessary in order to make the purchase.

But then we found it — our diamond in the rough — our dream house!

It’s a 120+ year old farmhouse with a big front porch, and it satisfied every single one of our must-have requirements. Plus, it was in our budget and in a fabulous location.

source: Andrea Dekker

Win, win, win!  

It’s been a little over 2 years since we moved in, and we’re almost finished renovating the entire main floor. Our next project is the landscaping, which we plan to tackle this summer, then we’ll renovate the upstairs, then the basement, then…

I think you get the idea… lots of work!

We love our home and although the renovating process can be tiresome at times, we wouldn’t trade our old farmhouse for anything. However, after living in a “non-dream house” for almost 5 years before purchasing our farmhouse, I can confidently say that there are many benefits to NOT owning your dream house.

If you’re still waiting, and dreaming, and saving, and searching for your some-day dream house, keep these thoughts in mind:

1. A non-dream house is often more cost effective.

We got a fabulous deal on our farmhouse, so we could afford to make a substantial down-payment and still have enough for renovations. However we never could have afforded to buy our dream house when we were first married (fresh out of college.) Our first home was much smaller and much less expensive. It had more reasonable insurance premiums and tiny utility bills compare to our old, uninsulated farmhouse.

Owning our non-dream house for a few years gave us a chance to ease into the financial aspects of home ownership and save a lot of money in the process.

Also, there’s a good chance you won’t have as many renovation expenses in a non-dream house. I know that when we lived in our first home, we only did a few minor, relatively inexpensive projects to spruce things up — because we knew we wouldn’t be there long-term. However, now that we’re in the house we plan to stay in for a long time, we’ve put a significant amount of money into renovating and updating it (that was our intention when we negotiated a lower selling price).

2. A non-dream house is a great place to start.

Neither Dave or I had ever owned a house before, so buying a smaller home was the perfect place to start. We had plenty of room for just the two of us, but we could also easily manage to care for our home without an extensive amount of extra effort.

Our non-dream house was less upkeep than our current home (both inside and outside) less to clean, and less to maintain!

I never thought owning a home would be a lot of work, but there was SO much I needed to learn. I’m glad we had the chance to start with a smaller, more manageable home while we “learned the ropes” of home ownership.

3. A non-dream house gives you time to figure out what you want and what you DON’T want.

Even though I knew I wanted an old farmhouse, that’s about all I knew. I definitely did not have all the details worked out, nor did I realize how much some of those details would cost. So, while we were still living in our non-dream house, I spent quite a bit of time compiling all sorts of ideas,  learning about different materials, clipping magazine photos, and researching potential costs.

Also, after living in our non-dream house for a few years, I realized that although I thought I always wanted a formal dining room, 20+ acres of land, and lots of red; I actually preferred a casual eat-in kitchen, much less land, and neutral colors throughout.

I realized that I didn’t want shallow kitchen drawers, I didn’t want a closed-off floor plan, and I didn’t want a basement laundry room. I wanted lots of electrical outlets, a designated home office area that was connected to the living space of our home, and I wanted our home to be set back off the road.

Our first house helped me to realize so many big and small things that I really liked — and even more things that really bugged me! I would never have realized many of them things without first living in a non-dream house, and by learning on our first house, I was able to implement all these “likes” and  remove all the “dislikes” as we renovated our farmhouse.

4. A non-dream house allows time for other things.

We purchased our farmhouse with the intent of gutting and renovating it — so while I realize our situation might be a bit different than others, I know plenty of people who build or buy their dream house and spend a ton of time and energy focusing on the building, decorating, and furnishing process.

I’m normally a pretty decisive person, but I can’t even begin to list off all the times when I debated, wondered, and worried about making the “right” choice for a certain design, idea, color, piece of furniture, etc. The renovation process is fun — but it’s also overwhelming and sometimes it feels like I’m constantly thinking about “what needs to be done next”.

When we lived in our non-dream house, we still did some updating, but we didn’t agonize over every decision because we knew the next homeowners might want to change it anyway. We did what we wanted to, we didn’t over-think things, and we had lots more time for other activities.

5. A non-dream house offers opportunities to learn and try new things.

We’ve most definitely learned a lot over the last 2+ years renovating our farmhouse, but back in our non-dream house, we learned even more. We were always experimenting and trying new things.

How would this paint color look?
Could I make my own curtains?
What would happen if we ripped up this carpet and did our own DIY floor?
Would that plant live if I dug it up and split it?
Could this shrub survive in all sun or did it need part shade?

My list could go on and on. The point is, we were always learning new things and experimenting with DIY projects — many of which failed! However it didn’t matter because if it didn’t work, we usually weren’t out much money, and we’d just tried something else until we figured it out.

We knew we weren’t going to live in that house forever, so we just had fun and never turned down a good learning opportunity.

Now that we have a more long-term home renovation plan, busier careers, and a fussy toddler, we don’t necessarily have the time or desire to learn and experiment. We just do what we know works, we do it right, and we do it once. Done. Cross it off our list and move onto the next thing!

Without our non-dream house, we would still be stuck in that “learning” phase and unable to quickly implement the ideas and techniques that would give us the results we want.

Obviously, we love our home and we’re (mostly) enjoying the long process of transforming this farmhouse into OUR dream house (read more about our farmhouse here).

However, I’ll always fondly remember our non-dream house, and how it helped prepare us for the process of searching, buying, and renovating our dream house.

What at about you? What is your favorite thing about your current home? (even if it’s not your dream house)

Andrea Dekker is an avid list maker, pro diaper changer, farmhouse lover, and simple living enthusiast. Her goal is to simplify real life for real families with real budgets, real schedules, and real homes. Follow along at AndreaDekker.com.