It's no secret we stick to a modest budget, allocating no more than a third of the hubby's gross income to live on each month, sharing a car, and owner-occupying a duplex. What most people don't know is why...
For years our friends who live on the other side of the county have been bugging us to move closer. (In our defense, we actually did two years ago. We were in a whole 'nother county before then.) Still, even making it into the same county leaves quite a bit of drive time just to hang out with nearly everyone we know, ranging from twice a month to twice a week. So as Josh's December graduation date slowly approaches, we'd began seriously considering caving in to their requests. After all, college isn't cheap, and having that out of the way would free up some serious cash flow in order to make the significantly bigger mortgage payment we'd have to make just to find a house comparable in size on that particular side of town. The more we looked, however, the more we realized why we settled on this side of the county in the first place. (Everything is cheaper per square foot over he'e on da east-side.) The more we also began to realize that, no matter how many houses we looked at, none of them would ever really have what we wanted. So what did I do? What I always do when I can't find an out-of-the-box approach that will work the way I want it to: (say it with me, now)
I design my own!
Enter our dream house! It's changed a bit over the years since I first started designing it. The planned lot has gotten smaller, as I've agreed to trade in my "homestead-living" dream of 40 acres in south Missouri for something closer to town. The house has gotten bigger as we began to discuss our wants for more room, greater amenities, and a more long-term situation. Invariably, though, most of it is the same. It still has the walk-out basement on water-front property feel, now complete with 5 bedrooms, 4 baths, an office, family room, storm cellar, bonus room, and nearly 3800 square feet of wide-open-with-lots-of-windows floor-plan goodness.
So, instead of spending months searching desperately for another mid-size "transition house" to suit our needs just to live closer to everyone, we've decided to take a different approach. (Sorry, all-the-way-across-the-county friends.) Rather than looking for a new house, we'll be looking at land and working towards our ultimate goal of building the house of our dreams--from tightening our budgeting belts to picking out brick patterns and paint. Sure, it may take us a few more years to save up the down payment and position ourselves financially to get to the point where we can finally move. But I've never been one to settle for less than what I really want. (It's a good thing we're fairly comfortable in our little 3-bedroom duplex, too. Especially since someone else is paying over 70 percent of the mortgage.) And until that time we'll be spending our Friday night date-nights on house-planning. Last week's date-night was especially fun, as we traipsed around a squishy 1.15-acre lot (it's been raining quite a bit lately) on a quiet cul-de-sac just outside of town that I've had my eye on for some time. It may not be what we end up settling on (there seems to be some issue with run-off), but it's a start, and until we can break ground at the very least it will give me something to visualize every time I have to turn down a friend for a lunch-date, chauffeur Josh back and forth to work, squeeze a dozen people into my tiny kitchen for a kid's birthday party, or make a slightly-laughable grocery budget work.
Plus, spending date-nights house-planning with hubby sounds like loads of fun!