My husband and I just recently bought our second home. I’m still sometimes blown away by that, because I feel like only “grownups” own their second home… am I really a grownup?!?
(I think my fuzzy monkey slippers indicate otherwise.)
Our first home was a new construction on one acre, and I swore that I would never again buy a house with an unfinished yard.
This house? New construction on 40 raw acres!
Definitely a lesson in homeownership: never say never!
So what else have I learned as a (somewhat grownup) homeowner?
1) Buy more space than you think you’ll need.
This is part of the reason we’re on our second home already! With three growing kids, and a growing army of pets, our humble three-bedroom house got much smaller, much faster than anticipated. Stay within your budget, but definitely get as much bang for your buck as possible.
This also applies to storage. Get as much storage space as possible. It’s astounding how quickly you accumulate “stuff” once you buy a house.
2) “Potential” is code for “lots o’ work”.
Buying a house with “potential” is a great way to save money and put your stamp on it. Our first house had a yard with excellent “potential”… and I can’t even begin to count the number of hours I spent raking rocks, tilling for a garden, and planting grass seed (then replanting it after the birds ate it all).
Plan on spending twice the amount of money, effort, and time on this “potential” than you originally think you’ll need. Trust me. The personal satisfaction you get with each completed project can’t be quantified; the sore backs and weeping wallet can.
3) Make sure your homeowner’s insurance is sufficient for your area.
Did you know that in a high flood area like Western Washington, flood coverage is not included in your homeowner’s insurance? Did you know that your roof shingles have to be rated for tornado-level winds in order to be covered here in Wyoming?
Every geographic location has it’s own unique climate and weather considerations, and we’ve known several people who faced the nightmare of insufficient coverage after a weather emergency. You don’t want to be sacked with an out-of-pocket expense when your basement floods or your roof rips off! Do your insurance homework, and absolutely look into additional coverage.
4) Nothing stays new forever.
Those hardwood floors you cherish so much? The perfectly painted walls and rounded corner moldings? The beautiful (and expensive) mosaic tile entry you painstakingly laid piece by piece?
I’ve got a newsflash for you. They’re going to get scratched, dinged, chipped, dented, and otherwise “broken in”. You can’t avoid it. Let it go. As I type this, I have a two-foot-long gouge in my beautiful hickory dining room floor from when the angry, territorial cat met our new German Shepherd puppy… cat meets dog, cat pounces at dog, dog scurries backwards as fast as she can, gouging my floor in the process. I wept a little inside, and then I let it go.
I recommend investing in a bottle of Old English, some spackle paste, a good carpet cleaner, and a box of chamomile tea for the stress. You’ll need them all.
5) There’s no place like home*.
Whether you live in a one-room cottage or a 10,000 square foot McMansion, it will feel like your own personal castle. Your home is where your soul resides; it is where Christmases, birthdays, Easter egg hunts, and barbecues will happen. Your home holds your memories. Despite all the responsibility and constant maintenance, owning a home is pretty sweet.
*Ruby slippers not included.