A few months ago, one of my neighbors started some new construction on his house. My wife and I was curious about what pandemic feature they were adding. Was it an indoor pool? Was it a chess room? (I’ve always joked about having a chess room.)
My wife knows the husband better than I do as they shared some military work talk. She found him one day and asked what about the expansion. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a pool or a chess room. His wife was diagnosed with something (Parkinson’s, I think) that makes stairs difficult. The expansion allows living on one floor a lot easier. It took a while to recover from that gut punch, she definitely seems too young for her body to start to go.
It naturally made me think that this house we are in may not be our “forever house” like I had imagined. I can definitely see the advantage of one-floor living as I get older.
That opened up Pandora’s Box. If this house isn’t the one we are in forever, what would that “forever house” look like?
Designing My Dream House
If you are a regular reader, you have probably read me mention that I need some hobbies, things I like to do, and/or a bucket list. I have a long list of things that I don’t like to do such as travel. Teleportation technology can’t come fast enough for me. My challenge is finding things that I do like.
One of the things that gets me excited though is looking at houses on Zillow. I think it’s because I’m naturally a “grass is greener on the other side” person.
It seems that once or twice a month, Zillow reminds me of this house I saved a couple of years ago. I don’t know why it sends me these emails as it isn’t for sale. I also don’t have a spare $7M lying around to make a bid on it.
It does make me smile though.
I started thinking about what I would want in a house. It doesn’t need to be that big, so maybe I could get by with a cheaper place. It also doesn’t need to be here in Newport, Rhode Island. In fact, someplace warmer would be better.
Rather than work backward from a $7 million dollar house, I thought it might make sense to move forward from our current house (we paid $400K for back in 2011). Here’s a short wishlist of things that I’d add to what we have:
- I want a bigger closet – it’s very tiny now. My wife has a walk-in closet.
- I want a mudroom area as a place where the kids can change their shoes, hang their coats, store their backpacks, etc.
- I would like an indoor swimming pool (necessary in Rhode Island) or live in a place where outdoor swimming is easy (Florida for example).
- I want a big spa tub. I’m secure enough in my manhood to admit that I like baths. Hopefully, I won’t be upset by the costs of heating it.
- I want my own space – call it a man-cave if you want. It has to be big enough for a deluxe massage chair. The house should also have a she-shed for my wife.
What are some of the things that you would want in your dream home? Maybe there’s a master list out there somewhere to inspire us?
While I’m still figuring out what that ideal place may look like I’ve got the perfect transition house:
HGTV’s Dream Home
No, this isn’t a surprise advertisement for HGTV’s Dream Home. I wouldn’t take money, because then I’d probably be ineligible to win it. Yes, this year’s HGTV’s Dream Home is a couple of miles away from where I live now. It would mean driving the kids an extra 10 minutes to school each day, but I think I could manage it. Yes, it is also missing some things on the list above.
As beautiful as the HGTV house is, it might not solve my dream home goal. It turns out that almost no one keeps their HGTV Dream Home. Everyone has had to uproot their lives to move there. Fortunately, we don’t have to do that. HGTV should jump save everyone else’s time and just give us the house, right?
Moving to the house is only a small part of the problem. The much bigger problem is paying taxes on the windfall. The winner has to come up with $700,000 in cash to give to the IRS.
While the house comes with some prize money, it’s not nearly enough to pay the taxes. If we sold our house now, we could probably pay off all the taxes. It would be a stretch and we’d be “house rich, cash poor”, but not any poorer than we are today. It would be hard to dissuade my wife from taking the house.
Personally, I’d like to take the cash prize. It would mean instant retirement for my wife and the opportunity to move to a house that is more middle of the road than their dream house… just like my dream house that I described before.
Have you thought about your dream home? Joe from Retire by 40 has a Hawaiian paradise as his goal. I like the idea, but we’d have to settle for buying an ownership share in that. I’d have to win the lottery to afford to do it. That’s particularly difficult for me to do since I don’t play the lottery.
My husband and I are actually living in our dream home right now. In fact, it is our second one. The first was when we were much younger, we were able to buy five acres in the country and we built a very modest 3 bed, 2 bath home. It was exactly what we wanted at the time. Then four years ago, because we had aged and couldn’t care for the property as it required, we built our current home. It is a3-5 bedroom with 2 full and 2 half baths on a walk out basement. Two bedrooms downstairs are being used as hubby’s office and my library and it backs up to a pond. I have a (almost) dream kitchen…..only thing missing are the super large range and Sub-zero refrigerator.
Now, we are thinking and seriously planning on moving again because our son asked us to move closer to them. Currently they are two states away. We have very mixed emotions because we don’t want to leave our current home, but we do want to be near them. The logistics of selling this house and moving to a place we know nothing about is daunting, but will be worse if we wait until we are even older. What to do?
Lazy Man says
That’s tough. I purposely left out the idea of location. We’re not having too many local ties, so we can be somewhat location independent, once the kids are out and on their own.
I guess the good news is that you seem to be very good at building and creating exactly what you want (minus the Sub-Zero or course), so if you do decide to move closer, hopefully that experience will translate. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get to know a place two states away until we make significant progress on COVID :-(.
Good grief! This is the first time, after years of entering HGTV’s Dream Home sweepstakes, that I’ve read what it would cost to keep the house. That cash option is sounding much, much better but you don’t really end up with that much money after taxes. Oh well, another dream shattered.
I’d like a do over on all of our house purchase(3). While we’ve done fine on the transactions and never bought as much house as we could “afford”, and we’ve ended up with a nice house, but not what I really want for the rest of my life. It has too much spread out space, two stories, too much open air space, I’ll say vaulted ceilings but not that fancy. It has 5 bedrooms but only 2.5 baths, 2700 sq ft. We use all the bedrooms regularly except the one that is the official guest room. Of the other four bedrooms one is my office(somewhat shared with my wife when she needs to work at a desk), one is my gym/wife’s yoga room(I was already doing Beachbody home video workouts prior to Covid). One is occupied by our adult daughter that is living with us and then the master.
Current value is around $375k(Texas prices are up, but not compared to the rest of the world) and we could walk away with a almost all of that if we sold today in the hot market. But then what? Everything in town is selling high so to try to downsize would probably cost me more.
We’d like a single story, three full bathrooms, preference would be with a garage apartment or mother-in-law suite for our daughter, but the problem is the same. We joke about moving elsewhere but not needing to live near family makes it hard to pick the ideal location. Anyway, here we are.
By the way, we have a pool, and we use it, but not sure enough to offset the time and money.
Lazy Man says
I sometimes wonder if people change what they want over time. My wife wanted open-concept… until everyone needed their private space for their Zoom calls.
I probably wouldn’t use the pool much if it was in my backyard. I imagine that I use it now because it would be unique, but there are a lot of things that just don’t “stick” with me. I’m also picky and would need it to be around 85 degrees year-round :-).
Open concept wouldn’t be bad, but our house was about 20 years old, which was the open air space, so the living room is open up to our second floor. No way to efficiently heat or cool(Tx you know) the house. I’ve seen single stories that vault high as well, wouldn’t want that.
I have a “joke” that my wife doesn’t like that says if we paid $100(pick a number) every time we got in the pool, would it pay for the yearly costs, and I don’t think so. It’s great having it there because you can be in quickly(as opposed to our HOA pool, which would mean going about 1/4 mile, and of course now with Covid who wants to do that). I’m the pool boy, so no costs there, though I do pay a company to do the chemicals(might take that over this year), but keeping the water level full(did I mention we are in Texas), running the pump, etcc. is expensive.
The layout of our backyard with the pool is nice, giant oak tree hangs over the pool providing great shade for about 50% of the pool in the summer. But about 8 months of the year, the non-swim months, I’m getting parts of the tree out of the pool(acorns, leaves, seed pods, etc).
We’ve been in our dream home for 41 years. It started out 1440 sq ft and is pushing 3000 now. Started out one story, has two now. Started out 2 bathrooms, has 4 now. Also a screened porch, a garage/shop and a two story family room with a loft. We both have huge walk in closets. It cost $32,500 when we bought it and all nine remodels, expansions and additions were paid in cash so it’s a debt free home. It’s not the furnishings or the layout that makes it our dream house. It’s the memories of raising three wonderful kids to be successful adults. 41 Christmases, countless family meals around that oak table and most of all, the 41 years of being partnered with an awesome spouse.
When I was younger I wanted to buy a big sprawling Victorian. In the back of my mind I still would like that because one of my retirement dreams is to have a tea room. However I inherited my dad’s house, a 4 bedroom 1 full 1 half bath 1400 square foot ranch on 1 floor.
My daughter moved in with me so it’s just us the cats and a dog. It really is enough but all the rooms are smaller. I find as I get older I really like everything on one floor. She fell in the hall so now we have hand rails. I find myself relying on them as well. I run my eBay business out of the house so a little more space would be nice. But I’m mulling over a move to be closer to my grandchild. If I could afford it I would make my kitchen a little bigger make my 1/2 bath into a full bath and add a dedicated laundry room. But overall I like where we live.
I own it but don’t live in it (since moving away from Indiana to Washington). It was a ranch (single story) 2400 sq feet, 4 bed, 2.5 bath, with a 800 sq ft. basement, all brick exterior. The only thing I didn’t like about it was a few little niggles, which if I had to start from scratch – I could do.
I would make it U shaped. The garage and laundry room would by on 1 leg of the U, the bedrooms on the other. The base of the U would be the kitchen, family room and stairs to the basement as an open concept. In the empty space between the U, would be a screened in covered patio. I could enter it from the master, family room or garage. I would point that toward a feature (like a view, or mountains, or lake) and sit, covered, away skitters, and still enjoy the view.
While I am building a house presently, it has the view, but not necessarily what I want. I am also not paying too much for it (ie. a million dollars). So there is that.