Now that we have narrowed the geographic search for our next home, we have turned our attention to the house itself. Like most shoppers, we have the typical set of criteria.
- Number of bedrooms – 4 bedrooms – one for each of the boys and a master bedroom
- Number of bathrooms – at least 2, but we’d prefer an additional half bath or 3rd bath if possible
- Square footage: between 1,800 and 2,300 SF. We want a house that is large enough to have friends and family over in comfort, but not so large it would take a full day to clean it every weekend
- The price: Our budget is actually smaller than we spent on our last house, even if you take into account the market correction. Our goal was to have a mortgage, including any homeowner’s association fees, taxes and insurance, that we could realistically pay off in 15 years or less, so that we could have it off our plate well before retirement age.
But that’s just the beginning.
With our last home, we made decisions based on resale value. While some of our choices were personal, the vast majority were “safe.” By contrast, this next house will be a personal reflection of us. We are looking for a house that will create the backdrop for the next stage in our lives. It would be more than a place to call home at the end of the day. It had to be a place we can really LIVE.
1.) The location of the master bedroom: For the last 10 years, our master bedroom has been 10 feet from the nearest kid’s bedroom. That was…ahem….too close. We want our next home to have a first floor master or a split floor plan so that we have some privacy. Also, we intend to keep this house for a LONG time. We want to be able to stay here into our old age, which means having a single story house, or at the very least, a first floor master suite.
2.) A bathtub the master bath: During our #yearofresortliving in the apartment, I have indulged in baths on a regular basis. They are a highlight in my day and I am bent on finding a home with a tub in the master. It doesn’t have to be jet-powered or even that large, but it has to be mine, free of kids’ toys or left-over kid sand or soccer-funk.
3.) A garage: Josh’s business has been in high gear in the last year and the number of tools we now own is considerable. While we don’t feel the need to pull a car into a garage nightly, we do need a place for him to work. Plus, our boys’ toys have shifted from big wheels to scooters and will soon be followed by mopeds and mountain bikes. We need a place to park all of it.
4.) High ceilings and lots of light in the common areas: I don’t mind old houses, but I don’t want to ever have low ceilings again. The kitchen in our last house had 7’6″ ceilings before our renovation and it felt like we were cooking in a cellar. I want windows and French doors and rooms that, even if they are not huge, have vertical heft. I want to want to cook and be with people, and having an open inviting space is key to that.
Surprisingly, here are things we either didn’t consider or would simply be a nice to have, but are not deal-breakers.
An office or 5th bedroom: As Leslie commented in my last post, our kids will be gone in less than a decade. While I would love to have a dedicated office, it is not a deal-breaker. We can always convert one of their bedrooms to an office after they leave. In the meantime, it would also be another space to furnish…and clean. If needed, I can work at the kitchen table, and we can sort out what to do with the rare overnight guest when they are here.
Lots of closet space: Don’t get me wrong….we still have too much stuff. But the lessons of the last year, where we voluntarily shrunk our living space by nearly half, are clear. Less is more and we need to keep our things in check. That starts with not packing super deep closets with boxes and bags of stuff we never use.
A community pool: We LOVE having access to a neighborhood pool, but as families go, the Chapmans are a bit crazy. I have stopped trying to deny it, or even explain it. The boys run, wrestle and cannon-ball ALL. DAY. LONG. We know that we can be annoying to others who are there. In our next home, we’d like to have a pool in the backyard so that we can let the boys be. If the pool is not already in the backyard, we’d like the room to install one ourselves. A community pool is a bonus.
A formal living or dining room: We try to eat dinner as a family most week nights, but we are not formal people. While a large-enough dining space is important, we don’t need two areas for dining, one for formal meals and a second for casual. Similarly, I don’t own any furniture that would even belong in a formal living room.
With this list in mind, we have been scouring Zillow and Redfin, and touring homes, hoping to find the one for us. The search has lead us to an expected find and I cannot wait to tell you more about it.
What are your must haves for your next home?