Wednesday, May 6, 2015


I know that at the end of this year of saving up to buy a single family house, I’m not going to be buying a “dream home.” That phrase conjures images of huge, palatial mansions with soaring ceilings, beautiful windows, high-end finishes, a chef’s kitchen, and a lush, landscaped yard. Because we’ve been “stuck” in the condo for as long we have, my dream is pretty practical. I just want a backyard and a door that opens into my own space instead of a shared hallway. I’m not shooting for the stars here, hah!

On the other hand, one thing I’ve learned from the condo is that investing in real estate is never a sure thing. Therefore, I plan to be WAY pickier than I was the first time. I want to find something that we’d be comfortable living in for the rest of our lives, if necessary.

So, what are we looking for in a house, besides the obvious “it being a house” qualities? Here are a few of the things on my wish list.

  • Lots of natural light. The condo is north facing and all the windows are on one side of the house. I want a cross breeze and some southern exposure.
  • A fireplace. The condo has one and we love it, and it would be hard to get through a cold Minnesota winter without that cozy feeling you get from having a fire in the fireplace.
  • A nice-sized backyard. It doesn’t have to be huge, but I want enough space for the kids to play, for us to grill, and to have a fire pit. I’d love for it to be fenced (although M does not care about this).
  • At least three bedrooms. I’m sure some day the kids would like their own rooms. And it would probably be good to have space for an office as well.
  • A basement. We go back and forth on this one, because basements kind of seem like a pain. On the other hand, our dream as 20-something newlyweds was to someday have a Pac-Man machine in our basement. And with two boys, having a basement seems like it will be key to keeping them and their friends happy when they become teens.
  • A comfortable layout, maybe a ranch? We kind of dig living all on one level in the condo. It’s been a pretty awesome setup for having little kids. It’s meant a lot less baby proofing (we’ve never owned a baby gate!) and the kids are always in earshot. And since we really do want to find something that we could live in forever, ranch houses are nice because of the lack of stairs. I would like something with a little more breathing room and airiness than the condo, though, and sometimes ranches can be a little narrow.
  • A big kitchen. The condo’s kitchen is awesome. I would hate to end up with something smaller, so I will definitely try to find a kitchen of comparable size.
  • Close to where we live now. We really adore our neighborhood, and it would be great if we could find a single family home near where we’re at now. My son’s elementary school is fantastic, and so is the nature center. Even if we can’t find something on the same block we currently live, we will definitely be looking in the same town and at the very least, the same school district.
  • A little space. We have a lot of amazing neighbors. But we are looking forward to a little more privacy someday. In particular, we would really like to not have to hear people cough or smell cigarette smoke when our windows are open.
  • Absolutely no HOA. God. Our Home Owners Association isn’t even that bad, but I still cannot wait to not have to deal with annual association meetings and all the crabbiness that comes with them. I would never, ever buy a house with an HOA again.
  • Hardwood floors. I am very sick of dealing with little kids and wall-to-wall carpet.
  • A 2-car garage. It’s not even that we need the space of a 2-car garage, necessarily, it’s just that parking in a 1-car garage with kids is useless.
  • A crab apple tree and a window seat. These are just two little dreams. I love flowering trees in the spring (I miss cherry blossoms from Northern California. They just smell like spring to me), and all my life I have wanted a window seat. My dream home might not come with these two things, but I hope to someday plant a little flowering tree that I can view from a cushy window seat. Ahh.
  • Not very big. While big, brand new homes with two-story entries can be beautiful, they just aren’t for me. I really would like something small and manageable, maybe around 1500 square feet. Our 1200 condo just feels a bit too small for our family, but the thought of doubling our space just seems like too much for us. We like to keep things simple and strive for a somewhat minimalist lifestyle. We’re nowhere near as minimalist as some, but I’d say we have less stuff than the average American. 

It’s interesting–there are many things on my list from the condo that I’d like to find again in a house. And there are several things that I’ve learned don’t quite work for me and I want to try something different. It makes me think that once we find the house that’s perfect for us, we’ll look back on our time in the condo as an important part of our journey.

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