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Dream Home - The American Trap
Old 01-24-2011, 04:40 AM   #1
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Dream Home - The American Trap

Many of us have have done it or are planning to do it... My Dream Home!

I suppose dream home can mean many different things. The most common is some sort of really nice McMansion or Empty Nest high-end home.... translation much more than is needed by a large stretch!

DW and I are planning on down-sizing. My version of a dream home now is reduce the size, simplify, minimize my work at home, etc.

The sad part is no one will believe it until they have done the deed. Once one buys the dream home, they need to spend more money to get it juuuuuust right. Wouldn't do to have a dream home without all new furniture and other expensive adornments. I have not researched it... but I suspect that if the dream home cost is much more than the cost of buying the home. The other expenses to get it just right is typically a lot of money... It is easy to drop $50k - $75k (to get it just right)... maybe more. Then there is the ongoing energy cost, repair, taxes, etc of the dream home.

Anybody need a dream home... I got one for sale!
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Old 01-24-2011, 04:55 AM   #2
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I suppose it depends on what one wants. Upon retirement we did buy a larger, nicer home than the one we sold. And yes we did spend a few $k on furniture and whatnots for it.

But it hardly straps us and some amenities we treasure, such as the two-car garage, which means an end to scraping ice and snow in the winter and getting into a heat-soaked car in the summer. Neither one of us ever lived in a home with a garage before so we appreciate that. We're astonished at the number of people who park expensive vehicles outside and fill the garages with stuff. At eight years old each for ours I can definitely see the difference that being "garage kept" makes to a vehicle's longevity.

The kitchen does have items that used to be considered luxuries, like a dishwasher and garbage disposal.

But at ~1700 sf it hardly qualifies as a McMansion.

Our reasoning was that since we spend the bulk of our time at home it makes sense to invest heavily in the building where we're going to spend the most time.

Other people's priorities are different. One friend spends a great deal of time and money on travel, and has accordingly spent much less on his home. That makes sense since he's hardly ever there.
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Old 01-24-2011, 05:14 AM   #3
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Buying a home that better fits your needs is not the point.

Overdoing it was the point of the post.

We will buy another home also. It will be the practical home, the dream home needs to go!
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Old 01-24-2011, 05:30 AM   #4
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Other people's priorities are different. One friend spends a great deal of time and money on travel, and has accordingly spent much less on his home. That makes sense since he's hardly ever there.
Totally agree there. For me, the priority is My Dream Lifestyle and my home just have to fit into my lifestyle both in its functionality and cost. Certain things in my home may not be ideal but I make up for it by an upgrade in other things to pursue my dream lifestyle.
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Old 01-24-2011, 05:41 AM   #5
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I think the recent (and continued) real estate depression and spate of foreclosures accompanied by high unemployment might make a lot of folks rethink "The American Dream". The last few decades saw people thinking of their homes as "an investment" and even a piggy bank. Back to basics, and needs vs. wants, might be the new norm going forward, at least for a decade or two.
Furniture and home decor items are like used clothing...worth a small fraction (if anything at all) once purchased. These things are all great if you can afford them and are not stinting in other areas, like retirement savings.
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Old 01-24-2011, 06:24 AM   #6
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Yeah, I've got a "dream home" I'm hoping we can get out of in about 6 years when the kids graduate HS and go off to college. We plan to downsize big time at that time.

We bought this sucker when I was still working and while it's not a financial drain, I definitely would not have spent this much on a house if I knew I was retiring.

The ongoing expenses, as you have said, have been big. First all new furniture, new flat screen TVs, and last year a pool. :-(.
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Old 01-24-2011, 06:39 AM   #7
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My home is really important to me, because I am such a homebody. Still, there are limits!

I don't think that a gigantic, perfect "dream" McMansion filled with expensive sets of furniture would even feel like home to me. It sounds so sterile and generic. Not to mention a lot of work to maintain and a lot of expense to heat/cool.

A home with character may have great attributes that I never dreamed of, and only discover and learn to appreciate after living in it for a while. My present home is that way. It is missing so much that I have dreamed of, like a two car garage and that large shower Nords mentioned in another thread, but it has many unexpected delightful attributes that make up for that.

It makes sense for INTJs like me to decorate and furnish their homes just for themselves, not for others. In my case this has resulted in eclectic, (mostly) inexpensive, and sparse furnishing.
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Old 01-24-2011, 06:59 AM   #8
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We plan on upsizing somewhat when we relocate in a few years. Our current house does the trick for us, but we have no garage and the house is a room or two too small (DW's office doubles as a guest room, which is a PITA when client sessions happen at the same time as guests).

I can see that we will have a bit of a challenge finding the right house, though. The older houses tend toward the smaller end and the newer houses are ginormous.
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Old 01-24-2011, 08:09 AM   #9
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Given the state of the market, now would be a good time to get the "dream home" at least if it is an upsize? Some recent speculation in the press that prices are going down further.
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Old 01-24-2011, 08:22 AM   #10
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We have a less jaundiced view. After over a decade of looking at over a hundred locations all over the island, and going through one misfire, we finally found our "dream home"-- and this time we could actually afford it.

It's on a big lot (well, big for Oahu) with stunning views. The location, in terms of surf access and schools and shopping and commuting, can't be beat. I think it's quite likely that I'll die here, and spouse feels the same way.

When we bought the place it was in terrible condition from years of neglect. So not only was it our "dream home" but it was selling at a substantial discount to what was already a decade-long housing recession. At today's values it was nearly a half-off sale.

It's also at least 800 sq ft too big for two adults. One of those "too bigs" is a familyroom that encloses a former lanai, and it's a terrible job that's slowly falling apart from cracking foundation to badly-pitched roof. I have no idea how much it costs to totally rebuild a 15'x30' addition but I fear we'll find out. It'd be tempting to just demolish it, but when I turn around from my computer chair I have a 120-degree view of the Ko'olau and the south shore almost all the way to Ewa Beach. Rehabbing this room (with even bigger view windows) will probably be one of those home improvements that gives back more than 100% of its cost.

We still rattle around in the rest, with two extra bedrooms and a bathroom that are pretty much just used for storage & guests. However their advantage is that they also provide acoustic/visual insulation from the neighbors.

Other than the "wasted space", the property taxes are low and the operating costs are quite modest. A smaller home wouldn't be cheaper to run, and a smaller lot would just bring us that much closer to the neighbors. I don't think we'd ever be able to improve on the view without cashing in all our equity and most of our ER portfolio.

So while I'd never build a home from scratch, I'd certainly buy this place all over again. Sometimes a dream home's location is more important than having huge volumes of opulent living space.
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File Type: jpg West Loch of Pearl Harbor.JPG (410.0 KB, 36 views)
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Old 01-24-2011, 08:44 AM   #11
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Our dream home came fully furnished.
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Old 01-24-2011, 08:53 AM   #12
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Other people's priorities are different.
Not only that, your priorities may change with very little advanced warning.

DW and I bought the land, designed and built our dream/retirement home eight years before I retired. We downsized slightly from 4 br/2,800 sf to 3 br/2,350 sf. The day we signed the papers to sell our house (we rented for a year while the new house was being built), DD#1 announced we were going to be grandparents for the first time. Before I retired she and her younger sister had upped the grandkid total to three and the total is now at five.

Since they all enjoy spending time at grandma and grandpa's house, that dream home 2,350 sf began to seem a little crowded. Our solution was to convert our 400 sf screened porch connecting the house and garage into a you kids go to the playroom before I do something I'll regret! second living area. Now we are back to the same size house we had before we downsized...
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Old 01-24-2011, 09:01 AM   #13
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Nords, I was surprised to see how similar the views are from our back yards.

Well, I suppose what we see in the distance in your photo is the Pacific while I think that's Mexico on my horizon.
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Old 01-24-2011, 09:10 AM   #14
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Nords, I was surprised to see how similar the views are from our back yards.

Well, I suppose what we see in the distance in your photo is the Pacific while I think that's Mexico on my horizon.

Mesquite, cactus, cedar...yeah, I really miss that stuff! lol 15 years living & and around Austin & 40 mile radius thereof.
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Old 01-24-2011, 09:14 AM   #15
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My dream home consists of a simple, one story, easy to maintain and clean house with handicap accessible fixtures, doors, ramps. and a soundproof mancave with a lock. My wife wants the same things, but she wants the lock on the outside.
I love the conveniences of EZ living doorknobs and ramps with wide doors and such. I also put in a lifetime guaranteed metal shingled roof 15 years ago. I would have to do that again, too.
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Old 01-24-2011, 09:32 AM   #16
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Nords, I was surprised to see how similar the views are from our back yards.
Well, I suppose what we see in the distance in your photo is the Pacific while I think that's Mexico on my horizon.
I think both gulches are filled with wild pigs, too...
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Old 01-24-2011, 09:52 AM   #17
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I guess I do not have a dream home... (but if Nords wants to sell at the Houston price I am in)....


One of the big problems with me is that home prices anywhere else seem just high... when I watch house hunters or the international... I just shake my head....


I am in a house that is just one room to small, even though it is a decent size at 2700 sq ft.... I would like to have my OWN room.. oh well...


PS... we got a LOT of new furniture... but very very cheap at auctions... you can get your 'dream' and not pay to much...
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Old 01-24-2011, 10:23 AM   #18
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Ah yes, the cost-benefit analysis of a dream home. Obviously a personal choice. I'm currently wondering how to steer my children. Buy the most expensive house you can afford and hope it appreciates, or live cheap and simple like the ERE people, invest, and save yourself the trouble of driving up and down that freeway to work for 40 years? Hmmmm.
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Old 01-24-2011, 10:30 AM   #19
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We built our "dream home" 9 years ago. Its 2400 sf on five acres. We thought we wanted to be country folks, raise a cow and chickens, have a giant garden, blah, blah, blah. We didn't. No we have a home an hour from town, few services available and are slightly upside down. On the up side it's beautiful, quiet and a good place to raise the boys.

What we really are discovering is the maintenance is killing us. Big lawn, huge lot, weeds to pull, driveway to maintain, needs paint, etc. Our rooms are huge, great for entertaining, but most of our friends don't want to drive the hour to see us. It's wasted space. Space we have to clean. All the furniture means we need to buy new furniture when the old stuff wears out. Heating it in the winter used to cost a fortune, so we put in a pellet stove and big fancy hearth. We should break even in about 25 years.

We both want to sell the place and live in an RV and lead a simpler life. Small sounds heavenly. No more weeks of weed pulling or one whole day every week or two cleaning the house. We have found the big house and lot just cause us work and steal our free time.

We have discovered how to decorate and furnish cheaply. We are fixing up the media room and have found all kinds of neat ways to do it on the cheap. already have a projector (family Christmas gift 4 years back). Bought a sectional from Costco, paid for half of it with money we got from my parents for Christmas. I am going to build the cabinets, to replace the various book shelves and such, myself. A new TV will be bought by our boys with money they have saved so we don't have anymore fights over the big one in the living room.

I guess I agree that going overboard on the dream home is crazy. If you really want a big house or some fancy upgrade and are going to use it. Great. Just don't do it for the wrong reasons and without understanding the pitfalls.
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Old 01-24-2011, 11:07 AM   #20
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The thing with dreams is that they have little relationship with money - or you need to be talking about so much money that the dollars are valueless and meaningless. My sister and her hubby and my gal and I both closed on places within a few days of each other. She and her spouse went in to Ashley furniture and spent 5-6 hours and a bucket of credit card debt and got a pile of huge furniture to go in their huge new place. The gal and I have been picking up odd bits of ... eclectic ... furniture to go in our place. It's nearly all used, and it's funny that even with the used stuff the cost doesn't correlate with the satisfaction. I'm MUCH happier with a used $15 lamp than our new $800 mattress, and a great deal on a big glass outdoor table and six chairs has been trumped by a free round metal table and two metal chairs.

It's kind of what the universe brings to you - you have to hunt; you have to keep your eyes open, and you have to be open to having pig instead of venison - but if there's no game in the woods you need to avoid shooting just to shoot something.

I'm secretly jealous of people who have a dream house - I like Santa Fe style and Tuscan and rock homes and underground homes, some low slung modern, lots of Eastlake, southern decaying mansions, urban lofts, hobbit houses....
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