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Old 05-28-2014, 08:40 AM   #61
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As you requested, I am telling you:

Don't buy a bigger house.

Whether you take the advice or not is your call.
Thank you! I am reading your post over and over. I think I will print it and post in my office.
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Old 05-28-2014, 08:57 AM   #62
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If it makes you feel any better, we just looked at a 1,900 square foot condo on the Big Island that was going for $920K, and the developer was sold out on 90% of the development. So in comparison, the houses you are looking at seem like an absolute bargain!
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:09 AM   #63
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If it makes you feel any better, we just looked at a 1,900 square foot condo on the Big Island that was going for $920K, and the developer was sold out on 90% of the development. So in comparison, the houses you are looking at seem like an absolute bargain!
Wow. Crazy, isn't it? We are originally from the Boston area, now in Michigan. For the price of an ordinary home in Boston, you can buy a castle here.
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:17 AM   #64
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I also vote against 4000 square feet.

DW and I are closer to 3000 now and wish we had a smaller place, perhaps at a higher quality. In the area we live, the options are tough. It's very hard to find the highest quality not accompanied by massive square footage. We can easily afford one of the monsters and keep our mortgage to income ratio in single digits, but heating/cooling/cleaning all that space would be a pain.

So that leaves building custom which would probably cost the same as the existing monster houses but at half the square footage. Not a problem if we'd never want to sell it, but big problem if we would.

It sounds like the best idea for you is what several others have already suggested: find a smallish, modest place with the land to be able to build your dream garage.
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:23 AM   #65
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The more space you have, the more places to fill with things. Things are the anchors that weigh down our life. (Thanks for a fellow FIRE person for posting that thought.)

Free yourself.
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:24 AM   #66
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Who wants to clean all that 4000 square feet + windows + garages - or to pay cleaners
Who volunteers for the garden work or wants to hire professionals

Lots of good advice here. You will never be able to say that you have not been warned...
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:31 AM   #67
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Who wants to clean all that 4000 square feet + windows + garages - or to pay cleaners
Who volunteers for the garden work or wants to hire professionals

Lots of good advice here. You will never be able to say that you have not been warned...
I definitely appreciate the feedback. I understand many of these polite posters would actually rather say to me "are you a frickin' idiot?" .

My wife doesn't work, the kids are grown and she loves working in the yard. I can't imagine cleaning can be too bad - how much of a mess can two adults make?
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:34 AM   #68
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I also vote against 4000 square feet.

DW and I are closer to 3000 now and wish we had a smaller place, perhaps at a higher quality. In the area we live, the options are tough. It's very hard to find the highest quality not accompanied by massive square footage. We can easily afford one of the monsters and keep our mortgage to income ratio in single digits, but heating/cooling/cleaning all that space would be a pain.
Same thing out here - if you want nice location, extra garage space and all that, the homes are typically huge.

If the house we are looking at was 2000-2500 square feet instead of 4000, it would be perfect. We are also in no rush so maybe we give the real estate people those specs and have them look longer.
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:44 AM   #69
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I definitely appreciate the feedback. I understand many of these polite posters would actually rather say to me "are you a frickin' idiot?" .

My wife doesn't work, the kids are grown and she loves working in the yard. I can't imagine cleaning can be too bad - how much of a mess can two adults make?
You don't want us to tell you not to buy the bigger house. You are talking yourself into it with everything you post in this thread. Personally I would not do it, but to each their own. In the end you may find the house owns you rather than the reverse. I wish you luck whatever you decide - and I suspect you have already decided.
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:46 AM   #70
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We also like contemporary/modern homes, or at least ones with some of those types of features (e.g., minimal woodwork, lots of glass, etc.) and it's hard to find a home like that under 4,000 square feet and the really cool ones tend to be 5,000+.

There is a psychological aspect to a huge place I think many of us are trying to warn you about. It's hard to put accurately into words but it seems to be there for a lot of people. The huge electric bills in the summer and NG bills in the winter are easily affordable to us, but they are nonetheless still grating. By comparison, back in my P-car days, a $200 oil change was more amusing than annoying, so it's not simply that I am "cheap" or "frugal". I'm sure part of it is just the human "grass is greener" see-saw.

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Same thing out here - if you want nice location, extra garage space and all that, the homes are typically huge.

If the house we are looking at was 2000-2500 square feet instead of 4000, it would be perfect. We are also in no rush so maybe we give the real estate people those specs and have them look longer.
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:48 AM   #71
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I understand many of these polite posters would actually rather say to me "are you a frickin' idiot?" .
Yes, but we are too nice to be so blunt!
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Old 05-28-2014, 11:02 AM   #72
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Once you get this house, your wife will want a housekeeper and a gardener. Take my word for it.
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Old 05-28-2014, 11:29 AM   #73
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I can't imagine cleaning can be too bad - how much of a mess can two adults make?
In my experience the mess in big houses of adults is not so much made by people but by little critters like mites (result: dust) and spiders.

I have seen some McMansions where the dust was piling up, for example (but not only) in corners and on high hanging lamp shades and book cases that could be looked on from the upper level rooms but not easily reached at. Same for spider webs and spider droppings.
(I have just cleaned my home office incl. bookcases and corners, so I know )
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Old 05-28-2014, 11:44 AM   #74
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I have looked at many happiness studies over the years, and I have never seen a big house listed on what really makes people happy. To me financial security, free time, and not having to work unless I want to are important. Having a big house with lots of overhead and a big capital investment just seems the opposite of that. We can't wait to downsize. Last week we each spent the good part of a day just clearing out a fraction of the garage. I'd rather have spent that day hiking or taking an art class.

I like the idea of having to get rid of half our stuff. It is making me dwindle my possessions down to the things I use, wear and enjoy the most. Today's event is taking bags and bags of stuff to Goodwill. They can make money to help the less fortunate and I can improve my Feng Shui. Win - win.
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Old 05-28-2014, 03:48 PM   #75
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In my experience the mess in big houses of adults is not so much made by people but by little critters like mites (result: dust) and spiders.

I have seen some McMansions where the dust was piling up, for example (but not only) in corners and on high hanging lamp shades and book cases that could be looked on from the upper level rooms but not easily reached at. Same for spider webs and spider droppings.
+1. And windows get dirty no matter what. Many large upscale houses have windows in areas that are nearly impossible to clean without a scaffold.

Finally, the larger the house, the more places to put clutter that eventually has to be dealt with. I was amazed at what I found when we moved out of our 3400 sq ft. house, and we'd only lived there 11 years.
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Old 05-28-2014, 04:47 PM   #76
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I think I would be nervous about owning a $750K house in Michigan. My relatives live in the Lansing area and have built many homes as general contractors over the years. The last home they built, worth around $200K, had no buyers. They eventually had to sell their own home and move into their spec home because they couldn't afford to carry two homes any longer. The economy just doesn't seem to be getting much better there, and I'd have to wonder how many people out there can afford a $750K home in Michigan. There are some very high end suburbs out there like Grand Blanc, but mostly just very moderately priced homes.

While the comments about the cost of maintaining a 4,000 square foot home in Michigan are likely true - especially with a large parcel of land, and the extreme temperatures, a large home is not always extraordinarily expensive.

My home is 4,000 square feet. My electricity for the last 12 months was $979. Gas was $463, and water/trash was $807. So all in my annual utilities were $2,249. Throw in $600/year for mowing the lawn, and that's about all it takes to run the place. Even house cleaning is reasonable. My house keeper comes in once every other week and charges us $100 to clean the entire house.

My very low expenses are due to two factors - 1) the weather at the beach is so moderate that it rarely goes below 55 degrees or above 75 degrees. We use air conditioning about 10 days per year, and heat for about 20 days. The rest of the year the climate is just right. And 2) my back yard is a concrete alley, my front yard has a lawn the size of a postage stamp. So while most people equate large homes with very large yards, this just doesn't apply to Southern California.

In any case, I got off on a tangent, because the concerns clearly would apply to Michigan, where the yards tend to be quite large, and the winters quite cold.

Good luck with your decision!
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Old 05-28-2014, 05:17 PM   #77
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Someone in your family wants a bigger house,I guess you just have to decide if it works for you. You just said this one was too big and a little more money then you want to spend, how does that make it a dream house? Maybe you need to decide if you are really going to move and then set size and price limits, there is always a bigger, fancier house out there somewhere.

Currently 9,000 dollars a year in taxes, in our state property taxes have gone nowhere but up.

When people start talking mortgage calculators instead of price, that's kind of a red flag.I remember our first home,a mobile home on my in-laws farm, when we bought a farm of our own and moved, every prospective buyer wanted us to finance the 20K and said how low can you make the payments.
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Old 05-28-2014, 05:45 PM   #78
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We drove by the house last night to take a peak - seeing it with the realtor after work today. What a setup: 4,000 square foot house on a very nice all sports lake, sandy beach, 3/4 of an acre, 2 car attached garage plus a 3.5 car detached garage (not a pole barn - heated and finished like the exterior of the house). Finished walkout basement. Off of a paved road, nice landscaping.

Looks like a dream house to us with the lake and the garage setup. Wish it was less expensive and more like 3000 square feet. Asking price is $775k and taxes are going to be around $9000 a year. Oh my, having heartburn over those numbers. We can afford it but it is the very top of our range.

Funny part of course is that when I put in my income and all that into mortgage calculators, it says I can buy a $1.5M house.
That mortgage calculator cannot foretell future risk to that future income. Hopefully nothing bad happens, but if the worst does, the last thing you want to loose is your house, or have it draining you to death on smaller income. I remember the mortgage calculators showing they would loan me much more than I would ever be willing to loan myself. Nearing retirement it seems to me the last thing anyone wants is to tie a big anchor around themselves. Just my opinion.
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Old 05-28-2014, 08:24 PM   #79
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...Funny part of course is that when I put in my income and all that into mortgage calculators, it says I can buy a $1.5M house.
Yes, but I'll bet the calculator assumes that you will continue working for the term of the loan and earning what you are earning.
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Old 05-28-2014, 08:37 PM   #80
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Yes, but I'll bet the calculator assumes that you will continue working for the term of the loan and earning what you are earning.

I humored myself on the bankrate site to see what their calculator said how big a mortgage I could get based on last years income. It told me $500,000. That calculator lies more than I did to women when I was in college. I couldn't make a payment of that size and afford to eat at the same time.


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