House Hunting: Would You Rather


I've been thinking more about my favorite topic...you guessed it...houses! Lol. We're just about ready to start house hunting in Spokane, and we're super excited to actually have options in our price range this time around. So we've been asking ourselves some "would you rather" questions.

House hunting

- Would you rather get a smaller, plain house that's very comfortable financially OR one that's big and cute, but at the top of our price range?
- Would you rather be in the country where we have privacy and land OR in a neighborhood where we can walk to parks and coffee shops?
- Would you rather get a house where we can raise our family and stay for awhile OR get a house that's a smart investment and could eventually be turned into a rental?
- Would you rather get an old house with charm that needs fixing up OR a new house that's move-in ready but kind of boring?
- Would you rather get an okay house in a great neighborhood with a great school district OR a great house in a okay neighborhood?

I'm curious to hear what your priorities were when you were house hunting. Do you have an opinion about any of those questions, whether from personal experience or stories you've heard? Any factors we should consider that aren't so obvious?

One thing my dad pointed out is that here in Spokane, if we live in the country we will likely end up having to deal with snow ourselves, whereas in the city they plow the streets. Something we didn't think about since Seattle doesn't really have snow.

I also notice myself getting drawn to the houses at the very tip-top of our price range (of course--doesn't it always work that way?) and am reeeaally trying to rein myself in and remember that a house is, first and foremost, a dwelling place for our family. Not a showcase for blog content and interior design. :) Property taxes on the big, dreamy houses are probably quite painful too, so that's another reason not to get carried away. I suppose I'll need a tax calculator to figure all that out!

Anyways, having been on the other side where we just wanted something (anything!) halfway decent that we could afford, we're thrilled to be in a position where we actually get to make some choices...I just hope we make the right ones for us!

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  1. Posted by Emi on Thursday, April 20th, 2017

    My husband and I recently bought our first home together. We were living in Ballard for a few years and absolutely loved the walkability of that neighborhood...but unfortunately there was absolutely no way we would be able to afford a home there, or anywhere in the city for that matter. We decided that buying a home we were comfortable with financially was the best decision for us. We are a bit further away from work than we had originally planned, and can no longer walk to get coffee or restaurants, but what we got in return is a super affordable mortgage, bigger home than we could afford in the city, and a cute homey suburb! The affordability turned out to be such a blessing - we immidiately got pregnant (surprisingly), so as you know - babies come with some expenses ;) Plus, there are a lot of bills with home ownership that tend to add up -all the different utilitiy bills and unexpected home improvement projects. We have been here in our new home for a year and don't regret our choice one bit! We sure do miss the hub bub of being in the city, but being comfortable financially is so freeing, especially with a little one who we LOVE spoiling :) Good luck with your home search!!!
    • Posted by Aileen on Friday, April 21st, 2017

      Emi, thanks for the comment! Sounds like you guys made the right decision for sure. That was our biggest goal in moving over here--to have a super affordable mortgage that still gives us freedom to save for retirement, travel, do all the kid stuff, and not worry about money too much. :) Of course, once I started looking at more expensive houses I was like "oooh THAT one's nice!" and I started losing focus on that goal. So thanks for the reminder that there's more to life than a nice house and the money we save on a mortgage is money we can put toward so many other rewarding things. Glad to hear you don't regret your decision at all!
  2. Posted by Jenn on Friday, April 21st, 2017

    I would rather:
    Be comfortable financially
    Live near coffee shops/parks -walkable neighborhood
    House we can fix up - maybe an investment
    Great house in an ok neighborhood

    I'm struggling to find a house in our price range in a good neighborhood with good schools! So the house we buy might not be our forever house. I'm ok with living in it a few years and then renting it out.
    • Posted by Aileen on Friday, April 21st, 2017

      Yay! I love seeing your take on each of those questions. I think I could have guessed your answers for most of them. I'm right on the fence for many...I can see pros and cons either way, which makes it hard to narrow down our search! But I do think since we're both young(ish) and will most likely move again in our lives, that it's more important to get a house that's a smart investment financially, rather than stretching for a big "forever house."

      I'm so excited and interested to see what we all end up with!
  3. Posted by Tanja Epners on Friday, April 21st, 2017

    Hi. I live just north of you in Canada. When we bought our home we moved outside of Vancouver to a suburb which allowed us to get an affordable home. We can walk to the local shops and coffee spots, we have a decent sized yard for the suburbs and the house has a ton of potential.

    Initially I wanted bigger, newer, almost finished but my husband convinced me budget was more important. Now I'm so happy we made that decision, not having the pressure of a huge mortgage (which is so common in the Vancouver area) is amazing. We are slowly, very slowly updating our house.
    • Posted by Aileen on Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

      Hi Tanja, So happy to hear that! Seattle isn't quite as crazy as Vancouver, but we saw plenty of people there getting scary huge mortgages there too. I am also SO relieved we didn't get caught up in that frenzy! And for what it's worth, I think slowly updating a house to your taste actually sounds more fun than getting something new. :)
  4. Posted by Corlana on Friday, April 21st, 2017

    Yay! This is so exciting!!
    my responses would be:
    - more comfortable financially so that you have room to add your own flare.
    - Right now, I'm loving living in the city (close to the out skirts) and I think one of the reasons that I am content with it is that I want a homestead but its so out of our price range right now so hopefully this house will be our way to get a place with acres.
    - I don't want to be set anywhere or feel pressured for it to be one or another. Just that it is what we need it to be for now and we'll reevaluate again and again :)
    - Its easier to add charm to a new house than make an old house up to date. (I think)
    - good neighborhood and schools is huge for me. I like to feel safe and a good rating on the school district makes me feel better about sending my kids to public school.
    Not sure if that helps at all, hehe:)

    And I totally agree with your dad! but regardless of where you buy, things like lawn movers and garden equipment and all that are purchases that we didn't see coming! lots of people in the city have snowblowers for the driveways too!
    • Posted by Aileen on Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Sounds like your current house is perfect for you guys right now. :)

      I like what you said about reevaluating again and again. The same house could be our family home for awhile, then a rental, then a stepping stone toward our next house. Maybe eventually we'll be able to get our "dream house" but for now we can't afford it anyways either!

      Good point about the lawn mower and snowblower and other equipment you don't need as a renter. Something to keep in mind!
  5. Posted by Wuselbibi on Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

    Hi! I'm a regular silent reader from Germany, so my take on buying a house might be only partly interesting for you.
    But I thought you'd like a different opinion also..?
    My husband an I were fortunate enough to buy an oder house in a not-first-choice neighbourhood (which in Germany almost never means high criminal rates. It was just not our preferred region). It was an old house that we had to update, but was within our financial comfort zone.
    Three years later we sold the house and bought land in the village where my in-laws live, which was our plan from the beginning! We built a new house there, are living in it and while we pay a real big chunk of cash each month, we like doing so because we're thinking of it as part of our plans for retirement.
    Also we've looked hard for all things the village has, such as three supermarkets, doctors, a school, 2 independent butchers and bakers, a pharmacy and of course there are two kindergartens (is there a correct plural for kindergarten in the US? I couldn't find anything about it )

    Since moving in we've loved living in our house and have built another house weich we rent to a family. The house is only 3 minutes away,which calms my mind- being able to have an eye on our property is really bringing me a certain peace.
    That house is intended to serve as retirement home for my in-laws or my parents or eventually ourselves and we planned carefully (wheelchairs) towards that purpose.

    I hope my words are welcome, and wish you all the luck on the way to your new home!
    Thanks for sharing your life, I love to read about family life in (for me) foreign countries!
    Regards Marie
    • Posted by Aileen on Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

      Oh, thank you so much for commenting!!! I love hearing the perspective of people from different areas.

      I would love to eventually build a house, and that's so smart that you thought ahead to retirement and built accordingly. I also love that you have a rental house! I've often thought that would be a good idea too. And if we could rent to family or friends that would be perfect, so we could trust them not to trash our house. :) Sounds like you have a great situation going!

      P.S. I think kindergartens sounds right as the plural of kindergarten :)
  6. Posted by Wuselbibi on Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

    I'm so glad to hear you're appreciating my words. Tank you for taking that time!
    I'd like to add that I think you're doing the whole process right, with thinking and prioritizing first and acting second. Also, your questions (rather more money and smaller Hose or bigger house/better neighbourhood plus fewer money) sound thought through to me. I am sure you and your husband will make the right decisions and eventually live happily in THE right house for you!
    Having a rental house is really great- if you get trustworthy tenants. Unfortunately there's not much laws to protect landlord's property in Germany, so you could have bad luck (think someone who doesn't pay in time repeatedly or destroys things). There are many rights to protect tenants, but it's difficult to get a tenant out even if he/she is not fulfilling his/her duties. Explains why I'm glad the house OS just around the corner.
    How's the law dealing with that in the U.S.? I'm curious!
    But overall, it's pretty rewarding to have someone else pay the mortgage our property. If there's an opportunity I'd definitely recommend renting out (of course in addition to other retirement plans, which should be diverse, I think, but you'll surely have a financial advisor!
    Best of luck ☺