On Wednesday Evening we flew back from four days of house hunting on Vancouver Island. We viewed 15 homes with a budget of $400,000 to $500,000. We are not seniors downsizing out of necessity, we are a mid age couple(42 and 49) downsizing by choice. Requirements were just enough space to live and do the things we want to do with zero wasted space: 3-4 bedrooms for master bedroom, home office and music room with spare bedroom for kids and family to visit, 2 bath, double garage, nice backyard for outside living. Our style is modern contemporary with a touch of eclectic thrown in (items from our travels and my odd antique piece fit in). We currently live in a two story walkout with 3794 sq foot of finished living space on all three levels(keep in mind we are a family of six so this home suited us at the time we bought it when the kids were much smaller and lived with us part-time - plus we live in Northern Alberta where you are stuck indoors most of the year).
We just purchased a four year old 1723 sq foot one story on crawlspace with a great private back yard perfect for a small hot tub, some flowers and veggies and room for our future pooch to hang out in. Hubby had to have a decent home office as will be working from home when he gets his consulting business off the ground. He has a love of music and part of the move to Vancouver Island includes more time to enjoy his accoustic guitar, electric guitar and drum kit. In addition to being a music room the third bedroom will have a dual purpose: spare bedroom. We are buying a murphy bed which initial outlay is expensive but savings on smaller home are huge. The room is large and when family visits we can move the instruments out of the way, thereby allowing us to buy a smaller home. There is a three foot dry crawlspace under the entire home accessible by the garage which will act as a storage space.
The bones of the home are exactly what we wanted. The second we get rid of the sheers, repaint the pink bedrooms to cream and add some hardwood floors in dining room and living room the home will be exactly what we were looking for. Due to the fact that all of the furniture we intend to keep is dark wood we likely will be staining the cabinets a darker colour at some point and adding a backsplash. White appliances are not really my thing, we may also choose at somepoint to change them out to stainless steel. The gas fireplace would be much nicer with the addition of stone or tile as the room is a great room with really high ceiling and we would use it as a focal point. All of the above changes would be $10,000 to $20,000 but we would then have our dream home. We thought our big expensive current home was our dream home, but it really is not. We are at a different place in our lives and want a simpler way of living. Although I am frugal I still want a pretty home so by spending a little to put the upgrades in that we will be happier with our choice of downsizing plus we will do them as we wish, none of the upgrades are required if we change our mind as the home as it currently stands is spotless and in excellent condition. Hubby is already figuring out ways to negotiate deals on wood flooring while I have been checking out all the lovely decorating on a dime blogs there are in blog land (I will feature some of those at a later date - some great ones out there - who needs HGTV).
The best news is what we got it for: $384,000. Under our lowest budget with plenty of room for all of our dream home changes! Here is a sneak peak of some before shots. We negotiated a possession date of March 29, 2012 which gives us a little breathing room to get the current house on the market as we really had not intended to buy on this trip. We did have to give a slightly larger deposit on the home in order to accomplish this long possession date.
Check out that great room ceiling! Please try and imagine it with contemporary furniture minus the sheers:
Benefits of the downsize?
1. Less room to have to keep clean
2. Lower taxes ($2,000 per year saved)
3. No wasted space and less of an earth footprint.
4. Cheaper heating, insurance, and utility costs(guestimate $2000 per year).
5. Home maintenance costs like roofing, paint and landscaping are cheaper. Less furniture is required. Upgrading a smaller home is much cheaper than the same upgrade in a larger one.
6. Only having enough "stuff" and size of house to maintain the lifestyle we want to live, not caring what the Joneses have.
7. The biggest benefit? Total financial freedom as the equity between our current home and the new home is enough to pay for a rental property that will allow us to maintain a side income without a full-time job.
I believe in smaller living spaces but this is an achievement as hubby is only newly converted (I have been working on him as he thought 2200 sq ft was the minimum required). This home may be still be considered large for most but based on where we currently live it is on the smaller side as people live 95% of their lives stuck inside due to weather. If hubby didn't work from home I am sure we could have downsized to 1200 sq foot but this home will work perfectly for us.
Did I mention it is only a five minute drive to the ocean? Also only five minutes to some of the wildlife seen this trip: sea otter, blue heron and some of the 2000 white Trumpeter swans that spend winter on Vancouver Island in the farmers fields. Sorry, no shots of those yet as our time was mainly spent traipsing through homes that were up for sale.
Even on a rainy November 8th Day the ocean is beautiful. Check out the whitecaps (this is the inside passage which cruise ships goto to Alaska on, and the day we were there there were whitecaps reflecting the terrible storm Alaska was bracing for).