Whether you own or rent it pays to invest in your own happiness. When we decided 1.5 years ago to downsize to a home half the size of the last one there were certain features in our "basic" home that we decided to invest in. There is a golf-course community within one mile of our home that has some very nice homes but for the same size home were $100,000 to $150,000 more than we paid. We do not care about the name of our neighborhood. We wanted an open concept home with a nice back yard in a good neighborhood on a quiet street. We were hoping for four bedrooms around 2100 sq foot. We looked at this home at 1750 sq foot and three bedrooms, open concept on a keyhole street with just the right size West facing back yard and fell in love. One room is our office which is incredibly important as we knew hubby was working from home (I was not originally intending to work with him as we didn't realize he would get so busy so fast). In a home this size we cannot afford to devote a whole room for guests so we have a multipurpose room that holds the hamster (who moves to the office when we have guests), hubby's drum set and guitars as he is musically inclined, and sofa couch for guests. If two kids come at the same time we have a very large couch and a queen size air bed as well which can be set up in the living room.
Our list for of wanted upgrades:
Fence on the right hand side of the property. For some reason there was a fence on only two sides and we wanted privacy in our backyard. Fortunately the neighbors on that side bought their home around the same time as we did, and they have a well behaved dog needing a fence. We paid half and they paid half and then we spent most of the summer staining the rest of the fences- of which we need to do another coat this summer.
Outdoor living room set. We picked out this set at Home Depot (Martha Stewart Living) even before we put an offer in on the house. In the past we have had patio tables and chairs(huge and sold when we left Alberta) and we felt we would get a lot more use as an outdoor living room. We were so right. So far this Spring we probably have spent 30 hours sitting in these chairs. The roofline completely protects them and we only have to bring in the cushions for the worst part of our wet winter. Due to facing west if sunny the patio furniture is in direct sun every evening. It is our reading nook and a nice place to have a cocktail or coffee and watch the birds as the bird feeder is about five feet away. I looked for used sets before we bought and couldn't find anything close to what we wanted. By the time we bought the set it was $100 cheaper than when we first looked at it - it pays to buy patio furniture in early summer versus early spring. The black mats directly beneath the furniture are two exercise mats that we used to have in our old home, brought back from Alberta last month when we cleaned it out. The straw looking tray on the coffee table was purchased at a thrift store. The clay sun was a souvenir from one of our many past trips to Mexico and wind chimes were a housewarming gift from Mom. The two black plant pots were purchased last summer for either side of the garage. This year as I am spending less on flowers I bought two dahlias (which the bugs don't like) and planted some flowers from seed around them. When they fill out in a month or two those pots will go back out front. The rest of the flower pots were extras from Mom. The BBQ is about five years old and hauled from Alberta when we moved.
Hot tub. Something we have always wanted. It is directly around the corner from the outdoor living room and right off the indoor livingroom/diningroom- but you cannot see it when you are inside! Since I took this picture yesterday hubby has put earth around the edge of the newly poured concrete to replace grass that was disturbed in the construction phase. It is a two person hot tub and we bought the floor model for an $800 discount. We love it. Paid for with money from selling furniture out of our Alberta home and hubby's income tax check.
Small garden shed. We have bought one but need to construct it within the next week or two - an inexpensive kit shed to hold the lawnmower so we have more room in the garage.
These were all planned purchases and the total was $14000, mostly from the fence and hot-tub. We spent most of the weekend enjoying this backyard and it was so worth it as I see thousands of hours in our future here.
As for those rhododendrons? They will live at least until next Spring. The original plan was to take them out this year as they are monstrously large and only bloom four weeks in May, and as you can see they are nearly done for this year. I will not kill them as have been told by a landscaper they have a small root ball so we will likely give them away and put in more lawn, and a small raised bed area for a garden. In the mean time I am growing herbs and tomatoes in pots (tomatoes are still in the garage as I started them from seed late) and have planted green onions in the backside of my front of house flower bed. Nobody knows but me :)
All this money was planned for - if you are thinking of downsizing be prepared to spend some money making your smaller home your vision. We are now mortgage free, and living rich in a smaller home.