Should I stay or should I go?

Anyone else singing that song now? If it gets stuck in your head for the rest of the day, I am sorry :) asked me to write a post about whether I plan to sell my home or if I plan on staying here long term. And since talking about my house if kind of one of my favorite things and since it follows the theme of the posts on my blog this week, I am excited to open the discussion today. And I say discussion because I would love to hear your story too. Leave a brief (or maybe not so brief) comment on this post about your situation.

We bought this house about 9 years ago. We have lived in it for about 7 years. When we bought this house the intention was that it would be a starter home that we would spend 5-10 years in before building our dream home. My husband went to college for architecture and we sort of already have the plans drawn up.

But life happened.

And we changed our plans for 2 key reasons.

1. Four layoffs later we decided that our low mortgage is “safe”.

2. And seven years later we are in LOVE with our house.

The fact that our mortgage is low enough that through four separate layoffs in three years we were always able to pay our mortgage tells me that we stand a pretty good chance of keeping this home forever. We have had close friends (lots of close friends) lose their homes when the economy tanked. I will take a smaller house that I can afford (and keep) verses a larger home that I live in fear of losing.

Also, I never imagined I could get so attached to a home. To brick and mortar. But after all the work we have put into it I can’t imagine handing the keys over to someone else. Especially when we plan on staying in this community. It would be hard to drive by the house with others living in it. Especially if they didn’t take good care of it. In a way, our home is part of our family.

So now that we have established that we are staying put (at least for a long time) let us talk about what projects are worth doing and maybe projects that are not worth doing as far as adding value to the home.

We plan on adding on to our house. If we were planning on selling soon I am not sure if that would be something the real estate experts in this area would recommend. You don’t always get back what you put into an addition. Of course it depends on what you are adding and where you live. Each area has specific features in the home that are more popular than others.

We plan to add onto our kitchen and building a new garage within the next few years. Our garage is cinder block, holds one car, and the roof is swiss cheese. It is a glorified shed. Not only that but it is detached from the house. It also has had the foundation settle over time so you can not even drive a car in there. So we really do use it like a shed.

Our kitchen is 9 foot by 9 foot. With counters and cabinets it gives us a walking area of 4 foot by 6 foot. People! We are a family of six! And I love to cook. I bottle the produce from my garden. I need more room. I have to shoo the kids away when I am in there because there is not enough room for more than 2 people. I want a kitchen where we can all be together.

Honestly, I think even if we knew we were going to sell down the road I would still add those things.

We recently added a second bathroom to the basement. The previous owners did the dirty work by adding the plumbing. I got to do the fun stuff like tile and build walls. We will be finishing the unfinished part of the basement and turning it into a bedroom for me and my husband. The bathroom will be connected to our bedroom. Adding another bedroom is huge for resale value but it is also huge when you have all four boys sharing one room ;)

So I guess you could say that we are mindful of the changes we make and how they would affect resale (because you never know) but our plan is to stay here long term.

What about you? Is the place where you are living your forever home? Or do you have plans to move? And do you consider the changes you are making when it comes to reselling down the road? 


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  1. Cath T says

    Our situation was pretty much just like yours. We stayed way longer than I wanted to. House is way too small, but very affordable, so we weathered the economic downturn well. I’ve put a lot of work into it. Can’t say that I love it, or even like it, but the location is good. I think what you’re doing is very wise. Much better to have a house that’s too small than no house at all. Wish a lot of other people had had your sensibility back in the early two thousands. Didn’t we all learn a lesson from the housing bubble? A garage and kitchen can be a fine creative outlet for The Architect, and a great learning opportunity for your boys if they help build some of it. But, some day, it would be fun to see your husband design your dream home from scratch.

    • Stacy says

      I love the last little bit of your comment (I love the whole thing but) when it says that the addition would be a good outlet for my husband. The one thing I have been sad about with the decision to stay is that he wouldn’t get to see his plans for our dream house be built. I agree that this seems like a good compromise :) And yes, we would of course be doing a lot of the work and letting the boys help. I hope it will be sooner than later but in reality we probably have a few more years.

  2. Jackie says

    We started out living in my husband’s parent’s basement. I had my first child and we moved to a condo. I got a job during Christmas since we moved in December. First payment wasn’t due till Jan. A week before our first mortgage payment was due, my guaranteed holiday job staying permanent, wasn’t. I got other jobs to keep us out of debt and rarely saw my husband. We switched off shifts, or I worked every weekend for years. We lived in that condo for 1 1/2 years before my husband got the itch for a house and a yard. In April he said, “Lets save for a year and build up savings for a down payment” By June we had started looking at all our options, and August moved to our current house. We’ve been here over 10 years. My husband has worked hard and been blessed in his job, before we had turned 30 we had our house paid off! (we bought a small house, with a small mortgage while everyone else was buying $350,000 houses and now upside down in their loans) Recently we are looking at moving because we could rent this house and put that money towards the mortgage of one that’s twice as big and half the commute. The key is to find the right house for the right price (like always, right). With every raise my husband received, we put that money towards cars and house debt. And now we can travel, and do a bunch of fun things with our kids instead of being a slave to our mortgage and debt!
    My husband moved quite a few times growing up, and he had the realization he’s now lived in this house longer than anywhere else in his life. This is HOME! My children will consider this their childhood home, and that makes it a little harder to move.

    • Stacy says

      We had lost of friends who chose the $350,00 home route too. And most of them lost them. We learned from their mistakes and when it came time to buy we were determined to go small. And I agree about it being hard to move because of the kids. We have so many memories made here and for 2 of my kids, this is the only home they have ever known and the other 2 don’t really remember our rental.

  3. Janet says

    As hubs says, only going out of here in a pine box or needing to have nursing home care. We both have physical disabilities that would make packing impossible or nearly so. It would take a loooong time even with help. So much stuff (read junk) has accumulated in the basements over 37 years, and 2 kids. Hubs is just learning we don’t have to keep e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g .So he’ll “have to” supervise separation of toss, keep, donate. Stairs to basement ( good thing we bought a ranch) difficult at best. Love the house? NO It’s constantly in need of repairs. 1962 construction, CT weather, past poor contractors……You get the idea.

    • Stacy says

      I wish I could pop over and help you with your repairs and such. I sometimes feel like everything is breaking here at our house and get overwhelmed and I do not have anything holding me back. I can imagine the frustration you must have. at times.

  4. NaDell says

    We’ve almost been in our 3 bed, 1 bath house for 8 years and now have four kids. It’s not all that big, but it’s sufficient and I only have to clean one bathroom. Sure, I’d LOVE to have a house that isn’t almost 70 years old, but we just refinanced and the mortgage is low (well, lower than our monthly health insurance….) Maybe in the next 10 years, we can find a house a little bigger a few blocks away because we love where we live.

    • Stacy says

      Our mortgage is lower than our health insurance too. Insurance for our family is crazy! We love where we live too which makes it harder to think about moving. We are next to the school, and within walking distance to the grocery store and church. And we have fabulous neighbors. Location does play a role in moving for sure :)

  5. sarah says

    we bought our house(s) about a year and a half ago. it’s actually 2 houses and is a non-conforming legal 4plex. when we were looking for houses we knew we wanted at least a duplex so the rental unit would help with the mortgage. this one ended up just falling into our hands. we love it. it’s got so much character because it’s 115 years old. it’s a good, solid pioneer house. the mortgage is covered by the 3 other units and we havent had any problems renting them out because we allow pets, which is highly coveted housing and you can also charge more. we own a small company and have been able to make many improvements with trade agreements with other small companies. most of what we have done is curb appeal stuff and things like electrical and brick work. our plan is to stay here for 5 years and buy another duplex, 3plex, or 4plex to live in for another 5 years and then build a dream-house somwhere. i wouldn’t mind staying here longer though because we are in a spacious 3-bedroom, 2 bathroom, one of the rooms we are using as our office, so we have plenty of room to grow (have one child with one on the way currently). we could easily fit for a while. i like that our mortgage is covered so worst case scenario, we could move in with family and rent out our current place and use it as some income…not that i want to do that. there are things that we’d like to change about the house, but we always have to weigh whether it would be worth the investment for the rental aspect. we also have a tiny kitchen that needs to at least be re-done, but it functions, so not sure if it’s worth doing. we do plan on re-doing the add-on which isn’t made of adobe brick like the rest of the house because it doesn’t have any insulation and is just wood siding. it’s always the hottest room in the summer and the coldest room in the winter. we did get all new windows last year. we got a wonderful price and 0% financing and it helps a ton with energy costs. anyway, i’m rambling. loved this post.

    • Stacy says

      What a smart idea to buy and live in a multi-home complex! And I agree about the windows. I was so happy with the energy savings and how much more constant in temperature our house has been throughout the year.

  6. Jeanine says

    You are very smart to stay put, and the nice thing is that now people are realizing that they don’t need as much space, and they certainly don’t need all the stuff that more space allows. You are ahead of the learning curve, so congratulations! I’m sure you thank God daily for leading you so clearly to your home. What a blessing!

    Also, you’re right in thinking that if you sold it and stayed in the same area, it would be very hard to see it on a regular basis. We sold a home we loved because we had to move to another state for a job. Unfortunately, the people who bought it have not taken good care of it, and some of our former neighbors used to remind us of that fact on a regular basis. It was torture! I have never been able to go back to see the house, and even though I feel horrible for our former neighbors, we had to end our relationship with them because of obvious reasons.

    Can’t wait to see what you do with your beloved and beautiful home in the future! Enjoy!

    • Stacy says

      My sister use to live here and had to move because of her husband’s job. The next owners of her home trashed it. The yard (which was her baby and completely gorgeous) died and was filled with weeds. She made the mistake of driving by one time when she was here for a visit. It broke her heart. I think about that when we consider moving. It played a role in our decision, at least for now.

  7. Loretta says

    We bought our current home almost 24 years ago. We liked the neighborhood, it was affordable and we figured 10 years tops and we’d move on. Three years in, we knew the only way we were leaving was feet first! It’s almost 120 years old and over the years we’ve done A LOT! But I don’t regret it. It was crazy when the kids were young but I love that I’m now marking my grandchildren’s heights on the same closet door next to their parents. I’ve always kept our “mature years” in mind when making renovations, resale value too, but not to the point where it didn’t make sense for our daily living. I’ve always had a lot of seniors in my life so I always keep in mind elderly access. The first change we made was the kitchen. Like you, I needed more room. Then the garage! Those too, were our first priorities. I’m a cook and a garden person so I needed those both asap. We added on an in law suite for my mother in law but most everything else has been cosmetic or repair. Our next project is to take a wrap around front porch off a front room, enclose it, turn the half bath into a full and create a larger music room for my husband. It will be our future first floor bedroom for our later years and a great ensuite for the future owners. My kids love coming “home” and I’m so glad we decided to stay. I say, enjoy your home, plan like you’re going to stay forever and if you don’t then someone else will reap the benefits of your wonderful sense of style and taste!

    Good Luck!

    • Stacy says

      120 years old :) I am jealous! I bet it is beautiful. I love the idea of you adding a wraparound porch. That sounds awesome!

  8. Heart and Haven says

    My husband and I have been married almost 10 years. During that time we’ve moved 7 times, and are back living in the 1st house when we got married! lol! We’ve lived in bigger homes, smaller places…and finally this place feels like our Goldilocks home.

    To help explain, my husband (before we started dating) had bought a 1300 sq ft. 3 bd/3 ba house…as a bachelor! However when got married, it just never felt like “mine/ours”. I think it had a lot to do with overstuffed Lazy Boy furniture, Rubbermaid “end tables”, huge projector screen tv, badly stained beige carpet he never bothered to replace when he purchased the house, construction orange living room wall paint w/peach valances. It was awful :-)

    With every DIY project/room renovation we complete, it feels more and more “ours”. In the past 5 years we’ve been back, we’ve remodeled many areas of the house. I love both doing the projects, as well as enjoying the end results.

    We’re about to begin construction on a room addition (aka “loft bedroom”) within the next month. We have 2 bedrooms upstairs, and one downstairs (which we converted to the kid’s playroom when my oldest moved out to join the Air Force). But with 3 little ones at home (and one of the way!), we need more space. We have cathedral ceilings in the dining/kitchen & living room. We’re planning a loft bedroom, with convenient access from upstairs landing, above the dining/kitchen area. It has sloped ceilings (8 ft on one end, to 4.5 ft on the other). But I think it’ll make the perfect boys room, sort of like camping.

    • Stacy says

      I love lofts!!! I think that sounds like such a fun idea. We have talked about turning our attic space into a loft type area. It sounds like you have really made it YOUR home instead of just HIS :)

  9. says

    We are in our home for maybe 3-5 more years, then we want to move just a bit closer to my nephew (and his parents too, I guess, haha) and into a nicer neighborhood (if we end up having kids, I wouldn’t put them in the school system where we live now). For that reason, I will survive with my terrible honey oak colored kitchen cabinets because a dream kitchen reno in our urban city wouldn’t make us our money back. But I am willing to turn the guest room closet into a built in desk space because I feel like that’s something that could easily be converted back and I need space to create! :)

    • Stacy says

      Location is a huge deal. If we didn’t love our area that would affect our decision big time. I hope you can find the house of your dreams closer to family :)

  10. says

    I love moving, the thrill of the hunt, the new projects and painting, something different than the last house, purging all the junk and hauling it to Goodwill, all of it is fabulous. We have lived in 4 different houses in the past 13 years, the first house was a very small ranch where we finished the basement, then we sold that to our sister & brother in law and built a beautiful home, lived in it for two years before we realized we were house poor, sold that house after being on the market for 2 days, thank goodness because a few months later the housing market crashed hard. We bought a 1930’s colonial that needed help but was super cheap. Lived there for 4 years, redid the kitchen and some other projectsm sold that house on facebook, didn’t even put a sign in the yard. Moved out of state because we wanted to and my hubby works from home now, bought our current house almost 3 years ago and I can honestly say, this is the first house that I”m not itching to move. Love our neighborhood, so wonderful to be with people you do life with. Love the layout and how it works for our family, no pressing projects that “have” to be done, just updates that need to happen down the road. So staying, suprisingly for me is the answer.
    Sounds like you have a fabulous setup going on with your mortgage and if you can expand, why not? Isn’t it feel great to love the house you are in? Very thankful and I am sure you are too! Thanks for sharing today, this was a fun blog post to read.

  11. Sharla says

    We are staying put. We could not afford to re purchase our house now. We got it when the market was down (the first time)
    Our situation was similar to yours, when we bought this house in 1993. We had 2 small kids and were renting to own a house “in the country” (inland San Diego). A few weeks before our last payment, that fell through due to a storm that flooded that house.
    We could not afford the houses of “coastal San Diego”, but one day on a drive, we found our home. The reaction was like yours. Due to power lines, behind it and it being on a busier street (only bad during school drop off and pick up times) it was priced much lower than similar houses. Infact it was the development my parents had dreamed of moving into, but back then their payment would have been $135 more a month and on my dad’s Navy salary, they couldn’t afford it.
    My parents helped up with the down payment and we have been here ever since
    it is 3 bedroom with 1 3/4 baths and originally was 1038sq ft.
    When my mom passed away, my dad used the money from one of her life insurance policies, to have us build on a 360 sq ft family room, which we love.
    Now that kids are off to college (SUU) we need to freshen it up. I did rip out the carpet and add laminate in most rooms and the Allure planks in the living room. I need to re tile out tiny bathroom and I have baseboards that still need caulking.
    Our kitchen is tiny, like yours. I would love new cabinets as the previous owners put really deep ones in (to match the wall oven) and they are so deep, stuff just gets lost at the back

    Thanks for sharing about your house! I loved reading your story

    Oh, I built a chicken coop to make up for the “country” we lost when we moved :)

    • Stacy says

      Your parents sound like the best! What we would without parents? And now when you are in your family room I bet it makes you think of our sweet mom and your dad for helping build it.
      I love having chickens too. It does make me feel like we live more in the country :)

  12. says

    We have been going back and forth on this one for awhile. Our mortgage is too expensive here. We are basically paying for the neighborhood and not the house. We have a wonderful yard but the house is just so small. If we decided to stay here and we fixed up the place to our liking it could really be a great place. We have a wonderful closed in carport that we need to really work on if we decide to stay. Our other option is to build on my parent’s land. My sister is currently building a house there now and my parents really want us to do the same. We just aren’t sure if we want to live that close to that much family. Although it would be great for the kids to grow up together, I’m not sure if I want that much togetherness. Ugh! It is just too much for us to make up our minds.

    • Stacy says

      My mom has a bit of property by her that she has divided into 4 plots for me and my siblings. If we were to build it would be there more than likely. I think too much togetherness is a valid point. We wanted to do it because my mom lives by herself and is getting older. There are so many factors to consider!

  13. says

    Hi Stacy,

    We bought in a small town when our kids were little. The school was a block and a half up the street, the pool was across the school yard, and the skating rink was two blocks away. Staying made perfect sense. When the boys left home in 2001, we decided to move to the country and build our own place. We lucked out with the land prices. A few years later the boom happened in Alberta, and by then we could not have afforded to buy. We constructed an 1100 square foot chalet style home, with openness and light being our two top priorities. The entire front of the place is littered with energy efficient windows. We love it! Would we do it all again? You bet! We will move when the acreage work and the winters become too much for us. Till then, we’re not going anywhere.

    I think you and your family are absolutely doing the right thing in keeping your place. Through reading your posts and seeing all the fine projects you and your hubby have done together, it is clear that you have nurtured it into the home you love. There are so many considerations when making plans and changes. You will LOVE having a new garage! You’ll twirl around in there with your arms stretched out (not that I ever do that!). It’s fun to plan and dream. I look forward to seeing your progress through your blog.

    Have a great day Stacy!


    • Stacy says

      I will probably dance and kiss the floor when we finally can build a new garage :) I am hoping it will be sooner than later. It is so hard to wait once you make up your mind to do something. :)

  14. says

    We were doing good financially then the market tanked, thankfully we had just sold our home and moved in with my in laws. My husband decided to go back to school (he is a home builder himself) and we have been doing that for almost 4 years now! My in laws sold their house and downsized and we moved into a rental. We lived upstairs with renters in the basement…when they decided to sale we decided to buy. It has been a huge blessing especially while my husband is on the tail end of school (December can not come fast enough)! Our renters in the basement pay 75% of our mortgage, and has helped us accrue little debt in student loans. Now that it is our own I have tried to repaint, (husband hates my bright teal pantry door, but it makes me so happy every time I walk in the kitchen!) and make it our own place. With baby number four on the way and husband almost done with school we are going to be brave and do without renters! I’m excited to expand my creativity in the basement and continue to make this what might not be our dream home, a place where we feel safe and happy from the outside world! I seriously envy you for having all four boys in one room! You are amazing, and I love the creativity you share on your blog!

    • Stacy says

      I love it! Work with what you’ve got and make it yours. I think the stupid economy changed a lot of peoples plans You have a great attitude. And congrats on baby #4. Thanks for you comment :)

  15. says

    your additions sound completely reasonable for either keeping or selling! Our first buying experience was similar to yours, although, we bought from family, on contract as neither of us had credit worth a darn & only planned to stay 5 it ended up 10 years. then we bought this house for me & my business (split foyer= the 2 of us live upstairs+childcare in the basement) & a few years ago I spent some time in the country w/friends & decided I was ready to give up the business to enjoy the country life. so I gave us a 5 year timeline that at the end of, I would quit childcare & get a ‘real job’. we are now down to 3.5 years. EEEEEEEEEEK DH thinks there is a HUGE LIST of things to change/put back (that we took out for childcare)/update/upgrade before we list it. *I* think we should do a little of that, but absolutely no upgrading of anything, update a few things, but nothing like changing carpet (its on his list).

    • Stacy says

      I dream of country life too! I am excited for you. It is always fun to have things to look forward to. If we didn’t have anticipation, life would be boring :) Good luck on reaching your goal!

  16. says

    That’s a funny question, because a year or 2 ago I would have jumped at selling. Hubs picked out our house without me. It was the second house he toured, and it was not my fav. The floor plan is great, the neighborhood is great. It was just all the finishes and some little quirks of the builder that bothered me. The more effort I put into the house, and making it mine, the less I want to sell it. Funny how that works!

    oh, and ours was suppose to be “temporary”. We bought low because we were carrying 2 mortgages for awhile. We sold our other house in a year, but somehow husband sort of planted his roots in this one and doesn’t want to budge. LOL

  17. says

    Love hearing about your home story. Sounds similar to us. We have a very low “safe” mortgage! I love the ideas and plans you guys have. I can’t wait to see what you guys do with your basement/bedroom! :)

  18. Jen Pearce says

    I’ve so enjoyed reading the story of your home Stacy. I also really enjoyed this article and reading everyone else’s comments. Almost every person who wrote in seems to plan on staying awhile in their current house. They also seem to become more attached to their home as they add more of “themselves” into it and create memories with their families there. All of those comment made me smile and feel warm and fuzzy inside. I just wish I shared them. My hubby and I custom built our home almost 6 years ago and I truly love so many things about it. But it’s “just a house” to me. I’ve always seen every house I’ve ever owned as an investment to help me “move up” in the world. I love decorating and design but always do it with resale value in the back of my mind. I do hope one day I reach the point that “ange” has…….and find myself content in my current space and not “itching” to move. Until then let’s hope I remember to keep my cravings for change in check with reality as you and so many of your readers have! Sincerely, Jen

  19. says

    With these uncertain economic times, it would seem a good idea to stay where you are. Especially because of the difficulty of your hubby finding a steady company to work for. We also tried to stay low with our mortgage, and it certainly pays off when you need a new air conditioner, new roof, etc. Your are able to go ahead with the repairs without going into a deep hole. And the economy doesn’t affect you as much, either.

  20. nebnancy says

    When I was first married in 1972, we bought a little house for our “starter” home. My ex-husband was a custom home builder, but the ups and downs of life, the economy, and most especially his drinking too much ended in a divorce 17 years later. We were still in our starter home at that time! Now, 42 years later, I’m still in that house and have done considerable remodeling to it over the years. I have great neighbors, we look out for each other, I take care of my neighbor’s cats when they go away for a few days, and we have a nice, friendly community. There’s a lot to be said for staying in the same neighborhood for years–and I love not having a huge house to take care of!

  21. says

    oh man! I have totally wondered this about you! I am so happy you are staying for a long while. Like you said, your house is totally part of your family now! Especially after being in it and the feeling of care and love put in it, your boys are happy as clowns and it would be such a shame to hand the keys over to someone who wouldn’t appreciate it as much as your family. I have also asked this question about our home, a million times over. We have TONS of stairs in my house, and it has bugged me since we moved it. BUT…we also got a killer deal of $159,000 with a 3% interest for one of those typical salisbury cookie cutter homes. But as I look around I realize how lucky we are to be right here… right across from an elementary school, surrounded by my BEST friends/neighbors, my kids are ridiculously happy and I would be crazy to move. But learning from you I have started putting my heart into making it “ours” and it has made all the difference. It seems common in Utah to go bigger and better with homes all the time. My family lives in San Diego and my house is bigger than all of theirs and they have bigger families and are just as happy and comfortable (except they paid $500,000 for their homes). So thanks for being such an inspiration!