or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › The Mindful Home › Frugality & Finances › Thoughts on buying a larger (more expensive) house just to have more bedrooms
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Thoughts on buying a larger (more expensive) house just to have more bedrooms

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 

One of my goals - well, my main goal right now - is to buy a bigger house. We are watching our spending, saving up money, I am planning to work more hours, etc.


We are currently living in a 1300 sq ft 3 BR house with three boys. We would like a slightly larger 4 BR house. We don't want anything huge - we're hoping to find something in the 1500 to 1900 sq ft range.


At this point, we have about 50% equity in our home and the taxes are manageable. A larger home is going to practically double our mortgage amount (but not our payments) and the taxes will be more. We expect the larger house to cost us between $300 and $500 more per month.


I hate the thought of spending more money, but we really want each of our boys to have his own space (for our sanity as well as theirs). We also would like a house with more room in the kitchen/dining room. At times I feel guilty for wanting "so much" when there are people who survive just fine with much less space.


We're 90% sure that we'll buy a larger house within the next two years. However, I am interested in a general discussion on this topic. How important is space to you - and how much are you willing to pay/not pay for it?



post #2 of 44

I just learned yesterday (Ssshhhh!  This is why I post anonymously), that I'm 5 weeks pregnant, so this very issue has been on my mind.  DH and I think that we could survive here for awhile.  Similar to you, we have over 50% equity.  We're not a model of financial perfection (I struggle my way through those monthly no-spend challenges), but next to our peers, we're pretty decent money managers.  I look on realtor sites and start to covet those lovely, larger houses. 


There's a Mothering article (unfortunately not available online) called Small House, Big Life.  It kind of put everything in perspective for me.  Here is at least a summary and discussion on the article:     http://blog.timesunion.com/parenting/5638/raising-a-family-in-a-small-space/

post #3 of 44

"anything bigger is too much to heat and too much to clean. It’s also too tempting to fill all that space up with stuff."


Our upstairs is 2 bedrooms in 900 sf. Our basement has 2 bedrooms and a bathroom we almost never use. It adds about 400 sf. One room is filled with foam for the kids to jump around in. The other has the majority of their toys. They almost never go down there unless friends are visiting. Mainly we use it for storage.


Ours are 3 and nearing 6. We co-sleep. Probably will for some time to come. Our son considers our second upstairs bedroom "his" room. Well, there is a bed he never sleeps in. And some toys. And our computer desk and a 7' high bookshelf with games on the lower half.


Our living room has ample space. Since it's hardwood floors, we just push the couch out of the way when we want LOTS of space (otherwise it sits in the middle of the room in front of the fireplace.) Our kitchen is small. I do wish it was a bit bigger so we could have a dishwasher. Once the Learning Tower is retired the room will seem huge.


Kitchen space/configuration is the one thing I wish for. And a bigger yard. However, I'm not willing to spend tons to get a bigger kitchen. Maybe if we didn't have the 2 bedrooms downstairs I'd think differently. For the 4 of us (plus two dogs and a cat--we're down a couple dogs and another cat) we have plenty of space.


But, a third kid does make a difference.

post #4 of 44

Well, my hubby and I bought this 3 (conforming) bedroom house when our oldest was a month old, and we were planning on having just two children.  Eight years and four children later, yeah.  They're just going to have to share rooms, and have gotten to the point that they almost flip out if they're not sharing a room with someone (hey, being lonely isn't always fun!).  Even when Grandma or Auntie visits, they get to co-sleep with whomever in the 'guest' room that the 19mo and 5yo boys sleep in (the 7yo boy and 3yo girl are in the bunk beds in the 'boy' room, so it's pretty much just all a house of musical beds.  The kids think it's great fun sharing a bed with Grandma or cuddling with Auntie when we have a full house of visitors though, it's cute.  I'm sure having more space as they get bigger would be nice, but our house is still fairly decent sized at 2100sf. 

Here's my caveat though.  We homeschool (as in, I don't/can't send them off to school every weekday to get that few hour break to breathe or dig out the house from mess).  Hubby works from home 80% of the time and needs a dedicated dad-only door-locking office.  I do a boatload of canning and preserving and food stockpiling to last during rough times or just the winter, a ton of cooking/prepping, hubby has a nice firewood stash in several places around the yard and so on (we heat solely with wood).  So while I dream of a better/slightly bigger kitchen and a true, in-ground dirt-walled root cellar, this is our house and we're *not* moving unless we can pay cash or something similar.  We were unemployed for several months when I was pregnant with the baby, and our expenses, including our mortgage and utility bills, were just under what he got from unemployment.  Which so, so, so many people have been shocked by since unemployment for them wouldn't even cover their house loan, forget the insurance and PMI and taxes.  Even friends here that know how cheap I am and know we work(ed) hard to pare down our bills in the first place.

So anyway.  Do you really, truly need a bigger house?  Or just think you do?  For the first several years I really didn't like this house - I was always dreaming of the next, bigger, better one.  Until I just somehow fell into the 'bloom where you're planted' mindset.  And now, my house feels like the [almost] perfect size.  Sure, we wouldn't mind more elbow space acreage-wise and the main bathroom has zero floor space and you can't close the door if someone's on the toilet or standing there and it's orange, but it's ours and it's quirky [and affordable!].  ;)  If we get around to minor changes at some point, groovy.  If we don't, that's fine too.  Plus I always think back to my grandmother... she raised 4 boys in a modified chicken coop.  There was the living room with sofa (where one uncle slept), two bedrooms (one for grandparents, one with a triple bunk), a kitchen, and outhouse off to the side.  That's it.  Their fridge was the creek, half their food lived in/came from the barn.  If she could do that, even with her MIL living across the gravel drive, alone, in the 2-story-plus-basement farmhouse, I have no reason to complain, you know?


My opinion may change in a few years when my 7yo turns into a teenager and towers over me, but, well...  I think I'd rather have a mortgage burning party at that point in time.

post #5 of 44

First, as the pp mentioned, do you homeschool and/or cook from scratch? Both of those things take up some space the average family doesn't use. Really the question is how much are you truly all home together? If your kids are in school and an activity or two do you really need more room just for them to sleep in? 

Second, when you say 50% equity, do you mean your house is half paid off? And then you say it would almost double your mortgage so you basically be back to where you started mortgage wise? That seems like a bad deal for one extra bedroom. 

If you have a high income/are comfortable and that 300-500 dollars isn't much money to you then go for what you want but if it will strain the budget I would definitely try to make do with what you have. 



post #6 of 44

I look at property listings constantly.  We have a 1450sf home, which sounds like a decent amount of space.  The layout of the downstairs is terrible though, so I think it just seems tiny.  We have a 17-month old and another baby on the way in a couple of months.  I'd love to have a more open floor plan and bigger bedrooms (master BR is fine but the other 2 bedrooms are tiny).  Then I start to think about the added costs, aside from just a larger mortgage.....the utilities and maintenance.  Then I feel better about our "little" townhouse.  We're also not 100% crazy about where we live, so investing in something bigger seems like a shaky idea.

post #7 of 44

We have a 3 bedroom house as well and are about to have our 4th child.  We are struggling with the bedroom issue as well, but I think we will stay put and not buy bigger.  


We have a plan for sleeping arrangements and it includes a lot of bunk beds and shared rooms.  That's the breaks in our house.  We simply cannot sell right now -- we have 2 foreclosures on our block and cannot afford to sell at a loss.  I do not want a bigger house, nor can we afford one.  Heating, cooling, cleaning, furnishing a bigger house is not in our plans.  


What has helped us:


We outfitted the boys' bunk beds with small reading lamps and a simple bookshelf.  Bed space is sacred.  When you crawl into bed with a book or quiet activity, this signals "leave me alone!"  to the rest of the family.  And we try to really honor that quiet, personal space.  My eldest son really takes to this well -- he needs a fair amount of quiet time to himself and his younger brother has been good about respecting that.  


We stay really busy and active.  My kids get a ton of exercise and play time.  So, when we are home, they are tired!  They are ready to rest and be home.  They look forward to time at home and revel in the quiet hours to snuggle and relax.  


We have an attic that functions as a big play room right now.  The kids love this space and I think it is what really makes our house work for us.  The kids can go up to the attic and play and make a mess and simply get away from the main living space.  We may convert this to a bedroom in a couple or years -- I love that we have the option of a 4th bedroom.  


If we didn't have the attic, I would probably be thinking more about a move or an addition.  As it is, we have a little space cushion that is buffering us.  But my house has a lot of perks -- good location, great neighborhood, affordability.  I just can't think about increasing our mortgage, our taxes, our heating/cooling costs, etc, etc.  

post #8 of 44

The other thing I was thinking about is that these 'crowded' years are very temporary.  My eldest is 10, she will be headed to college in 8 years.  My second leaves in 10 years assuming he goes.  My house will seem so much bigger then with only 2 kids in the house.  The new baby won't need his own space for 3-4 years, so really, it is only a few years where all 6 of us will be living here and feeling cramped.  


Can we survive those cramped years?  I think we can.  And 10 years from now, my mortgage will almost be paid off and I will be in a position to afford college for my kids.  If I buy a bigger house now, I can't say that I will be in a good financial place to pay for college.  I would rather see my kids educated (in whatever manner works for them), than have them accustomed to a large living space.  


Sure, there will be arguments and frustrations and a line for the shower.  I can deal with that.  I can deal with the shared spaces since it means we have more cash to pay for sports, music lessons, family outings.  I like the smaller house, bigger-life lifestyle.  


post #9 of 44

I grew up sharing a room with my sister, once I heard my mother mention the house was small.  It's 1200 sf, and that just seemed crazy to think of 1200 sf as small. I guess I really don't get the big house thing, there are just so many cooler things to spend money on.

post #10 of 44

I have 1200 sq ft plus an unfinished basement, almost finished attic, 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and an almost 9 year old, 11 year old, 15 year old, german shepherd and a cat.  I am right this minute (after a finish my lunch) painting it (yeah I am procrastinating)  I am really glad today that we don't have a bigger house.  LOL  Each of my kids has their own space.  Because I lock the 15 yo in the attic ;-)  She is happy up there.  her bed is on the floor (ceilings too low for a proper bed) and her walls are sheets.   Up until recently #1 and #2 shared a room (#3 never stops talking therefore needs her own room).  What I would kill for is another bathroom.  Our house is poorly configued which is what really sucks.  otherwise I think we have plenty of space.  too much.  The rooms are small.  about 10.5 x 10.5 and 10x11.  My room is larger.  about 14x14. More than space I want a better organized home and if this house was worth putting money into I would completely go crazy and have a professional redesign for optimal space.  My kitchen is about to get a make over and I am consulting with someone at IKEA to help make good use of the space (not to mention including new flooring, cupboards and decoration i will double my storage space for under $2000, heck yeah! of course I am doing all this to sell....its a money pit.  I will likely stay with something this size or smaller and cheaper than this place.  it is a duplex so I have trouble times two)



anyhoooo, I just don't think everyone having their own room is that important and there is no way I would up my house payment for that alone.  i think often for a fraction of the cost of moving we can rework our space to something much more effective.    That is the direction I would go.  

post #11 of 44

I'm really glad to read this thread.  My family is going through some similar decision making.  Currently, we live in a one bedroom in the city.  When I found out I was pregnant, we said "Oh, we gotta move to a bigger place".  Then we decided to wait until after we had the baby, because I had a bit of a rough pregnancy and it just didn't seem like moving in the midst of that was a good idea.  Now the baby is 3 months old and about to start being more mobile, so we're thinking about moving again.  It would be nice to have a two bedroom in the near suburbs, but it would be a pretty dramatic lifestyle change for us.  Right now, we have a small space and no yard, but we're two blocks away from a beautiful park.  My husband can walk to work every day, and I usually can although now I'm working off site so driving.  Our car is a bit of a junker at this point, but we own it free and clear.  Our landlord takes care of most utilities and hasn't raised the rent since we moved in, even when gas prices skyrocketed a few years back.  Plus all my new mommy friends are in this neighborhood!


Anyway, nice to know other moms are making do with smaller spaces.  Maybe we could stay here for another couple of years.




post #12 of 44
Originally Posted by taubel View Post
However, I am interested in a general discussion on this topic. How important is space to you - and how much are you willing to pay/not pay for it?



Space is not really something that is important to us, but we have an only child and are caring for my terminally ill mother, so that's really not a fair comparison.  I know space is important to a lot of people, so you have to do what works for your family.  I bought our house before getting married and I would have never guessed that these many years later not only would I be married and with a child, but have my mother living here, too.  It's about the same size as yours, except we have a little addition on the side for my mother's rooms.  Dh is a university professor and needs a study.  I don't actually have a space I call my own.  Dd and I co-sleep in our bedroom and dh sleeps in her bedroom.  We pretty much share all areas of the house, but then again, I have an only child.  Like lmonter, I do a lot of canning and preserving, cook 99% from scratch and have an extensive basement pantry and a nice, large kitchen.  Without those, I think the size of the house would be a source of frustration for me.  Plus half of the basement is finished and we have a futon and TV down there for hanging out or to put up guests.  So, our set up is very good, too.   That makes a huge difference, too.  You can have space, but if it's laid out inconveniently, it may be worse than a smaller, well-thought-out home. 


So to answer your question I don't feel a need for more space and I would never spend more money for it, but to each his own.  I really cannot understand the "big house" mentality.  People use only a certain amount of space and I feel that with a large home you waste a lot more natural resources (construction, heating, cooling, cleaning, etc.)  I also like our mortgage for 2 main reasons:  1).  The entire payment including everything is less than 8% of our net income and 2).  We could pay it off in a lump sum if we wanted to.  That kind of freedom, financially, is really worth it, IMO.  I was recently flamed on a thread about how much we spend to eat out, but I have no doubt that the people who were doing so have mortgages that are consuming much more than ours is.  People spend their money in different ways and as long as you're in budget, who cares?  We actually can do so much more outside of the home (like eat out at nice restaurants and travel) because of how careful we have been with housing costs.  I think that is one of several questions you have to ask yourself... what do you give up in exchange for space and is it worth it to the whole family?  For us, eating out once a week in a nice place to experience new foods and being able to visit family and friends abroad is more important than space to us.  But what works for us, may not work for a growing, young family.


My dh's best friend, who lives in Germany, raised 5 children in a 85sm (that's under 1000 sf) 2 bedroom flat.  I'm sure they always felt cramped, but when we lived there and would go over to visit them, it didn't really matter.  They made use of the space very well.  So, I know it can be done, but Americans tend to need more space, so do whatever works best for you.  Good luck and happy house hunting!!


post #13 of 44
Thread Starter 

Thanks for everyone's perspectives!


I do feel as though we are making great use out of our current house. We are "living in every corner" as my neighbor says. For now, my kids enjoy sharing a room. Their dresser does have to be in the hallway, and one of their desks is in our bedroom, but it is working for the moment. I just don't see how we will be fitting into this space two years from now. 


I don't want to spend my hard-earned money on more space, but I feel that it will be necessary to keep a calm and happy household. My boys are very physical, and they are growing larger and starting to "loom large" in the house. Our attic and basement cannot be converted into usable space, unfortunately. But at least we can use the basement for storage, which helps a lot. 


The American "big house" mentality has made it difficult for us to find a house that is just slightly larger. The 4 bedroom houses in our neighborhood are all over 2000 square feet. We don't want that much space! We are going to start looking at 3 bedroom houses that have large rooms on the main floor (eat-in kitchen, formal dining room, formal living room, family room). We could probably convert one of those rooms on the main level (which would just be wasted space for us anyway) into a fourth bedroom.


I wish we could tear down all the interior walls of our house and create four tiny bedrooms out of our three current bedrooms! But that would probably cost more than buying a different house...


Good luck to all of you and thanks for sharing your perspectives.

post #14 of 44

We have a 3B 2B and there are 6 of us. We desperately need more space. Ok, not more space but more rooms. This house is laid out horribly, we were desperate back when bought it. Had a sick kid and our old house was making her worse, it was winter and nothing was on the market. We of course did not predict the housing crash which we bought at the height of. I wrongly assumed we would upgrade in another 5 years which we are at now.  In hindsight we should of rented at that moment but who is too say we still wouldn't of ended up with housing issues. I won't lie, I would not turn down a 5B 3.5B house right now! My youngest two are not old enough yet to fight over the bathrooms but it is a constant staggering of people all morning. My girls fight. all.the.time. Them sharing a room would probably mean someone would end up stabbed in the middle of the night... 


I hear you about keeping the peace of the family. We are trying to be creative in order to add on. With our layout it would be cheaper to add on then to remodel since we can not sell. It would be so much easier if we were the type of family that could be happily crammed into a 1000 sq ft. But we aren't. Everyone would be miserable. DH likes his space, the girls need separate rooms, I don't know about the boys yet. I work mostly from home (part time), DH works at home in the evenings. Both of those require desks and more space. I've mostly made peace with fact that I will be one of those families with the large house and everyone with their own room. I think I'm ok with that, on some days anyway!

post #15 of 44

We live in a rather large apartment.  about 1800 sf.  It's huge for our needs (2 adults, 2 kid and 2 on the way) The kids share a room now, and I frequently think about moving walls around.  I think the space would make so much more sense if I combined the 2 bedrooms by my kitchen into a new living room and made 2 or 3 bedrooms out of the living room.  I think if you took the 300-500 you would spend on a larger house, put it in the bank for a year you should have more than enough for a pretty nice remodel.  Oh the things I would love to do with my kitchen.  That is a project for another year, tho.

post #16 of 44

I think you need to look at why you want them in separate rooms.  I had my own room most of my life and shared with a younger sis for a few years.  We've had foster children and our own children--some shared, some didn't.  It didn't seem to make a difference except that the ones that didn't were occasionally lonely in there.  It wasn't like they were guaranteed they could read in peace/silence by being in any room alone.  As long as there's room for their belongings, I'd rather have them room together.  I feel like it's a bonding thing.  I know it was for me and my half-sister.  That being said, my brother and I generally made my mother nuts when we would holler to each other from our rooms with games we made up to play at a distance (in all fairness, she sent us to bed at 7:30pm in the summer). 


There's me, hubby, 7yo boy & 3yo girl (so legally, they can't share rooms at this point).  We just moved from a 2700SF 4BR house with 9' & 10' ceilings, a 900SF walk-up attic, unfinished basement plus garage and it's walk-up loft to a 2100SF 3BR house with a storage basement (so you can walk around if you crouch a bit).  We had TOO. MUCH. STUFF. (mostly the result of our inability to say "No" to people and receiving from Depression-era grandparents and their unloading friends--among other issues).  Seriously--that attic was FULL before we moved.  Thankfully, we got rid of so much stuff that our current basement isn't even remotely full.  Nor is the garage.  But here's my issue:

Originally Posted by lmonter View Post

Here's my caveat though.  We homeschool (as in, I don't/can't send them off to school every weekday to get that few hour break to breathe or dig out the house from mess).  Hubby works from home 80% of the time and needs a dedicated dad-only door-locking office.  I do a boatload of canning and preserving and food stockpiling to last during rough times or just the winter, a ton of cooking/prepping,


Now to be honest, we HAVE enough room here if we could use the basement for dh.  We could certainly make it work.  I love my house, actually.  As in: if I were going to build a new house on a plot of land somewhere that I could have my chickens and food garden again, I'd build this one with very few changes, if any.  We've even looked at having it dug out to full ceiling height, but the only place we could even find to do it would've cost us $40k and would only add $10k of value to the house (we had it appraised and had them note the "as improved" value of a basement--plus I'm trained as an appraiser and have a great realtor that lets me watch every listing in my development).

But for us, our issue is less the size of the house and more about everything else.  And these "everything else"s conflict.  Love the outgo on this place, but we bought it to be a rental property and so things that were fine if we weren't living here aren't fine now.  Things like being restricted to 10SF of food gardening (and we have a neighbor who has ALREADY called us in three times for things she thought were violations--fence, color we painted the trim, etc.--and we've only been here since July irked.gif) and not being able to keep ANY chickens.  These things have added to our food bill tremendously (and we're finding that buying food in general is already more expensive here--AND TAXED!).  So really, it's a HUGE problem for us not to be living in our HOUSE, but for the house to be plopped down where it is.  On the flip side, my son's activities are here.  So our homeschool coop, his Scouting program, the only friends we have in the state (we relocated last summer).  It's hard to leave.  I think things like that need to factor in, too.  For us, getting a property that meets our needs means moving much further away.

Edited by heatherdeg - 10/6/11 at 9:23am
post #17 of 44

Are there any older neighborhoods that have smaller houses with more bedrooms that would be nearby and safe? 


We are family of four and we moved from a 3 bd, 2 1/2 bath house that was about 1600 sq ft to a four bedroom, 1 bath house that is about 1050 sq ft.  The larger house if from the 1995 and the current house is from the early 1950's.  We have two kids and four bedrooms and my kid's still share a room, but have a dedicated playroom. 


It works okay for us.  We have a tiny master.  We use another room as DH "dressing room" and guest room,the third the boys sleep in and the forth is full of toys and a sofa.   


post #18 of 44

Take your time. :)  Look for a *really* good deal.  You might be able to get a larger house for not that much more money, but you need to do a lot of research and digging.  And perhaps consider one that needs some cosmetic work done, that can be taken care of over a longer period of time, as the money becomes available.


It is entirely possible, too, to "make space" for everyone within a smaller house.  Ikea is good for that. orngbiggrin.gif


I think our house is maybe 1200?  Maybe a little less.  3 boys are room sharing, and we're expecting our fourth kid.  Room sharing is just going to be a way of life in our family, even if we have a bigger house someday.  Instead of a whole room for each kid, we find other ways for them to "escape", if they need to.  Bunkbeds are a good start--a nice small individual space.  And if they need a break from each other, they take books or toys to a room in their house and their brothers are temporarily forbidden from following them.

post #19 of 44
Thread Starter 

It's funny, because all of my friends tell me about how they were raised in a tiny house with three kids to a bedroom, etc., etc. But now that they've grown up, most of them tend to have only two kids, and NONE of them live in a small house. Their kids all have their own rooms. If it was so great growing up that way, why aren't they living that way now? 


The room my older boys share is 10 x 12. It has a TINY closet. It's a challenge fitting furniture in there, and we can't do bunk beds since they would block the windows and the heat registers.


I grew up in modest homes, but all of them were larger than my current home. I was the only girl, so I always had my own room. My brothers shared until one of them turned 12 and decided to sleep in my dad's home office at night!


We actually LOVE our lot and our location. We would remodel our house and add on if there were a cost-effective way to do so. We've had an architect and several contractors tell us we'd be better off moving than adding on. In the long run, we will recoup more money from a larger, more standard house than we would from trying to sell our "added onto" house. 


I also feel pressure from the low mortgage rates. We are comfortable staying in our house another year or two, but I don't want to miss out on those great rates!


I'm trying to think of it this way: I work part time, and there is a lot of pressure for me to work more hours. I don't really want to work more hours, but I don't want to give up my job, either. I like it a lot. Next year, my youngest is off to kindergarten, so I will be expected to work more hours. Depending on what kind of schedule I end up with, I will probably make an extra $400 or $500 a month.


Now what will I do with that "extra" money? Blow it on fancy clothing or dinners out? Get satellite TV so my kids can watch TV all day? Invest it in the crazy stock market? The only things we'd want to do is spend it on housing or on travel. Travel is great, but that's one week a year. Or we could have more space every day of our lives.



post #20 of 44

We plan on having four children and currently live in a 3 bedroom ranch.  As of right now, our tentative plans are to remodel at some point (10 years from now?) and add in a couple bedrooms upstairs.  We do have a partially finished basement for playing/computer/exercise and then the rest is used as DH's office space and storage.  If we didn't have the basement, it would feel as though we had a lot less room.  Especially with DH working from home. 

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Frugality & Finances
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › The Mindful Home › Frugality & Finances › Thoughts on buying a larger (more expensive) house just to have more bedrooms