I know I am still pretty young but I realized that I not only have no idea what our next home looks like, or even if our our next home will be our forever home. It’s funny how when you are on the path to FI previous plans can change and all of a sudden big decisions like this become even more important.
When we moved into our owner occupied duplex over 6 years ago our long term plan was to buy another duplex and then eventually a single family home for us, leaving us with two fully rented duplexes with a nice little income stream and then a space to call our own. We have the other duplex now but as we have since decided leaving our full time jobs sounds more attractive than buying another home. But that leaves us with the question of how long are we going to stay in our duplex and should we still be planning on our next home as well as planning for FI?
Our unit is pretty cute with some great character as it was build in the late 1890s but it is not a great long term solution. The only bathroom and all three (small) bedrooms are on the second floor and the stairs are steep and narrow. For us this is no big deal as we are young and healthy but this won’t always be the case. My mom recently broke her ankle and had to get surgery. She lives on her own and needs help with grocery shopping, food prep, and all the little daily tasks that we take for granted. Mr. SFF and I have been going over to her house 3-5 times per week to help her out which is getting exhausting but there really is no other solution. We have a guest room but the stairs make our house completely inaccessible for someone who can’t walk so she can’t live with us. As we age or if we ever got injured ourselves our house is just not suitable.
We have toyed with the idea of moving into the smaller unit next door which would mean more rental income but this has some big trade-offs. The master is upstairs but at least the bathroom (3/4 bath so no tub) is on the main floor. We would also lose our dining room and would end up with an eat in kitchen instead. As we do entertain periodically I am not thrilled with this idea. There is a small second bedroom/office on the first floor but as Mr. SFF needs an office these leaves us with no guest room. Would a pull out couch be sufficient? Or could we get a camper van that could work as additional sleeping quarters in addition to of course being a great travel vehicle? We haven’t completely ruled out this option but I am not 100% sold on it either since there are a lot of trade offs.
There is a part of me (sometimes a large part) that would love a home in the mountains, or at least a little closer to the mountains. This would enable us to get out an hike, bike, ski/snowboard more often without having to worry about the hour long trek each way via car. Currently if I want to go for a run on dirt trails I have to go for a drive, which is a complete pain and I never do. In the summer I run on a beautiful bike path that goes along the lake but sometimes I wish I could run on dirt through the woods. I will periodically look at real estate closer to the mountains but I can’t seem to find anything that would financially make sense. Real estate is not cheap and it would cost at least $225,000 to get into something in at least halfway decent shape, depending on where we purchased. And no I am not being picky, there really is next to nothing in the sub $225,000 range. We would also lose all of the great benefits of living in town and being a walk-able distance to so many great things.
Getting a single family home right in town is also likely not the best option as it financially would be pricey and wouldn’t get us any closer to the mountains. The rental income from our unit would likely cover the full mortgage on a new home but we would probably end up spending around $300,000 for something that fit our needs and I really don’t want another big mortgage.
The solution that I like the best is not great financially and may not even feasible. I would love to get a small place near the mountains like a tiny house but keep our current primary residence in town. This would give us the best of both worlds: in town convenience but close to adventures outdoors. Being that FI is such a big goal for us having a second home doesn’t seem like the most responsible thing to do. We could AirBnB the tiny home to help bring in extra income but this might bring extra headaches as well. Plus, I am not sure how inexpensive a tiny home would be. Just because a house is small doesn’t mean the cost is equally as small. We might be able to find a plot of land that was $50,000 but most are around $75,000+. And then the cost of building is not cheap, even if it is small, as foundations, a well, and sewer alone in our part of the country can be pricey. Could we find an existing tiny home in the mountains? Maybe, but I doubt there are many options. I certainly do frequent real estate listings though just in case we could find something.
So where does this leave us? I have no idea! And this is super frustrating! If we were not on this journey I feel like we would have more options as we wouldn’t be so conscious of trying to keep our expenses so low. Maybe just staying put is the best choice, at least for a couple of years, but we do need to figure something out before we decide to leave our jobs as once we have no full time income getting a mortgage would be next to impossible. It’s funny how FI will bring with it so much freedom but when it comes to housing I feel like it is limiting us a little more. Some days I wonder if it would be worth it to work for an extra year or two to give us a little more money to find the right solution.