Trying to remain grateful for what we have despite feeling like we're outgrowing our house.

I bought my house in 2016 before I was married or had kids. Coming from the Midwest, housing prices were pretty crazy out here in the Portland region. Not like the Bay Area by any means, but I only had my own income. I was pre-qualified for a mortgage based on my Midwest salary the year prior. I had very limited options, so I bought a short sale fixer upper. 

When I moved in, the place was in really rough shape. It had been a rental and I'm told that the last renters had multiple animals, including a potbelly pig. I keep a copy of my inspection report, not only as a list of things that need to be done, but as a reminder of how far it’s come. I’ve done most of the work myself, something I’m pretty proud of considering most of our neighbors even hire out their yard work. Blame it on my blue collar Midwestern upbringing. I’ve invested a lot of sweat into the thing. I have an emotional attachment to the place. 

Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a lot to do. It’s still got some pretty ugly laminate flooring downstairs and an old, dated kitchen from the 80s. And there are a few partially completed projects around the house. Those don't bother me too much, although I'm certain my wife might have something to say about that (she says we're not buying another house that isn't "done" -- I don't have the heart to tell her that it's not ever "done").

What bothers me is that it can feel like the walls are closing in on me now that we’re a family of four. Our house is 1300 square feet and it feels like we’re always right on top of one another. But for us to move into a larger house, we’d be looking at tripling our house payment.

The plus side of this is that our housing costs are very low. Most of the houses like ours are selling for about double what we paid. Our monthly housing costs are one-half to one-third of what many of our friends pay. For now, this is suiting us fine, especially considering that we have two children in daycare that costs us a couple thousand dollars per month

Some other financial positives are that, as a result of keeping our housing costs low, we’re able to save 20% for retirement and also put away a few hundred dollars per month for the kids’ college funds. We don’t have a lot left over at the end of the month, but we have an emergency fund that we almost never have to touch and don’t have to budget every penny we have. 

We don’t have any pressure to move except for our own desires. I’m trying hard to ignore my feelings, but I think social media hasn’t helped (one more reason to perhaps get off it). Since I come from a place where housing prices are way less, I get so see a lot of people back home posting photos of living in beautiful houses. I’m trying very hard to ignore my own jealous feelings and to deny my very American drive toward “more, more, more”, but on the other hand, why should it be so tough when we are considered upper middle class? I know we have so much more than most. I am grateful for what we have. Still, our homes are more than just backdrops, they frame so much of our daily lives. I am still trying to sort my feelings out on this stuff.

Life of Bryan © Bryan R., 2024