So in the midst of all of the holiday hubbub, I never found a chance to tell you that we bought our first home!! Between having a baby, moving, and the Holiday season, I’ve also had a bit of a lag in my blogging. I apologize for being so sporadic! Whew, what a lot of life changes!
I’ve never lived in a home that wasn’t rented or “loaned” as part of the job description. (Often, housing is provided as a perk of ranch jobs.) Having grown up ranching and then ranching over the past several years, I’ve always lived in someone else’s house. While I would never dream of complaining about free housing! I have always wanted to be able to paint a wall when I felt like it without having to ask someone.
And now we own our own home. And we can do whatever we want to it! I could paint a mural if I felt so inclined…which I don’t thankfully. It does need a little work but we bought it without a loan, without any debt of any kind! And I want to teach you how. The first step is the most important. If you can’t do that, you shouldn’t even try the rest…although the other suggestions may help you reduce the amount of debt you find yourself enslaved to from your home purchase experience. (Wow, can you tell how I feel about debt?)
Redefine Your Expectations
Once upon a time, families of 7+ children lived in tiny 2 bedroom homes with one bathroom or a nearby outhouse. Somehow we have expanded our expectations of a home to include separate bedrooms for every child, multiple bathrooms, play rooms, laundry rooms, huge kitchens, storage areas, lounging areas, walk-in closets… You get the idea.
If you really want to buy a home without having to get a loan, reevaluate. Our first home is excellent. And it’s a 5th wheel trailer.
Yup. We bought and moved into a camper. Now, it is a very large camper but even the biggest 5th wheels made are tiny compared to most people’s idea of acceptable living conditions. We have three boys, one of which is a newborn baby in a camper with one “bedroom” and one “bathroom” and we are enjoying it.
Mostly because of the massive amount of money we are saving.
If you have a bigger savings, you might afford a small home or a manufactured home. But reevaluate what is “necessary” for your happiness.
Defining Your “Buy Price”
We moved to Utah temporarily for my husband to go to school. We looked at apartments and found that we couldn’t find anything with more than one bedroom to rent for under $700/month. We then multiplied that by the number of months we’ll be here for school and found our buy price. We discovered we would spend over $12,000 in rent! Yuck! Nothing to show for it afterwards. Not much more (if ANY more) room in those tiny apartments. And so we started looking at camp trailers. We bought our first home off Craigslist or KSL or something similar.
And we saved $4000+ by doing so.
Now some of that savings went toward repairs and replacing old carpet with laminate plank flooring. But at the end of our 18 month stint, we will have something that is ours. We can resell it and get some of our money back. We can keep it for vacationing. We could decided to keep living in it for years! All with minimal extra cost. You can’t say that about an apartment or home you rent.
Be Willing to and Budget for Repair
Now for the most part, homes of any variety that you can buy without having to get a loan and go into debt to purchase are going to need a little TLC. Try your best to calculate this cost into your initial investment. There will be surprises, (oh man, will there be surprises!) but in order for this to work, you can’t spend your entire savings on the purchase price and then have to get a loan when the roof needs replaced.
If you don’t know anything about home repairs and maintenance, find a professional to inspect it for you. Get quotes for things that will need repaired or replaced before committing to buy. Some of this is stuff we’ve learned the hard way. We were fortunate that when we bought our first home, we got a great deal so we had a pretty big repair cushion…cause we’ve used it! There we many things we didn’t know we needed to check. But we’ve pretty much become trailer inspection experts over the past couple weeks.
The thing is though, any trailer we bought would have needed repairs. It would have needed things fixed and replaced. And if you aren’t willing or able to do this, find yourself a nice broker and get a loan. Then work really hard to pay it off quickly.
Start Saving Early
When we bought our first home, we paid cash. We were only able to do this because we’ve been saving up money for years to do it. Ranchers don’t get paid a ton but they don’t have a lot of expenses either. We could have gotten complacent and believed we would always have our housing provided for us but I don’t like to take those types of chances with my budget. (Read more about how I budget here.)
We started saving up housing costs about 3 years ago. We weren’t always able to put in a lot but over the years, it added up to enough that we bought our first home free and clear.
Without the foresight to save that money, we would have been in a pickle when my husband decided he wanted to make a drastic career change. Instead, we were able to quit working, enroll in school, move, have a baby, buy a trailer, repair it, and still live (groceries, birthday gifts, etc.) without him having a new job. Thank you crazy budgeting brain!
We Bought Our First Home Free and Clear. You Can Too!
Was it easy? Not exactly.
Was it everything we ever dreamed of? Definitely not!
Will we live in this home forever? Guy, I hope not.
Are there challenges to living in such close quarters? Most certainly!!!
But do I wish we had done things differently? Not a chance.
“Love grows best in tiny houses.”
Remember that when you go house hunting for the first time. Remember that when buying your first home together and you feel like you need 5+ bedrooms for every child and guest that may ever pass through those walls. Don’t let the idea the world tries to sell be the one you buy. Define your own happiness, your own standard, and don’t be afraid to try the trailer!