Inspired by It Doesn’t Matter What My House is Worth over at PaidTwice and my desire to share some rumblings from around here about housing, I am writing my own little post on the subject of a home as a financial investment.

I haven’t shared a ton of the details about the home we live in, in terms of the choice to buy it and cost and equity and such here. I’ve always been a little bit wary of such things because sometimes I’ve found people to be less than supportive when they see someone doing something not the normal way. But here I am. We have, lets just say, some equity in our home. We got a good deal, put down oh lets just say more than half for the fun of being fuzzy with details. We’ve done a 1400 sf renovation – living room, eat-in kitchen, 3 bedrooms, bathroom and laundry/mudroom/dog room. We’ve for sure added a lot of value to our home for when we try to sell it. It’s not ready to be sold, there is still the master bedroom/bathroom and a new laundry room plus some closets and such to do.

It’s definitely been an investment of time and energy and money. My home is absolutely an investment because of the way we chose to do this project. Everything we put into it, we have to think about what we’ll get out of it. For me, I’ve likened it to buying an A share of Berkshire Hathaway 2 years ago. Except if I’d done that instead, it would’ve been more of a predictable investment than this house was. But you can’t live in an A share!

The house was, to put it mildly, a mess. Faux wood paneling throughout, beaten down shag carpeting, rotting linoleum, a 60s blue bathroom complete with a blue toilet. It was really really bad. My mother came to see it a couple weeks after we bought it and I think she about died. Seriously, I’m surprised I wasn’t disowned. She told my hubby that day that there was no way he could salvage the house, he’d have to tear down all but about 300 sf of it. All he needs is a challenge and he took that challenge on and showed my mom she was wrong. He made something of the crapshack. More than something. He made a home out of it. Now, granted, home is more than drywall instead of paneling, tile instead of shag carpet, and a white toilet instead of a blue one, granit countertops instead of laminate and wood cabinets instead of plywood ones. But it’s a lot easier to be cozy and feel like it’s home when you don’t want to puke when you walk inside.

For 2 years, this home has been the center of our life. Okay, maybe a close second to our kids. I hope you get what I mean though. It has consumed us. It has for sure been an investment. At least now, we can see that the investment we made will likely turn out to bring us a good return someday.

That has brought us to now, and we’ve decided that it’d be awfully nice to live somewhere that isn’t a total energy, time and money zapper. And so we’re looking at moving. Keeping this house until it’s finished, but having it as a side project for hubby. He can come over on weekends or evenings and finish things up. It’s not a great time to sell anyway so there’s not a huge hurry. When we do sell he can use the money to buy another fixer. Ahhhh bliss.

The biggest factor in our decision is our kids and school. After lots of long talks about where we’d send our kids to school, which much to my chagrin is approaching far too quickly, we threw out the idea of moving across town to a better school district instead of paying private school tuition for two kids for 13 years. The idea is out there and the more I think about it, the more I like it. The idea of living in a home that is an investment in our kids and their childhood more than a financial one is appealing to me. Truth be told, though, we are suckers for houses as investments so we’ll certainly be looking at it from both angles. But I want this next house to be our forever and ever home. The one we live in until we retire and buy a condo in Panama. The one we don’t have to pay attention to the ups and downs of the real estate market for. The one that we’re investing our lifetime together with our kids in.

This home as an investment has been a learning experience for all of us. In the end, it turned out to be a good decision for us, although it wouldn’t have been for many others. I will miss this house when we do find another home and move. I’ll miss the place my hubby built with his bare hands making every last detail ours. I’ll miss the imperfections of it all. I’ll miss the living room my baby boy took his first steps in. I’ll miss the princess room my daughter loves so much. But if I’ve learned anything from this house, it’s that any house can be made a home and that has much more to do with the love inside it than the color of the walls.

When this investment is over, we’ll move on to bigger and better things to invest in – like afternoons as a family making memories doing things other than using power tools. This home will always have been a catalyst to the next great thing. It was a necessary part of our life together to get to the next stage. Because of this house and the investment we made in it, hubby will now be able to have a home with few projects inside (I won’t say none, there is always something to be done) and other houses he can buy and fix on the side if he so chooses. A perfect happy medium brought about by investing in a crazy little crapshack.

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