Recession Mama

{July 31, 2009}   Bigger Is Better, Right?

–By Carla

On any given day, odds are that something totally ridiculous is clogging up my brain, taking up space where other, more useful stuff should go. Clogging up my brain right now, for instance (and in no particular order): I’d like to find a way to cover the jetted garden tub in the master bath and use that space for storage; how dangerous is chlorinated pool water?; where do June bugs go the rest of the year?; and currently topping my list: to buy a bigger house or not.

Yes, getting laid off and losing more than 50% of the household income normally would put a damper on buying a bigger house, but the way I see it, small is the new big right now and I’m more than 100% sure that we would make money on the sale AND be able to buy a bigger house for perhaps less money than we spent on this tiny little thing. I say “tiny” when I know that for others, it’s really not. It’s an 1,800 square foot home with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, but the real rub is the fact that the BIGGEST room in the house is the formal dining room, which we NEVER use for dining and which I’m currently using as a craft center.

Please pay no attention to the yoga ball in the corner. Thank you.

Please pay no attention to the yoga ball in the corner. Thank you.

Great, I’m using my grandmother’s glorious antique furniture to hold Toddler Boy’s construction paper and my various “things that need to be done” projects.

The other BIG deal for me is the fact that we do not have a guest bedroom. I’m quite honestly a little ashamed of that fact. I mean, who doesn’t have a guest bedroom?

As best as I can tell, we never intended to stay here this long (going on 6 years now), but the housing market fell apart just as our 5 year goal approached. I’m not saying I want a gigantic home just to keep up with the others around us (we own the smallest home in our subdivision), I only want 1) a larger family area and 2) an extra bedroom. That’s it. It’s not a huge request, but because so many people were so very reckless with their money and greedy in their wants, we may be stuck here for a while.

Don’t even get me started on that school bus driver and her construction worker husband who bought an $800,000 home, then whined when it went into foreclosure. The fact that they were ever  approved for a loan that size boggles the mind and is a glimpse into just what was going on before the cards started to fall. Owning a home is not a right, it is a privilege, but somewhere along the way we started thinking and believing that we were owed a home and that part of the American dream included home ownership.

We could afford a larger home for around the same amount of money. Plus it’s a buyer’s market out there right now. (I’m the only one in the house who likes that idea, let’s say, so there are no plans at the moment)

But there is a part of me that wants to buck the conventional thinking about being in a bigger home. Part of me wants to stay just to make some sort of social commentary about wants versus needs, especially during this recession. The boys each have a bedroom, and no, we’re not running a Super 8, so in that respect, we’re fine.

The other part of me, however, is the part who grew up in a larger home and had relatives with much larger homes and is honestly feeling a little crammed in here at the moment.

And so the inner dialogue continues…what to do…? Go ahead…let me have it…


Katy says:


I’m going to let you have it. LOL. OK with love.

Do you think you could sell your house at this time? If so, then go for it! If you get enough money to put 20% down, and buy a bigger home for about the same money…seriously, you go, girl!

If not, then I think you should re-think your current lovely home. I love your place! I would also ask yourself these questions:

Have you paid off your unsecured debts (credit cards, car, etc)?

Do you have an emergency savings fund (6-8 months of expenses)?

Are you contributing to a retirement fund?

Do you have 20% saved up for the down payment (on top of your emergency fund)?

If the answers to the above questions are yes, then go ahead and rent your place and buy that new home. But also think about this, I do not think a guest room is really that important. I know you’ve been wanting a bigger house for a long time now, and I would love a guest room too. But a home should be functional and comfortable for you and your family. Not for your guests. I own a 1 bedroom, 730 square foot loft, and my Fiance and I never feel like our home is too small. Instead, every day, I am grateful that I own my own home and that I have a roof over my head.

Jennifer says:

Carla- I feel your pain. My big want/need stuggle at the moment is about a car though not a house. I currently drive a 5 year old Honda van, there is nothing wrong with this van, is run great and actually still looks pretty good. But I WANT a new car soooo bad. I can come up with all sorts of great reasons to get a new car. The bottom line comes down to this…… I don’t really NEED a new car and the van is PAID FOR. So, I understand your desire. Your place is great so think long and hard about getting into something bigger and more than likely more expensive. Sometimes the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. As for me I guess I will keep driving on in the van and dreaming of cars yet to come : )

recessionmama says:

From Heather: I understand wanting more space. But take it from someone who has a large home… they’re more expensive, have higher property taxes, higher insurance and cost more to maintain. Besides no matter how much space a person has it never seems to be enough. But if you can make a profit on your house then you should get the space you want.I say put a “for sale” in the yard and see what happens. You don’t have to sell it if you don’t get the right offer.

Maggie says:

Carla…unfortunately I have been mia from blog reading, but I’m back!! This post is great, and I think your justifications are just right. I’m pretty sure there’s a bigger house, right next door, fixing to become empty again (or maybe it already is). Wouldn’t that be perfect!!!! There’s two living rooms AND a gameroom with a pool table! 🙂

Maggie says:

I also have to agree with the others, only go bigger if it’s the right time after everything’s checked out. I’m pretty sure our house will be empty for a long while…

Carla says:

Great advice, everyone! I wish I could say all of our ducks were in a row like they’d need to be for a move, but they’re not at the moment. Maybe in a year or two, is what we’re thinking. Maggie, you slacker! JK, it’s not like you’re in Paris, or anything : ) I LOVE your home. Are they moving out or something? We never talk to them! LOL.

Bottom line, this is a beautiful (little) home and I feel blessed to have it. Something bigger will come along when its time. Or at least that’s what I have to keep telling myself!

Marie says:

wait….I too have wondered if the jet tub (how many times have you actually used it?) could be covered and turned into storage. But, I know I will be met with an eye roll if I mention it. My next house? No tub in the master bedroom. Pure closet.

David Allen says:

Our Entire House foot print could fit in My Brother in Laws Living room.
Built in 1945 It is small letter “s” small.
“I” use to get an uneasy hurt pride feeling that we always went other places for the Family events. But my wife pointed out that we didn’t do the Cleanups before or after so I should just enjoy going places.

Besides I work a field that is just a shakey employment wise as Radio is Right now. A big ticket item is going inside a REAL resturant to eat. So We do enjoy the LOW Payments and property Taxes.People want to laugh at where we live but that changes when they find out it costs about $ 1100.00 a month Total to pay the note insure it as well as keep the gas water and Electric up to date.

The thing is if you can afford it why not have what you want.

My Sweet Spot is Saving money and going on Vacations..

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