The Benefits of NOT Owning Your Dream Home

posted by Andrea | 07/12/2011

First of all, let me just clarify that Dave and I are NOT planning to move; nor are we dissatisfied with our lovely farmhouse!!

However, if you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you might have noticed that I never really talked about our old house. It was a great house for us and we managed to fix it up quite nicely — but it was NOT our dream house…so I guess I never felt the desire to talk about it much.

It was just our house — the place we lived — not the place I wanted to call “home” forever!

Can you relate?

Here are a few pictures of our old house {after 4 years of renovations and lots of TLC}

So if you can relate to our situation — living in house we “liked” but didn’t “love” and always searching for our dream house — let me just reassure you that we would NEVER have found our dream house if we didn’t live in a “non-dream house” first.

I’ve wanted to buy and renovate an old farmhouse for as long as I can remember — seriously, just ask anyone I know! So even though it was very exciting to be a homeowner, and even though we got a great deal on a great house in a great location, I was still just a tiny bit disappointed that our first house was not an old farmhouse.

Now, looking back, I realize that it was the absolute perfect “non-dream house” for us!

The Benefits of NOT Owning Your Dream House::

1. A non-dream house is often more cost effective.

Dave and I definitely had money saved up for a down payment, but we could have never afforded to buy our dream house when we first got married — unless we wanted to be in a ridiculous amount of debt and pay mortgage insurance.

Also, since our non-dream house was much smaller {and newer} than our farmhouse, our utility bills were tiny! It was a great way to ease into the homeowner experience and not be overwhelmed by bills and expenses.


2. A non-dream house gives you a place to start.

Neither Dave or I had ever owned a house before, so buying a smaller 3 bedroom ranch was the perfect place to start. We got a great deal, we were close to family, friends, our jobs, etc., and we had plenty of room for the two of us.

It also wasn’t a lot of upkeep. We didn’t have a huge house to clean, our yard wasn’t too big, and as I mentioned above, our utility bills were extremely low!


3. A non-dream house gives you time to figure out what you really want.

Even though I always new I wanted an old farmhouse, I definitely did not have all the details worked out — and I certainly didn’t realize how much some of those details could cost 🙂

So over the past several years, I diligently worked on my Ideas Book — clipping photos out of magazines and newspapers, printing ideas from the web, and compiling all sorts of different ideas I wanted to incorporate into the dream house that we hoped to find “some day”.

I honestly think it would have been impossible to find our dream house unless we did all our research.

Dave and I went through so many old farmhouses but we never had trouble passing them by because we knew exactly what we were looking for and were not in a hurry to find it. We had our check-list and we weren’t going to stop until we could check off every item.

4. A non-dream house helps you realize what you DON’T want.

This might sound crazy, but after living in our non-dream house for a while and diligently adding to my Ideas Book, I started to realize that my ideas were changing. I realized that I wanted different things than I originally thought.

I realized that I didn’t really want a formal dinning room but would rather just have a big, eat-in kitchen.

I realized that although I had a mini obsession with red {seriously, I painted everything red that first year!} that neutrals are more my style. And I started to really hone in and develop my personal decorating style — something I had never thought of until we had our non-dream house.

I realized that I LOVED to garden but did not want to actually “farm” so instead of 20 acres, maybe we only needed 1 or 2.

I realized that I wanted a kitchen with deep drawers so the spatulas didn’t get caught EVERY SINGLE TIME I opened the drawer! And I wanted a counter-depth refrigerator so it didn’t stick out and get in the way so much.

Our first house helped me to realize all these big and small things that really bugged me and that I did NOT want in our dream house!


5. A non-dream house gives you a chance to focus on other things.

Most of you know that over that past 6 months, Dave and I {and my dad} have been working feverishly to renovate our farmhouse. We had a pretty good idea of what we were getting into when we purchased our house — but since it’s OUR dream house — we are taking more time to add in a bunch of extras and tailoring things to our exact specifications.

This means we have many more decisions to make, and the decisions seem more important since we are planning to live here for a very long time.

Back when we lived in our non-dream house, we still did lots of renovations and we still did them well, but we didn’t agonize over every decision because we knew the next homeowners might want to change it anyway. We could do a project in an afternoon and be on with our lives the next day.

Now we have to think about everything and then research it before we ever actually implement it — so it can be a bit overwhelming at times!

And even though I would NOT trade our house {or our house projects} for anything, it was nice to not have to worry about all that back in our non-dream house.


Do you have YOUR dream house?

If you’re still looking for your dream house, don’t give up — it’s out there! Maybe you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for yet. Or maybe you know you shouldn’t buy something outside of your budget. Or maybe, you really do love where you live but just haven’t realized it yet!

Even now, I’ve never really stopped looking and dreaming about other houses {don’t tell Dave!} This is not because I’m unhappy with our farmhouse, it’s simply because I LOVE looking at old farmhouses and I’m always trying to come up with different ideas to incorporated into our dream house. I even have a “Farmhouse Inspiration” board on Pinterest that I’m using as a virtual Ideas Book… so fun!

So for those of you who DO have your dream house — did you learn anything by living in a non-dream house first?

And for those of you who DON’T have your dream house yet — what are you looking for?


Filed under: HomeInspirationMisc.

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  1. Edie S.


    My husband and I bought our non-dream home a month before we were married in 2004. We did loads of work to it and the yard over the next 11 years, including a master bed/bath addition. Our dream was to eventually buy a large acreage, have a pond dug on it, and then build our ultimate farmhouse. Fast forward, and we’ve been living in our beautiful dream home surrounded by many acres of forest and pasture and a stocked fish pond for about a year and a half now. We learned SO much from having our non-dream home first, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way! We learned tons of DIY skills, how to deal with contractors, what features we preferred in a custom home, and so on. But the biggest lesson has come from having the dream home on the dream property, and that is that dreams can change. The “dream” home that we worked so hard for no longer feels like the dream. There have been a lot of life changes over the couple years from when we first started the whole land development and building process, some good and some more difficult, that have made us totally reevaluate the dream. Now our goal is to complete some projects at our new home to ready it to put up for sale, and to move back into our non-dream home that we still own. However, I don’t feel like building our dream home was a mistake at all. If we hadn’t, we would always be striving for a dream that wasn’t the right one.


  2. Renee


    We do not have our dream home yet. We live in a two bedroom apartment, which we are quickly outgrowing (we have two daughters, ages 12 and 5 who share a room). It’s funny, but our dream house is actually your old house! We want a rancher like that so badly, but the ones in our area are very expensive. I’m very jealous of your old house, it’s just beautiful. Hopefully one day soon. Congrats on your new home, though, it’s absolutely amazing! 🙂


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Renee — we did a lot of work to our old house to make it OUR home, so I’m glad you like it! We feel SO blessed to be in our “dream house” {housing prices were at an all-time low here in MI when we made the purchase!}

    Just keep looking and saving… your dream house might just show up when you least expect it — that’s what happened with us!


  3. Nicole Church


    I hope all is well with you and your new season schedule is falling into place.

    I know this is an older post on your site, but I’ve been trying to find a corner tv unit/bookshelf much like the one you have in the photo of your ‘old family room’. I was wondering where you bought it. I’ve been on the hunt for something similar or an armoire to put our tv/entertainment components inside in our new home. I just haven’t found the right one yet.

    Thanks, Nicole


    Andrea Reply:

    Hey Nicole — sorry to disappoint you, but the cabinet in the corner of our old family room was just a normal {not even real wood} bookcase that I found for free on the side of the road. I painted it black and put it on an angle in the corner.


  4. Victoria


    This post makes me smile because we did live in a house that we liked, but with two kids and no back yard, we decided to build our dream house. I too collected ideas and knew exactly what I wanted. We built our dream house lived there for almost two years and had to sell because we were moving out of state. My husband’s company closed the site and there was no jobs left in the city we were living. Am I sad? No. Because for many reasons the dream house was not perfect. We planned to live there for our entire lives, and while it was perfect for a family with 3 teenagers, it was too big for a family with 3 babies. (Lots of cleaning for a busy mom) And the things we liked in our old home and incorporated into the dream home were not working well with the changing family. So, no we’re looking to buy a new home, in a different state. I do have a list of things I want, its now different. I want a smaller home, so I can enjoy my kids and not have to clean as much. I want carpet in the bedrooms and not hardwood floors. I want smaller rooms but more of them. And yes I now DO want a formal dining room where as I didn’t have one before. 🙂 What I have learned from this is that life changes and our needs change and so our dream houses change as well. And really, having a dream house here on earth really ties me down. Dreaming of my dream house in heaven, is something that I choose to focus on now. 🙂 Not saying that it’s bad to have a dream house, and I still do have dreams and love to dream up of new rooms and furnishings and how I’d like the new house to be. Its just now I’m a lot more relaxed about it and look at a house as something utilitarian and not ideal. But I sure can’t wait to see my dream home in heaven.
    Many blessings to you and your growing family 🙂


    Jeanette Reply:

    That is wonderful, thank you for reminding me of what is REALLY important 🙂


  5. Jen @ BigBinder


    It’s interesting, because our house is kind of like an arranged marriage where love grew. We lived here before we had kids, and kept planning on moving out, but kept not moving out. Then we started to love our house, and although it’s a little tight with four of us {but that just means I declutter constantly – not a bad thing:)} we’re starting to really make it our dream house. It just took a couple of years to figure that out 🙂


    Andrea Reply:

    I can totally relate Jen! I absolutely HATED our first house, but four years later — after a lot of work, I was almost a little sad to sell it!


  6. Lea Stormhammer


    Oh wow! Did this post hit home today!

    We are still living in our ‘starter’ house – we bought it 11 years ago with the idea that we *might* be in it for 5 at the most! 🙂 Now that we’ve lived here for this long and done a lot of remodeling I have a VERY good idea of what I want and don’t want in my next house.

    We have a lot of specifics for our don’t want list (tile floors in the kitchen, for example!). Our want list has a handful of VERY specific things and then we have a huge list of “would likes.” The “would likes” are things that we can add ourselves (like wood floors) if necessary, and wouldn’t be a deal breaker if we can’t get them in a house.

    I always giggle when people call this our “starter” house – if only they knew!

    Thanks for the great post!


  7. Cassie


    I love this post! While I do love the house we live in, it really is pretty perfect for the four of us for now, my DREAM house is an old victorian house (that we restore) out on alot of land. I’m hoping in about ten years (ill be 32) I will still be young enough and in good shape to restore a house and can find one and start restoring it and then when it is finished or liveable whichever we decide, we will rent this house out until our sons get old enough and pass it on to them. That’s my idea anyway, I don’t know if it will ever happen. Lol.


  8. Sarah


    Love this post! Since my husband and I got married, we have lived in a 60 year old home that belonged to his grandparents. We are lucky enough to live here rent free, which is a huge blessing. During this time, I have drawn up plans for our dream home that we plan to start building next year. Several things I have learned from living here is that I want storage, storage, storage! We have very few closets and they are extremely small, so we have stuff just everywhere. One thing that I like about our current house is it has hardwood floors everywhere, which is nice and easy to maintain. The downfall about these is they squeak everytime I pass my sons room. Our dream home will be our forever home, so it has been nice to have so much time thinking about all our needs not only now but in the future as well.


    Andrea Reply:

    Wow — you are SOOO lucky to be able to live rent free! I can’t even imagine how much more we would have been able to save with no housing expenses! Just keep planning your dream house and enjoy living for free while you can. Dream houses can be expensive 🙂