We’re homeowners again!!! But I’m still struggling with it all…

So big news to share today!


It was a pretty surreal event as I’d imagine most times are when you drop hundreds of thousands of dollars on something, haha… But amidst all the congratulations being passed around on the day of our closing (something I remember enjoying MUCH more on the opposite side of the table!), deep down I wasn’t nearly as excited as I was hoping to be at this stage of the game :(

The house itself is great, and both my wife – and especially my kids! – are completely in love with it (the backyard is insane!), but as soon as we made the decision I began having pangs of regret even though I knew it was in the best interest of my family… And probably why I’ve been so quite about it lately here on the blog – I knew it would be a hard thing to write about!

But I’m hoping things will change once we’re officially moved in and living there?? Rather than being so stuck in my *head* as I am now?!

While the house we chose wasn’t The One I would have picked on my own, at the end of the day it really does check off a number of boxes – and more! – for us, so I’m trying my best to remember it’s not just about me anymore and to suck it up and focus on the positives…

And there really are a ton of positives here:

#1. The backyard! I don’t know how the former owners did it, but they managed to transform this backyard into one of the most serene and beautifully landscaped sanctuaries I have ever seen in my life. It literally feels like you’ve walked into your very own botanical garden of flowers and trees and bird houses and all kinds of other magic that lights up your eyes on the spot. And thus – why my kids are gaga over it ;) “There are so many places to play hide and seek!!”

#2. The sunroom. If the gardens weren’t enough, it also comes with an epic sunroom where all these blog posts will probably be written out of going forward! Haha… With the help of my beloved coffee, of course ;)

#3. The space. It wasn’t the biggest one we saw, but it also wasn’t the smallest either, and fits nicely right in the middle with plenty of room to grow into (or not) if we wanted. With just the number of rooms needed that we’ll fully maximize.

#4. The overall care and attention. From the appliances to the HVAC to the water heater to the roof – it’s all been meticulously maintained and updated within recent years, giving us that extra peace of mind that nothing major should be looming around the corner… Although I’m fully aware that that can change at a moment’s notice! ;)

#5. The price tag. At $337,000, it slips nice and under our targeted budget of $350,000, and while we did have to pony up some for closing, our realtor was able to negotiate it well through multiple offers on the house, and even got them to throw in the riding lawnmower that will 100% be needed to maintain the place, haha… (more on that in a bit – which you already know where it’s going!)

#6. The school zone. While we did flirt with other school zones due to a lack of homes on the market, we were both super happy to have landed in the one school district that’s been at the top of our list the entire time. So yet again another win in the kids department!

So overall, a pretty good list to look forward to, right??

So why the hell am I so anxious??!

Well, you can’t have the pros without any cons of course, and unfortunately for me those are standing out a lot more than I’d like them to be…

#1. We didn’t get the dream community I was really hoping for… This was partially my fault as I totally misjudged just how many houses would come on the market, especially in the exact location we were shooting for. We initially saw 2 of them right away as we started our search, which led me to believe many more would show up over time and I ended up becoming picky and lost the one we should have nabbed. Only one other has since come on the market, and it was equally as overpriced as it was poorly maintained so it was an immediate no go…

#2. It felt rushed towards the end… Mainly because I severely underestimated just how much my wife did NOT like our Plan B of renting. The initial idea was to “keep our minds open with owning” and then if we didn’t find The One, to go back to renting for another year until we did, but as time went on I quickly realized just how much she did not like the idea of having to pack up and move all over yet again, thereby crossing off that option and adding a new layer of urgency to matters. To make things worse, there weren’t even any new rentals coming onto the market to pick from in our desired school zone!

#3. We don’t know enough about this new area we chose yet. From the outside there doesn’t seem to be any red flags, but it was one place we didn’t know too much about before visiting the home for the first time so we’re still cautiously optimistic… I remember once reading that it’s always best to try and spend the night there or at least visit it at all hours of the night, but we just didn’t have it in us to try and pull that off, haha…

#4. That backyard is going to be a b*tch to maintain!! Something I swore I’d never take on, but after seeing my kids light up upon their visit I just couldn’t lay down the hammer and figured it couldn’t be THAT bad if others managed to do it, right???! Especially with a fun little riding lawn mower to play with???! And all that extra time with nature?! (Look how bad I’m trying to convince myself here, haha… I am FREAKED OUT!! SOMEBODY SAVE ME!!!)

#5. We dropped $70,000 of cash to secure it. Not unexpected at all, and again less than we budgeted for, but still never fun to see that much money leave your accounts no matter what you’re using it for :(

#6. And lastly, I’m just not “there” yet with all this home ownership stuff still… I’ve been putting on a pretty face and was good there for a moment as we got going and did fun stuff like *looking around*, but now that things have become a reality and there’s no backing out, I’m feeling all those pressures again I remember hating the first time around… Even though logically I know we’ll be perfectly fine and it really isn’t the end of the world! In fact, it’s the BEGINNING of a whole new one that my family’s super excited about!

And really, it’s that last part there that calms me down the most whenever I start getting into my head, and what I imagine will eventually help me overcome this current mind mess I’m in…

It may not be the most ideal home or situation if I had it my way, but as I’ve realized at the start of this journey, it’s not just me calling the shots anymore and if everyone is saying this is The House for us, well, then it’s the house for us and I need to be at peace with it!! And we already bought it anyways so why am I still stewing on it??!

I’m sure you won’t be shy with the comments, but this is just me getting it all out there and keeping things as transparent as I can, as life – and finances – aren’t always so pretty ;) I was really hoping to be excited about it all and tell you I’m over my fear of owning – but nope!! It’s still very much lingering there! Haha…

Though if there’s one main takeaway here, it would be to allow a LOT more time for home searching than we did, especially if you’re targeting a specific community. If I could do it over again I would have started our search 3-4 months earlier which would have allowed the reality of owning to settle in more, as well as the opportunity for more houses to come on the market… Maybe we would have landed on the same house in the end, I don’t know, but at least I would have been more prepared for it!

And that’s where we’re at now, with things… With more to come later, I’m sure ;)

Comments/questions/positive vibes – pass ’em all over!!

Thanks for listening!

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  1. SimpliFI by the Bay May 28, 2019 at 6:13 AM

    Since I can’t sleep and just read you’re post, thought I’d let you know I felt the same way
    after we bought our house, a rising sense of panic. It didn’t help that right after our offer was accepted, I read J. L. Collins’ post on why it didn’t make sense to own a house…. Buyers remorse!! But we really did love the house, close to beach with such great calming energy. My kids and SO have enjoyed it and my husband’s art has flourished surrounded by so much natural inspiration. The previous owner also had taken meticulous care of the place but not updated it. I try to enjoy the space and not worry about the rest. And your place sounds sweet, especially the yard, so congrats and enjoy it!

    I just wish I could hack my mortgage. Still don’t get the HELOC strategy I’ve seen some bloggers write about. Any light on this would be welcome!

    Oh and did I mention we both got laid of within 5 months of buying the place!!! what doesn’t kill you only makes you :). It all turned out well and we can’t seem to imagine ourselves anywhere else though we should really take advantage of geographical arbitrage.

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 6:33 AM

      Oh wow!!!

      I’m glad it’s been working out so well or you – that def. could have gone sideways if you let it! And actually that JL article is one of my all-time favorites that I pass around too, haha…

      I’m not sure what you mean by the “HELOC strategy”, but if you’re talking about xfering money around to save on interest charges, I’d personally stay away from that and focus on other areas of improvement… I made that mistake my first go around at this and it ended up locking all my emergency funds when the market crashed and “froze” a lot of peoples’ HELOCs (since it’s based on equity/property value). You’re better off trying to cut back expenses in other areas or find new ways to make $$$ and stay on the safe side :)

  2. Christine May 28, 2019 at 6:17 AM

    Congrats! I am guessing it is surreal for everyone. What struck me (and I was a first time home buyer) is how FAST such a big purchase can go. 6 months later, I still look around and go “wait, this is mine?” Well,if it isn’t whoever owns it has gotten lots of free yard work! We have a jungle in our backyard that I haven’t even touched, but I’ve been cutting and trimming the crazy front yard to make it look acceptable. I’m looking at learning about plants and gardening as a new hobby that happens gradually and trying to accept that it won’t be done overnight. That or I have to pony up for landscaping.

    I’m dying now of curiosity to see photos especially of that yard which sounds like an oasis!!!

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 6:38 AM

      Haha yeah – I already have a scheduled appointment with a landscaper to come out and help me go over things and strategize :) My goal is to do it all myself and learn – and enjoy? – in the process (I hear people really LOVE to garden!!), but if all goes to hell then I’m calling it a day and hiring them to take it over for me, haha…

      As my father recently told me though – you only have to worry about it for 16 weeks of the year! :) At least here on the East coast…

  3. Dave @ Accidental FIRE May 28, 2019 at 6:22 AM

    Congrats dude, get used to gardening and yard work – it’s a great excuse to get up on your feet and away from screens! Old school dirt under the fingernails for the win!

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 6:41 AM

      That’s what I’m banking on!! Gotta help with the ol’ life ruminating too, eh? :)

  4. Leah May 28, 2019 at 6:36 AM

    Congrats, J! Sounds like an awesome house. I’m especially envious of the backyard, which sounds amazing… It can be hard to find. And yes, I agree with your trepidation about maintaining the outside property. But think of it this way, you’ll have ample opportunity over time to transfer some of the maintenance to the boys and teach them the value of chores and taking care of “their” space! :)

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 6:42 AM


  5. Kate May 28, 2019 at 6:42 AM

    Wow! Congratulations! I’m so happy for you! Enjoy your summer in your massive garden, and regarding the community, maybe you and your family moving into the area could be the catalyst into making the community great… ENJOY!

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 6:44 AM


      Maybe we should have a Budgets Are Sexy mini-conference there or something?! Give back to the community, while giving us all an excuse to meet up in the real world! :) We sure have the space for it in the backyard!!

  6. Cubert May 28, 2019 at 6:56 AM

    Congratulations, Brotha! Yeah, houses can be a pain to maintain but surprisingly also rewarding.

    The backyard sounds terrific! Also some work to keep it all in check, but again, you’ll find it a worthwhile set of chores that’ll keep you from spending $$ on tee times and jet skis. That’s how I do the math in my brain when I’m raking, pruning, planting, gutter clearing, etc. etc.

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 7:42 AM

      I will take your word for that, haha…

  7. Cathy May 28, 2019 at 6:58 AM

    Congratulations J. Money :) It sounds like a pretty good buy to me. My own thought with the gardening is to hire help, at least to begin with, because it sounds like a lot of garden to handle, and in my own experience minimal garden services aren’t that expensive. Gardening’s a great hobby to take up though, very meditative and good for the brain! And it sounds like a really well-maintained garden, so hopefully not too hard to keep in order even if it’s big. Anyway, sounds like you’ve done well and good to hear the wife and kids are happy :)

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 7:45 AM

      Thanks Cathy! Already have a meeting planned with a landscaper to help give me some pointers so we will see how it goes! Though I’m going to try hard to do it all myself at least at first! :)

  8. Ken May 28, 2019 at 7:17 AM

    A new adventure, how exciting! If you enjoy the outdoors, you’ll find a way to love gardening, I’m sure. Eventually, your kids will love it and want to do it for you (was there any other reason to have kids? LOL)!
    Good Luck, think positive and enjoy!

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 7:48 AM

      Appreciate it, Ken!

  9. Marc May 28, 2019 at 7:39 AM

    Your description of the yard is pretty funny to me because it reminds me of our house. We moved in almost 3 years ago and the previous owners had this yard that looked perfect with all kinds of plants, flowers, and landscaping ( got rid of all the bird baths except one that is too heavy for me to move). I knew it would be a lot of work to maintain, but I totally underestimated it. Yard work is basically my part-time job now. The previous owners hired people to do everything and I try to do it myself, which usually doesn’t work very well.

    It sounds like a great house for your family though. The price also is much lower than I would have expected for being near DC. I hope it works out well for you.

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 7:53 AM

      Well if you’re trying to scare me it’s working!!! Haha… the former owners did all their gardening themselves which gave me some peace of mind, but I’m fairly certain they were also retired and had decades of gardening experience under their belt…. So I’m just waiting for this bloated over confidence to wear off and bring me down to reality :)

  10. Bryan May 28, 2019 at 7:51 AM

    Congratulations sir! The landscaping sounds beautiful and yes it requires care like any living thing to stay healthy and happy. But just take one at a time. Look up each plant to find out what it needs and when it needs it (best time to fertilize, prune in spring or fall, dead head flowers, etc.) it’s all there on the internet, youtube, and library. Do you have a lawn? Same with that. Look up what kind of grass you have (Tall Fescue, Kentucky Blue, etc.) Lots of good information about that as well out there. Best tip for the lawn – do NOT scalp it. Mow often and mow high. You get what you put into landscaping. Unlike the interior of the house where you can just paint the wall and hang a picture and be done, all those little plants depend on your ongoing care for a good life. And if some die, that’s OK. It will teach you how to remove it and replant a new one. After a while, you’ll look back there and take pride knowing that it’s YOUR landscape and YOU do the work. Soon you’ll be sitting out there in nature’s beauty working on this blog instead of the coffee shop.

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 7:59 AM

      I love the sound of all of that :) And the 2nd time now someone has mentioned about keeping the grass HIGH instead of low to mow less – so I shall follow that and learn as I go! Thank you!! I don’t have any grand visions of *improving* the space anytime soon, but if I can get away with at least *maintaining it* and not killing everything I will consider it a huge win, haha…

      1. Jen May 28, 2019 at 11:28 AM

        I second the mow often and higher. After you figure out your grass type you may want to see if there is a Virginia Extension Office website that you can check often (I use the North Carolina Extension Office website for where I am). If Virginia is like NC, then you can find good info on when to cut your lawn at which height (it goes from 2-3 inches in Charlotte). Some even offer free soil sampling during certain times of the year, which has made a MASSIVE difference for us in turning ours around as the needs of the various sections of our lawn were VERY different. If you are comfortable sharing pictures of the garden/landscape I bet you could also get some crowd-sourced info from your readers who love to garden and are generally familiar with the area. I’ve been trying to plant pollinator friendly plants in my area for quite some time in addition to food producing plants, so I’m dying with curiosity. I think I’d much rather move into a place with most of those decisions already made for me rather than be stuck in decision paralysis and circular analytic hell, but I was already interested in gardening.

        1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 5:48 PM

          Oh wow – had no idea about that stuff either, thanks!! Will def. see if there’s an extension for more info! Never even thought about what *type* of grass was there either as just assumed all grass was the same, but apparently not haha.. So I def. have my homework cut out for me :) Thanks for taking the time to advise!

          1. Bryan May 29, 2019 at 8:08 AM

            Right On :-) And unless you just absolutely hate it or are physically unable to do it, mow your own lawn and take care of your landscape yourself. It’s a great idea to have that landscaper come over and give some input on what you have there, but then use that information for yourself. “Lawn Care” companies will scalp your lawn. They will go as fast as they can and low as they can with the biggest riding mower so they can get to their next gig. And Never, Ever let TrueGreen take care of your fertilizing. Again, they will go as fast as they can, charge you as much as they can, and the results are as if they weren’t even there. Will it all look as picture perfect as the day you first saw it? No. But that’s OK, you’re not going to kill anything and with time you’ll get it and everything will look as good as, if not better than, the day you first stepped foot on that property. How do I know all this? Because I was in your shoes my friend. If learned, you can too :-) A couple guys on YouTube worth looking into are Allyn Hane “The Lawn Care Nut” and Ryan Knoor. Those guys love lawns and have some great information for beginners as well as advanced. Lastly multiply the $65.00/month and $100.00/month you will save by not hiring TrueGreen and a Lawn care Company over your lifetime….compounded $$$$$$$. Hmmmm, just your first ten years comes to $28,545.00 Now that’s motivation! :-) Where did I learn that…you.

            1. J. Money May 29, 2019 at 2:09 PM


              Good lookin’ out, brother….

              I’m picking up everything you’re putting down!! :)

  11. mobilehomegurl May 28, 2019 at 8:06 AM

    Wow, congrats J!

    Buying a house can be pretty stressful. Though, I’m glad you found one that checked off a lot of boxes on your list. Funny about the yard being a good and bad thing. Landscaping is a constant in real estate. Especially when it rains. Somehow things grow pretty fast when it does!!

    Looking forward to hearing how things go with your new home and neighborhood! :)

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 10:24 AM

      It sure does! Haha… especially around here – I swear it grows a foot EVERY WEEK with all this rain we keep getting, ugh… But at least it’s not year round like others have it, so that’s something?! :)

  12. Caroline Carlson May 28, 2019 at 8:10 AM

    Best of luck! Our house is 123yrs old. We try to remember that yes, things need updating/renewing but not all at once. We wrote our list one night at dinner and have been checking items off for the past 10 yrs. Just finished having the house re-shingled, it was amazing that the shingles they removed were original to the house- Pretty good ROI! Enjoy-

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 10:28 AM

      Incredible!!! I bet it’s such a beautiful place too!! That would be a dream for me so long as we had tons of money and learned how to do more things by ourselves :) I think I have to master the Lawn first before I can foray into the structure, haha… Feel free to email me a pic of it if you ever want to show it off! I love old homes!

  13. Michelle May 28, 2019 at 8:28 AM

    I literally laughed out loud when I read the trepidation in your post. What you just achieved is literally one of the longest running dreams my husband and I have had (and many others I’m sure). We are so eager to get there, I know we would be singing a different tune!! I am glad we have insight from you and others with similar leanings, so we don’t lose our minds – or financial well being – trying to get there :)

    Forget going against your grain and trying to force yourself into a false mindset (i.e. “I’m thrilled to be a homeowner!”) Instead rest in your strengths (living intentionally, practicing gratitude, gleaning and sharing wisdom) and peace will come.

    Congratulations on crushing another goal, and thanks for sharing!

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 10:32 AM

      Thank you!!! I am doing my best so I’m glad it’s coming through okay!!! I’m 1,000% away from being perfect with this stuff, that’s for sure haha…

      And would love to know when you guys officially pull the trigger so I can enthusiastically cheer for you guys over here!!! I bet it’ll be totally life changing for y’all after all that planning and learning and saving!! It really should be a more exciting experience I think :)

  14. Fred Leamnson May 28, 2019 at 8:33 AM

    Congrats, J. Not sure where you ended up, but if you found a house in NOVA for $340k, you should be dancing in the streets right now. Townhouses in my area are selling for close to $500k. To get a house, a great yard, and a community… Dude. You killed it.

    I always have buyers remorse for big purchases. It fades in time. This will too once you get into the house and see how happy your wife and kids are.

    I like the idea of a meetup in your back yard. I’m in. We can all pitch in and help you in with the back yard, haha!

    Congrats again.

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 10:35 AM

      Don’t you joke – I might take you up on that!! :)

      But you’re right – I think it will fade over time once we’re settled in and things get back to “normal” again… it’s not like i’m moving back to the area just for a house anyways, I’m hoping to be out and about as much as I can in the community! It’s more of a lifestyle change for us than anything else :)

      1. Fred Leamnson May 28, 2019 at 9:08 PM

        Hit me up when you get settled. Now that you’re across the river and in the right country, it’ll be easier.
        Congrats again!

  15. Jessy May 28, 2019 at 8:35 AM

    Jay, congrats to you (and to your wife and kids)–

    Keep that beautiful yard up–I have friends who sold after creating an oasis of plants, and they STILL drive by that house and complain about how the new owners have let the yard go. :D
    And when you get buyer’s remorse, take solace in being a good guy who puts your family first.
    All the best to you and your family in your new home!

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 10:36 AM

      Haha – that was actually my FIRST thought when considering the house! “What are the old owners going to think if they ever saw the yard and we killed everything???!” So I agree it’s def. motivating, although I still hope they never come back to find out ;)

  16. Stephanie May 28, 2019 at 8:51 AM

    I read all of this because I recently just made an offer on a townhouse and that all happened so quickly my stomach is still in knots as I wait to hear back. The comments and your story are comforting because your right all of this isn’t pretty it’s actually scary but your smart and I know this will work out.

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 10:37 AM

      Oh wow – I hope it all works out okay for you over there!! Big moves for all of us! :)

  17. Jennifer May 28, 2019 at 8:58 AM

    A few comments on the amazingly designed and maintained garden you are now lucky enough to inherit…

    1. Gardening and landscaping is an amazing physical, mental and emotional activity. Need some zen in your life? Need to work up a sweat? Need a place to commune with the earth and think through your 21st century issues – get out in the yard! Seriously, it’s the one activity I do where upon completion, I feel stronger, more calm – dare I say serene?, more focused and accomplished…and unlike the gym, yoga mat or counselor’s chair – you can walk around and look at and enjoy the fruits of your labor. And, done correctly – it can cost you very little. Seems to me that fits in perfectly with the JMoney mindset.

    2. I used the word “inherit” intentionally. You’ve inherited someone’s work of love+art, someone’s intentional creation – one of the few activities humans participate in that can have – when done right – nothing but a positive impact on the earth and it’s inhabitants – all of them….a successful garden offers insects, birds and animals a place to live, drink, eat and be at peace. Cherish that and honor those who created the space by maintaining it.

    3. There are few spaces better for healthy and happy children than a well designed and maintained garden. I don’t know where you live but get some herbs and tomatoes planted – get the kids involved – enjoy life with your kids.

    Jennifer, avid gardener….daughter of another avid gardener , Lucinda, who, at almost 80, maintains almost an acre of gardens every day…for fun.

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 10:40 AM

      ahhhh thank you so much for this comment!!

      it’s exactly what I need to hear this morning!

      you are so right that it’s a magnificent ecosystem like that – I am totally going to star this to review whenever I get to stuck in my had again…

      in fact, I might just *print it out* to make sure I remember it! Haha…

      Thank you!

  18. Financial Samurai May 28, 2019 at 9:01 AM

    Exciting stuff! Although you did not get the wine, the price point is low based on your income, so if you ever do find the one, you can just always buy another one!

    I think it’s good you have a house for your family and your wife likes the house.

    Enjoy it to the fullest! Let’s hope the housing market rebounds and stays stable for the for seeable future.

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 10:41 AM

      Thanks man :)

      It is pretty freeing knowing we can buy another at any point if we really wanted to. Even though I was hoping to settle down for quite some time in this current one… But who knows? Maybe I’ll fall in love with it as much as everyone else has and we will stay put for a while? Life is always so unpredictable, that’s for sure…

  19. Jim May 28, 2019 at 9:05 AM

    Well done.

    I know this won’t help ease the anxiety much but it could be far worse financially. We live in Sydney Australia and a house like the one you described would be north of $1mil. You want financial pain, try having a million dollar mortgage to your name. That’s some stress.

    A $340k house simply direst exist here.

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 10:42 AM

      Damn, that does actually make me feel better – thank you!! No way we’d be going back to owning in that case, wow…

      Have you guys figured out a way to make it work, or not even going down that path?

  20. Debbie May 28, 2019 at 9:50 AM

    Congrats J$! It’s wonderful you’ve made your wife & kids the top priority in your life & their desire to have a home. I’m sure your angst will subside once you’re all moved & settled in. I was never a gardener until we bought our first house & now I love it. I can spend hours out there & truly enjoy it. Before you know it, your boys will get involved & then it will get easier for you. Financially you’ll feel better when you start paying down the mortgage. Last week Credit Karma emailed me “congratulations, you’ve paid off 10% of your mortgage balance”. I had no idea but that certainly was inspirational as we aggressively pay down the mortgage. Enjoy your new home & get busy creating new memories! Take lots of pics!

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 10:43 AM

      Well that’s pretty cool!!!

      10% is huge – congrats! :) You’re totally right – it will prob feel much better as we knock it down over the years and have another *mission* to chase after… Something I’ve forgotten about since we first started talking about owning a few months ago.

      Thanks for the beautiful note today!

  21. David Damron May 28, 2019 at 9:53 AM

    As to con #4……remember how much you despised running…then you started running and it wasn’t great but it wasn’t so bad either. Yardwork is the same and forces you (me too…but I love it) to put the screens down, get our hands dirty and see IMMEDIATE results from the effort. As men, we love immediate results. That’s why there are so many dad memes standing proud looking at their well-manicured lawn.

    Anyways…congrats on the home ownership – – – I’m proud of you for trying to be so positive about something you hate so much :)


    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 10:46 AM

      “That’s why there are so many dad memes standing proud looking at their well-manicured lawn.” Haha… That is true, isn’t it??? :)

      You’re right that it’s very similar to running, which reminds me that I need to get back to that too, haha… turns out blogging every day takes up a bit more time than doing it every other one and I’ve let my jogs take a back burner…

      Need to challenge my inner D$ again!! Thank you sir!

  22. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life May 28, 2019 at 9:54 AM

    My list of freaking out was pretty similar to yours when our agent called and said our offer was accepted. It was a TON of money, a ton of work needed to be done to make it liveable, another ton to make it “nice” (we haven’t done that part yet), and the backyard is only half the size I would have liked but it’s also so much work I’m kind of glad it’s “too small”.

    I see your list of what you’ve got in the yard and think: that sounds delightful for someone else’s yard but I’d be freaked too ;)

    The biggest thing was the money of course. The mortgage is ghastly so I had to go through two recasts to make the monthly payment something we could live with. But all told, even if it’s still something I’m a little uneasy with on the money side two years later, this place is our home and we’ve really enjoyed living in it. So I hope that part of the peace comes to you soon, even if not the excitement that everyone else is feeling.

    I do envy that sunroom though :)

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 10:47 AM

      Thank you friend, and you know I only want the best for you and your family over there too! You deserve to be at peace for all that nonsense you’ve put up with over the years! Maybe one day we’ll have both our houses paid off and we can bask in the glory of our hard work?! Or even visit each other and do it in person :)

  23. Joe May 28, 2019 at 10:02 AM

    Congratulations! That sounds like a great house. My wife and kid would love the wonderful backyard. I’m with you on the maintenance, though. It takes too much time. I prefer a low maintenance yard because I’m lazy.

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 10:48 AM

      Haha I am too at heart, but no time for that anymore with what we got ourselves into!

  24. Jennifer May 28, 2019 at 10:10 AM

    If the bones are good and it sounds like they are, don’t feel the need to rush to update while you have three little curious and potentially destructive kiddos playing hard for a year or two or more. We are in the waiting game too with three kids 6 and and under but are grateful the bones are solid so nothing is pressing.

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 10:50 AM

      Heyy we have the same number and ranges of kids! Very cool! :)

  25. Tonya@Budget and the Beach May 28, 2019 at 10:17 AM

    I’m sure the process of buying a home is terrifying in general, but I know you had your reservations from the start, so it’s understandable why you’d be so on the fence! I hope you settle in quickly and learn to feel comfortable there! The backyard sounds amazing!

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 10:50 AM

      Thanks Tonya!! You can come visit (and help me with it) at any time ;)

  26. PFI May 28, 2019 at 10:21 AM


    I’m confident you’ll end up loving the place. I’ve always felt that buyers remorse, or at least a sense of “I should be more excited” with each of my previous house purchases. I think it’s partly becuase the process is so bad. I think only airline travel is a worse experience from the customer perspective – they both are intentionally designed for “security” but are just profoundly uncomfortable to experience.

    Anyway, after settling in I’ve always become excited, and content, with the places we’ve chosen before. It sounds like your family is going to be happy there!

    We’re currently in the process of going the other way – selling our dream house to downsize. And, we’ve decided to rent. I’m curious if I’ll feel a sense of regret on the day of closing and moving into a place that isn’t “ours.”

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 11:08 AM

      Ahhh I am so excited for you!!! Get ready to enjoy all of that FREEDOM coming your way!! :)

  27. Michelle Jackson May 28, 2019 at 10:27 AM

    Huge congratulations! I think that you should just schedule a yard service once a month to mitigate that huge responsibility (until the kids are big enough to do some work BWAHAHAHA). I think it’s smart to acknowledge how you’re feeling and embrace it.

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 10:52 AM

      It’s not entirely crossed of the list yet! Haha… I have a landscaper coming over soon to check things out and will see how much he scares me or not after that ;)

      Hoping to see you at FinCon this year btw!! I know a lot of people aren’t coming this year, but it’s always nice seeing your smiling face around even when we’re not hanging together :)

  28. Vicki May 28, 2019 at 10:45 AM

    If you’re near Frederick, MD Mother Earth News Fair is this weekend @ fairgrounds 6/1 & 6/2
    Being around other gardeners might get you excited.

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 10:57 AM

      Heyy that’s cool! I love that area! If I’m not out tackling the lawn I just might bring my kids there :)

  29. Becky May 28, 2019 at 10:51 AM

    Congratulations! A little bit of caution/reserve is what makes people like us tick (people who are careful with their spending and finances), so revel in that fact. But don’t let it take away your enjoyment of the new home and enjoying it with your family. I love gardening and yard work and I hope you find it just as stimulating and rewarding over time. A riding mower is great too!

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 10:54 AM

      An excellent point – thank you :) And a complete 180 from the first go at it where we put $0 down and bought a place on a whim with no worries whatsoever! Haha… the days of blissful ignorance!

  30. Jodi May 28, 2019 at 10:54 AM

    Hi j money! Just wanted to say that after reading your blog for a while and getting to know your situation i think you should relax and enjoy where you are now. You are right it is not all about you now -you said your family loves the house. You may feel burdened down by the hundreds of thousands in this house but it is home. I am a homeowner. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Of course being a homeowner does mean i have less (stock)investments because i have more invested in the house. That is ok. I’m fine with that. Enjoy your new house and enjoy your family.

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 10:56 AM

      Thanks Jodi – I am working on it! Just a little slow with this one as I usually am :) Just praying I don’t stall out along the way, haha…

  31. Steveark May 28, 2019 at 10:57 AM

    We live surrounded on three sides by acres of wooded wetlands with one acre of grass and one of woods that we own. But in my case I find gardening and mowing and all the other stuff like that to have about as much zen joy as getting a root canal. Fortunately, 41 years ago (as of yesterday) I married a girl who grew up on a working farm who does enjoy working in the dirt outdoors. Awesome! I haven’t cut the grass more than a half dozen times since although it looks like I will have to cut it next week since she is on a river cruise in Europe for the next ten days. But she does have one of those fancy Xmart riding mowers that can spin in circles and if I can figure out how to start it then it shouldn’t be too hard. My advice, if you try it and don’t like it pay someone to do it, unless your wife wants to. And definitely when you have old enough kids dump it on them.

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 11:07 AM

      Hahahahahaha, thanks man.

      You are too much over there and I love every ounce of it.

  32. Peter May 28, 2019 at 11:01 AM

    Your new home sounds a lot like ours – we paid the exact same price, made just about the same down payment, and we have large yard to take care of. I was a bit worried about all the work involved, but to a certain degree I now find mowing the lawn or other yard work to be somewhat relaxing/calming. It’s something I can do where I can be in my own little world, go out and accomplish something in a couple of hours, and then move on with my day. I’ve grown to actually like doing yard work – although I still hate raking the leaves in the fall. Find a way to enjoy it – and the things you don’t – hire it out to a neighbor kid!

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 11:09 AM

      Oorrrrr you can come down here and help me out right???! And then write it off as a blogging expense since you’ll then go back to blog about what a horrible host I am??! :)

      But very cool to hear for sure.. I feel so new to this stuff and I’m like 40 years old haha…

  33. LeeAnne May 28, 2019 at 11:01 AM

    When I bought my first house, all I could think of as I was signing all that paperwork was “Gee, I wonder if I will live here for more than a year?” I had been renting before this, and changing apartments on an annual basis. I loved there for 13 years before deciding to move to another state. I wish I could tell you you will never have to deal with any house issues or frustration- but we both know I would be lying! . Ah, the joys of home ownership… However, I do expect that after y’all get moved in and start building new memories, you will feel more at peace with this. Congrats!

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 11:10 AM

      Thanks LeeAnne – I’m hoping so too! And glad you found happiness in your place too with that house – 13 years is a long time!! I don’t think I’ve ever done anything for 13 years outside of breathing :)

  34. Pam Kanthor May 28, 2019 at 11:29 AM

    After I bought my house the manager of the title company said they thought I was going to pass out I got so pale signing the papers. LOL

    I started mowing my lawn and did such a poor job my neighbors would grab a beer and come out and watch me ;-) Then we had over 30 days of over 100 degree heat in Texas and I hired a lawn company. I started growing vegetables and I’m sure your kids would love to do that with you.

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 5:50 PM

      OMG you crack me up, haha…

      Thank you for that.

  35. Young FIRE Knight May 28, 2019 at 11:41 AM

    Wow congrats!! That’s so awesome! I totally feel you on the anxiousness around the house buying. I’ve recently submitted offers on two properties in DC (did not get them) and despite it all looking good each time I had those WTF am I doing!? thoughts haha.

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 5:58 PM

      Oh man, haha… I was kinda hoping on that too for this one, but nope! The stars aligned and now it’s time to suck it up! :) If it helps, my wife wrote a very nice letter about how she can envision our kids playing there and how much she loves the place, etc which we later found out sealed the deal… So you can always go that route the next time you submit an offer and see if it helps! And either way I will be there to commiserate with you at FinCon in a few months, haha…

  36. Sarah Jessica Farber May 28, 2019 at 12:00 PM

    I REALLY love to garden, and I even have come to not mind mowing my lawn. I listen to audiobooks from the library or catch up on podcasts while I’m mowing, and I have a really quiet rechargeable lawnmower so I don’t need any fancy hearing protection. My yard is little – 1/3 of an acre and a lot of that is now beds – your mileage (ha) might vary with a larger lot.

    You can get really good, free plant advice from your local extension master gardener. Just search your county name plus extension master gardener. There is a ton of crappy advice out there that isn’t scientifically valid, so stick to sites with .gov or .edu extensions. You can also head to a local botanical garden and see if you recognize anything there that is also in your yard – they label everything!

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 6:02 PM


      I will 100% try that out as I can never find time for it otherwise as I don’t commute! Thank you!!! And you’re the 2nd person to mention the local extension too so that’s also now on the list…

      You rock.

  37. clyn6 May 28, 2019 at 12:20 PM

    I grew up on 14 acres, and we mowed at least 5 acres as “lawn”. Dad built the house and
    he bought 100 baby trees from the arbor society. We had to push mow all around the 100+ trees, the fences, the stream, etc. And then there is the trimming, and oh yeah, the leaf raking. Do you have any idea how much TIME it is going to take to maintain all that?! I still have childhood trauma from all the mowing, It was several hours every weekend. And if it rained over the weekend we had to work on it in the evenings. If it rained a lot (spring) sometimes we had to mow twice a week. I despise mowing with a passion. A zero radius mower would be a big help, we did not have that option when I was a kid. I sure hope you and the wife love to mow! It is pretty but it takes a ton of time to keep it up! Maybe you can listen to some music or podcasts while you mow. One more tip; be careful to not injure your back. It is so easy to try to lift/push/tug/dig more weight than you should, and back injuries can last a lifetime. If you are not careful your back will hurt you every single day when you get old. I saw that with both of my parents and have the same trouble myself. I am sorry for being a downer, and maybe you will enjoy all that work, I wish you the best!

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 6:08 PM

      Damn you, haha… But I concur with all of this!! At almost 40 now I’m already feeling weird pains in places I’m not used to, and as much as I’m happy for my kids on this one I am still very nervous on taking over such a new project… Not that I can back out of it now, but it’s up there in the top 3 things I’m most anxious about so time will tell whether I made the right call or not! And even more thankful that I at least didn’t pounce on the 3 acre lot we came across that was equally as gorgeous, haha… I don’t know how you survived that 14 one!!

  38. CP May 28, 2019 at 12:22 PM

    Congratulations on your purchase. I am sure it was the right decision at the right time and the right place. I think is human to feel anxious and second guess our-self after such a big commitment. Another positive, you are no longer looking or competing for a home.

    This is from someone that loves to work in the yard. It takes a LOT of time and money to have a nice looking yard. I have sold and donated (Craigslist, garage sale) some of my plants after they multiplied. Be realistic about what you can do or hire someone to maintain what’s there.

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 6:09 PM

      I didn’t know you can sell or donate plants??! Watch us totally turn it into a side hustle and have it pay off the house in record time, haha… Once I figure out how to ride the mower ;)

  39. BasicBitch May 28, 2019 at 12:29 PM

    Well, everyone beat me to the “gardening is fun!” talk – but I will admit that it’s taken me about 5 or so years to get on board with at our current house. We went from a 600 ft condo with a teensy balcony to a quarter acre and it was an adjustment. And our quarter acre was not nearly so impeccably maintained as yours sounds!

    But each spring/summer I just made a little goal (and budget) for myself and now our yard is looking beautiful! It makes me smile to sit on my front porch and say “I planted that!” or sit on my back patio and look around and think “I did that!”

    Last year I built a vegetable garden as well, and it’s been so much fun to eat what I’ve grown. I just love it.

    You got this J.Money! It’s going to be a great first summer in your new place!


    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 6:12 PM

      heyyyyy that’s cool!! I want pictures if you’re open to sharing them! :)

      that would be AMAZING to plant your own food and then eat it later, man… I’m gonna have to look into that more once we get going as that is totally speaking my language…

      Another perk I forgot to mention was that we can totally compost all our stuff pretty naturally in this place as there’s plenty of room far away from our house to do so, haha… It’s been years since I tried that out and very much looking forward to it again!


      1. BasicBitch May 29, 2019 at 9:59 AM

        Ooh, I have been too scared to start composting. Though I really want to try.

        Let me see if I have before and after pictures – I will e-mail you. :)

        1. J. Money May 29, 2019 at 2:11 PM

          It’ll be really good for your gardens!!! And takes 1/100th of the time to learn how to too compared to gardening! ;)

  40. Kristen May 28, 2019 at 12:38 PM

    We bought a house 18 months ago and I started stressing hardcore about getting everything remodeled and updated. I was so relieved when my husband announced we were going to live in the house as-is for at least a year before we decided to update anything.

    Just between the three of us (us plus my 15yo stepson), we realized that we live HARD in a house, and having outdated stuff is actually nice. We can live and get stuff dirty and really use the house, and we’re not worried about having to keep everything nice. With you having three boys, no judgement if you put a hold on any interior updates until they’re past the point of living hard. Just have to convince your wife ;)

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 6:18 PM

      Haha – going to print this off now for backup!! ;)

      So far the only real thing my wife wants to do before move in is get some quotes for painting though, and if there was one time to do that its’ def. before all our stuff is moved in! So we’ll see!! Congrats on your new’ish house too! Adventures for both of us up in here!

  41. Torrie May 28, 2019 at 3:24 PM

    Ha ha, your worst nightmare of a backyard is our total dream! We can’t WAIT to own more land (and would love to have a mini homestead), but we’re just living it up on our quarter acre for now and planning tons of yard projects to keep us busy in the meantime :)

    I am sorry that you’re not feeling as settled as you would like to in the decision, however. That’s a big decision, and it’s always hard to not know if you’ve made the “right” one! For my personality type, I always feel really uneasy about the actual decision-making process, but for me, once I’m committed, I’m committed—the angst is over. Sounds like you’re the opposite–you must like to keep your options open :) I’m guessing you get a solid “P” on the Meyers-Briggs personality test, if you’ve ever taken that!

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 6:19 PM

      HAH! You know me well, friend, I am impressed…

      Commitments to me are usually “guidelines” since I know very well how easy it is to change them if ever needed, haha… But I’m working hard on fixing that, especially in places where it matters!! :)

  42. Frogdancer Jones May 28, 2019 at 3:34 PM

    Houses are SO CHEAP in the US.
    Console yourself that if you bought where I live in Melbourne Australia, you’d be paying north of a million for the same house. You picked up a bargain!!!!

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 6:21 PM

      I just heard that!!! I don’t know how you guys do it over there!!

  43. Liberty @ Love Liberty Shelter May 28, 2019 at 3:48 PM

    We have four kids six and under, and on the ten-acre farm where we currently live in the tiny house, there are so many unexpected opportunities for the kids (and us) to learn and be exposed to new things.

    Baby chicks, newborn calves, digging for earthworms, gathering eggs, imitating meadowlarks, processing a deer, chopping wood, and building fires.

    Farm life is not something Big C and I would have chosen for these few years of tiny house living before buying a house (we’re on track for this year before Christmas!), but it’s been just what the whole family needed, nonetheless. Whether a massive garden backyard like yours, or a farm, or something else, each home can have incredible, surprise benefits for growth. Congrats!

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 6:23 PM

      Awww that does sound so magical – what lucky kids!!! And learning experiences for sure!! Can I borrow you guys for a weekend or two to come out and bring me up to speed? Haha… Although I suppose it’s one of those “learn the hard way” type deals, isn’t it? :)

      What type of place/land are you going to go for come Autumn?? Similar set up or time to move on?

  44. Lily May 28, 2019 at 4:23 PM

    I like that you didn’t mention market timing or interest rates :) because a home is a home first ofc. I hope it will suit and grow as your family grows bigger – are there fruit trees in that big backyard? I think if we had a nice yard planting fruit trees would be fun down the road (of course more maintenance though…)

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 6:30 PM

      I don’t think there are fruit trees?! But there very well could be as it’s insane back there haha…

      And I subconsciously must have forgotten about the market timing stuff as I”m sure with my luck we bought at the peak AGAIN!! Not that we could have avoided it much this time around, but I would have loved to have waited another year or two and just spend time watching things before jumping All In again… Oh well… our 4.25% seems decent though? Def. lower than the first go at this when we had almost a 7% main loan – yikes!

  45. Nita May 28, 2019 at 6:23 PM

    Isn’t it all about doing what makes us content? I’ve owned tons of homes, gained money, lost some, but I still am surviving. My kids are grown and although we had a nice yard, they didn’t play in it once they discovered friends and wanted to hang out with them. If I had it to go over again, I’d purchase multi-unit rental properties and rent the home we needed or wanted during our kid’s development. Our reasons for moving was based on #1 wanting more space #2 better schools because the schools where we lived we didn’t look beyond elementary school and the area changed #3 location for our family’s interest. Also, we realized we generally enjoyed a change of environment. It’s all about knowing yourself and family well enough to be prepared for change :-D because life is always changing.

    1. J. Money May 28, 2019 at 6:32 PM

      You’re right on that one! But hopefully not on the kids part not wanting to play with us anymore when they’re older!! Haha… My boys are going to be by my side 100% – don’t you say anything different! ;)

  46. connie May 28, 2019 at 7:10 PM

    WAIT you started running? I missed this! :) (I have been a runner for a while now… first on the road and now on trails.) Congrats on the running… and I, too, support a get together for all of us! :)

    1. J. Money May 29, 2019 at 6:34 AM

      Yeah – one day I just got fed up with myself for never working out anymore and literally just ran out the door to change that on the spot, haha…

      It was much easier when it was so pretty outside and cool, and then got harder in the winter and now even worse as it hits 80/90 degrees haha… So I need to push myself out there again, but at least I’m actively working on things again! And I found this path along a creek which totally made even more enjoyable!! So I get why runners are hardcore! ;)

  47. Ginger May 28, 2019 at 8:43 PM

    I’m moving to Baltimore so please do host an event in your backyard! :)

    1. J. Money May 29, 2019 at 6:35 AM

      Haha rock on! And don’t forget FinCon this year is down the street in DC too!! Tons of local folks will be there :)

  48. Tonya May 28, 2019 at 9:06 PM

    There is only one little thing I am confused about. You said maintaining the yard will be bitch. I assume you mean your kids will be helping to maintain the yard. They may be too young to operate a riding lawn mower but anyone old enough to walk is old enough to pull weeds :)

    1. J. Money May 29, 2019 at 6:38 AM

      I very much like where you’re going with this :)

  49. Eric @ Flip n Finances May 28, 2019 at 9:21 PM

    Hey J, congrats on the house!

    Even though you have your slight pangs, I know you house will grow on you as your family creates new memories :)

    1. J. Money May 29, 2019 at 6:39 AM

      Thanks man – here’s hoping!

      How’s your house/finance stuff going lately?

  50. Fire Year FIRE escape May 28, 2019 at 10:34 PM

    I was also torn about our house purchase when I did it. I would say though once you have made more good memories (fun kid days) than bad ones (spending 70,000) it will become worth it.

    I thought I made a big mistake until 2 years later when the money began to seem very trivial.

    Houses appreciate too. Yay investing?!?

    1. J. Money May 29, 2019 at 6:40 AM

      I am counting on you being right!! Haha…

      Glad it’s gotten better for you over the years! :)

  51. Shawna May 28, 2019 at 10:47 PM

    Congrats! I’m sure once you actually move in, you’ll start to feel a lot better.

    If it makes you feel any better – a condo in my complex (Southern California, we rent) just sold for $565k. A CONDO. It’s 2 bedroom, only 10ish years old, but still. Our complex has no pool, no yard, nothing. And somehow HOA fees are still $330 a month! So $340k, especially for the house you describe, sounds like highway robbery to me! I’ve given up on my dream to actually own a home – at least not here in California.

    1. J. Money May 29, 2019 at 6:45 AM

      Ouch – that is harsh!!

      Maybe one day life will lead you to a greener pasture somewhere where you’ll then be able/excited to buy?! If there’s anything I’ve learned over the years it’s that life changes SO MUCH and you never know what’s around the corner!

      1. Shawna May 30, 2019 at 10:32 AM

        Harsh indeed! At least it’s not as bad as the Bay Area. Condos in my tiny home town of less than 40,000 people, 80 miles south of San Francisco, are selling for $700k+. And some are right on the train tracks!

        But that’s such a good point! Who knows where we will be in 5 years, let alone 10. My partner and I are slowly talking about leaving the state, but it’s hard as my family is in CA and his family is on Long Island so if we want to be near them it’ll be expensive. He’s more like you, though, happy to rent for the rest of his live, and I’m the one itching to buy!

        1. J. Money May 30, 2019 at 2:42 PM

          You nabbed a good one ;)

  52. Mel May 28, 2019 at 11:02 PM

    We bought a house that has very similar “stats” as yours: cost, down payment. We also have a bit more yard than we need/want, but as the toddler turns into a big kid, it’s turning out to be wonderful! My aunt designed our landscaping for the front yard and we made it bee-friendly and native, low maintenance plants. We also had buyers remorse when we bought it (4 bedrooms for two people), but it fits just right now with my MIL living with us permanently, the toddler, and a dog… that leaves us with one guest room (it’s the “dog’s room” but he shares). The buyer’s remorse has faded by utilizing the space more fully and also since the estimate of our house has gone way up since we purchased :)

    Enjoy the new adventures in your new home!

    1. J. Money May 29, 2019 at 6:49 AM

      Oh wow – that’s some unforeseen changes that worked out well! Congrats!! I think you’re right that utilizing all your space makes you feel much better about things and less “wasty” for sure… And yeah – the values going up doesn’t hurt either, haha…

  53. KR May 29, 2019 at 12:38 AM

    Hey J, I felt similar after buying our house a year ago! And it did NOT come with a fancy garden. Instead, it was the opposite, it was probably the ugliest house on the block. Yellow cream. No landscaping besides some basic stuff. Older interior. Old HVAC.

    But here’s the thing: even since a year ago, this house could be worth $50-100k more than what I paid for it, if I’m willing to put in some elbow grease. And I’m willing. I’ve already added a new room by adding a wall for my office. I will be DIYing my own custom wood egress window covers. We’ll be doing some landscaping ourselves. I am willing to redo my bathroom myself but just have to figure out a game plan there. I want to redo the basement floors/lighting/ceiling. I’m hoping that summers will be when I do all of this since in 1-2 years, I hope to have summers off with my wife and kids, so we can use that for projects or traveling.

    Basically, we bought a blank slate albeit an initially ugly one. But my kids are less than 2 and we are focused on them growing up. The house is fully functional, well-maintained, and solid. It has a lot of room for us but not too much room. It is in dire need of aesthetic upgrades but the great thing about aesthetics is that you can live without it.

    I think I never would have guessed I’d want to buy a house like this. I always saw us getting a modern build. But when I saw what price tag those houses came in, as near to the city as we wanted, I was able to settle for less. And that was before learning about FI, so now I’m pretty glad of the price ($300k) and rate (3.745) we got. Plus it will allow me to explore being a DIYer, making new skills, and improving my house. I figure worse comes to worse, in 15 years we buy or build again when the kids are older or out of school, and hopefully we net out positive on this which seems likely if I continue to do most improvements myself that add value.

    Good luck and stay positive! Remember: we can’t always get what we want.

    1. J. Money May 29, 2019 at 6:55 AM

      Can I rent you for a month or two please??? :) I feel like I have the *mindset* of a DIYer, but not nearly enough of the *skill set* haha… And even with all the youtubes in the world I am slow to catch on!!

      But you’re so right on the aesthetic stuff… All things that can be changed over time (if you want) while the important stuff is already taken care of. And with so many kids in the house that is def. a huge perk!

      Thanks for taking the time to share all this – I hope all home searchers out there take the ideas to heart as buying “ugly” could be an excellent path to go for sure.. Congrats!

  54. Liberty @ Love Liberty Shelter May 29, 2019 at 1:00 AM

    Farm life has been magical mostly in the kids’ eyes, I’m afraid…but probably, several years from now, we might start seeing it that way as well:)

    Having lived in several different kinds of places (on the edge of a big city, in the heart of a walkable town, in the foothills near a lake, in a huge suburban HOA house, and now on a farm), we know we love the walkable town life! That’s where we’re looking for our future home.

    Friends don’t always get it that we’d rather be one-car and have a smaller home for a great location, but what can you do?

    1. J. Money May 29, 2019 at 7:00 AM

      My heart belongs there too :)

      Once these kids are off on their own I will be 100% looking forward to being back in a walkable city again. So much to do and see, right out your front door!

      Although I give you MUCH more credit than me being able to live so tiny as you are w/ your kids :) We saw some houses w/ half the sq feet which were still pretty decent sized, and after a few minutes I was already feeling suffocated even though my brain was screaming MINIMALISM!!!!! Haha… So I guess I still have a lot to work on in that department :)

  55. Julie May 29, 2019 at 2:17 AM

    Congrats! You very much did the right thing for your family. Having the real possibility of having to move not just houses, but school districts every few years is so stressful. I know you will find a way to hustle and buckle down and pay that baby off ASAP. Then your wife will have true peace of mind. Happy wife=happy life.

    1. J. Money May 29, 2019 at 7:09 AM

      I think I’d have true peace of mind at that point too! Haha… And will be SKIPPING out to that garden and all other maintenance if that were the case!! :) But you know we’ll be working at it!! NO longer debt-free, ack!!

  56. Deanna May 29, 2019 at 7:14 AM

    Hey, congrats! IMHO it is a good sign you are nervous ‘cus it’s a big responsibility that you are taking seriously. It sounds amazing and especially with the yard. IDK ‘bout you but I LOVE being outside (sounds like your wife & kids do too). How lovely to have an oasis in your back yard?? Sure it will be work but it’s gratifying as you can watch the fruits of your labor. AND it can double as a work out :)

    1. J. Money May 29, 2019 at 2:13 PM

      Thanks friend :) I’m definitely analyzing this stuff 1,000x more than I did the first go at it! Haha… Which I suppose makes me a wiser person!

  57. Libby May 29, 2019 at 7:25 AM

    Your last experience with home ownership wasn’t positive so it’s no wonder you didn’t want to put your head back on the guillotine block! Add in the excitement of monthly growth in net worth with more reliable assets than real estate as well as your reputation as a financial blogger and it more than doubles the level of fear and anxiety. Then there is the lack of freedom aspect: money in the bank equals freedom. Renting equals freedom.

    Everyone fears making a mistake. It is also hard to ignore the small voice inside of you and put other people’s needs/wants ahead of your own.

    I’m impressed that you found a house that ticks off so many boxes for what appears to be a very reasonable amount of money in a high-cost of living area. I hope this means you have moved back to your beloved Virginia.

    I hate yardwork and I hate paying someone else to do it for me…but I love the results. I count down the times I have to mow the lawn – without a riding mower – and agree with your FIL that it is 16 times a year in the northeast. How many years until your kids can take over this chore??!!

    Good luck with the move. The snow globe of your life has just been picked up and shaken and it will take some time for the snowflakes to settle.


    1. J. Money May 29, 2019 at 2:17 PM

      What a metaphor!!! That is good!!! Haha…

      Totally borrowing that from you – thank you :)

      Appreciated that first paragraph too as it sums up my fears pretty well… And I have a bad tendency to *forget* my past a times, and then wake up and wonder why the hell I’m being so weird about things, haha… My brain is like a goldfish’s some days!!

  58. Mr. SSC May 29, 2019 at 9:10 AM

    Congrats on the house man! When we bought it was the opposite situation. Our house was meh/not maintained and they wanted to keep the 2 acres of woods “natural”. So it was an overgrown nightmare you’d expect to find a body hidden in or get inspiration for a new Grimm’s fairy tale. Almost a yr later, I’ve just finished cleaning stumps in the fenced in backyard and am starting on the front. I push mow it all now, even the woods, and when I can cut it all without straightening a mower blade once, I can get a riding mower. ‍♂️
    It may be a lot of work to turn this into an oasis like it sounds like you have but we’re close to that now, I’ll send you a backyard pic. The kids love it though. Catching butterflies, frogs, turtles, spiders, skinks, bugs, and who knows what else. Also, we have loads of birds around from woodpeckers to Hawks, deer, snakes and loads more we haven’t seen. It’s been fun if not overwhelming. I didn’t think establishing it would be this much work, but I’ve got grass growing on the front and it would’ve been looking great until a hidden stump took out the mower blade it ended that. And my socket had gotten stripped so… I digress.
    Enjoy and good step getting a landscaper to give you tips and help out initially. It’ll be easier and harder than you think but it will be fine once you get into a groove. Like me, it’s a great time to catch up on podcasts since I also don’t commute anymore.

    1. J. Money May 29, 2019 at 2:20 PM

      Those pics were absoultley STUNNING man…

      Seriously – you have done an incredible job over there!!! Is there some sort of award I can get you for that? Haha.. Or actually – next time at FinCon I will buy you a much deserved beer how’s that? :)

      Been enjoying the back and forth on twitter today, btw… such a great community we have here!

  59. SL May 29, 2019 at 10:20 AM

    Heya J!
    With all the focus on that big back yard, I thought I would mention your indoor remodeling. If the flooring and such is still good (but old) keep it until it can no longer be cleaned. You have younglings who will spill drinks, eat where they are not supposed to, and generally cause the wonderful hate and discontent I so love from kids! (and I am up to grand kids now) When I bought, I remodeled a lot in the house, and none of it was flooring, because it was relatively new. I knew with dogs and grand kids (and my still-single child and friends that come by) that the flooring was going to be abused — I figure that will be my budgeted major expense in two or three more years. Remodel in stages with the to-be-most-used items first (updating kitchen, for example)

    Things to look at now: plumbing, tile, walls. Get bathtubs and sinks comfortable and reachable for your family/kids/baths. One thing you may also want to look at, to prevent drawing disasters later, is a chalkboard wall or wall section. the paint is relatively cheap and is great fun for everyone (and a great, quick message board in a public room.

    Outside: make sure all fascias (attic and wall accesses are solid and not rotting or open for critters – home inspection should have caught, and still good to double check. Also have a tree service come and look at your trees and discuss future trimming needs. (same for the bushes) Make sure which bushes and plants should not be eaten. Kids will. :) Check with your local nursery on classes for the maintenance and care of your oasis. Your local nursery, if worth their salt, will happily tell you how to care for all of those plants.

    Look around the bottom of the fence around your yard for critter trails – places where skunks and such get under the fence to also enjoy the area. This is also simply a good to know before you are surprised one fine evening.

    1. J. Money May 29, 2019 at 2:28 PM

      Yes, thank you!!! You are good to me!!!

      TOTALLY forgot about chalk paint and you are right that my kids will go gaga over it!!!

      Also oddly reminds me how much I’ve always wanted COIN flooring too, haha… Like where you literally put down pennies or nickels on the floor instead of your more typical stuff… I wonder how that would hold up against kids and pets?! Or maybe we just do a bathroom with it so everyone has something fun to look at while doing their business! LOL…

      Seriously though, appreciate all the tips here and I am adding it to my “to do” list which is now pretty dang long…. But one day at a time!

  60. Matt @ The Working At Home Man May 29, 2019 at 2:21 PM

    Hi J Money,
    Looks like a nice little peaceful place. Are there many other houses around in the area?
    We got a ride on mower when the wife and I bought our place last year. Unfortunately, it died after 2 uses.
    I’m trying my mechanic hat, but not so successful at the moment! Hope yours runs better!

    1. J. Money May 29, 2019 at 2:34 PM

      Ack – you’ll have to let me know if you figured out what was wrong with it! Haven’t even thought about what I’d do if it broke – just been concerned with trying to learn how to *ride* the dang thing, haha… I’d be in trouble if ours went!

      (and actually – you remind me that I need to pick up an extra normal mower too just as a back up and also to hit the smaller trickier regions.. so thanks! And good luck!! Please do tell me what you figure out!)

    2. Libby May 29, 2019 at 6:04 PM

      High school students taking car/motor classes will repair riding lawn mowers. My son did this freelancing while in school and hustling for $$.

      1. J. Money May 30, 2019 at 2:42 PM

        Heyyyyy not a bad idea!!

  61. Betsy May 30, 2019 at 8:17 AM

    Public service announcement…..don’t listen to Podcasts or anything while you mow. I am an audiologist, so dealing with hearing loss is my life. If you blast words or music to hear over your mower, you are playing it too loud. Ear protection would be best, but if you have your kids in the yard, I can understand wanting to hear them for safety.

    1. J. Money May 30, 2019 at 2:46 PM

      Dang – are riding mowers really that loud?!

      I am thinking of picking up a battery powered regular mower though for the spots the riding one can’t hit, so maybe reserve the music/podcasting for that? I hear they’re much quieter, but you do have to watch the time since they only last a certain while before needing to be recharged…

  62. Andy May 30, 2019 at 12:20 PM

    Grats man! Enjoy. You’ll be fine, no worries. Maybe someday when the kids move out of the house, you can go back to renting and start using your portfolio fun experiences with your wife.

    1. J. Money May 30, 2019 at 2:46 PM

      100% shooting for that, haha… And in the *city* too so everything’s walkable! :)

  63. Leanne May 31, 2019 at 11:05 AM

    Just BIG, BIG, BIG congrats to you all; it sounds absolutely beautiful. Thanks for sharing your journey on this and for continuing to inspire! Much needed by me!

    1. J. Money May 31, 2019 at 12:07 PM

      Thanks Leanne :)

      I’m glad you’re still getting something out these rambles!

  64. Crystal Stemberger May 31, 2019 at 3:30 PM

    I’m sorry you feel so overwhelmed. I’m around Houston, Texas where home ownership is just outright cheaper than renting (even with all the maintenance and stuff), but I can feel your hesitation from here. *HUGS*.

    I guess just concentrate on all of those child smiles and wife love. :-D And pay it off as fast as possible so you don’t feel as weighed down. I hope you’ll love it when it becomes cheaper than renting. ;-)

    Good luck, dude.

    1. J. Money June 3, 2019 at 1:38 PM

      Thanks C$ :)

      Mowed the lawn for the first time the other day and actually wasn’t too bad!

      You should have seen me on that riding lawnmower acting as if I were a cowboy, hahahahha….

      You can go pretty fast in those things!

  65. George@20somethinglawyer June 5, 2019 at 6:48 AM

    What was so bad about renting? Happy for you and your new house purchase!

    after you sold rockstar finance I stopped getting email updates from you I thought you had sold this site as well. Happy that you’re still writing J$!


  66. Paul June 8, 2019 at 9:48 PM

    I mow 3 acres every week. Not sure if you said how big your yard was but a zero turn will cut your time by 1/3rd. Although, you cant drink a beer and ride a zero turn…

    1. J. Money June 10, 2019 at 7:56 AM

      Haha… Maybe we can race our mowers one day together?! ;) Mustered up the courage to finally try mine the other day and wow did it go faster than expected!

  67. Tam July 2, 2019 at 8:33 PM

    How do you pick your school district for your kids. Im trying to find good k12 for my boy but dont know where to look. I know greatschools.org has rating but i dont know if that rating is reliable.
    We plan to move to california and pick the good school for our family to settle down.

    1. J. Money July 3, 2019 at 8:08 AM

      Do you have friends or family in the area? That’s what helped us a lot – talking to them and asking them a million questions :) We also drove around to all the schools to get a better idea, although of course looks can be deceiving (some of the nicer looking schools aren’t so great here, while some of the more dilapidated ones are!). If you don’t know anyone there, maybe you can find some local facebook or similar groups? Maybe nextdoor.com?! There’s gotta be a way to get plugged in and talk to people who live there… I always prefer that vs the rating sites, but then again I didn’t poke around too much on them so not sure how great or not they are. Wishing you loads of luck either way!!