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Seller’s Remorse 10 Years Later?

April 26, 2011 · 112 comments

in Home & Garden, Personal Finance

I have been having trouble sleeping lately, so I have been spending a lot of time just thinking as I wait for sleep.  I have a lot of great thoughts during this time, although I should probably put a pad of paper and a little flashlight on my nightstand so I can write some of my wisdom down.  Anyway, last night a thought struck me out of the blue:  If we had stayed in our previous home, it would be paid off by now!

Aargh!  If I wasn’t having trouble sleeping before, I was definitely having trouble after that realization.

I then started thinking about WHY we moved in the first place.  Our reasons were:

  1. Easier commute.
  2. We wanted to escape from some bothersome neighbors that treated us like we were daycare for their kids.
  3. We wanted more space.
  4. The house we found (and bought) was a screaming deal.

So, you can see that none of our reasons for moving were earth-shattering.  We weren’t even dead-set on buying a new home at that time.  We just casually looked for about 3 months, and when we saw our current home, we thought it would be perfect.

On the day our offer on the new home was accepted, we raced home and really cleaned the house we had.  At the time, we had a 6, 4, and 3 year old, so it was crazy trying to get a house on the market.  After we spent 2 days cleaning and decluttering, my husband and I looked at each other and said ‘why are we moving?’.  We forgot how nice our house could really look!  Regardless, we put the ‘For Sale By Owner’ sign up, and we ended up accepting an offer within a week.

What We Gave Up By Moving

I really loved the house we sold.  I will always have an emotional attachment to it because my kids were very little when we lived there, and I have so many wonderful memories of that house.  In addition, there were some other things we gave up by leaving, such as:

  1. A fully wooded park in the backyard. Our yard was pretty small, but behind it was a huge park with a lot of woods and privacy.  The playground at the park was a great asset when the kids were younger.
  2. Kids in the neighborhood. Although some of the families were a nuisance, there were some kids on our street that were very nice.  Where we live now, there are very few children the same age as our kids.
  3. Updated home. Our former home had already been remodeled, so we really didn’t have to sink much money into it.  I loved the cherry cabinets in the kitchen, and we had remodeled the family room and basement ourselves.  On the other hand, our new home was stuck in the early 80s and needed some work.

What We Gained By Moving

Even though I am feeling nostalgic about our former home, we did gain a lot by moving:

  1. Increased Square Footage. The new house was about 800 square feet larger, with a larger basement and larger garage.  Part of that square footage was an office, which is a great room to have.
  2. Fantastic backyard. Even though we gave up the wooded park, we still have a park in our current backyard.  It is really just a big open area with a hill and some woods to the side, but we don’t have another yard backing up to ours.  As much as I hated leaving our old yard, this yard has actually worked out better.  Our house is on 1/2 acre and the park area is about 8 acres.  In that space, we go sledding, play whiffle ball, throw  frisbees, fly kites, etc.  The park where we lived previously was so full of trees there really wasn’t open space to run around and do much, but it was very pretty.
  3. Freeway and school access. We are 5 minutes from 2 major freeways, and closer to the school my kids attend.  We definitely spend less time commuting than we did in our previous home.  With gas prices the way they are now, a shorter commute is definitely a plus.
  4. Peace and quiet. I am sure I sound like a curmudgeon, but it so nice not having kids at my doorstep at 8:00 am in the summer or showing up in our yard as soon as they see us pull in the driveway.  I have no problem having kids over, but I don’t want other children at my house all day, everyday without any reciprocation.

While writing this post, I shared my feelings with the rest of the family.  Everyone said they are really glad that we moved, and for a variety of reasons.  In the end, I am glad we moved too as I love our current house and appreciate the extra space.  The yard has been fabulous- having the option to go sledding in your backyard is fantastic, especially since it can be hard to find things to do in the winter.  However, I will say being debt-free would be absolutely wonderful.  I guess this example just reiterates that life is full of trade-offs.

I wonder, if we had REALLY decluttered our previous home earlier and made it sparkle, would we still have had the urge to move in the first place?  Did we feel crowded because we didn’t get rid of things we should have sooner?  I will never know the answer to that question.  However, one thing I do know is that I have had 10 very happy years in this house, and so has the whole family.   That is what I will choose to focus on instead of the mortgage payment.

My Advice When It Comes To Change

Before you make any major change in your life, look to see if there is any way to improve your current situation. In our case, I really do think the grass was actually greener in our new home.  However, that is not always the case.  Sometimes, making minor modifications to your existing situation is all that is needed!

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Centavos April 26, 2011 at 7:09 am

I suspect that the decision to move to a new house wasn’t taken lightly. Sounds like you had every cost/benefit covered from the start.


Kris April 26, 2011 at 12:56 pm

101- we didn’t make the decision lightly, but in hindsight, being mortgage free would be fantastic. However, I may have gone insane from all the kids, so maybe my mental health is worth it? 🙂


Nicole April 26, 2011 at 7:48 am

I dunno, that #2 in the reasons to move seems like a pretty big one. The only other solution would have been to have a chat with the neighbors or to get all passive-aggressive on them, and that would have been unpleasant too.

I often think if we hadn’t bought this house we’d be paid off right now. There were nice houses that weren’t perfect that were 100K less than ours that I didn’t even let DH look at. But most of them would have required extensive remodeling which would have cost $$ and they weren’t energy efficient and we really didn’t have the time to deal with that kind of stuff. Plus snakes and predatory cat-eating birds… Really, there’s trade-offs.

Though for 30K less we could have gotten a house 3 houses away from the top elementary school in town. But it’s another 15 min away from work and town and they’d removed a supporting beam to make the perfect kitchen and the ceiling was sagging a bit which concerned my engineering husband.


Kris April 26, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Nicole- Unfortunately, there was no talking with one particularly troublesome family because they barely spoke English. As a matter of fact, they let their 7 and 9 year olds stay home alone all day during the summer while they worked. Then they had a baby. Baby went to day care and the older kids stayed home. As soon as they returned from work, the older two kids would emerge along with the baby and would be on their own every evening. It was very upsetting, and very unfair to those kids.

There really are trade-offs, and I am really happy where I live now, and so is the whole family. I guess maybe there are more important things in the world than being mortgage free.


Nicole April 26, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Yes, many more important things than being mortgage free. Like low blood pressure!


Husband of Everyday Tips April 26, 2011 at 8:46 am

I am very happy with our move. I liked our old house, but I love our current house. Plus, the benefit of a backyard sledding hill cannot be overstated. I don’t like being cold and dragging the kids to a park, hiking back to the hill, and being there long enough to make it worthwhile meant being really, really cold. Now everyone can run out the back door and be on the hill. So yes, the biggest spending decision of our lives was heavily influenced by me not wanting to be cold!


Kris April 26, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Dearest Husband: I am questioning if you are sharing your happiness to keep your neurotic wife from dwelling on the ‘what ifs’ or if you truly love it. 🙂


Nicole April 26, 2011 at 1:20 pm

According to Dan Gilbert in Stumbling on Happiness, happiness is keeping from dwelling on “what ifs.”


Kris April 26, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Nicole, I totally agree. Dwelling on ‘what if’s’ can be depressing. I can turn it off when it comes to financial things, but it is much harder for me when it is a health-related issue.


Husband of Everyday Tips April 26, 2011 at 2:10 pm

I am totally free from What Ifs relating to the house decision. For one thing, I’d have to have a memory that could recall something that happened more than 5 minutes ago before I could even have a What If….


Kris April 27, 2011 at 12:43 am

I think you are free of most What-Ifs. That is one of the things I appreciate about you- you give me balance!


First Gen American May 1, 2011 at 6:51 am

My husband says that my bad memory is one of the secrets to our happy marriage.


Money Reasons April 26, 2011 at 12:21 pm

As a kid growing up, my neighbor’s house was right on a hill, and to go out of the rec. room onto and instantly sled ride down the hill was awesome (even when we were teens)! I was so jealous, but also fortunate to have such great neighors!

Being debt-free during low mortgage interest rate times, isn’t all that big. If the mortgage interest rates were 7%, 9% or 10%… well yeah, then being debt-free would be a big deal, but not at 4% or 5%…

But the most important reasons for a larger, cooler house is the kids! Part of the enjoyment of life is the setting of your environment. And to me is sounds like you have a most excellent backdrop for enjoying your family life.

So the old house may have been good (perhaps even great), the larger, more functional house is superior.

I think I would have done the same if I could convince the rest of the family to go along with it (I am wearing them down slowly but surely Muha-ha-ha).


Kris April 26, 2011 at 1:04 pm

MR- I know you have your ulterior motives in this situation. You will eventually be moving, I know it. If it truly is your dream, then just casually look around. Then when there is a great deal, you will know it and you will just have to bribe your wife.


Money Reasons April 26, 2011 at 7:18 pm

I think casually looking around would be a nice way to go about it! I’m not currently looking now because everybody seems content except me. You are right though, I would move in a heartbeat if everybody else was on board.

The thing I hate is that we are missing experiences that the kids don’t realize. A bigger yard would mean a go cart, or minibike, or pool, or etc…


Kris April 27, 2011 at 12:39 am

MR- You can look at it from another perspective too. You could use the money that people like me have to spend on a mortgage and give the kids experiences through travel and such too!


Vicky April 26, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Many people change their minds about moving after giving their current home a thorough cleaning. Makes me want to declutter and shine up the windows for spring!


Kris April 26, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Vicky, I need to declutter my current home too, and not wait until we decide to move again. Usually I am motivate to declutter when I am not home, why is that??


Squirrelers April 26, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I think that moving for an easier commute – or better, escaping a horrible one – is something that can actually pay real dividends for quality of life. Also, if you can’t deal with the neighbors and find some things about them intolerable, then moving is the way out. I know that if I had neighbors that we difficult, and had trouble with normal boundaries in terms of personal interactions, I’d consider escaping too!

It’s often, from my experience any, easy to forget the bad things. It’s almost like our minds are wired to let some of those things fade from memory, while we focus on the good.

I’ll bet that you guys made the totally right decision for your family, based on how you describe the things you gave up and the things you gained.



Kris April 26, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Squirrelers, you are very right about having selective memory. Without that, women might decide to never have another baby if they remember the pain of childbirth and the exhaustion the first few months bring!

Really good point!!!


krantcents April 26, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Although reflecting on your decision is a good thing, I wouldn’t dwell on it. Your overall decision seems right for you!


Kris April 26, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Thanks Krantcents! I think the allure of not having a mortgage was very appealing in my mind and I kind of forgot about all the good things that came from our decision.


Crystal @ BFS April 26, 2011 at 4:58 pm

I would have moved for reason #1 since I hate driving so much, lol. Yeah, having a paid off house would have been nice, but being a babysitter for the last 10 years would have driven you bonkers. You did good. 🙂


Kris April 27, 2011 at 12:42 am

BFS, you are right. I would have been bonkers for sure, and probably pretty darn crabby!


Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager April 26, 2011 at 7:02 pm

I just moved out of my mom’s place a couple of months ago and am still going through and cleaning stuff out. Sometimes you find old things that you absolutely love, other times I have this “AH, why did we keep this so long?” feeling. You’d be amazing how you can do a couple small things to spruce up an old place.


Kris April 27, 2011 at 12:40 am

Jenna, you are so right! One thing I found is that I have to be in the right mental state to do any decluttering. For example, I couldn’t part with any of the kids clothes for a little while. Then one day I was going through the boxes and said exactly what you said ‘why am I keeping this’. However, you have to be ready to part with some things, and time is the only answer for some items.


retirebyforty April 26, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Your house sounds great! There are only tiny cookie cutters in the suburb around here. If we want an acre, we would have to move to a more rural area.


Kris April 27, 2011 at 12:37 am

RB40, I am just on 1/2 acre, but some of the houses very close by are 1-3 acres, which would be wonderful. However, I do have the park behind me, and the city mows that grass so I kind of have the best of both worlds I guess.

Believe me, most of the homes in the city I live in are cookie cutter also.


Samurai April 26, 2011 at 11:08 pm

Such a great tip, to make sure you are satisfied with what you have and make it the best before making a decision.

Everytime I clean the house I love it that much more!


Kris April 27, 2011 at 12:36 am

Thanks Sam.

By the way, if you came over and cleaned my house, I would love it that much more too! 🙂 A clean house is a wonderful thing. With these 3 kids and the endless laundry, it is hard to keep up!


Financial Samurai April 27, 2011 at 10:53 am

Hahaha, nice. Tell them kids to do their own laundry! Although, I never did growing up 🙂

I wonder if kids would revolt at such a thing??


Kris April 28, 2011 at 12:23 am

My kids wouldn’t revolt, but I don’t know that their sports uniforms would ever be washed on time and such. Could end up being more stress and hassle. The kids do have weekly chores to perform, but what I appreciate most I think is they unload all the groceries from the car when I shop and put them all way. I just love not having to deal with that.


optionsdude April 26, 2011 at 11:51 pm

No way you can live your life thinking about “what ifs”. It will drive you nuts since there are so many of them. I can see the allure of no mortgage, but you should focus energy on getting rid of this one now.


Kris April 27, 2011 at 12:35 am

Good advice Optionsdude. Don’t worry, we just have about 6 more years on this mortgage,and hopefully will pay it off even sooner.


Well Heeled Blog April 27, 2011 at 1:08 am

Sounds like you had good reasons to make the move. It’d be great to have a paid off home, though. Can you accelerate your payments on the current home so you can pay it off faster?


Kris April 27, 2011 at 9:58 am

Well Heeled- we are accelerating our payments for an earlier payoff. Max payoff date is 6 years from now, but will hopefully be sooner.


The Biz of Life April 27, 2011 at 8:28 am

I’ll take the peace and quiet every time.


Kris April 27, 2011 at 9:54 am

Biz, I think you are right. I appreciate peace and quiet more and more everyday.


Little House April 27, 2011 at 9:56 am

It sounds like your “new” home worked out great. I think with any big change, it’s hard to really look at the pros and cons from an objective view point. I know I’ve been researching moving to a new city. As much as I’m trying to be objective, I know a lot of my pros/cons are subjective. I have to remember that it may not always be “greener” on the other side of the fence. Thanks for sharing your story.


Kris April 27, 2011 at 10:09 am

Little House, I have been enjoying your process of finding a new home. I guess we never know what the ‘right’ decision is. You just do the best with the information you have and go from there I guess.


First Gen American May 1, 2011 at 6:58 am

Wow. I do feel bad for those kids…especially after you left. 7 seems pretty young to leave a kid alone at home all day. I think the legal age is 12. They could have gotten in big trouble for that. Did you never tell them to go home because you felt bad for them?

We are also thinking of moving someday but hopefully it’s a few years out so we can save some extra money for that more expensive place. Our reasons would be: Live with Babci, Move to a Better School District. The first reason requires either a bigger house or a house with land that we can build a little in law place on. I don’t know when and if it’ll happen but those are good reasons too. We just couldn’t swing it when she first moved because it was 2005 (peak of the market).


Kris May 2, 2011 at 10:17 pm

First Gen, you could always just casually look and see if a great deal shows up in the market. You guys are handy, you might just find a diamond in the rough and at a great deal.

Regarding the kids that were left home alone, I did call the police to find out what the laws were regarding leaving children home alone. I was told that there isn’t an official age and that it is at the parent’s discretion. (I too thought 12 was the legal age to be home alone.)

I didn’t have the heart to the the kids to go home. I remember once the poor baby had mosquito bites all over his body because of how much he had to stay outside in the humid evenings with his older brother and sister. (and the parents were home). Ironically, the two oldest ended up being merit scholars and were very successful in high school. I have no idea where they went to college or anything though.


Cordelia May 26, 2011 at 4:05 pm

We also moved about 3 years ago to a larger house on a 1.65 acre lot. I didn’t love the house but the property was to die for. It was kind of secluded and set back on the lot with a curving driveway, a stream and a large outbuilding. We sold our former home for $473K and bought new one 8 minutes away in a small village for $670K. I still think about my last house because it was paid for and we would have way more money now to do other things. Here we have to have hired help to assist with the property because of the extensive gardens etc. The house works well in all areas and the kids absolutely love it but I always think about the former house I loved and sold.


Kris May 26, 2011 at 10:44 pm

Cordelia, your new house sounds wonderful. It actually sounds like my dream house. My yard is what keeps me so happy. I do like the house now too, but the yard is what sucked me in to buy it.

You are very right that larger homes have larger expenses. However, your kids love the new house, and it sounds very unique. I bet this is a house that your kids will want to come home to once they are grown up!


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