Long, semi convoluted story about a change in housing we are considering.
We are a family of 3. Wife and I are 47 and our son is 9.
Live in Whitefish, MT. Ski/Lake resort town at entrance to Glacier Park. Lots of vacation homes here. Area is growing at a fast pace and real estate prices are increasing at a fast pace.
Currently live in a 3600 sq ft house on an acre. Been here 5 years. Bought it after getting caught without a house. I had been travelling for work all the time and got tired of it after having the kid. Decided we were going to relocate wherever I could get a non travelling job. Put our old house up for sale. First guy who looked at it bought it. Week later the current job called and said "why don't you work from home?" Perfect, but now we were homeless. Found current house. 3 miles south of downtown in an older, well established subdivision. 5 bed/3 bath, 2 car garage, 1200 sq ft shop. Remodeled right before we got it. This house is great but it's way more than we need. Taking care of the yard is 3-4 hours a week. Cleaning 3600 sq ft takes a lot of time. Snow removal is 90 min per storm.
With that in mind we've been looking at smaller places in town for the last couple years. Easier to take care of, kid can walk to school, and a small house will be cheaper. We could be close to mortgage free. We've made offers on two places that were not accepted due to the contingency of selling our house first. The market here is so hot sellers typically get cash deals in a few weeks. Our realtor has told us we are going to have to sell our place first, move into a rental and be ready to buy. We haven't done that as moving twice in a year would suck, the gamble of finding a new place, and our current place is comfortable. With that in mind we perpetually look and are mildly dissatisfied here but not enough to sell and rent.
Side note - Wife and I are 15-20 years from retirement. Part of our retirement financial strategy is rentals. We have one currently that will be paid off in 5-6 years. We would like to get another. Also, we are boaters. Our summer activity is being on the lake. Our town borders an awesome lake with two problems, it's serviced by 2 small boat ramps that are crowded, and lake real estate is way out of our budget, $1 mil + to start. With that in mind we were thinking are buying a place on a lake a couple hours away. We could enjoy it and also use it as a rental. If our new primary residence was about mortgage free we could afford to do that.
Fast forward to last week. Friend that is a realtor just listed a duplex. Two 2 bed 1 bath units, 2500 sq ft, oversize 2 car garage, .15 acre lot. The kicker is that it is on the lake. Well it's across the street from the lake. The street it is on has 18 non lake front homes that share a community beach. 13 of those homes elected to go in on a dock w/slips. There are 9 slips for those 13 homes. We have a friend who lives on the street and is on the dock board. He said most of the homes are used for vacation only a couple weeks a summer so boat parking is a non issue. Price for all this is about what we can sell our house for. Pretty much unheard of with water access. There are 4 neighborhoods like this on the lake. All are really expensive.
Our friend listing the place has said if we are interested the seller will accept an offer contingent on the sale of our house. So this could work.
The plan would be to live in the upstairs unit. I would work from home in the downstairs unit and it would be available for guests, overflow, etc.
Once the kid graduates we would rent out the bottom unit.
We've been working through pros and cons.
Downsize house and yard.
Small driveway so snow removal will be easy.
Getting local lake house.
Getting second rental.
Buying cheapest house in nice neighborhood. I would guess everything around it is $900k +.
Lot is small. We've got 5 cars, a boat and camper. That takes up all the space. Probably the old truck will have to stay at my Dad's place. Still will be tight parking.
Location isn't right down town. Kid won't be walking to school.
Living in duplex. You have to go outside to access lower unit. Two people have to poop at the same time? It will be a race. Loser has to make the outside loop.
Getting another mortgage now. Interest rates are still low, so that's OK. Was nice to think about being mortgage free for a bit though.
Prop taxes are about $2000 year higher.
We are leaning toward doing it.
The logistics of downsize are daunting. Anyone here done it? Did you get rid of everything you didn't need immediately? Did you move excess into storage unit to confirm you wouldn't need it? Any regrets?
House we built then had to sell when we were going to relocate.