It’s always been a dream of mine to build a home. Ever since I was in middle school, I loved architecture and design. When we bought our first house, I decided to dive in and learn as much as I could about construction. But there is one term I’ve never cared for: Forever Home.
I’ve been waiting 16 years to build a home and that might be in our plans over the next few years. Whenever I mention this to someone, I get the exact same question: “Oh, will this be your forever home?”
Houses Aren’t Forever
Calling a house a “forever home” is a misnomer.
Part of my push back with the idea of a forever home is that as humans we aren’t forever. Whether you believe in the afterlife or not, we can all agree we don’t stay here forever. This life is temporal. Unless you think you get to take your home with you, it’s not forever. Now if you do think your house travels with you to the other side, by all means, build a pyramid, fill it with gold, mummy cats and have fun.
Not only can’t we take it with us, but even without us, houses also won’t last forever. I lived in Europe for four years and loved the old architecture. But even there it’s rare to see houses over 800 or 1000 years old. If your extremely lucky, your buying a 1000 year house. Still not a forever house.
Justified Budget Busters
So the real issue is that by buying into the idea of “forever,” even with our words, we justify spending WAY too much on the house. Because it’s “forever” we include upgrades and extra costs that we couldn’t justify with a short term home.
I encourage people to buy a house where the numbers would work as a rental property, if at all possible. Long term it will often mean your spending less per month. You also have much more flexibility if you need to move. “Forever homes” almost never make good rentals.
This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but if your not financially independent yet, following the rental rule will help you get there much faster! And maybe get you that first positive cash flow rental.
The odds of one home working for you from the time your 18, through marriage, maybe kids being little, teenagers, grown kids, kids moving back home, then aging adults….it’s a tall order! Life changes and our needs change. A forever home might not be a flexible home.
Change is Hard Enough!
The idea of a “forever home” also keeps us stuck. When life changes. When new opportunities arise. When we want to venture into something new. It’s hard to walk away from the “forever home.” It might be hard to rent it out. It might be hard to give it up. It’s easy to get overly attached if you think it’s forever.
Transitions and change are hard enough on their own! Transitions are one of the most dysregulating things we encounter. If you want to be able to make bold changes in your life, it’s smart to not burden yourself with the idea of a “forever home.”
The “Perfect Right Now Home.”
This isn’t against owning a home. Or building a home. Or even staying a very long time in one home. Heck, that’s my plan! It’s not even about not liking your home. If we build a home, it will be nice and we will like it very much.
But I won’t call it my forever home. I try to hold things loosely. To love and appreciate them while I have them, but nothing is forever.
Instead, can we have “Perfect for right now homes?” Right now, in this season of life, for this month, where we are is perfect.
Maybe you’re perfect right now home is:
- A camper traveling with your kids to National Parks
- A rented condo
- An Air BnB in South America
- Staying with your aging parents while they recover from illness
- A fixer-upper
- A duplex you rent half out to live almost rent free
- A rented room in NYC
- A sprawling farmhouse
“Wherever is your heart, I call home.” -Brandi Carlile
My “perfect right now home” is wherever my family is. Where ever I feel called to be. Where ever gives us the leverage to live our best life. That’s home. It rarely looks perfect. It’s not forever.
If we build something over the next few years, I want it to enable our best life, not steal it away. We would build something that moves us closer to our dreams, not burdens us with so much debt that we have to compromise the life we love.
For us, that home is something that’s easy to rent out long term, easy to Air BnB, easy to live in and wonderful to come home to. A home that sends us out and welcomes us back.