Enough of the Big Dream Home !

Hi Everyone, after years of dreaming about a big place we finally achieved this 18mths ago after years of hard work. We have a good grip on our loan and quite comfortable with the repayments. :)

We bought our dream home. 4 bedroom+ study, 3 bathrooms, DLUG, inground pool, 1000 sq metre block, private yard backing onto reserve. It's a lovely home.

I am still in the corporate world and a decent income. Wife stays home and looks after our 2 kids (3yr old and new born) full time :)

After 18mths we are however fairly stressed out as the maintenance that goes with our dream home NEVER seems to end. Cleaning pool, vacuuming, hedges, lawn mowing, pruning and general maintenance. Whilst I enjoy doing these things it means I need to sacrifice quality family time and feel it's not doing the kids/ wife any good.

The Mrs and I are starting to realise that we are not in fact spending the quality time we need with our kids as we are always trying to catch up on some maintenance. Is it all really worth it ? :confused: Hmmm.

I have broken down maintenance and looked at outsourcing some of the tasks however it becomes fairly expensive and been quite particular about how things are done I am not sure it will work.

So ... we are considering renting out our PPOR (deductions would be a bonus) and finding a 3 bedder unit until the kids get a bit older. As crazy as this sounds this is the situation we have found ourselves in and just wandering if anyone else has made such a dramatic change going from a big home to a unit ? If so I would be interested in hearing thoughts here. After all life is too short !
 
Hi Success....

I think the underlying problem is not the lack of time with your family but the maintenance?

Personally I could not imagine anything worse than living in a unit with two small children. Do you have any boys?

Do you want anymore children?

Boys need yards and as they get older, it's kicking the ball around the yard or a basketball hoop etc.

Maybe all the responsibility of maintence has been a shock but get the kids in the pool with your wife while you clean it! Your 3 Yr old will be a 5 year old soon enough and will be swimming in the pool freely (assuming you give them lessons!)

A unit is a unit. Extremely restricting and in most cases, claustrophic with small children.

Merely my opinion,

Regards JO
 
So ... we are considering renting out our PPOR (deductions would be a bonus) and finding a 3 bedder unit until the kids get a bit older. As crazy as this sounds this is the situation we have found ourselves in and just wandering if anyone else has made such a dramatic change going from a big home to a unit ? If so I would be interested in hearing thoughts here. After all life is too short !
Certainly did...

And, life IS too short.

Mine was forced upon me a bit with my work redeployment to Brisbane though so was only 50% a conscious decision. But I can now say that I have regained my life. My Sydney house was huge and required constant maintenance of the gardens and the house itself. We're now renting it out and have moved to a small 3 bedroom house in Brisbane. No garden to talk of and a band-aid of a back yard. But it means I do no maintenance on the weekends and we're spending all our time just visiting theme parks, going to kids parties, shopping, gym, parks, cycling and so forth.

We've decided that when (not if) we move back to Sydney, that we'll leave North Narrabeen as an IP and move into one of our Mona Vale units in a far better central location. Super low maintenance, DLUG, modern everything, architect designed and a tiny little yard. Stroll to the cafe strip or to the beach or to Bayview or the golf course (if that's your thing).

Ditch the status symbol and embrace the lifestyle. Life's too short...

Cheers,
Michael
 
My mother always says to me "less is more". I'm learning to understand this and agree with it now (especially when moving also, how much of the crap we buy do we really need?!). When I was in my teens my dream was to one day move out of home and buy the big fancy house. I turned 20 and bought my first home - a decent size 2 bedroom unit with a small yard. More than enough room for one person. Reality hit in then, I had a house to clean (am a bit obsessive) and maintain. Started to then re-think if I ever really did want to have a big fancy home...
Now I live in a small one bedroom apartment and LOVE it, no maintenance, housework is done in just a few hours and the place is always as spotless as I like to keep it. I'm certainly not suggesting move into an apartment with children (my downsizing is one person, not a family), but I certainly can understand the whole keep it simple concept. The time with your children is precious and they grow so fast (I'm watching my niece and nephew grow up at the moment). If you do move into a smaller unit for a few years with limited yard, perhaps find a place near a park and instead of gardening and cleaning the pool, you can take them to the park each day. Then your house is always there to move back to when they're a bit older, but certainly don't sacrifice spending time with your children to have the best of everything. I'm not a parent, but I know you will regret it - you can't buy your time back.
 
Certainly did...

But it means I do no maintenance on the weekends and we're spending all our time just visiting theme parks, going to kids parties, shopping, gym, parks, cycling and so forth.
Michael

This is what I like to hear.

We've decided that when (not if) we move back to Sydney, that we'll leave North Narrabeen as an IP and move into one of our Mona Vale units in a far better central location. Super low maintenance, DLUG, modern everything, architect designed and a tiny little yard. Stroll to the cafe strip or to the beach or to Bayview or the golf course (if that's your thing).

Ditch the status symbol and embrace the lifestyle. Life's too short...

Cheers,
Michael

OK - I am liking this idea more and more.

In a funny kind of wave the situation we are in is certainly making us think harder about what we really want from life and what is important.
 
I don't think you need to give up on the idea or "ditch the status symbol", I just think people need to learn from your experience just how much maintenance is involved, and allow for that when making their purchase decision. Eg. You don't go out and buy a horse without first thinking of food/vet bills, etc.

I still dream of the big (massive) house + gardens, but after walking around Roma St parklands the other day and seeing just how many staff it takes to maintain it, I realised there's no way I'll be purchasing the huge block + gardens until I can comfortably afford a professional gardening service. Same goes for all other maintenance areas, I'm way too lazy to do *any* of it.

Anyway thanks for the eye-opener/reminder Success.
 
I totally hear ya!

I'm currently living in a similiar sized house to you. I'm so over the cleaning. It's about 21 metres from the back of my house to the front door. I usually start cleaning at one end of the house one week, and other end of the house the following week.

I'll be renting out this house in about a year and my next house is about 1/2-2/3 of the size of this one. I'm sticking to approx. 800sqm block though so we can continue growing veges, chooks, etc. and it's great for the kids to explore lizards, bugs, butterflies, etc. and be active.
 
I have broken down maintenance and looked at outsourcing some of the tasks however it becomes fairly expensive and been quite particular about how things are done I am not sure it will work.

If you're particular about the way maintenance tasks will be done when you're living there to supervise them, tenants will probably break your heart. I would stay there, lower my maintenance standards, and get some help for some of the jobs - the ones you don't like.
 
We have a reasonably sized yard (750 sqm block), but have made all gardens totally maintenance free. Takes about 20 minutes to mow the lawns (all straight edges and clear spaces, another 15 or so if the edges are done.

Get a creepy crawley for the pool, make any gardens maintenance free, ditch the hedges and any other high-maintenance garden features. Any lawn areas should be just one expanse, no itty-bitty gardens in the middle.

It will make a huge difference.
Marg
 
The big house is our dream as well (ok more my dream), but even the small house we're in now needs a lot of work to maintain it. I'm not prepared to spend my day off each week doing it, so we pay to have it done both inside and out, will do the same in the big house. Though when we move to the McMansion, the gardens will be easier to maintain thank goodness! :eek:
 
I'm with depreciator. We have a very large house (6 bedrooms, probably 400 - 450 m2), on a 900 m2 lot, but we don't find the maintenance onerous. I think the answer is to just be less fussy. ;)

Lawn - keep to minimum area possible, or plant artificial turf. (New stuff looks amazing!)

Garden beds - choose low maintenance foliage plants, check what the local Council uses. Canna lillies, for example, are used a lot in public spaces, because they provide a huge amount of colour and impact and are very low maintenance.

Cleaning - we used to have a fortnightly cleaner. She got a new job, and we were unable to find a reliable replacement, so we ditched the cleaner. Now we just clean when we think the house needs it, and it's really not that much work.
 
I'm not prepared to spend my day off each week doing it, so we pay to have it done both inside and out, will do the same in the big house.

That's great if you can afford it, but if it means working extra hours to pay for that, then it defeats the purpose of Success's initial problem... wanting to spend more time with his kids.
 
Lawn - keep to minimum area possible, or plant artificial turf. (New stuff looks amazing!)

Garden beds - choose low maintenance foliage plants, check what the local Council uses. Canna lillies, for example, are used a lot in public spaces, because they provide a huge amount of colour and impact and are very low maintenance.

Tracey, I think that's where I must be going wrong! So you're saying we shouldn't have 180m2 of lawn and 25 fully grown 50yo rose bushes? :p
 
You have to lower the garden standards. Trimming hedges and pruning is hard work.

Also, you would be finding it hard right now with a new born and 3 year old. It will get better. In a few years they will be at school.


The biggest time saver I find in the garden is the spray pack with roundup in it. Throw away the wipper-sniper, and do the edges with roundup. Takes just a fraction of the time. It even looks good once it's been done a few times. Do under the trees with it, and even do the garden. I haven't pulled out a weed for years from the garden. Just be carefull if it's too windy. Only use low pressure to keep the drops big. High pressure turns the spray into a mist which makes it hard to control drift.

See ya's.
 
My 'dream house' would be a 4br one on 2000sqm, although I'd take 1000 too. Just for once I want a house with a large space between it and the boundary, since I own two houses with zero space to boundary and my previous house was under 1m from the boundary.

Currently in a VERY small house on 1400sqm, just moved from a large house on 1800sqm but over 1000sqm of that yard is a mow-once-a-year jobbie.

Gardens on both houses are very low maintainence - no lawns, just gravel or paving. No plants that need pruning other than fruit trees. No hedges, just screening shrubs. All the plants are extremely low water use, mulched to the hilt, which also keeps the weeds down. The garden at my old house *never* needs watering.

But at the new house, because it is only half landscaped, I'm growing dozens of plants from seed and cuttings to finish the job. I'm training the almost-2yo to help, and she's getting pretty good at helping around the garden. Why not get the kids involved?

(I also have an 8yo who has absolutely zero interest in anything I have an interest in, unfortunately, but we do manage to force her to feed her rabbit and tadpoles at least once a week. I'm conning her into feeding the rabbit thistles, which gets weeding done AND the rabbit doesn't starve)
 
Don't forget having a new born is a challenge in itself, let alone keeping up with the chores. Even if you had a place half the size, you'd probably still be complaining about trying to keep up.

I'd stick it out for a year or two if this is truly your dream home. Give the cleaner/gardener a try. If you've got lawns the next door neighbours kid will do it on the cheap.
 
we have a big house - small yard.

but we fit a lot in - cubby over rainwater tank, little veggie garden, small chookpen, deck etc.

beach is only a stroll away though, surrounded by parks so really, it's not a huge issue.

cleaning the house is okay i guess. i do the sat morning vacuum and clean the kitchen, my wife does the rest when (if!) she can.

but yes - i long for less house and more yard. it's hard with young kids - you need inside space AND outside space - the older they get, the less inside space you need, as we're discovering.

we're already considering our next move.
 
yep o how i hear you brother we have 700m2 of living and 1798m2 of yards, we get the lawn mowed , and the floors done, cost $50 wk, but when the pool is done, this home will go along with the mortgage, ;)
 
We have lived in a small house and a large house with our two little ones (we moved when they were approx 3 and 1). Big is definately better!

Yes it was hard at first as the youngest wasn't walking and it meant a major family trip just to get out to hang the washing IYKWIM but I gotta say, hang in there...

Once the kids get just that little bit bigger it will all be so worth it. I have found my high standards have dropped in regards to cleanliness but that's more to do with living with toddlers. you learn there is no point mopping the tiles every week when 5 minutes later they are grubby (or someone slips and wails like a banshee :rolleyes:). It's just fine to do that sort of stuff less often.
Hubby is always busy in the garden doing something or other but it's his little way of escaping too. I must admit we did pay a gardener early on and he put in 1/2 day to start it all off so that was money well spent for us.

Remember quality time with the wife and kids isn't all about trips out to zoos, parks and cafes (although that can make a nice 'once off' now and again). Its the daggy times at home when you are hosing them off on a 35 degree evening while they squeal with delight on the trampoline (using tank water ofcourse). This is how my hubby waters the grass (beer in hand as standard).

The big thing for me when the bubs was little was the ironing. Find out the chores you both can't stand the most and pay someone to do them. You might only need to get over the next 6 months or so.

PPl kept telling me and now I'm passing it "Things do get better"
 
Home not a sparkling house!!

Maintenance, particularly outside maintenance is commensurate with what you create. Go native. The best low maintenance property we own has a totally native garden. Not only does it not need continuous maintenance, it attracts the native birds and butterflies and is a delight to both the tenants and neighbours. Three years after it was first planted we have a person in for a day to tidy it by cutting some shrubs away from the walkways. What you may call weeds, in our garden are native grasses etc. The most brilliant thing is that we disconnected the reticulation after two years and have not had to water the garden ever since.:D

Do not coup your children up in a small cage. Remember that they will want to do things outside when you need to be inside. Will you allow them to go to the park without you?? I don't think so. There has to be a balance and you will only get it if the children are able to play outside in the sandpit or shoot hoops or have their friends over for a bit of hide and seek.

Remember that you should never be a slave to your abode, it is somewhere to live and it is totally unnecessary to have everything in it's designated place at all times. You also do not need to disinfect the place every day. Relax, the only person concerned about whether your place looks as tidy as a show home is you. Mostly people will feel out of place in such a house because they would be worried about upsetting you by moving the cushions on the settee. Get a life, live in your home not for it!!:)

We have delivered three well adjusted and balanced children to advance Australia and they were bred and brought up and coached in a home not a house.

Keep your big house, just revisit what you want out of it and do something about it.

Sorry to sound off, but life is too short to be complicated.

Cheers.

Chrisv.
 
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