Are you thinking of downsizing? Is buying that big house and living the "American dream" not for you? Get an inside look to why we built our dream home and then ended up selling it 1 year later. We decided traveling, memories, experiences, and people were more important to us than putting most our money and time into something made of brick and mortar.
For those who have been following Abroad with Ash the last few months this post is going to seem a bit different. Today I’m taking a more personal route. I want to talk through why Jake and I built our dream house and then sold it one year later. I hope this post will help others learn from our experience and offer a different perspective from what the typical “American dream” is and why it may not be for you.
This weekend Jake and I are moving from the “dream house” we built 1 year ago into an apartment a fraction of the size. And guess what, we are pumped about it! I would have never thought I would be saying that when we started the process of building this house.
To give a little back story, we fell into an opportunity with a builder to construct a new home in a highly sought-after area in the middle of Dallas, Texas. We jumped at the chance with barely a second thought. Who would think twice at the opportunity to capitalize on the American dream? Big house, nice neighborhood, great schools, etc.? After all, we were in our early 30’s and this seemed to be what most married couples our age were doing. Nearly 6 months of planning and designing were poured into this house. The big move date comes and we get settled and comfortable. We sit back and think, look at us, we are following the path we are supposed to as a responsible, married couple. Wrong!
Fast forward 8 months later when we returned from our latest trip abroad to Morocco. We come home and look at each other thinking, “What on earth are we doing in this house with extra space we don’t need?” We started discussing what is truly important to us, and quickly realized that our desires were not the norm for couples our age. As we talk, we notice and point out all the “things” we have accumulated to fill our house and duly note the money we wasted on “stuff”. Materialism had nested. And honestly, it made us sick. Quite the humbling experience. The more we have traveled over the years, the more our hearts have been opened to learn that we don’t want our lives to be defined by “stuff” and we never want to put ourselves in a position where our attachment to “things” holds us back in life.
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We discussed the importance of having our lives be defined by experiences, relationships, memories, and touching other peoples’ lives. And that is when we decided that the “American dream” wasn’t for us and that it was time to sell the house that we thought would bring us so much joy. Many people probably view selling our home and moving into a small apartment as a step backwards, but we viewed it as our first big step in the right direction. We chose to say goodbye to our attachment with worldly things and began focusing on actually living! After all, we are only given one life. We want to spend that life focusing on travel, learning, opening our minds, hearts and eyes, and people…not holed up in a house built of brick and mortar.
Two weeks after our first discussion, the house was on the market. We walked through each room and decided what needed to be sold or donated. To our surprise, the joy of downsizing was exponentially higher than the joy of buying! To prove that we weren’t going to let ourselves be emotionally attached to things of no importance was empowering. Within a few short weeks our 4 bedroom house was emptied. We kept the essentials we would need in the apartment and said goodbye to everything else.
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I am beyond thankful that Jake and I learned our lesson to not blindly follow what is “normal” or what everyone else is doing. We got sucked into being so busy with work and life that we never spent much time really, and I mean really, thinking about what is important to us. We fell into the trap of assuming we should do this or that because “that’s what’s next” in life.
I don’t regret building our dream house and selling it 1 year later. We learned that we weren’t any happier living in this perfect, brand new house compared to our 1950’s home or our first apartment. We learned that freedom was more important to us than being tied down to a home that not only comes with high financial costs, but is also a time and money suck with all the upkeep.
We all need to slow down every now and then and think hard about what is important to us. If investing and building memories in a home is what’s truly important to you, then that is absolutely great! I am beyond happy for my friends and family that find joy in making their house a home. But for Jake and I, and maybe for some of you reading this, there may be a different path that is calling you, and that’s ok too. Embrace whatever path speaks to you and don’t be afraid to choose the path less traveled.
More information to come on our future plans, the financial models Jake built to paint a clear picture on the cost to own vs. rent, and how we downsized.
Ash love this and your heart. Michael and I have the same conversations. Thank you for sharing your story!
Ashley Friemel says
Thank you so much Ashleigh, that really means a lot! I hope this post inspires others to think outside the box and that it’s OK if your path may not be the “norm”.
Jenny Stimson says
I feel the same way Ashley! And I’ve felt so ashamed feeling this way. It’s nice to know others feel this way too. My husband and I bought our first home 5 months ago and it’s been nothing but a money pit. We’ve spent every weekend working on updates and repairs to the house instead of traveling and exploring and because of that it’s been so taxing on our relationship. I’m so excited for you! All the best.
Ashley Friemel says
You are not alone! We are constantly told that owning a house is “what’s next” and the “responsible thing to do”. But home ownership doesn’t make sense for everyone! Once we put the numbers to the test in Jake’s financial model it was clear renting was the way to go. We moved into a small apartment this weekend and will be saving SO MUCH money for travel and other things that are important to us. We learned we aren’t the type of people to stay put in our house. We are always traveling, meeting friends, working in coffee shops, etc. Why would we spend all this money and time on a house we are never in? I wish you luck in figuring out what makes the most sense for you!