Why We Refuse To Buy A Bigger House For Occasional Guests

You’ve heard the arguments before. A couple is looking for a new house and they want to make sure their new home can accommodate EVERYTHING. Everything means a formal dining room, a home office, a playroom, and an extra bedroom (and maybe even bathroom) for their occasional out-of-town guests. If this sounds ridiculous to you, thank God! Because, it kinda is. Or, at least it is when you’re on the path to Financial Independence. When Mr. MMM and I set out to buy our dream home in early 2015, we, too, bought into the notion that we needed all this EXTRA SPACE. In fact, I refused to even search Realtor.com for anything less than 3,000 SF. Yes, 3,000 SF was the MINIMUM I was willing to settle for. Thankfully, fate stepped in and gave me a swift kick in the you know what. 

The Appropriate Size

 

Fate comes in many forms. In this case, it came in the form of mold. There was a mold issue with the house we had contracted to buy. A mold issue that was not easily remedied. After countless sleepless nights, Mr. MMM and I decided to pull the plug and re-group. Read all about this fiasco here.

Modern railing

Modern railing after reno

Re-grouping meant we got our heads out of our butts, realized we weren’t in our 20s anymore, and decided to take action to get our financial lives on the right track. And we started with the largest expense we had. Our home. Instead of continuing to search for a 3,000 SF home that would’ve completely derailed our financial future, we decided to love the home we had. We used cash to complete some upgrades and to finish an additional 800 SF of living space in our basement. Ultimately, we were able to take our 1,300 SF home and turn it into a 2,100 SF home with cash we already had. And wow, is it ever gorgeous – at least to us.

These days, we’re cozy in the dream home we created for ourselves, and we’re well on our way to financial independence. Yes!

Wait, back up a minute. In between the 3,000 SF home search and our home renovation – we were still considering moving. However, we had adjusted our expectations based on our goals. One of the biggest factors we decided we weren’t going to do was to buy more house than we needed. We were determined to not fall into the trap of buying a bigger house just so we could host a holiday dinner or the occasional out-of-town guest. Do people actually do that?

In the end, we realized the home we were living in was the home we were searching for. So, we decided to keep love it, not list it. #HGTVfanatic

Let’s look at some of the areas we considered during our journey.

Accommodations For Occasional Guests

 

You have got to be kidding me. Yes, Mr. MMM and I are well aware of how convenient it is to have some extra space in the way of an additional bedroom or two to host occasional out-of-town guests. But I can tell you with 100% certainty that we will never (let me repeat, never) buy more house than we need to meet the lodging needs of occasional visitors to our abode.

Instead of buying a bigger house, maintaining a bigger house, furnishing a bigger house, and paying more taxes over the entire course of ownership, we would rather pay for our occasional guests to stay at a local bed and breakfast or hotel. Or if they’re adventurous, we’re not opposed to pulling out a spare mattress from our storage room and dressing it up with some fresh bedding on the floor in our family room. We have pulled this trick more than once with more than one guest, and let me tell you, it works wonderfully. Everyone is happy and we’re not paying for a bigger house than we need.

With that out of the way, let’s check out some other rooms that Mr. MMM and I decided aren’t necessities for our family…and might not be for yours, either.

Home Office? Eh.

 

Hallway after reno

Our hallway after the reno – a portrait of the original Mad Money Cat hangs in the distance.

Here’s one everyone thinks they need these days. But how many people actually NEED a home office? I am a full-time blogger now (on the side of my full-time W-2 job, of course) and I still get by without a home office. I craft my witty and intellectually-stimulating posts right at my kitchen table – just like I’m doing right now!

On the flip side, Mr. MMM does actually NEED a home office, because he works entirely from home. We finished our basement to include a space just for his daily happenings. He uses it relentlessly and often closes the door so he can work in peace. What can I say, sometimes Mini and I get to be a little much when we’re blabbing away about our days and he’s still entertaining business calls and emails.

That being said, unless you’re working from home on a daily basis, a home office is likely just not necessary. Don’t pay for the added expense. Contrary to popular belief, you can pay bills and shop on Amazon without a dedicated office. Don’t believe the hype 😉

Playroom? No Thanks!

 

This is an interesting one. I am always floored by how many parents think a playroom is absolutely non-negotiable. Growing up, I remember what playrooms used to be called… Bedrooms! There is no way any child needs an additional room for all their stuff. Mini has never had a dedicated playroom. She has always played with her toys in whatever room we were in. I’m fairly certain children just want to be around their parents and sibs – at least that’s how it works in our neck of the woods.

Formal Dining Room? No Thanks!

 

This is another one that we have forgone. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be absolutely wonderful to have a beautiful dining room with all the trimmings. But, I do know that for the few times of year we would use such a room, it isn’t worth the added cost. We do just fine using our kitchen table and long pub table in our family room when we host holidays for up to 20 people. Yep, we comfortably host upwards of 20 people without a formal dining room. And, we do it well!

Formal Living Room? No Thanks!

 

Mad Money Cat - buying a house

Mad Money Cat lives large, regardless of SF.

This was an easy one for us. We just don’t seem to be sophisticated enough to appreciate such a space. Instead, we prefer great rooms over formal living rooms.

And I’m pretty sure we’re not alone in our thought process here, since the majority of families use their formal living rooms for a home office or playroom! Oh, snap.

So, what did we miss? Have you ever purchased a home that was too big for your needs? Or, did you purchase only the space you needed? Or, do you completely disagree with us? Regardless of where you pitch camp, we’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

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27 comments… add one
  • Melanie May 23, 2017, 1:15 am

    Haha! I could totally relate to this post. My boyfriend and I are totally opposite. I’m the type that would be screw the extra space, I ain’t doing extra cleaning. Unfortunately, I lost that battle and we ended up with a big house that has 4 bedrooms and 2 and half baths. Seriously. Guess who got stuck with all the cleaning >_<

    • Mad Money Monster May 24, 2017, 12:16 pm

      Oh no! Well, you can’t win ’em all 😉

  • Jacq May 19, 2017, 6:59 pm

    When I moved out of a high COL state, a 2 bedroom apt here was only $30 more per month than what I had been paying. I was under the impression people would visit me more. I’m lucky if I get 1 visitor a month. I bought a condo last year and everyone touted ‘3 bedrooms for resale’. In the end I’m in an area I like and feel safe, where I could afford, and the commute is reasonable. My ideal future house is a ‘tiny house ‘ & my plan for guests is a bedroll, or I’ll be saving so much living tiny I can put them up in a local hotel. 🙂 Even when people visit, there’s a great downtown so I don’t cook / entertain for a weekend visit. My mom stayed for a week and a half, so I cooked, but there is plenty of space for 2 people.
    When I was a kid we would go to my grandparents house for holiday dinners and with everyone, sure entertaining spaces was needed, but we’be gotten away from that. Dad’s side of the family may hold a summer outing (picnic tables on site), & a winter family gathering where the solution is card tables and folding chairs are brought as necessary. You nosh and eat in shifts if you need to.
    It’s definitely best to live your live for your immediate family, vs the occasional guests & large party.

    • Mad Money Monster May 21, 2017, 3:25 pm

      Absolutely! I just can’t wrap my head around buying more house than necessary to accommodate occasional guests. As you said, you figure it out – even if you have to eat in shifts. 🙂

  • earlyretirementnow May 18, 2017, 10:04 am

    Great post! Couldn’t agree more. This always gets my blood boiling when I see the “house hunter” shows on HGTV. 20-something-year-olds who search for an apartment in the city but insist on having 2 rather than 1 bedroom because someone might come and visit. Why spend 1000s more per year for that when there’s Airbnb? Or a sofa?
    The other “favorite” quote from the show: “we want space for entertaining” Translation: “conspicuous consumption” or “showing off”
    We had 30+ guests in our small condo. And they all enjoyed the entertainment.

    • Mad Money Monster May 18, 2017, 11:48 am

      Oh my gosh…you made me laugh out loud! I couldn’t agree with you more. Yes, having space for out-of-town guests and entertaining is just ridiculous – especially when you have a shoestring budget and you’re fresh out of college. Makes me chuckle.

  • Elle May 18, 2017, 8:42 am

    I love this! We made that mistake with our first place and had some wasted space.

    I think looking at how you use your house day to day will give you a better idea of what you really need and enjoy.

    We downsized into our new home, but oddly enough it feels bigger. I think the layout fits us so much better. We have a half done basement downstairs, but the eventual plan is to turn that into an apartment (aka income stream).

    • Mad Money Monster May 18, 2017, 9:18 am

      Ooh! I LOVE the idea of a basement apartment. I really wish we could do that!

  • Nadine Perry May 16, 2017, 2:12 pm

    Great article! Less space = less stuff = simple living. I scaled down from 3600 SF to 1600 SF foot. I am not a slave to my yard, or spend my entire weekend cleaning and picking up which basically means moving my stuff from one room to another.

    I use to say, “Housekeeping won’t kill you but why take the chance.” now I say “Stop Buying It”

    Nadine

    • Mad Money Monster May 17, 2017, 8:32 pm

      Haha! I love your saying about housekeeping. I’m going to have to use that one!

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach May 16, 2017, 9:58 am

    This reminds me of my parent’s house in Michigan. Granted the house was super inexpensive (Michigan) and they could afford it and then some, but they have this giant living room/dining room that NO ONE ever uses! They could have easily added another bedroom because when they do have guests and I happen to want to come home at the same time, they can’t have me over because there is no place to sleep. BTW, totally not true. They have a beautiful finished basement with a couch that would easily work but they wouldn’t dream of that. I find that most people’s second bedrooms turns into a storage closet for “stuff.”

    • Mad Money Monster May 16, 2017, 11:35 am

      It sounds like your parents definitely have a gorgeous house. It’s a shame they wouldn’t “let” you crash on couch. That almost seems foreign to me. Haha!

      Yeah, I’ve seen many a spare bedroom turned into a closet/junk room. It’s such a waste of space and money.

  • StArkansas Steveark May 14, 2017, 7:59 pm

    This is such a cool post! 38 years ago my new bride and I bought a 1400 sq ft house. It was very inexpensive but it was ours and we could afford the payments and still save aggressively. Now decades later it is still our only house. Five major cash flowed renovations have it at 2800 sq ft and with a second story and it was perfect for raising our three children to adulthood. If anything it is way too big now but sometimes we’ve taken in a young person needing nearly free housing and have a couple of extra almost daughters now because of that. We are financially independent and early retired now, partly because we haven’t had house payments in many years. Sure I have friends with much bigger and more expensive houses than mine who made half what I did and whose net worth is tiny compared to mine. But I have a home full of memories and financial independence and the same incredibly wonderful bride!

    • Mad Money Monster May 16, 2017, 11:31 am

      That is an AMAZING story. Congratulations on staying the course and not jumping in and out of different houses. It’s unbelievable how quickly that can destroy someone’s financial future!

  • Anonymous May 14, 2017, 7:58 pm

    This is such a cool post! 38 years ago my new bride and I bought a 1400 sq ft house. It was very inexpensive but it was ours and we could afford the payments and still save aggressively. Now decades later it is still our only house. Five major cash flowed renovations have it at 2800 sq ft and with a second story and it was perfect for raising our three children to adulthood. If anything it is way too big now but sometimes we’ve taken in a young person needing nearly free housing and have a couple of extra almost daughters now because of that. We are financially independent and early retired now, partly because we haven’t had house payments in many years. Sure I have friends with much bigger and more expensive houses than mine who made half what I did and whose net worth is tiny compared to mine. But I have a home full of memories and financial independence and the same incredibly wonderful bride!

  • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance May 12, 2017, 12:02 pm

    I’m glad you guys decided to renovate your house instead of spending more on a bigger one. I also have the dilemma of hosting guest sometimes. We have a medium-sized house. But it’s a great layout with lots of rooms, so they can stay in a small guest bed when they come visit.

    • Mad Money Monster May 12, 2017, 1:47 pm

      We are glad we went the renovation route too. I can’t imagine closing out that huge house and being financially burdened for the next 30? years. Ugh. Sounds like you guys are doing it right! Congrats on that!

  • Lindsay | Notorious D.E.B.T. May 12, 2017, 10:25 am

    YAAAAS! I never did understand the whole guest room thing. I’ve been thankful to take advantage of them when visiting family, but I would never expect that from them. To me, the idea of a guest room ranks right up there with a timeshare or a second vacation home. Really?? Come on people, haha.

    • Mad Money Monster May 12, 2017, 1:46 pm

      I know! I, obviously, completely agree with you 😉

  • Dads Dollars Debts May 12, 2017, 9:25 am

    We bought a 3200 sqft house and have about a 1000 sqft more then we need. There is a formal room in the front we put our old couch in and never use. There is the dining room which is less convenient then having a table in the kitchen, and there is a 4th bedroom we never use. Right now it is storage. We don’t even need the storage because we are good at decluttering….

    Alas, I say at least 5 years here and then we can reassess. At that point we will know how many kids we have, etc.

    • Mad Money Monster May 12, 2017, 1:46 pm

      Ha! Yes, we currently have an extra bedroom because we’re planning on (hopefully) one more child 🙂

      Square footage really can get out of hand, especially when we buy what we’re expected to buy!

  • Gwen @ Fiery Millennials May 12, 2017, 8:58 am

    Growing up in the wealthy suburb that I did, my view of housing was completely skewed. I was ashamed of our “small” house and never had anyone over. My friends had houses that were over 5,000 sq ft where we “only” had 3500 sq ft. The first place I lived after college was 1500 sq ft and I thought that was small….. until I moved in and realized I didn’t need all that space for one person! I’ve been downsizing ever since (maybe a bit too far this time into 250 sq ft but at least it’s free!). PS I LOVES THE FLOOF!

    • Mad Money Monster May 12, 2017, 1:44 pm

      Awe…thanks for the FLOOF Love! We have 2! Yeah, I had the same inadequacy complex growing up. Our house was a trailer and my friends lived in nice suburban houses. This is the exact reason I wanted that 3,000 SF house! Thankfully something happened over the last few years. I got over myself and realized what was really important. F.I.R.E!

      That’s awesome you’re living in 250 SF. Wow, I dream of being able to do that. And it’s free! I’m so jealous 🙂

  • BrokeAsB May 12, 2017, 8:04 am

    This is WONDERFUL!! I’m so excited someone wrote about this because I am so sick of getting crap from my parents about not having another bedroom when they visit. They come 1 or 2 times a year MAYBE. I almost always visit them. My brother and his friends will also come once a year so that’s 2-3 times a year I would be using to justify hundreds of extra dollars in rent?? Nope. Not happening. Never. Great post!

    • Mad Money Monster May 12, 2017, 1:41 pm

      Yep! So glad I’m not alone in this line of thinking!

  • Danielle @ The Pennies We Saved May 12, 2017, 7:54 am

    FIRST OF ALL…3000 SQ FT!? LOL dreamy, ain’t it!? haha!! Right now we are in a 1900 SQ FT home…although I would not mind a larger home, it does the job. We have four bedrooms, one of which is currently a guest room (which will become another nursery if we ever have another kid)…and the other is a gym. It feels complete. And I am with ya on the “formal” rooms…ridiculous!

    • Mad Money Monster May 12, 2017, 1:40 pm

      Sounds like you’re using ALL the space – which is awesome. Most people are paying for wasted space.

      As far as formal…Ha! Who needs that?! 🙂

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