Monday, October 11, 2010

8 Ways a Bigger House Can Cost You

Bigger is better, right?

I mean, we live in a society where that is true in most things. We upsize our value meals; restaurants have increased their portion sizes over time; we like SUVs when we only have 2 children to transport. We've some home come to the "realization" that bigger must be better.

And I too have succumbed to this mindset in so many areas of my life. Including house buying. In the first house that we bought, we had three rooms that were only touched about 2 or 3 times a year. In the current house we have a living room that rarely gets used in any way other than an entry and a spare bedroom (yes, we have guests, but 90% of the year it is unused). It's crazy.

And it's costly.

So many others have figured it out before I have and have downgraded their homes. They have decided to live on less. Not out of necessity, but out of pure choice. To simplify their lives. They have figured out that owning a bigger house costs more. And in many more ways than the obvious. Let's look at eight ways owning a bigger house can stretch your finances.

  1. Purchase Price: Of course more square footage will cost you more up front. This is pretty much a no-brainer, but I had to list the obvious.
  2. Taxes: And certainly a larger house will require more taxes from your city, county, etc. This is really no surprise either, but one that is probably not on the forefront of your mind when buying a home.
  3. Insurance: More area to protect/cover = more costly premiums. This also should be a given, but we don't all think about it going into a purchase.
  4. Furnishing: If you have an extra bedroom that you plan to use as a bedroom for guests, you most likely will still buy a bed for it. A bed that no one sleeps in for the majority of the year. You will probably buy a nightstand, an alarm clock, a lamp, and maybe a dresser as well. That's several hundred dollars that you would not have spent if you didn't feel you needed a guest bedroom.
  5. Cleaning: It's absolutely more costly to clean a bigger house. I don't mean in hiring a maid, although if you do this, you will pay more. I mean in cleaning products and in your time. And you do have to clean those "unused" rooms because dust collects, water in the toilets stain, and dirt from the A/C scatters.
  6. Bills: Heating and cooling a larger home will surely cost more. You can close off vents and close doors to unused rooms, but now your heating/cooling system is not working as it was designed to and you may be putting unnecessary strains on the unit.
  7. Maintenance: Which brings us to maintenance. The more sinks you have, the more possibilities to need to replace a faucet. The larger the AC unit is, the more costly it is to repair.
  8. Clutter: The more walls you have, the more likely you are to buy things to hang on them. The more furniture you have, the more likely you will feel the need to buy some type of decor to accessorized it. And knickknacks not only clutter your home, they clutter your mind too. Have you ever met a collector of all chotchkies? Are they crazy to collect those items or crazy because they have collected those items? I think it is cyclic.

So there it is. My list of ways that buying a larger home can really strain your budget. Some are quite obvious, but some are not clear until you find yourself not wanting to clean those 4 bathrooms every week or change out those 5 light bulbs throughout the bedrooms. Owning a larger home can be a strain--especially when it is totally unnecessary for life.

Photo credit: hcampbellk


  1. When I used to sell real estate, the discussion of price range was so important to so many people. What I ended up pointing out despite what people thought was an affordable price tag, was everything that comes with having a larger home. Basically all the things you pointed out. These were helpful points to share because so many do not think about how their utility bills will figure in, plus adding new furniture, and up-keep.

  2. Thanks, Lisa. I know we didn't consider the big picture fully with either home. Luckily we've never gotten in over our heads, but we would have if we had bought a home at the top of the range that we were approved for!