How big a home is best for you depends on area housing stock economics and whether you really are ready for a Murphy bed or farm house sized kitchen.
There are pros and cons for tiny homes, larger housing floor plans and it is a personal choice. But what about the local area real estate options and pricing in a state as vast as Maine? Is it best for a home on wheels or a big smashing Victorian house in Maine that works best for your real estate needs?
For starters, the average price of a home in Northern Maine weighing in at $71,000 and reality that the SAME home would fetch $210,000 in Southern Maine. That fact alone makes the folks in the market for a Maine house do a quick check of their finances. Before considering the plus and minus evaluation of what size home is best for me.
Debt ratios, how much of your income can go to housing and the associated maintenance to carry the sticks and bricks. Spending habits, not just your income shows where your priorities are when opening up the wallet or purse wide to pay for daily expenditures. Saving for kids to attend college impacts how high a house price range you filter the real estate search when just sneaking a peek at what is currently for sale in your market.
If 28% of your income or less should be dedicated to housing, there is one ceiling in place on what you plan to buy today for a house of any size.
If housing stock is larger in rural Maine, those homes cost less and are more plentiful. Yes, more to heat and a bigger square footage for maintenance, to clean, but cheaper than plopping down a starting price of $46,000 for a tiny home on a trailer that are out there.
Micro housing, the proponents brag up you will save on utilities, less to heat and cool. That smaller castles mean time freed up for other endeavors besides cleaning and maintenance keeping the house straight and sound. If you live a couple blocks from a gym, why would you need the corner den or space in the cellar rec room for a treadmill or stair stepper? In rural Maine, your “gym” is outdoor exercise cutting, stacking, splitting wood to heat your home. Or climbing on a tractor to plow the back field to get it ready for spring planting. Or maybe the all out aerobics of producing square or round bales of hay to feed your own livestock and the animals of others with whatever is tucked away in your barn. For a methodical draw from the deposits as the calendar pages cycle through from fall, winter, another spring in Maine.
Larger homes in Maine, what space is used for when there is extra to go around? Home schooling desks, wall charts, science labs and the reading resource library. Or work from the home office space where the Internet connection allows telecommuting. In laws living in the converted farm house shed or Victorian home carriage house. Or using a series of water front or rustic wood camps seasonally before the move south. To places you won’t need a snow shovel or an windshield ice scraper.
The open outdoor and glassed in porches one more common space for more family members to consider hanging out or shelling peas, sipping coffee on. Renting out the extra space for Airbnb or to provide areas for exchange students or to run an inn, a Maine B&B.
The US Census uncovered that the average size of a house in this country is 2657 square feet.
How do you fit into that statistic? Maine is not a state flush with cash, or filled with residences that boast three bedrooms but eight bathrooms. That’s HGTV west coast Hollywood talking. Could you pare it all down and squeeze into a tinier you 500 square foot leaner, greener four walls? They say smaller, tiny homes mean less decorating, force you not to accumulate so much. Tips for moving what and when regardless we hammered out in an earlier real estate blog post on relocating to Maine. The local Amish settlements produce small buildings that many use as “tiny homes” that get modified by the owner. Lots of folks for vacation or homesteading combine more than one Amish storage shed to make them into living area. Here is another Maine tiny home link.
There was a time in the early 1980’s when the Farmer’s Home Administration (FmHA) made the decision to lighten the load. Of housing stock 1400 square foot or larger that came into foreclosure inventory. And that was to be financed for a dollar down and the 33 year loan with 396 payments. The subsidized housing program shifted to a ranch style 1008 square foot goal that was one floor, insulated to the hilt. And the folks buying them made to look hard at their housing budget to make sure they were taught economics 101 to hang onto the home not lose it to come back to Uncle Sam in foreclosure.
The 1400 square foot houses that were priced low, financed for 10% down for a ten year loan were so cheap to buy. That it allowed the new home owner of a foreclosed home to have money left over from the payment load to channel it into whatever maintenance the big and beautiful housing stock required to be ship shape.
Or to fix up, flip and move on up the real estate housing food chain. To try on something different for the house around them. To adapt to a new to them home with a different set of features, size and location that worked best at the time for whatever life cycle they swam in today. Your real estate needs change and not just because you use a walker to get around or the chicks have flown the coop. Divorce, death, disease and on a brighter note promotions, more stork deliveries can cause the itch that needs to be scratched to make the move to something new and different. To impact your quality of life. Being self-sufficient working on fencing, puttering on farm buildings from hen houses to tractor sheds and storage barns.
Home too large, a big house scaring you from purchase? Consider an income generating apartment in one section and if you ask lots of questions going in, you can get a quality renter for the rental portion of the down sized home. Also tax deduction write offs because a portion of maintenance, maybe heating, other items can be used to sweeten the renting out part of your Maine home.
Do you run the roads, do you entertain at home, do you enjoy sitting in a den in front of a roaring fire? In a kitchen rocker not far from a wood cook stove?
Are the kids on every sport’s team known to man and summer camps, year round tune up clinics are part of your daily experience? Is being home a joy or torture? Are you anxious, feeling like you are missing out on something that is not happening in your own backyard? Had it up to here with neighbors? Or long for a few good ones? Would you consider buying then tearing down the house next to you if it came up for sale? Or approaching the neighbor on the other side of the eye sore to purchase it together and have it hauled away with the remaining house lot split down the middle. For one less neighbor in the hood.
Where the house in Maine is big or small or somewhere in between. To add a water front element. To have a view, to add to the property acreage to own fields, pasture, your own wood lot to heat the house. Or the option to add on easily with a pay as you go, DIY using some bartering skills. Beyond the size, features in a Maine house you can afford to enhance your lifestyle is a big part of why you might want to move. To experience living in a yesteryear grand old larger home in small rural Maine is possible where the same elegance in an urban area is not so common and priced out of reach.
Formal dinners at home, not at Bonanza sliding a plastic cafeteria tray with triangular numbers riding on them or dining on the daily special at Governors or a Pat’s Pizza.
Using a butler’s pantry, the servant’s corner nooks and crannies, overseeing the canning and preserving operation in the summer kitchen. Sneaking up hidden rear stairway passages. Watching your cat bask in the stained glass natural lighting spilling on the floor where he or she naps. Wainscoting, raised panel ceilings, tin, marble, granite, exotic maintained or not patterned multi toned woods of all kinds. Using the upstairs sleeping porch on a hot summer night.
Converting the walk up attic space into a teenager’s hideaway or media room. Drawing from the root cellar provisions and wood just the size of the heating chamber it feeds through out the day and night. As Old Man Winter loses his gas. And Jack Frost packs up his weather tools for another year. And the early flowers poke their heads through the ground signaling spring is knocking. Bring out the porch furniture, refill the gas grill canister. Service the lawnmower. Fill those driveway potholes and re-hang the rain gutters.
Or on your knees in the spiritual flower beds and tasty vegetable gardens. Enjoying bird feeders, your pets of all sizes with space to hang out in and outside of home. Why you live where you do and was it inherited, where you grew up? Or a house that Jack built without a large mortgage hanging around your neck. Built slowly calling in favors and watching you tube videos on house construction. Tapping into skills honed back in shop class. But the table saw in the living room for years until the housing project turned the corner at least. And earlier work is time to replace because the kid’s grew up and out they went. It’s been a couple decades filtering out of the hour glass revolutions. What size house is best for you if you relocated to Maine or already live here but thinking of changing it up when the real estate market is favorable?
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