The biggest financial mistake many otherwise successful people make is falling in love with a house.
I’ll give an example from my own life. Before I bought a house, when I would go on vacation, I would usually try to stay in a pretty nice hotel. I figured, there’s no reason to even go on vacation unless I’m at least going to stay in a nice place.
I remember clearly once when I went to New York City, my favorite city, and I had a hotel room way up near the top of the building. It had an incredible view of the city. I stood on the balcony of my room, looked out over the city and thought, “Now this feels like power. This is what success feels like.”
I thought, “It must be amazing to be wealthy enough to own a place where you have this kind of a view all the time.” And I figured that would be something I would need in a house.
Fortunately, before I bought a house, I rented a place with a balcony view of Seattle. And the first couple of nights, it was amazing.
But soon I realized I wasn’t going out on the balcony unless I had guests over.
A few months after I started renting, I noticed that the view didn’t mean anything to me at all. I had already seen it.
See, when you go on vacation, the view is new. You haven’t seen it before. But if it’s the place you live, then for many of us, we get to the point where we don’t even notice familiar things any more. Once the view is familiar, it doesn’t matter.
But the amount of time it takes to commute to work? You’ll notice that. Every day. Every. Single. Day.
Maybe you are different from me. Maybe you really would enjoy and appreciate the view from the balcony every day. In that case, get a house with a view! But no matter who you are, there is going to be a difference between how you feel about something when it is new and exciting, and how you feel about it once you’ve lived it every single day for a few years.
And this is the problem with “falling in love” with a house when you are home-searching. The things that are amazing and impressive when you have only seen a place once or twice are not necessarily the things you’re going to keep noticing if you live there.
The quality of the local schools, the length of your commute, how much time you have to spend fixing the house, the neighbors, the organization of the rooms–these things you’re going to keep noticing.
And the mortgage payment. It’s hard to overlook that.
One final memory. When I was travelling once I stayed at the home of a friend who was quite successful, and owned a giant house on tall hill on an island. Just beautiful. As I was turning in for the night, I saw her husband seated in front of the TV. How much difference is there between the actual experience of watching that TV in a that gorgeous home, and watching TV in any other room, in any other home?