We purchased our first home eight years ago, just before we were married (I can hardly believe I've really been married this long!). It was a small, modest two-bedroom house. The total space was 70 sq.m., and some of it was taken up by a corridor and a utility room, so the actual living space was a lot less. The kitchen was old and crumbling. The yard was a blanket-sized space in front of the house, and another such space at the back, most of it taken up by a clothesline. It was located in a street of other such houses all squeezed in close (too close) together.
Still, we were excited, because this was our own home, and we could afford to buy it outright, without a mortgage. It wasn't perfect, but we made the most of it. There were great big grape vines at the back of the house, and they produced the sweetest grapes I've ever tasted, with skins so thin they nearly popped in the mouth on their own. We planted things in the little garden. We even built a tiny chicken coop for our first-ever chicks.
A bird on that old grape vine. How I loved it.
Because we were operating on such a tight budget at first, we moved in without making any improvements to the house, thinking we'd do that later, when there's more money (it never happened; three years later, we moved to a different neighborhood). Usually I'm all for being frugal and doing without what you can't afford, but there are some things I wish we had splurged on, things that are a lot more convenient to do before you've moved in, and which cost very little, compared to buying a house, such as:
- Painting the walls - goes without explanation. The walls in our house were rather dark which, together with the little space, gave a feeling of being cramped.
- Changing the locks - again, doesn't cost much and provides a lot more security.
- Installing a fence - since our neighbors were so close to us, having a fence would have given us a lot more privacy.
- Changing the kitchen cabinet doors - they were really crummy, and this made me feel a little dejected every time I went into the kitchen.
- Fixing water damage - the house foundations weren't high enough to give protection from floods and rain, and there was quite a bit of damp and mold we figured we'd deal with later, but never have.
One thing we never compromised on, wherever we lived, is having a good security system. Since we live in the Shomron, we soberly face the fact that we must be concerned about more than robbers. Thankfully, through my husband's connections we were able to get excellent security cameras (for free), and in our last two homes we've had dogs as well. In the past we also got motion detectors, but these cause a lot of false alarms when you live in an area with roaming wild animals such as wild boar and deer. The combination of security cam + good guard dog is the best, I think.
If and when we go to a new home again, I hope we remember these little lessons, and make our home as nice and comfortable for our family, with as little inconvenience as possible, before we move in.