5 Things We'll Always Cherish About a Starter Home

An ode to owning your first house.

Deer Run SL house plan
Photo: Southern Living

While some of us dreamt about our weddings growing up, I've always dreamed about owning my first house. Perhaps it was falling in love with the home in It's a Wonderful Life with its infamous loose banister knob. The imperfection and the care that went into restoring it from decrepit to delightful is an inspiration to anyone wishing to make a place a home.

But starter homes are few and far between these days. The market is the most competitive it has been in decades, and higher standards brought on by home improvement shows, and social media make it hard to accept a fixer-upper at such a high price. However, with rent prices also escalating, the idea of home ownership becomes more and more tempting. Here are the things we'll always love about the charm of first homes—whether they continue to be a dream or (fingers crossed) an eventual reality.

Smaller Homes are Cozier and Easier to Clean

Starter homes are typically smaller, especially in the current market—condos, townhomes, and houses with two bedrooms are the sweet spot. Before you mistrust the word "cozy" as a euphemism for "cramped," consider how smaller spaces call for more purposeful design. With less floorplan to work with, your focus is narrowed in on the details, like the perfect throw pillow or candle scent to curate a vibe worthy of an Insta post. Also, less space means less upkeep! When you don't have to maintain a bunch of rooms, you can stay on top of cleaning a lot easier—plus, you'll save money by needing fewer cleaning supplies and equipment.

It's the Traditional Path to Adulthood

Starter homes will always hold a special place in our hearts because it's the American Dream—buying your first house! According to the New York Times, nearly three-quarters of Americans find owning a home a sign of prosperity—compared to career, family, and college. Home ownership allows you to put down roots in a community, and even if you're not the "get-to-know-your-neighbor" type, the feeling of permanence can be quite calming. It also means no more negotiating and renewing leases! Finally, you can invest in your space and use words like "invest" because now you're an adult.

Owning Property is a Still Considered a Good Investment

According to Forbes, buying a house is a good idea if you're interested in that sweet, sweet equity. What's equity? It is the difference between what your home is worth and how much mortgage you need to pay. We like equity because it means you can build personal wealth as the value of your house increases over time and what you owe on your mortgage goes down. And who doesn't want more wealth?

The Chance to Really Start Fresh

While a fixer-upper may seem intimidating, this is the opportunity to build the home of your dreams (and will most likely pay off in the long run). If you're willing to roll up your sleeves and break out the paint cans, you can tackle cosmetic changes and bring your unique touch to the place.

Remember, you'll want to keep in mind your overall budget and skills—heed warnings from the contractors on your favorite HGTV show to avoid surprises like the "weight-bearing" wall you didn't expect. If you like the layout and bones of the place, there's a lot of joy to be found in DIY.

There is Room(s) for Error

Your first home is just the beginning; it doesn't have to be your dream home. Whether you want a bigger house someday or an open layout kitchen, this is a great way to practice how to manage all of the intricacies of house ownership. You'll learn who to call when you no longer have access to a building maintenance team. You might even pick up a new hobby, like woodworking from the garage or gardening in the yard. A starter home might be the beginning of your Wonderful Life.

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