Monday, September 21, 2009

Wanting What You Have

I have fine tuned the end dates for the mortgages -- June & Sept 2012. Barring any quadrupling of interest rates, we ought to get there OK.

D and I discussed the concept of value in our real estate holdings this weekend at the cottage.

Our recent foray to some open houses has helped me appreciate the amount of value we have in our properties.

For example, the one house I liked in one of my "dream" places to live was asking $410000, down from $439000 as the owner had bought elsewhere and needed to sell.

For an older brick house (80 yrs old), it was very nice. Compared to ours, it doesn't compare too well. It didn't have a garage or a main floor bathroom and the bedrooms were smaller. The walls were also still in plaster, which mean fairly high heating bills to me. It didn't give the "solid" feel that ours give off as it is triple brick thick. Though the multi-level deck, porch, kitchen and garden were gorgeous.

We have gotten used to having the original wide plank floors, having the walls redone in drywall and insulated and the architectural features re-integrated afterwards. Also, we have been spoiled with an attached 1 1/2 car garage, 2 fireplaces, main floor laundry and shower.

Those aren't features you see in a house built in 1854. Add to that 2 staircases going upstairs and one from the garage to the basement, it is hard to beat. We feel it is a great mix of old and new. And it cost $125000 less.

D found a listing last week of a possible cottage closer than our current location by 2 hrs. After dropping off our stuff home yesterday, we took off to check it out the location before getting in contact with any Realtors.

For those familiar with Ontario, the body of water it is off of is Lake Huron. Our cottage is off of Georgian Bay (part of Lake Huron but farther north).

The drive took no time at all and was really easy. The price of it is $100000 more than we paid for our cottage 5 years ago. So was there enough value to justify the increase expense?


The beach was smaller and that part of Lake Huron required break walls along the length of the beach due to erosion issues. It takes away from the feeling of space and expanse that I like to see. Also, you are looking at horizon. There isn't anything interesting geographically.

Where we are, you are looking at hills, rock and the sand is clean without pebbles. It gives off a rougher, harsher feel of open water. It suits me more.

So we started our day yesterday at a beach and ended our day at one. Fun stuff.

The house itself was great. It was straight out of a fairy tale. An English cottage with a detached garage. It is more of a house than a cottage and as tempting as it is to want more luxurious accommodations and lifestyle options it will not work for us.

I wanted a cottage for its environment. The living standards were not going to match our main house but it wasn't supposed to. I bought it for the sand, rock and water and for Ontario, it doesn't come much better than there. Those of you who are fans of Tom Thompson (Group of Seven) will know what I mean. So for $100000 less, we have great value.

When the hunt for our ski condo came about, I was overwhelmed at first with the number of options out there.

My initial choices were something in Colorado as I had great memories of Beaver Creek and Vail or Montana because I love it there. The logistics of getting there (plane and car) made these options not as appealing. Plus, in order to afford there, we would be looking at a timeshare instead of out right ownership.

Eventually we wanted to spend the entire season skiing so that would mean a number of timeshares. That didn't appeal at all. Europe would have been awesome but again the flight and transfers would not make it easy. It isn't easy to find something much less than a 2 1/2 - 3 hr from an airport. Driving in the middle of the winter in unfamiliar mountain terrain isn't my idea of fun. So the next step was to look in my own country.

Fractional ownership is pretty popular here. I means you "own" it for say 5 weeks plus a year depending on what plan you buy. The issue I have is that the 5 weeks are spread out and changes every year. I don't like being told when I get to go. Plus you cannot really take advantage of seat sales.

The place we found is truly a diamond. It is under 1 hr from the airport with well run shuttles so we wouldn't have to drive. It is non commercial even though it is the 2nd largest in BC. And we can own outright for the price of a fractional. It is an older solid building and cost the most per square foot ($300) of anything we own so luckily we don't need a lot of space.

We are 8000 ft up and some mornings, we wake up with views above the cloud line. I love it there. It doesn't matter that we don't have in unit laundry or a full size fridge or stove. We do fine with our bar fridge (we go to the market daily), cook top, toaster oven (we are thinking of upgrading to a convection one), indoor grill, microwave and shared building laundry.

I have a nasty habit of thinking that I haven't done enough and I didn't make the best purchase decisions. As much as I hate to admit it, D dragging me off to see these places has made me see that that is not the case. We have done well for us and I can now just enjoy it without questioning myself over and over again. It has been a well needed lesson for me.


  1. Count your many blessings, Yes, and want what you have, it's really just perfect!

  2. Hi John;

    Yes it is. I'm very glad to finally see that.