Calling all Oppo homeowners – interested in your opinions. Within the next six months, my wife and I will be buying our first home together. We live in the righteously cheap state of North Carolina, so you can buy a lot of house for your dollar. Cost obviously escalates for more desirable neighborhoods and bigger/nicer houses. My wife refuses to live in a house farm (neighborhood where the land was razed and nearly identical houses are plunked everywhere), so it’s unlikely we’ll be considering anything new or building. 

Our budget according to the bank is a lot more than we’re willing to spend, so we’re sort of at a crossroads. We can get a home that’s more along the lines of a “starter” in the $200k range and even do something like a 15 year note on it, so it would be getting paid down in a hurry. The only issue there is that it would be something that wouldn’t be as nice, probably a little further on the outskirts of town and minimal room for appreciation. 

Conversely, we could go towards the higher end of what we’re willing to spend and look in the $300-350k neighborhood. These would be “forever” houses and would obviously tax our budget a little more and would require a 30 year mortgage. 

I guess my question to my fellow Opponauts is whether you faced a similar decision and how it panned out? If you could do it again, would you go cheaper to save money and possibly build equity faster? Or would you go for a house that could be the one you keep long-term, even if it costs you substantially more? 

If we buy a “starter” I’d like it to be one we could stay in for 10 years, which means it would be at a minimum 2/3’s paid off at that point. Then we could sell and use that equity as a downpayment on something better. We don’t have any kiddos yet, but this could mean we’d probably be uprooting them from whatever schools they’d be in to a different district, so also for consideration. I see the benefits of both, but don’t know which is best.