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What’s your dream home like?


Last week, I read a blog post about someone’s dream home and I thought it’d be fun to share my dream home here. I’m also really worn out from wrestling with our taxes this weekend so I need an easy topic to write about.

Current home

Our current home is a 2 bed/2 bath condo in a high rise. We have about 1,000 square feet of living space and it’s tolerable for 3 people. We moved here in 2007 when we didn’t have a kid and it was perfect for us then. We’re in downtown Portland and it’s easy to get anywhere in the city. Mrs. RB40 can easily takes public transportation to work too. We have a million dollar view of the Willamette river and Mt. Hood. There are plenty of entertainment options around. This is pretty much our dream home, but it’s a bit small and I’m starting to get tired of the shared walls. My mom stays with us about half of the year and it’s really tight when she’s here.

what's your dream home like?

Future dream home

My dream home is a bit unusual. It’s more of a compound, really. Here goes.

Location: I’d like a few acres on a laid back tropical island. Currently, I like Hawaii the best because it’s the most convenient location. The price is high, but as long as I’m dreaming, why not? 

Main house: I want to build a medium size stilt house as the main home. It’d have one bedroom with plenty of closet space, a small office, a comfortable living area, a kitchenette with a small breakfast nook, a regular bathroom, an outdoor bathroom, and a big wrap around balcony. I think we can do this in about 1,000 square feet, not counting the balcony. The bottom can be a workshop and creative space.

My uncle has an awesome stilt house in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He is an architect and he designed it himself. The outdoor bathroom is really cool. It’s shaded by a big tree and feels private. I think it’d be awesome to take a shower (and mm.. do my business) under the open sky.

What's your dream home like?

Communal kitchen and dining area: This would be a separate building. I’d like a big kitchen with a spacious eating area. It would almost be like a very small restaurant. Ideally, this structure would be very airy. If the climate permits, the dining area wouldn’t have any walls at all. I’d also like a small outdoor cooking area with a brick oven and a BBQ grill. This whole area can double as a hang out space where you can relax, listen to music, read, play board games, and have a drink.

Guest houses: I’d build small guest houses for family and friends. The guest houses would be pretty simple. It’d have a bedroom, a bath, and a small outdoor relaxing area. I guess we’d need to have one bigger hut for families with kids. 

what's your dream home?

Meditation/Yoga hut: An area where you can relax and calm your spirit.

Grounds: The grounds would be full of tropical plants and flowers. We’ll have fruit trees and many edible plants. Wouldn’t it be nice to eat ripe organic fruits right off the tree? I’d also like some chickens, cats, and maybe a dog. If there is a zombie apocalypse, we can live off the land here. There would be winding paths to get to the huts so the guests would have their privacy.

Hey, this sounds like a retreat center! Maybe that’s what I need. Life is always so busy these days. It would be nice to slow down and relax when we’re a bit older. 

Anyway, we are a long way from my dream home and I’m not sure if we’d ever get there. We’re staying put until our kid is out of the house. After that, I’ll explore some options. I’m not sure what Mrs. RB40’s dream home is like. She loves living in the city and I don’t know if she can handle the quiet rural lifestyle. Maybe she’ll keep a place in Portland and come stay at my retreat occasionally. 🙂

What’s your dream home like?

Image credit: stilt house by oniondeath, hut by Hawaii Retreat at Josanna’s organics.

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, he hated the corporate BS. He left his engineering career behind to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. At Retire by 40, Joe focuses on financial independence, early retirement, investing, saving, and passive income.

For 2018, Joe plans to diversify his passive income by investing in US heartland real estate through RealtyShares. He has 3 rental units in Portland and he believes the local market is getting overpriced.

Joe highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help every investor analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.
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{ 39 comments… add one }
  • Ernie Zelinski March 23, 2015, 2:30 am

    My dream home would be a particular detached house in Vancouver, B.C. on Ogden Avenue or a penthouse condo in downtown with a a million-dollar view. Actually, it’s an 8-million-dollar view given that is how much the condo costs.

    Here is the problem: Even if someone were to give me a detached house or a condo worth $8 million, I wouldn’t be able to afford to keep it. The taxes alone would be around $70,000 a year and the insurance would be around $10,000. Of course, the condo fees would likely be at least 10,000 a year. That’s a total of at least $90,000 a year or $7,500 a month. Fact is, I would have to go back to eating rice and beans if my income dropped even a bit. I would also have to sell my 1995 Camry.

    Here are seven quotations from my website “Sensational Quotes for Smart People” to place houses and homes in proper perspective:

    ” ‘Home’ is any four walls that enclose the right person.”
    — Helen Rowland

    “You are a king by your own fireside, as much as any monarch in his throne.”
    — Miguel de Cervantes

    “What’s the good of a home if you are never in it?”
    — George Grossmith

    “There is no place like home if you haven’t got the money to go out.”
    — Author Unknown

    “Houses are built to live in, and not to look on: therefore let use be preferred before uniformity.”
    — Francis Bacon

    “A comfortable house is a great source of happiness. It ranks immediately after health and a good conscience.”
    — Sydney Smith

    “If I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.”
    — Gaston Bachelard

    And another reminder from one of my books:

    “Why waste so much time, energy, and money trying to buy the biggest house that your credit rating will allow? Truth be known, a small house can hold as much happiness as a large one. Sometimes it will hold even more.”
    — from “Life’s Secret Handbook”

    • Mike Drak March 23, 2015, 7:47 am

      Ernie your passage from “Life’s Secret Handbook” really hit home. Great work!

    • retirebyforty March 23, 2015, 11:41 am

      Your’re right about maintenance cost. It can get expensive real quick when you have a nice home. That’s why we aim for smaller homes. I’m not sure how much property tax in Hawaii is. I think it’s smaller than other states because a lot of locals are not well off. I’ll have to check that out.

    • dividenddreamer March 24, 2015, 12:37 am

      I think you hit the nail right in the head!

      Keep cranking,

      Robert the DividendDreamer

  • Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life March 23, 2015, 4:14 am

    I used to have the dream of a hugely spacious home situated on some gorgeous, temperate coast line. I still want the location, but when it comes to the house, I’m more on board the “tiny” train. Less stuff, and more time for enjoying.

    • retirebyforty March 23, 2015, 11:42 am

      Location is the key for us too. We decided that the tiny house isn’t going to work for us. We’ll aim for moderately small house. 🙂

      • Pennypincher March 24, 2015, 2:37 am

        Big. Small. Homes are still money pits! No wonder renting appeals to so many.

  • Mrs. Frugalwoods March 23, 2015, 4:24 am

    Our dream house is an energy efficient, two-story home on 20+ acres of wooded land in southern Vermont. We’d also like to have a barn, wood shed, and various small cabins on the property for family/AirBnB guests to stay in. So, I suppose it’s fairly similar to your compound-style idea :). We’re currently on the hunt for this homestead property and hope to find it in the next few years!

    • retirebyforty March 23, 2015, 11:43 am

      I’m looking forward to visiting you in Vermont!

  • Taylor Lee @ Engineer Cents March 23, 2015, 4:44 am

    I want a 3/2 with an office and yard. Just something small and simple in a nice place to call home.

  • Pennypincher March 23, 2015, 4:55 am

    Everyone knows (by now) a house is not your best investment. I doubled my money in five years on my last one, but this one’s a slow grower $-wise. I’m happy in it though.
    Best money move, stay right where you are, Joe. Look at that view! When Rb40jr is grown and gone, then you can stay or maybe look at options/what’s out there. All the while, your place’s value is climbing. It’ll sell, for sure.
    Great photos in this last post! I say stay, pay it off, and take great vacations.

    • retirebyforty March 23, 2015, 11:45 am

      Another thing about this place is the HOA. It’s getting more expensive every year. I’m planning to move into our rental home and keep this place as a rental. That way we’ll have the option to move back when everyone is out of the house. We’ll see if we can make it work.

  • Retired To Win March 23, 2015, 5:42 am

    My dream home is Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright. (You DID say “dream home’.) But, since I can’t have that, then my next choice would be a house (any house) on the shore of Bonaire island in the Dutch Caribbean — where you can have spectacular coral reef diving just by jumping in behind your house. But, since there are residency and required-income restrictions that would prevent our relocation there, I’ll stick with what I’ve got.

    And what I’ve got is a great 3 bedroom/2 bath country house on a beautiful 2.5 acres in rural Virginia just outside a perfect small town.

    (And I’m not sure that I should thank you for getting me started thinking about dream houses!)

    • retirebyforty March 23, 2015, 11:47 am

      Wow, that’s a great dream home. I love mid century modern homes too. Your current place sounds nice too. 2.5 acres is really awesome compare to the tiny yard space in Portland.

  • Justin @ Root of Good March 23, 2015, 5:58 am

    I’m not very aspirational when it comes to housing. I know I could work more and afford more, although what I have is pretty sweet. We value city living and can walk to a lot of destinations where we are.

    We live on a small lake and just the other night I sat outside and marveled as the great blue herons, geese, and bats swirled around over the lake as the setting sun cast neon pink and orange hues over me and all the animals. It was a little surreal. We have about a third of an acre, so enough to play soccer or tennis in the backyard and have a fire in the fire pit when it’s chilly. It’s a great combo of city and rural retreat living (at a price tag under $150,000).

    The interior has it’s pluses and minuses. Our kitchen, dining room, and living room are all connected in an open plan and stretch the entire width of the house (46 ft?). Even though the whole house is only 1800 square feet, it’s still fairly easy to have 30-40 people over for a birthday party or Thanksgiving or whatever. When the weather is nice, the party spills outside too.

    I have all these ideas of the perfect house (a high rise condo like yours, Joe) or some cool rural retreat. Where we are is probably a good enough compromise without breaking the bank. And the airport is nearby if we want to explore.

    • retirebyforty March 23, 2015, 11:48 am

      Your house sounds great. We’ll have to visit sometime.

  • SavvyFinancialLatina March 23, 2015, 7:26 am

    I remember as a kid I wanted a mansion. Guess when you lived in a 400 sq. ft ground apartment with your family, space is all you desire! Now, I would like to have a 1500 – 2000 sq ft. house. I like our house, but would like the bathrooms to be slightly bigger. Hence slightly more square footage. It would be great to live by mountains or the beach. We would love the house to be on a huge piece of land we own.
    I’ve noticed the bigger the house, the more stuff your accumulate and the more ground you have to clean. Ouch! I hate cleaning.

    • retirebyforty March 23, 2015, 11:49 am

      You’re right about accumulating more stuff when you have a bigger house. You need to get really nice furniture too if you have a nice house. It can get expensive very quickly.

  • Petra March 23, 2015, 8:07 am

    My boyfriend would say: “Dude, where’s your observatory?”.

    His dream home would include an observatory to look at the stars at night. So now my dreamhouse has to include that, too. An observatory, and a computer room for the boyfriend.

    I haven’t thought about what else this house should have. I have noticed that I love our current pretty small place. It could use an observatory… and a nicer view… But otherwise it’s already quite comfy.

    • retirebyforty March 23, 2015, 11:51 am

      Nice! What would you need for an observatory? A big scope and a room with an open roof?

  • Jason March 23, 2015, 1:45 pm


    I don’t know, I think your current place is a dream for me. I love cities, especially living right in the middle of it all. And that view is awesome.

    But I love tropical climates, which is why I’m here in FL. One can buy a pretty cheap condo on Miami Beach, surprisingly enough. But like you and others have mentioned, maintenance can eat you up.

    I’m glad you mentioned your rising HOA costs. Some people think that owning a house is some kind of hedge against rising costs of rent, as if owning your own place always costs the same $X every single year for as long as you own it. Maintenance, property taxes, insurance, and repairs all go up over time, which is partly why rent goes up as well.

    Thanks for sharing. It’s too bad that Portland doesn’t have better weather; I’d be there in a heartbeat.


    • retirebyforty March 23, 2015, 10:13 pm

      We love our place too, but we’re outgrowing it. It would be a good spot for us when the kid is out of the house.

  • Vivianne March 23, 2015, 2:00 pm

    I’d like a small house (I have over 4000 sqft house right now, cleaning is a battle, so I only live in 3 rooms, so I know small 1200 sqft will do) with at least 2 acres in the spack middle of the city(this way I can walk to everywhere, restaurants, grocery, museums, etc) That’s the rich people have around here. I want to grow lot of fruit trees (I don’t dig the ants though). Look at Hollywood, that’s how celebrites live only they want a mansion, I don’t.

    The house should have high high high ceiling, with lots of window and a loft. I like to climb up there to hide. I can read all day.

    Maybe an enclose-able Florida room so I can have my hammock and read.
    With 2’acres I should have space for soccer, badminton, and basketball court, in such a way that the court can be used as a skating rink in the winter, and a walk way that I can roller blade around go up through the fish pond and over a Japanese style bridge.

    While we at it, I’d like to make my own maple syrup and pick my fruits and veggies.

    Of course, I’d like to be off the grid as it should have solar panels and a working well.
    I also would like a treehouse to make my childhood dream come true.

    • retirebyforty March 23, 2015, 10:14 pm

      Wow, that’s a big house. 2 acres in the middle of the city would be pretty great. Portland doesn’t have enough land for that, though. You’d probably need to go out a bit to get 2 acres. Nice dream home. 🙂

  • Drew B March 23, 2015, 2:16 pm

    Meh, I live in Hawaii currently and am not a fan. Too expensive and crowded for my taste. My dream home now is somewhere in the PNW that is big enough to fit a couple kids when the time comes and sleep in when I’m not outside camping or hiking.

    • retirebyforty March 23, 2015, 10:15 pm

      I like the Big Island. It’s less crowded. You’re right about expensive, though. PNW is much more affordable. Seattle area is getting really expensive, though.

      • Pennypincher March 24, 2015, 2:44 am

        As they say, grass is always greener on the other side. All of Hawaii is like a dream. But in reality, the costs, crowds, etc., would have to be considered in the mix. Do islanders ever go bonkers living on an island and have to get away??

        • retirebyforty March 24, 2015, 11:24 am

          Cost is definitely an issue. It’s very crowded on Oahu, but I think there are places that aren’t crowded on the other islands.

  • dividenddreamer March 24, 2015, 12:40 am

    I would not mind living in a home like that myself. However, I would have to have a really hefty retirement nest egg in order to achieve such a goal. Good luck. Hopefully, you will achieve your dream home one day.

    Keep cranking,

    Robert the DividendDreamer

    • retirebyforty March 24, 2015, 11:23 am

      It will probably be a lot cheaper in a developing country, but I’m not sure if we can live in a developing country. We’ll have to rent for a while and see.

  • nicoleandmaggie March 24, 2015, 6:45 am

    We have a post coming up on what we’re looking for in a rental. In terms of houses, it’s hard to say– location is so important. I will say that I love our screened in patio, but I wish our kitchen were more functional.

    • retirebyforty March 24, 2015, 11:25 am

      I’m looking forward to it.

  • Lila March 24, 2015, 7:07 am

    I believe that time is the greatest luxury so I wouldn’t want anything too overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be fancy, I do want a safe neighborhood, nice neighbors, and a home far away from the city.

  • Big-D March 24, 2015, 10:56 am

    Dream Home? 65 acres of land in northern Washington. Views of Mt. Baker and the cascades. I have my home design, which is small but 3 stories connected to a large garage for my RV, Truck, and also 1/2 to use as an outdoor patio.

    • retirebyforty March 24, 2015, 11:26 am

      Wow, 65 acres. That’s huge. It’s not that difficult to find as you move east, right? 3 stories sounds like a big house to me. 🙂

      • Big-D March 25, 2015, 11:30 am

        You said dream right 🙂 I want a rifle range on it .. thus the expanse.

        As for the home size, if each floor is 20×20, then it is only 1600 sq feet. Basement is master bedroom and bath. First floor is kitchen and open room (family room/main room/dining room, what have you) and a bath. Top floor is another room in the loft. I can put my office stuff up there and have a place for guests to sleep.

  • Kari March 24, 2015, 4:15 pm

    The smart thing about your dream home is that you could rent out the guest cottages for continued passive (well almost) income!

    Personally I want 2 retirement homes. One in the north (WI) near my family to spend May – Sept, and one in FL or abroad like Belize to spend winters. I’m thinking a house with more land in WI and a condo or low maintenance home that could also be rented out in the south.

    We think more about our dream location and land rather than our dream house. I feel it will be important for retirement to have ways to grow more of your own food, so space for gardens and fruit trees. I’d love to have enough excess that I could help supply my friends and family. I also want my privacy and room for outdoor features, along with sustainable options like solar, so I tend to think more about that then the home itself.

  • Evan March 24, 2015, 6:54 pm

    Paid off! and NOT a money pit lol

    • retirebyforty March 25, 2015, 10:11 am

      It’ll still be a money pit when it’s paid off. Oh well, you gotta live somewhere.

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