I’m sitting here in a sunny house with the roar of ocean in my ears, and sunshine flashing off water before my eyes, and all around me is my family. It’s our week at the beach, a big long exhale of relaxation for us all in the midst of the busy-ness of life.
Here my kids have time to play pinochle with their grandparents, and work on puzzles together. Kids are playing video games. This morning John and our youngest girls have been trying out a skim-board on ocean waves. I’ve snuggled with grandbabies and carried then around long enough each day that my biceps are sore. We’ve read stories and played games and eaten meals together and cleaned up afterwards together. We’ve shopped and watched TV and lazed around eating too many snacks. We’ve taken long walks on the beach. We’ve even celebrated a certain kiddo’s third birthday.
Always this time is a highlight of my year, a time where we actually slow down for awhile and enjoy each other. Ahhhhhh……
And now I’m sitting here trying to get brave enough to tell you about our big crazy-audacious ocean dream, one that John and I have held close to our hearts for a lotta years.
Ever since our very first vacation trip to the Oregon coast on our honeymoon, we’ve been dreaming of having our own house near the ocean. It sounds crazy and pretentious to even write it, and– I know, I know– not frugal in the least. But the beach has always been our happy place. One of the reasons we drive old cars and go to thrift stores and cook at home is so that we can afford this much-anticipated week or two at the beach each year.
For the past five years, as we’ve gradually gotten closer to paying off our own house, we’ve been looking at land on the Oregon coast, wondering if we could have a space here all of our very own. And finally last fall we found a lot on a hill looking out at the ocean listed at a really doable price.
We bought it, and we’ve jokingly christened it our mid-life crisis. It’ll be a few years before we build, but it feels really good to be moving from the dreaming stage (gradually) toward the doing. First up is to pay off of our current house– 9 more months should do it! Then we’ll save up a good solid down payment for the new build and go from there. We’re so excited!
What we’re planning to do is build a house on the lot that would work well for large groups like our family. Times together are so precious, and I love the idea of designing something that would wisely utilize a space for maximal efficiency for a big group, and make time together easy and comfortable.
In a decade or so of renting vacation houses for our clan, we’ve learned a lot about what works and what isn’t essential.Sure, size is nice, but layout of the space, and location of bathrooms is a lot more important. We’ve stayed in homes where the master suite is a palace, and all the other bedrooms are microscopic. That’s not what we’re going for. We’d like space where many people can feel comfortable, with great places to gather and also comfy places to be alone. It’s a different kind of frugality, I think, to make every square foot be functional for a big group. If you follow me on Pinterest you’ve seen some of the home ideas that have caught my eye. I’ve also had help from a really neat computer program called Chief Architect Home Designer . What fun it’s been to design and dream and rearrange on the computer screen.
The current rendition of our dream plan is 6 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, and 3200 square feet. Big, yes. But there are no mega-closets, no mega-master suites, no two-story entries. It’s a comfortable two level home with kitchen, dining room and living room on the top level so we can sit and see the ocean while we visit. (The very first photo in this post is actually a picture of ‘our’ view as close as we can get it so far, from the next door neighbor’s deck. And to tell the full story, we’ll be looking over the neighbor’s roof tops to see that view of ocean. But it’s a big lovely view anyway.
We’re thinking to build the house with three master suites so several couples can have private space, with one of those suites being wheelchair accessible so folks can travel with their elderly parents or others who are in wheelchairs. We also plan to install a stair-chair to make the entire home accessible. There are bunk beds and extra sleeping spaces for cousins, and John also has ideas for a really neat play space that I’ll tell you more about later.
Our hope is to offer the home as a vacation rental during the parts of the year that we wouldn’t be using it ourselves. Best case scenario: it could provide us a bit of retirement income. Or who knows? Maybe it will only rent out every now and then, and simply defray a bit of the cost of our own vacations. We’ll be doing some of the building ourselves to keep the costs affordable. And I’ve been doing tons of research about vacation rental properties. I love the idea of making a beautiful welcoming space that would be a place where wonderful memories are made for many families, not just our own.
It’s SUCH a big dream that it feels audacious and nutty to even tell you about it. But we’re going forward step by step, and waiting to see when doors open finance-wise.
I’ll keep you posted on the whole process. In the meantime– I’d love to hear from those of you who’ve rented homes before, or even considered it. Do you ever vacation with a large group of friends or extended family? What features are essential to you? What kinds of things are deal-breakers? I’d love to hear about what’s important to you when you’re vacationing with loved ones.