Is Owning a New Home Worth It?

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A new home is nice to have, though many things come with owning a new house. Here are some things to consider if you're in the market to buy a house.

An acquaintance of mine recently moved from a huge, well-appointed home, complete with granite and all the best upgrades, to an older home with a more lived-in feel. When I asked him how he was enjoying it, he said he was almost relieved because he wasn’t worried so much about “breaking it” like he was his last house.

He told me that because his current home was already well lived-in and broken in, he wasn’t as worried about the kids spilling a drink or the dog scratching the floors. He could let his kids be kids and he was more relaxed because of it.

That had me wondering why many people today have become so obsessed with owning huge homes with the latest and greatest in home finishes and gadgetry. New homes are expensive and the larger they are, the more upkeep they require. Is owning a new home really worth it? 

New Homes Are Too Big


Today, our homes are over-mortgaged, over-stuffed, over-furnished, and just about ridiculous in size compared to how the rest of the world lives. We know that bigger isn’t always better, but we can’t seem to stop ourselves from over-consuming and buying bigger and (supposedly) better things, including homes. But are we just trying to impress others when we buy a big, fancy new home?

New Homes Are Typically More Expensive


In the real estate market today, new homes are typically the most sought after, which also means that they are more expensive. Everyone wants to put their own stamp on a new home, but they all come with the same basic builder-beige-colored walls, granite counter tops, and stainless steel appliances.

There’s nothing unique about them, and I believe that in a couple of decades, stainless steel and granite are going to become the harvest gold of the 1970s. In other words, it will look dated.

New Homes Have Too Much Storage


When shopping for a new home, storage and closet space is typically a “must-have” on every homeowner’s list. However, there is such a thing as too much storage space. The more rooms and storage areas that your home has, the more stuff you are likely to keep. If you have the empty space, you are bound to fill it up with something, which can only lead to one thing: clutter.

Older homes typically have small closets, only one bathroom, and less counter space in the kitchen. Less storage in an older house just means one thing: you should get rid of more stuff. Single-door closets rather than walk-ins mean you should try out a capsule wardrobe. Less counter space in the kitchen means you should keep your counters clear of all that fancy gadgetry to make room for actual cooking. Do you really need that cappuccino maker anyway?

New Homes Aren’t As Sturdy


If you walk into a newly built home today, you can tell that they aren’t built as soundly as homes of the past. So many builders today rush to build entire neighborhoods, which can result in poorer quality homes. Although my old vintage bungalow had slanted hardwood floors (which I referred to as charming), the house itself was rock solid. It was built on a hillside and made out of brick and stone in the 1920s, so it had definitely weathered its fair share of storms. It wasn’t going anywhere.

Even though I love the home I live in today, I do not feel the same way about it. Our current home is only 14 years old, and I sometimes feel like one of those little pigs sitting inside, waiting on the wolf to blow it down. It pops, creaks, and groans on a regular basis, and I have a laundry list of places where I can see the builder clearly scrimped on building this home. It’s simply not nearly as sturdy, well-built, or charming as our last home.

A new home is nice to have, though many things come with owning a new house. Here are some things to consider if you're in the market to buy a house.

A House Is Just a House


At the end of the day, no one needs a big, fancy house. You don’t need more bathrooms than you have people living in the home or a separate bedroom for each child, and no one is going to die without a 2 car garage or finished basement.

We simply need shelter – a roof over our heads for our families. After all, a house is still just a house, and no amount of extra storage or crown molding is going to make you any happier. Your family is what makes it feel like home.


Do you favor big houses or small houses, older or newer homes? Do you sometimes wish you had more storage space? If you’re shopping for a home right now, or getting ready to, what are you looking for in your next home?

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Robin McDaniel

Robin is a freelance writer who chronicles her financial missteps and victories on her blog


  • CalGirl77 says:

    The taxes and mellaroos on new homes make them ridiculously expensive; not affordable.

    I agree with you that the average family does not need a huge home. Siblings of the same gender can definitely share rooms through high school.

  • Tara says:

    Another downside to new homes built in developments: generally in your sale agreement, is a statement that indicates the builder owns mineral rights under your home (also, even if you sell, the builder still retains rights). So say oil or gas is found deep under your home. You own no rights and are not entitled to any financial compensation if they decide to pump. You also have no right to stop them from taking as well. This has been going on for quite a while… I think in the past 20 years at least.

  • Holly@ClubThrifty says:

    I like buying existing homes that already have some wear. I know several people who have built in the last few years and were unhappy with the final outcome. I don’t feel like I need a new house to be happy. I also tend to prefer older neighborhoods with character.

    • Robin McDaniel says:

      I love the older neighborhoods, too. All the houses don’t look quite so similar, and it looks homey because so many of them have mature trees, which you don’t see as much in new, clear-cut neighborhoods.

  • Money Beagle says:

    The thing about a new house is that at some point it just becomes a house. The ‘new’ part fades. So many people flock to new construction because they think it will mean that they’re free of having to do upgrades and maintenence that goes along with an old house. But, remember, those ‘old’ houses were once ‘new’ too, and just like them, the time will come when owners of new homes will look around and see that the ‘new’ has worn out. Is it worth all the trouble? I used to think so but now not so sure.

    • Robin McDaniel says:

      Exactly– just like buying a new car! The newness will fade eventually, even if it takes a little longer than a car to do so.

  • Hannah says:

    I just hope that the next house we buy isn’t a fixer upper. I like seeing the results of our handiwork, but I would really prefer to go hiking on the weekends.

    • Robin McDaniel says:

      Maybe your next one, should you choose to move, could be an older home that’s already been updated to what you guys like.

    • CalGirl77 says:

      We are currently house hunting. We have seen some doozy of ficker uppers. Some houses have their original shake roof!

  • Chuck says:

    Don’t forget about the yards and layout of the neighborhoods.

    New construction tends to to completely raze the area before building begins. All of the trees that get planted back are decorative and small. With no shade, that has an impact on utility bills where I live.

    The houses also tend to be stacked on top of each other. The nice thing about older neighborhoods is a little bit of breathing room between houses.


    • Robin McDaniel says:

      Yes, postage stamp yards! And I agree about the trees. You can always tell the newer neighborhoods by those tiny little trees they plant. I prefer the shaded neighborhoods, which means they’re more established. They remind me of the neighborhood I grew up in, where all the houses were built in the 1950s.

  • Andy H says:

    Being a real estate agent in Chicago, I can agree on a lot of the points you make. I think it comes down to people wanting to look rich/successful in the eyes of others. Every day I hear about what people “need” in a place when if they could make cuts it would save a boatload of money in the long run (think washer/dryer in unit vs in building, a spare bedroom AND office, granite/stainless which I agree will run it’s course).

    However, new construction here is typically very high quality brick/concrete/stone rather than flimsy places you see in the suburbs. Even still, I’ll take the 100 year old place that has character and wear any day. If gutted or rehabbed properly you can have a great mix of quality and comfort.

    • Robin McDaniel says:

      If you’re in real estate, then I guess you’ve seen it all! I bet you have some good stories about wacky things that people have looked for in homes. I can only imagine. 🙂

  • Emily @ JohnJaneDoe says:

    I live in a 60s Ranch house, and there are some parts that feel pretty dated (tiny galley kitchen, tiny closets, dark wood paneling).

    On the other hand, compared to the houses we see in new developments, we have a huge wooded lot that provides plenty of privacy and a basement that would easily fit into “That 70’s Show” if we just got rid of enough stuff to play in it comfortably. It’s in a terrific school district. Also, our older house just outside the city limits means no HOA or HOA dues and lower property taxes.

    There’s no way we would have been able to afford all of the good things about our home if we hadn’t been willing to accept some dated amenities.

  • Robin McDaniel says:

    Don’t even get me started on HOAs! I’ve never lived in an HOA neighborhood, and I never plan on it either. I can’t imagine someone being able to tell me what I can and can’t do with my home, like what colors to paint it and what kind of fencing to use. That would drive me nuts!

    • Chuck says:

      We had some friends that moved into a gated community with a strict HOA. I don’t think they had been in the house for 6 weeks and they got fined… Fined! by the HOA for digging up some hedges that they didn’t like.

  • Aaron says:

    I hear you about the “new homes aren’t sturdy”. Boy, we have an (almost) 10 year old rental property and you can sure tell the difference in the construction just from walking around in it vs. our current 30+ year old home. Really have to be choosy about the builders you go with.

    • Robin McDaniel says:

      That’s how ours is, too. Our old house was built in 1925 and sturdy as an ox, but our new house is very poorly built with cheap materials. I wouldn’t have purchased this house new from the builder, but since we got it for a steal at foreclosure, I’m okay with it. We’ll still be able to sell it in the future if needed.

  • Heather says:

    There is so much personal debt out there…everyone’s trying took keep up with the Jones’…my house is warm and comfortable…nothing fancy. I’m able to retire at 55 because I can afford to. I have NO debt and proud of it.

  • Kathy says:

    New homes might not be as sturdy as older ones but there are those out there where the builder took great pride in his work and put up a well-built home. You have to know the builder. Codes and regulations have changed also so that there are often things so much better or safer in a new home than in older ones built when so such codes existed. I’m thinking of electrical and plumbing in particular. I love the looks of the older stately homes in my community, but I like the lower maintenance aspect of a new home. And heck, someday these new homes will be the ones people are comparing new construction to in the future.

  • DC @ Young Adult Money says:

    Ironically I just posted yesterday on Facebook an $800,000 brand new home in a location I absolutely love…and said “I found our next home!” With that being said, new homes are definitely priced up because people LOVE the idea of having a brand new home that no one has lived in. I think you are right that a lot of the materials aren’t as high of quality. You basically need to eventually replace everything if you want anything better than the bare minimum materials.

  • kay ~ the barefoot minimalist says:

    I love your nod to minimalism. Touche’! 🙂 I agree on all counts. Especially the granite and stainless steel. It felt dated to me as soon as it came out. I like my finishes like I like my men ~ low maintenance. 😛

  • Creativeme says:

    I’ve tried old and new. There are pros and cons depending on what stage of life you are at and what kind of work you want to be doing on it. Our first home was a blue collar 1950 bungalow, it was small and patched together odd and full of electrical insufficiencies and not energy efficient at all. Wonky walls, weird finishing choices and weird creaks and groans throughout. To say it was a fixer upper was generous! Replacing the flooring and painting throughout made a world of difference and the roof and hot water tank needed replacing. But the yard was glorious! Big, mature, fruit trees and private.
    Our second home was the complete opposite. Brand new build, efficient and bright! Tiny yard that was bare mud when we moved in. New homes are very expensive to set up! Window coverings, appliances, finishing the garage and laundry room and basement den. Landscaping on a sloping lot is not cheap, and we were there a decade before the shrubs gave any real privacy. It took forever to get any character, and we ended up doing paint and flooring by the time we sold it 13 years later.
    Our third home was (and is) something of a compromise. It’s 34 years old on a huge lot, but unlike our first home it is straight and the rooms are big. The interior was completely thrashed but the bones were good, it was a custom home way back when! So with the interior redone we now have a lovely home with mature landscaping and very functional floor plan. Still not worry free though. The aluminum frame windows are waiting replacement and the driveway has heaved and cracked itself to pieces. My husband said he will never agree to a fixer upper again, but I never want to set up new again.

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