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What My Family Learned When We Couldn't Buy Our Dream Home

Our Search to Buy a House Taught Us That Home Really Is About the People

A little girl walking down the sidewalk past a house at sunset.

When my husband and I got the opportunity to move back to our hometown, we were thrilled. Moving back home would mean being close to family. Our kids could see their grandparents on a regular basis! They could have lots of playdates with their cousins! I could envision all the dates my husband and I would go on, now that we finally had many trustworthy babysitters nearby! This excitement continued when we sold our home after only two days of it being on the market. What luck! Then even more excitement when we found our dream home. It was a seemingly perfect blend of everything we had been looking for. A peaceful hobby farm with a beautiful vintage barn. An adorable farmhouse that looked as if Joanna Gaines herself had redesigned it. In fact, her book, "Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave," was strategically placed on the sleek kitchen island, her friendly face beaming, as if she were welcoming us home. A country setting, yet less than 10 minutes away from my beloved Target. It was as though the stars were aligning, we would be home soon. Our offer was accepted, and we began the process of signing endless paperwork, heading towards the finish line, our dream home waiting for us on the other side of the ribbon. But one text from our realtor changed everything: the sellers had decided not to move. Turns out our dream home was the home of their dreams, too.

But one text from our realtor changed everything: the sellers had decided not to move.

It felt as though we were in a nightmare. Many tears were shed, but what was one of the biggest challenges was that we did not have time to process our loss. There was no regrouping or taking time to heal. Since we had sold our house already (what luck, right?), my husband, myself, our two small kids, and our two dogs had no choice but to move forward, and we did so by moving in with my in-laws and continuing to look for homes while staying with them. But like a breakup, we couldn't help but compare every house to the one that got away. After some time doing this, and eventually realising that this was not helping us to truly move forward, we had to let our dream home go. We did not mention "the house" any more and tried to look at each prospective home with fresh eyes. And we did this home after home after home, until we had looked at around 50 properties.

After looking at as many places as we did, we started to feel rather hopeless. We had explored so many options (big farms, small hobby farms, houses in town, houses up for auction, land to build on, family land, modular homes) and had gotten in to multiple bidding wars, yet nothing was working out. Then one day, a house popped up on the market that piqued my interest, and I instantly felt hope. I immediately called my husband, and then the listing agent shared that the family who was selling the home had thought that they had it sold three months previously but the deal recently fell through. They were not having the best of luck either. And what's more, she also shared that the home was meant to be their forever home but they had an unexpected opportunity to purchase another property that was just too good to pass up. Two families not having the best of luck in the process of finding their dream homes; it seemed as though the stars might be aligning once again. With our guards up, we looked at the house, and liked what we saw. We put in our offer, they accepted, and a short time later, we were moving out of my in-laws' and into our beautiful new home. Our journey had come full circle.

The biggest lesson I learned from the stress and chaos that we've endured is that the house we ended up in doesn't really matter at all.

The move has been a bit confusing for our kids; our 2-year-old now thinks that everyone has a "new home" and sometimes still asks where grandma is. But overall, we are getting closer to our new normal. And now that we are more able to slow down, settle in, relax, and reflect, I can say that the biggest lesson I learned from the stress and chaos that we have endured over the past six months is that the house we ended up in doesn't really matter at all. Don't get me wrong: it's a beautiful house with amazing views and wildlife galore, and I am so grateful that we get to make it our home. However, looking back, every time we stepped in to a prospective home and assessed whether or not it could be "the one," it was never the type of kitchen countertops or size of the closets that truly mattered. What did matter were things like whether or not we could picture our kids playing safely in the yard, ease of access between all bedrooms for those times when someone needs a little extra comfort in the middle of the night, and how far of a drive it would be to grandma and grandpa's house. Simply put, it's the people that matter. It is our family and those who surround us with love and support who got us through the ups and downs of this journey, and this would be true no matter what house we ended up in.

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