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We Bought Our First Home – Our Story

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“Home should be an anchor, a port in a storm, a refuge, a happy place in which to dwell, a place where we are loved and where we can love.” – M.J. Ashon

Our little rental farmhouse in the background. (2013)

From serial renters to first-time homeowners

We have always been renters. 13 years of marriage and we were still renting. We have watched friend after friend get married and buy their first and sometimes second homes. Trials and travels got in the way of us settling down and purchasing our first house. Instead, we rented several small apartments and an adorable tiny farmhouse for 4 years, and spent two years in Ireland doing missions work. I’ve moved 8 times since moving to Pennsylvania 15 years ago! Looking back I don’t regret a single move or a single home that we’ve lived in. Each home was an important part of our story and we made great memories in each one.

We returned to the States in 2015 and moved into our friends townhouse while they lived out-of-state. We brought along all of our possessions, about 10 boxes, a desk and a bookcase. The rest of our belongings were sold before we moved overseas. Thankfully, we moved into our friends home which was fully furnished.

We lived in that rental for the next three years as we settle back into life in America. These years were spent processing our time in Ireland and learning how to be content when we didn’t quite feel at home. I was learning how to be home again. I am so thankful for those three years and for the generosity of our friends while we rented their home.

Finding the right home for right now

Fast-forward to September 2018, we finally purchased our first home.

We spent two years off and on looking for a home. By the end, we looked at a total of 44 homes! Our realtor was patient, understanding, and always encouraging us to make the very best decision for our family. When we started we knew we wanted a single-family house, with a nice yard, and in a good neighborhood. We were convinced that we did not want to live in a townhouse again and we definitely didn’t want to have a homeowner’s association with its monthly fees and rules.

We made several offers on homes that we fell in love with. Some were single-family homes with beautiful yards in great neighborhoods, one was a lovely semi-detached home right outside the town that we always thought we’d live in. Each offer was outbid, by tens of thousands, way over the asking price! It was discouraging but we kept looking.  What we never expected, was to fall in love with and decide to purchase a small townhouse. We compromised for all the right reasons…

Location, location, location & price, price, price

We decided on a house that was very inexpensive, two minutes from my in-laws, and just five minutes from the children’s school. Here we are, happily the owners of a small townhouse with a monthly homeowner’s association fee and a few very reasonable neighborhood rules.

The main deciding factor for us was the location, followed closely by price. One of our priorities was to make sure that our children continue to go to their school, which we love. The only way we can make that happen is by keeping our mortgage super low.  I remember when we told our friends, I was kind of embarrassed because we swore we would never buy a townhouse. Sometimes what we think we really want, isn’t always what we really need. We made an offer on this townhouse with complete peace, knowing this is where we’re supposed to be for this time and WE GOT THE HOUSE!

Take what you have and make it special

I have been blogging for 10 years (this fall)! I started blogging because I wanted to record our experience making our house a home. I wanted to share everything from homemaking to cooking, to cleaning, decorating, and renovating. I loved sharing our projects and I’m looking forward to sharing once again in our new home! In the next few weeks, I’ll start sharing more about her home. Including plenty of before and after pictures.

My goal is to encourage you to take what you have and make it special. Rather than making excuses for its size and lack of style, I hope to create a home that we’ve always wanted, right where we are. There will be plenty of paint and lots of creativity. I’ll share our home projects, renovations, and seasonal decor. I will also continue to share the usual parenting, recipes, organizing, and time management blog post here on Hey Donna!

Thank you for coming along on this journey with us over the last 10 years. I’m excited to share this new chapter with you and I hope you follow us along on this journey.

A great way to follow up on the day-to-day is to make sure you’re following me on Instagram. Click the graphic below to follow along.


  • Reply
    Nate Hoffer
    September 21, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    Nice article, Donna!

  • Reply
    September 21, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    I love you guys so much and I’m so happy for you ❤️❤️❤️❤️ Can’t wait to see it!

  • Reply
    September 22, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    So happy for you and your sweet family. Sounds just perfect 🙂

  • Reply
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