Why my $ 40,000 backyard pool is the best buy I’ve ever made

  • My family was not rich growing up, but we always had a pool in the garden; it was cheaper than a vacation.
  • When my husband and I bought a home after selling our first home, we awarded points for the pools.
  • But after losing many bidding wars, we decided to buy a house without a pool and then build our dream.
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My family moved around a lot during my childhood, but there was always a constant wherever we lived, we always had a pool in our backyard. The pools were always 24ft round above ground pools that my parents bought and installed themselves. We’ve never had a lot of money, so it seems odd in hindsight that they’ve consistently made such a forgiving purchase, but I guess, living in the landlocked Midwest as we’ve always done, an oasis in the backyard is always cheaper and easier than a hundred half-annual cross-country ski vacations in the sea for 60 years.

While I enjoyed access to a swimming pool as a child, when I grew up, I found the above-ground pools of my youth aesthetically unpleasant and the in-ground pools on par with a personal jet – an unnecessary expense that the rich do because they have money to spend. But my perspective on this changed when my husband and I started looking for our second home and we learned that many homes in our price range already have in-ground pools.

My husband and I searched for a house with a pool – to no avail

I found myself particularly interested in these houses. I could see my kids, all with summer birthdays, having a place to party for the rest of their lives. I imagined sipping drinks in the shallow end with friends and welcoming out of town guests every summer with the weekend entertainment built into our home. And yet, despite my imagination running away completely with my heart, and no matter how much we bid, we just couldn’t find anyone interested in letting us buy their house so that I could make this fantasy come true. .

Despite our continued disappointment, by the failure of deal number 5, which houses the largest swimming pool to date, owning a swimming pool seemed less of a fantasy than a non-negotiable one. My husband agreed which is why when we found a lovely house in a great neighborhood with all bedrooms and square footage on our wish list he didn’t understand how I could miss a compromise as obvious as the absence of a basin. But I had a plan.

I found a way for us to buy a pool for our new home

With the home listed at $ 80,000 below our stretch budget of $ 360,000, I decided we could take some of the equity from the sale of our old home to build a swimming pool ourselves. A quick Google search led me to optimistically rate this company at around $ 30,000. The backyard was huge, so I knew there would be room. After all, if we were willing to spend more on a house with a pool, why not just buy a pool?

First off, apparently, because an average inground pool costs a lot over $ 30,000, try something around $ 80,000. While the $ 360,000 had been the top of our budget, it wasn’t a number we actually wanted to spend, and knowing all the hidden expenses that come with buying a home, we knew how to maximize our total budget. over a swimming pool was not a wise thing to do. Which turned out to be correct, because as large as our backyard might seem, we soon learned that its wobbly shape conflicted with city code in any way, and we couldn’t have the pool. 20 feet by 30 feet of my dreams.

Despite all these unpleasant revelations, I had spent too much time imagining evenings that started with five-course dinners served by the pool and ended with the “It’s a Wonderful Life” dance scene to be dissuaded. I continued to dig and research our options. I have learned that the costs of swimming pools have skyrocketed since the pandemic and that the waiting lists are very long. I found that while the unusual shape of our garden meant we didn’t have the pool I had imagined, this limitation might actually solve all of our problems.

The pool guy I chose to work with said 12ft by 24ft was the largest pool we could build due to the easements. With this size limitation and with three kids under the age of 10, we decided that a deep end wasn’t necessary, although I still didn’t want an aboveground. This left us with a fully inground semi-inground pool (an inground pool with no deep end) as our only option. After all the extras including a heat pump, a semi inground would set us back $ 40,000 which not only was closer to my initial budget, but would also allow us to skip the wait list and start our pool in a matter of minutes. months and not in a few years. . We wrote the check.

I couldn’t be happier with our pool purchase

I’m not going to lie, when I thought about all the trade-offs I had made on the road between awarding extra points for swimming pools while looking for a home to spend $ 40,000 in equity on a hole in the wall. 12 feet by 24 feet in my garden which is not necessarily a good investment, I felt like maybe I had made a huge mistake. But then I had to ask myself, what’s the mistake?

When we open our pool in May, we have friends who are already planning to celebrate our pool baptism with us and a bottle of wine. We’re having three pool-themed birthday parties, and I’ve planned enough date nights with my husband on the patio, barbecues with friends, and cousin sleepovers to keep our pool full. every day for five consecutive months. When I look at the summer route that we have built around the pool, I see all my dreams around the pool come to life.

Sure, we could have taken the equity we budgeted for the pool and paid more for the house instead, or maybe we could have kept the money and kept saving for years to get something for ourselves. more chic with a deep end for my kids to enjoy when they get home from college, but we made the choices we made. And if I had to do it again, I would do them again.

A swimming pool is fine for us, but it is not for everyone. For others, it may be a trip to Europe, a deemed unnecessary diploma, or a speedboat. A dream they spend hours researching online with their finger hovering over the buy button, while a voice in their heads screams, “Really? A converted school bus? You have a retirement to plan. But if I’ve learned anything from spending a large amount of money on what amounts to a massive indulgence, it’s that when we allocate money to fund our dreams, whatever they may be, when the money is gone, we can still continue to live our dream. And what is there to regret in there?


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