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Joy Earls

The best things in life are free. What a great song with wonderful lyrics. When buying a home and prices seem higher than you can manage to reach for, these words may help bring the buying process down to earth. Isn’t it ironic that this song was written in 1927 before the Great Depression, when the U.S. was in the midst of the roaring '20s and Americans were enjoying the excesses of abundance?  Perhaps the lyricists foresaw the collapse. Realistically they probably saw that while people were enjoying lighthearted fun and money appeared endless, that some of the finest things didn’t cost a penny. Keeping this in mind when buying a home might help you find that ideal sanctuary while staying within a reasonable budget.

What does it really mean that the best things are free? Buying a home is an expensive venture. It is usually the biggest purchase of a lifetime. It feels like there is a cost to everything. Here are some suggestions of what to consider when comparing several properties that are priced in different ranges. The less expensive home could offer you more for your money at a lower price.

Window placement is a great place to start. Walk around the home on the outside and inside. Take your time at each vista, even if it faces a brick wall and especially if it does. There may be a reason or it may be poor planning. I have walked around homes with buyers and asked if they noticed anything unusual on one side of a home. At first glance they didn’t but then it was apparent there were no windows or just a small one on a full side. Views are free and allow us to daydream. If your routine is to enjoy breakfast and look outside; then you’ll want to be sure there is something you choose to view.

Windows have another obvious function. They bring in summer breezes and fresh air. Placement is essential as the winds flow in and out. I grew up in a home where we depended on the hot humid air to somehow cool down our house as fans circulated in several key windows. We were all novice mechanical engineers maneuvering air currents in the night. My dad would sigh and suggest that all was better, when truly it was the sound of the whirring fans and cicadas that lulled us to sleep. Whatever it was, without proper ventilation and open windows, no one in our home would have ever had a night’s sleep. Air conditioning was not on the list of necessities in our home.

We never had a clothes dryer, either.  All year our sheets and towels smelled wonderful. As a young girl I didn’t appreciate the little green inch worms that fell out of the huge trees the clothes line was strung between. My mother missed them occasionally and I had to pick them off my clothes. I got used to it somehow, even in my socks. Maybe that’s why I am not squeamish about fishing. Today I still hang out my clothes most of the year, even in Montana. I love the scratchy towels, the fresh sheets, and even better, the low power bills. My suggestion is to find a home where you can string a line and use it when you can. It’s wonderful how something completely free can bring such pleasure.

Sunrises and sunsets are other pure enjoyments that are absolutely free. Is there a front porch to relax and take in the scene? Does the neighborhood have a park that is easy to walk to with the best views in town? If you like to socialize with your neighbors, stopping to chat on your walk is a nice easy way to catch up without making lots of plans.

Do you like to go to outdoor concerts in the summer or lectures at the university or Fourth of July parades? All are free and accessible if you can get there. You’ll want to look at homes that are near the activities you like or on a bus route and easy to get to.

When my son moved into his first apartment, he was completely comfortable. A one-room studio with a bath. A friend came for dinner and said, “This is perfect. I could live here forever.” What more could a person need?  Somewhere, somehow many of us lose that carefree feeling. It’s important to try to remember it again.

"The Best Things in Life are Free" came alive again in the 1940s when Bing Crosby crooned it back into Americans’ lives.  Again, it came during a time of increasing wealth and abundance. Just a few years ago, Luther Vandross and Janet Jackson brought back a song of the same title. This revolving refrain reminds us of a common theme. If you find yourself humming a tune and hearing Bing Crosby singing along with you while looking at homes, I bet you won’t forget what you are looking for.

Joy Earls is a Real Estate Broker/Owner of Joy Earls Real Estate.  She truly enjoys your stories, calls and emails:      You can find her at:  or 406-531-9811.

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