The Freelance Homestead: How We Made Our Dream Home a Reality

As an online business, our home office is wherever we need it to be at that moment. That usually means a coffee shop, library or co-working space. We don’t have a designated desk or office; rather, we have a laptop and a stable of notebooks in which to take notes and jot down ideas. But when we found the perfect house with its own private office—but no desk—we knew something had to change. For us, that meant trading in our laptops and notebooks for hammers and nails… The creative process is messy, unpredictable, and often very public. We work out ideas on paper first as primary documents as often as not because putting them into practice can often lead to awkward social situations or unplanned costs. In short: If you want to stay friends with anyone you collaborate with, don’t let them see your notebook until you know what needs fixing about it!

How We Found Our Dream Home

Like most couples, we were dreaming of a house with a backyard, a fireplace, and a washer/dryer inside—the American dream. Unfortunately, the amount of money we were making with our business wasn’t going to help us meet that price point. We had been living in an apartment in a good neighborhood near downtown Austin, Texas. The location was great because we were minutes away from plenty of restaurants, bars, and music venues and were able to walk or bike almost everywhere. However, with a growing business and the need to be at home and online most of the time, the apartment just wasn’t working anymore.

It’s a Fixer-Upper, but We Don’t Mind

Beyond the location issue, we were finding ourselves spending too much time and energy thinking about imperfections in the apartment and the things we hated about it. We always had a nagging feeling that if we bought this place, we’d be stuck in it for a decade trying to get the money and energy to fix it up. After scouring the real estate listings online and visiting a few open houses, we found a house that was everything we wanted and more. The house had tons of character and charm and was located in a safe neighborhood. Most importantly, though, when we walked into the house the first time, the walls were bare. We were able to picture our lives in this house immediately, without any hesitation or worry.

Our Biggest Challenges So Far

Finding a house in Austin is a tricky process, especially if you’re not looking at fixer-uppers or want something that’s in a good school district. It’s also a very competitive market. We had offers on five houses before ours was even close to being listed and had a bidding war on one of them. We wound up outbidding our competition by $10,000 and in the process, agreed to buy a house that needed a ton of work. We’re both DIYers, and we love the idea of making something new out of something old. However, we were also realistic with ourselves and knew that this was our first time buying a home and that there would be plenty of headaches and unexpected expenses.

The Good News is…

Luckily, we’ve found that working on a home together has been not only a bonding experience for us but an opportunity to grow as creative problem-solvers. We’ve also found that there’s a great community of do-it-yourselfers in Austin and have learned a ton from them so far. We’re looking forward to hosting friends and family in our new home and having a space that we’re proud of and excited to work from.

What Now?

We’ve been living in our new home for about a month now. We’ve done some basic cosmetic improvements to the house and yard, but we’ve also begun tackling some other challenges. We’re in the process of making some structural changes to the house, such as opening up the kitchen and adding a door onto the back patio. We’re also in the process of getting the city’s approval to put in some fruit trees and a garden in the back. We’re excited to see how this project continues to grow, both in terms of the work we’re doing and the memories we’re making.

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