To Stay Put or Uproot? SPACE ODDITY


Some of my favorite musicians have recently moved on to a new space. RIP David Bowe. RIP Glenn Frey. Their music tends to hold my memories captive in my  brain until, once heard again, I am catapulted to a different time and place. These musical memories exemplify my teenage years in a split-level home built by my father. My basement bedroom was the constant source of loud, noisy music- at least in my parent’s mind! The “noise” was either being produced by me and my newly bought used electric guitar, or  my dual record player and tape deck in which Davie Bowie and the Eagles were frequent guests.

My house was the ordinary middle class home but my room was an oasis. I used the space to create my own, rebellious, teen hideout, equipped with a turquoise phone with a long chord that I used to chat up my friends while simultaneously moving around to look at my posters of Scott Baio and John Travolta tacked on the inside of my double closet doors.Tacky as it was, I was my own decorator, and I was proud!

When I moved away, the room was stripped down to the bare walls and packed up before my parents decided to sell. Any potential buyer would have cringed at the sight of my fully packed room, unless perhaps they had a teenager with eclectic taste like mine.


Small home tucked into mother nature on the Blackfoot River.

Space. It matters! Physical space, and whether or not your space is functional, matters. In terms of buying and selling, space is an important factor, along with location when you are considering moving or remodeling.

Here are a few start up questions to begin defining the type of space you would like for your home.

  1. Is bigger better? How much room do you need or want? Are you single, retired, or have a family that is growing? Visualize a space that feels right for your stage of life now, then decide whether or not this is a short-term commitment or a family home you want forever. Tiny homes are becoming ever more popular, with money saved in utilities and property taxes. However, large houses continue to be built and bought in the greater Missoula area, and can be a great choice if you may want to factor in a home office or enjoy a part of the house you can escape to and be away from the noise of a large family.

Condo living on 6th St.

  1. What’s the Layout? Our last home had an attic and a basement. On the main floor there was only one bedroom. The attic held our master, and the basement held two more that we had added when our third child was born. I didn’t care for the layout. It left the youngest child on the main floor, two kids down, and us way up a world away from them in the attic space. I slept very little with the kids in different areas of the house. Our youngest felt isolated on the main floor, and my back still remembers nights sleeping on the living room sofa  after he had night terrors! When we moved into our new house, we took into consideration the layout in terms of residing in our home long term as we age. We now have only one floor. My back is thanking me, and I get a bit more sleep!
  1. Is your Space Functional? How is your space used? Could you remodel or redesign your existing home to achieve better use of space or make it more aesthetically pleasing? Missoulians are known for repurposing and designing on a dime. Check out these great resources if you are leaning toward remodeling on a budget.

Larger homes spaced closely but with lots of open space: East Missoula, MT (Canyon River).

  1. Space-out. Missoulians like their outdoor space. Do you dread mowing the lawn and shoveling the sidewalks? Condos are a great option in today’s market, and are less expensive than conventional houses. We are blessed with acres of open space in and around Missoula, so there is usually a trail close by in every neighborhood. Do you find your Peaceful Easy Feeling by zipping around a large yard on your John Deere tractor mower? Take your outdoor space into consideration.
  1. Ready for resale. If you decide to sell, how would your house look to a buyer? This is always an emotional question for owners. So, take some time to strip yourself of your personal preferences and think about what your space REALLY looks like. Real estate agents are happy to suggest improvements to help you sell, but when it comes to showing your house sometimes it is better to consult with a staging expert who can gently persuade you that your red bearded dragons may not be appealing to potential buyers.

Blend of old and new on 1st Street.

Ch-ch-ch-CHANGES, can be good! Whether you uproot or stay put. What other thoughts do you have, Missoula, on space as it relates to your home? I welcome your additions!

As  we continue on with Life in the Fast Lane, Remember to Take it Easy, and enjoy the process of Nesting in Missoula.


Jennifer Slayden bioJen Slayden wears many hats: Mother, Real Estate Agent with Main Street Realty, teacher for the non profit music program Center for Music, UM alumni, runner, and supporter of all things local. Her RealChange program dedicates a generous amount of her Real Estate commissions to be given back locally to organizations of her client’s choice. You can find her on Facebook, or give her a call at 406-370-0300.