My Housing Story: Hilary Lane

Not long ago, I wrote about what millennials want. Well, don’t take my word for it! To further demystify what the millennial generation wants, I took my own advice and asked a millennial! This series, My Housing Story, will shine a spotlight on the experiences of young people living in New Hampshire. 

Meet Hilary Lane!

Hilary Lane believes in the power of having a comfortable and appealing place to call home. A transplant from Massachusetts, Hilary moved to the NH seacoast in 2016. During her housing search, Hilary saw older homes in need of modernizing, “not all young people share my love of renovation and might not consider buying a home that is in tough shape or needs updating.” Given Hilary’s love of remodeling and interior design and her background as an entrepreneur, it is no surprise Hilary saw an opportunity to “flip” homes in NH. After flipping her first house in Dover, Hilary is now remodeling her second house in New Durham.

What does “home” mean to you?

To me, home is my safe space. It’s the quiet, peaceful, cozy place to retreat after a long day.

Tell us about your experiences searching for a place to call home in New Hampshire.

I grew up in central-Massachusetts, so making the move to New Hampshire was an intentional choice. The phrase ‘the mountains are calling’ was so real for me; my ‘happy place’ is anywhere out in nature, and I’ve always been drawn to New Hampshire’s country-feel, and the oceans, mountains and lakes. I also really love how down to earth New Hampshire is (once I realized I could wear a flannel out to the bar, I knew I was among good people).

During my mid-late 20’s I owned a coffee shop in MA not far from the town I grew up in, but I was burned out and tired of the bustling suburban environment. I found myself driving north at every chance I had to visit friends, go hiking, kayaking, or snowboarding, or to visit Portsmouth and the beaches. Eventually, I sold my business, found a job in NH, and moved to the seacoast in late 2016.  

I knew I wanted to invest in real estate, so I rented a room on a month-to-month basis and then almost immediately started house hunting. I quickly discovered how great Dover is and bought a condo there in May 2017. The process wasn’t exactly smooth. The market was crazy, and homes were on and off the market in a matter of days. Finally, when a unit I liked came on the market, I put an offer in that day, sight-unseen! Everything worked out this time, and this condo was exactly what I wanted for my first investment: no yardwork, solidly built, and completely outdated inside. Interior design and cosmetic remodeling are right within my wheelhouse, so I tackled the updates room-by-room over the next year. It’s incredible what paint alone can do!

My long-term goal is to own multiple rental properties, so after a couple years I decided I was ready for my next project. I spent the next few months house hunting again. I rented the condo in Dover, and fun fact, because I had a lease in-hand, the rental income counted toward my overall income as part of the mortgage application process, so I was able to qualify for another mortgage. The market in early 2019 was just as crazy as it was a couple years ago, and it had been a challenge finding the right investment. I was looking for a single-family home in an area that would be appealing as a vacation rental in the future. Sticking to my budget was tough, but I found an amazing (and affordable) house in New Durham that I am in the process of remodeling.

What is important to you when looking for a place to call home?

For me, it’s more than just the house itself, it’s about the surroundings. I look for a place that I can see myself happy to come home to. Lastly, it has to have potential. As long as the general space and layout works for me, I know everything else can be easily changed! Being able to see beyond ugly flooring, bad paint colors, and dated decor is the key to making sure you’ll be getting a great deal. Plus, designing your home to your liking is a fun process and it will be really yours by the time you’re done.

What advice do you have for other young people hoping to make New Hampshire their home?

Have you heard “Living” by Dierks Bentley? “Some days you’re just alive; some days you’re living’”… well I think New Hampshire is for people who want to really live.  

One thing I’ve learned is that life is what you make it. If you want to be part of a culture of down-to-earth people who love the outdoors and the simple things in life, then you’ll really be at home here. There’s so much opportunity in New Hampshire for entrepreneurship and small businesses, and for young people to get involved with their local communities. So hopefully if the motto ‘live free or die’ resonates with you, you’ll throw on your favorite flannel, pull up a chair around the campfire, and make the move.

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