How A Mennonite Buys A House: 4 Tips To Stay Married

FB_IMG_1502827331831My husband and I recently began the journey of buying our first home in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. It would be easy to assume when you and your Mennonite spouse decide to buy a home, you’d both be looking for a house. That would be wrong. YOU are looking for a house. Your spouse is looking to restore the glory days of his upbringing and the values of country living.

Our budget is slightly above the affordability of shoe box. Combined with the stress of our different cultural backgrounds, remaining married is no foregone conclusion.

Here’s how Mennonite buys a house:

  1. They Are Looking For A Deal.

Ah, expenses. Mennonite kryptonite. We  have considered foreclosures where I believe the best remedy is burning it down or an exorcism. Channel your inner Joanna Gaines because you are moving into a “fixer upper”. They will NOT pay extra for frivolous things like a roof without leaks or painted walls or livable conditions. They’re Mennonite. They can do everything themselves and for less than the seller’s offering.

  1. Mennonite Dads Can Fix Anything.

A house may look collapsed beyond repair to Bob Vila and the county inspector who condemned it, but not to the Mennonite patriarch. Apparently, he has all manner of construction, electrical or plumbing supplies stored in his grain silo. He can fix anything with nail glue and mutters of ancient Low German prayers.

Or curse words but I don’t speak plattdeutsch so who knows.

Since your father-in-law can fix anything, the price of your home must include round trip airfare for the in laws; affordable if purchasing a foreclosure without inspection. What a waste of money that would be.


  1. Mennonites Living In The City Are Looking For A Yard, Not A House.

Land in Rio Rancho is less hospitable to vegetation than the lush farm land my husband grew up on. Instead of plants we have “rock gardens”. If you think I’m kidding, I’m not. Rock gardens choke out fierce things that survive in this sand box such as weeds, cactus, poisonous insects and worst of all, “goatheads”. Goatheads are thorns that impale your pets, children, car tires, tank treads etc. There’s no known cure for fire ants.

We have visited homes acceptable to my Mennonite where the house needs to be torn down and rebuilt from scratch but the yard happens to have a nice shed, a huge workshop, or a tree.

In New Mexico, a tree is a selling feature.FB_IMG_1502827213375

I’m frequently reminding my husband we are looking to buy a HOUSE and cannot raise our kid in the shed or wild desert.  “It’s entirely possible your ancestors were raised by wolves in the Prussian wilderness. I’m New Mexican and I require a higher child survival rate.”


4. Fire.

Because what a scorching desert really needs in the midst of a drought is MORE FIRE.

Every yard has to have a fire pit. Every house needs to have a fireplace. (Woodburing only, NOT GAS. Gas is for city folk a.k.a wimps/cheaters.) A real Mennonite proves his ruggedness by his ability to build an awesome fire. It’s your Mennonite man card if you will.

My husband has measured spaces and suggested he and his dad could build a fireplace. I’m starting to think he prefers the challenge of building a new fireplace to purchasing a house with a preexisting one. It will probably be the size of a 18th century brick oven and double as a guest room.

“Thank you so much for coming to visit! We’ve made you a bed in the fireplace behind the cauldron. I hope you’re not asthmatic. ”

Never Forget:

  • In the end, you will have a nice home. It will take work, possibly decades of it, but he and his parents will make it a beautiful home.
  • You will have an affordable mortgage. You will not be house-poor living with a Mennonite. Poor maybe, house-poor never.
  • You will have a nice yard.
  • Your children will have good memories.
  • You will have fire. –  It’s just gonna happen.

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