Creating the Fun Factor in Your First Home


Alex is a motivational speaker and advocate for lifestyle skills and home safety training, a free-lance journalist and the co-founder of the National Kids Construction Club. He holds a Master of Science in Real Estate from American University’s Kogod School of Business. Alex welcomes your questions and the opportunity to speak to your organization. He can be reached at

If you’re just starting your career and working with a limited budget, like me, it is possible to create a really entertaining lifestyle in your first home. I did it by adding interactive classic games everyone can easily appreciate.

For starters, I found inexpensive housing by opting for a functionally obsolescent 1951 center hall colonial home in a quaint upscale neighborhood near shopping, fitness facilities, restaurants and nightlife. I then carefully vetted four friendly roommates to share these spacious five bedrooms and four completely vintage bathrooms.

The home’s expansive living room provides great multi-functionality. Built-in bookcases create a library for our many college text books. Two leather sofas, donated by family selling their vacation home, form a comfortable seating area around the fireplace. A classy used foosball table, purchased for $60 through Craigslist, provides a touch of unconventionality.

A sun room adjacent to the living room delivers the perfect space for a hand-me-down wooden table and six inexpensive folding chairs for playing cards and the many board games saved from our youth.

In the lower-level walk-out family room, a decent music system and an original, 1951 bar-style pool table generate real atmosphere in our home. This 7-foot hardwood beauty fetched on-line for only $100, cost a whopping $450 to carefully reassemble. A friend’s grandmother donated her 1950s bamboo sofa and matching chairs. We converted our dorm refrigerators into soda fridges and added a cheap, used wine cooler.

In the long, unfinished room next to the family room, an 8-foot, portable, hand-made ping pong table (purchased for $10) sits on a folding table. Tall, plastic palm trees found at a rummage sale add a touch of kitsch and can easily be taken to the adjacent covered patio for barbecue parties and games of badminton and volleyball in the backyard.

To create this low-budget, highly entertaining home for five bachelors, it necessitated paying close attention to every detail and utilizing lots of patience and persistence, especially when searching on-line sources or haggling with strangers, friends, family and neighbors. It proved well worth the effort. After a long day of work or graduate school, we can be found gathering for a game of pool or foosball fun. And when our parents visit, our home reminds them of their youth, especially when gathering for a game of dominoes.

Spending too much money on rental housing and not saving enough money for a future home remain major complications for many Millennials in their first few years out of college. It can be so tempting to desire an expensive updated apartment and furnishings. Remember: think more long-term and the money needed for savings, investments and even retirement.

Giving up life in the big city and finding an outdated home in an established neighborhood close to public transportation produced an affordable alternative for us. Buying older used items to fill our home, like the classic pool table, allowed us to meet a variety of people of our parents’ age. They felt honored that their fun games found a new home for Millennials to enjoy.