Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Our house

Fenced in backyard for the win.
Neil and I have moved a lot: eight times in eight years, nine if you count a one-month AirBnB rental as we transitioned from Austin to Bloomington. Once we sold our house in Austin, we started to seriously look for homes for sale here with the hope that it would be our last move for a long time.

As we started looking, we made a list of our ideal home:
  • Location that is easily walkable/bikeable to work, parks, library, gym, and downtown
  • 1000-1500 sqft
  • Three bedrooms
  • One bathroom
  • Space for a dining room table, which did not need to be separate room, but somewhere that didn't feel crowded so we could comfortably host guests
Nice to haves:
  • Garage
  • Wood floors
  • A half bath
The location was the limiting factor in our search. There was a very small area of town that met our requirements for ease of walking and biking. We were willing to compromise on many aspects of the house itself, but not on location.

We saw the house we ended up buying the day after it went on the market. It was in a great location, but at the very top of our price range. When we got home from seeing it both Neil and I agreed that we could see ourselves there, but that it wasn't perfect. We decided to walk away, thinking that it was still early in the search and that we would find something we liked better that cost less.

A month later, the price dropped significantly, which made the house much more interesting to us. We saw it again, this time with my sister and her husband who were in town visiting. Just like the first time, we were on the fence. There were parts of it we loved, and parts we did not. The next day we decided to put in an offer for $10k below the asking price, then negotiated it down even further after the inspection. Now, three months after moving, it feels like home.

Here's what we love about the house:
  • Hardwood floors
  • Local limestone
  • On a quiet street
  • Close to an amazing park and walkable to downtown
  • Great natural light in the living spaces 
  • Fenced-in backyard (the bessssssst)
  • Awesome neighbors
Here's what we don't love:
  • The full and half bath are next to each other (weird!)
  • The kitchen and bathrooms are not updated
  • No garage
  • E's room has no windows (but soon to have a solar tube!)
  • And our biggest complaint: at just over 1500 sqft it feels too big. We are using the second living space, but would have happily lived in the house without the addition. It is more to clean, more to maintain, more to heat and cool...the list goes on. That said, I know it will make things easier as the kids grow and want to have a space to hang out with their friends. Even now, we've been enjoying having separate "adult" and "kid" living spaces. So I suppose the extra space is both a pro and a con.
I both loved and hated the home buying process. It was fun at first, but as it dragged on the stress started to overwhelm me. Looking back I think, Why was that so stressful? But I know it was, and I am glad it is behind us.

There is a lot of talk out in the world about finding the perfect house and how you'll just know when you find the right one. We never had that feeling with this house (or with our house in Austin, for that matter). We are happy we bought it and it works for our family, but there was never some magical feeling that this was the one. At times during the process that lack of certitude made me question our decision, but now I think it was for the best. Buying a house is a major financial transaction; it's okay that we let our practical side guide us.

Is this our forever house? Possibly. We bought it thinking this would be the house the kids grew up in, but that once HP moved out we would downsize to a two-bedroom. If the City changes its code--which they are looking into--we may be able to build a tiny house in the backyard that Neil and I could live in as empty-nesters. We could AirBnB the tiny house and/or use it for guests if we built it before the kids moved out. But that is a project for another day; for now, we are relishing the fact that there is no move in sight.

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