Houses

About eleven months ago, E and I saw an ad for an amazingly cheap apartment essentially around the corner from my mother’s house (where we were living at the time). We went and checked it out the next day, and I ‘fell in love’. We paid a fee so the property company would hold it for us until we could pay the full deposit, because I had just changed jobs to my manager position and had not yet received a paycheck. Once I got paid we put down the deposit and moved the next day. It was honestly not the wisest of decisions; if we had waited two more weeks, we would have had a much easier time; if we’d pushed it back until January, we would have been sitting pretty. As it was, we had NOTHING for the first few weeks we lived here.  I had budgeted our income down to the last nickel (literally), made sure all our bills were paid, and triumphantly announced we would be “fine”.  The next day we found out our milk had gone bad and had no money at all until the following Friday. Somehow we did without for almost a week, and we laugh about it now when we’re feeling nostalgic.

Gradually over the time since then, I have worked –sometimes with E’s help, sometimes without- to make this apartment a home. Getting pregnant was an unexpected (though very welcome!) set back in that goal, because it took me from giving 110%  to barely managing 20% in the space of a month. Now, however…now I look around and I see a space that I created with love….an organized and clean place that I wouldn’t mind bringing friends into.  I have to be honest: it’s not all that welcoming in an immediate sense (our living room is my studio and office, after all, and thus it is rather bare of visitor amenities). However,  if you don’t mind sitting at the dining room table I can make you some coffee or a snack while we chat, or you can go upstairs to E’s ‘man cave’ which contains all the normally expected accouterments of a living space:  TV, game console, coffee table, couch.   All in all, I’m really proud of how this apartment has been transformed! I

Unfortunately, it has some serious and unavoidable limitations that I was not fully aware of when we moved. Our kitchen is smaller than the closet in our bedroom (in fact, E had to entirely remove some cupboard doors to free up more space). We share a centrally-located water heater with the entire complex, and therefore we have to turn the water on at 5:30 in order to get hot water by 6 (on the plus side, we never run out of REALLY hot water once it actually arrives). Storage space is decently sized but poorly planned in both location and shelving.  Our electrical system seems to be stuck in the 40’s (seriously), our kitchen appliances are the cheapest variety on the market, and we do not have a washer/dryer.  We have gas heating (fabulous!) but only one heating unit, located on the opposite side of the house from the stairs. As a result, the downstairs is always roasting and the upstairs is always frigid when it’s cold outside. We are located across the street from a high school football field, and our walls and windows have no sound proofing whatsoever.  The icing on the cake is the fact that there is a very busy city highway on the other side of the fence outside our back door…and getting out of our parking lot during rush hour is an absolute nightmare.

Basically, the more I live here, the more I realize why the rent was so low, and the more impatient I am to just leave.  If I had come to this realization at any point in the past I would already be gearing up to move. This time, however, something is different. This time I am holding back because I don’t want to move to just another apartment- I want to buy a house.  I have never been very good at waiting or being patient, but I recognize that this is not a thing I will accomplish tomorrow, and therefore I’m going to have to hold my horses for a while, and I have to come up with a long term plan.  The interesting thing to me –and the thing that I hope will keep me focused on the goal- is that E and I actually have the resources to actually do it if we plan things properly.  That’s a very good feeling indeed!

At the moment, I think we could reasonably attain the goal of moving into a real house by the end of 2015 if we really apply ourselves. If some of the potential opportunities that my boss has been talking to me about become reality, it could happen a lot sooner.  It’s very exciting!

Sadly I have to temper the excitement by asking myself if I can handle living in this apartment until then, or if I should try to work temporarily moving to a different apartment into our plans. If we did move, would I be willing to trade our fantastic location (in relation to our lifestyle) for cheaper rent? If not, would I be willing to lengthen our house timeline in exchange for a better temporary living arrangement?  It may seem silly, but those are hard questions for me. I don’t have answers yet.

Plus, there are other more practical questions to consider, and the answers could affect our plans in unwelcome ways. What does it actually take to buy a house? I know we will need to get a loan, but that’s basically it. Since my credit is significantly better than my husband’s (and is going up as quickly as his is going down), can I get a mortgage in just my name? Should we pay off our credit card before we even attempt to pursue this? What monthly mortgage payment could we realistically afford with credit card debt? What about without? What is a “decent mortgage”, anyway? How does house insurance work? If we’re planning on buying a house in two years, how soon should we find a realtor we like, and how soon is too soon to start looking at houses and getting a feel for what we really want/need?  Do we apply for a loan before or after we find a house we want? If before, how do we know what price range to look at? If after, what happens if we don’t get approved?

So many questions…so little idea of how to get them answered. Somehow, I will figure it out. I always do!

Less than a year ago I was sitting on my bed in my mom’s basement, crying because it felt like I was trapped forever in a circle of ineptitude. Eleven months later here I am, asking serious questions about the very confusing grown up world of financing the purchase of a house, and trying to balance my own comfort with the needs of a growing family.  Life can seem so foreign and unreal at times!

Cheers,

M

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