Some really, really good things have happened in these last few months too. HusbandX started a job back in December, one he enjoys and is happy in. Since my brother was home for a few months at Christmas, we were able to hire him as childcare for us when we were both at work. We've been so, so lucky that for childcare so far we've only ever had to rely on friends and family. That will change in the fall when our Munchkin starts preschool. We found an amazing outdoor preschool that I applied for back in the fall and we found out over the winter that she's in! She'll get to spend her mornings playing with other kids in the woods, and I could not think of a more perfect setting for my child. I know she'll learn a lot and have fun doing it.
So, now HusbandX and I both have jobs that we are happy with. In some ways it's been an odd adjustment. Double employment? What's that? But after hunting around for so long, it's nice to know that HusbandX found something that suits him so well. Having met his coworkers at their Christmas party (in January), they're nice people. The work they're doing is interesting and engaging, and HusbandX is just so much happier than he had been. It's nice to have purpose again.
Since he has a job, in February we started working on our next big thing. We began searching for a house. Waaay back we'd written down a list of our wants and needs for a living situation. Since I'm a planner and a dreamer, I have huge notes dedicated to features I want in my future yard and garden. We already knew what neighborhoods in the city we could afford, which coincidentally happened to be the same neighborhoods where many of our home-owning friends live. We narrowed it down to one area to look in, figured out how far out of that area we wouldn't compromise about even for an amazing house, worked out a budget we were comfortable with, and started our search.
We didn't expect it to be all kittens and roses, thank goodness. It started off slow. Many friends had told us to look at as many houses as we could stand to. It would give us an idea of what's available, what are good prices, what things are actually selling for, and would refine our ideas of what we want in a house. It did all of those things. And let me tell you, the Seattle real estate market is bonkers. There are tiny houses with frankly dangerous issues (broken retaining walls, cracked foundations, outdated electrical systems) that smell of cat pee and they're going for half a million dollars, or close enough. What. The. Fuck. We looked at so many houses with features that made us say, "Wut?" and a few that we outright laughed at. Outrageous house, outrageous price. But they sold. In less than two weeks a house, even a miserable and downright awful house, would be sold. What?
One day I sent HusbandX a link to a listing and said, "Maybe this is a possibility?" It was a $14million dollar penthouse with a view of the Space Needle. We had fun looking at the pictures and joking about, "Well, I would buy it but that kitchen is tasteless," or "the bathroom needs some work, you can't even fit an entire football team in that tub!"
We found one house we really liked in the first month of looking and put in an offer, but someone else got it. We found another house we liked less but which would suit us well enough and put in another offer the next month. Now that someone else has it, I'm thankful for that.
Then...oh boy. We found The One. A house that had all of our Needs, and pretty much all of our Wants. Bigger than I'd initially thought we'd go for but well worth it. The yard and garden match some of my dreams amazingly well, but there's still opportunity to make them just the way I want. Walking around, this place felt like Home.
We did a pre-inspection and that confirmed what we'd already known: this was a great house. There was one major/minor issue that I had some small reservations about. Not enough to deter us but enough to make me slightly less excited about paying so much money for a house only to then lay out even more money to fix this. Then it turned out the seller was having it fixed anyway, which frankly doubled my excitement as it meant that pretty much all of the issues in the house were purely cosmetic, or at least could be put off for a while.
The other houses we'd put offers on had both had many more offers at the same time. I know one had at least six other offers. This one, however, only had one competing offer. HusbandX worried. "Do other people know something that we don't?" I held onto the pre-inspection in my mind as proof that we weren't going for a lemon.
That there were only two offers worked to our advantage. In the end, we're getting a house and lot of a rather large size for the city, close to amenities and close enough to work to bike, close to a bus line. And we're getting it for less than we would have expected. It's rather incredible. I feel so, so lucky.
We're working our way through the loan process right now. For those of you who haven't bought houses, finding the right house and getting an offer accepted is just the start of the stressful process. The bank required tons of paperwork, some of which we had on hand and some of which we needed to contact others about. For about two weeks, every day I was scanning and uploading and searching and signing documents. It was chaos. HusbandX joked, "I thought the stool sample was a little much." It really felt as if they asked for everything just short of a virgin sacrifice.
In the midst of all of this, my part-time job asked me to work longer hours, so I've had more full days in the last month than I've had short ones. I got a small raise at the end of March, too. That's good news for our house fund, but the extra work has added a whole new level of craziness that had me sucking down chamomile tea to calm down. I slept horribly for a few nights, worried about paperwork or that the bank would randomly deny our loan. Ugh.
But now, things are almost over. The appraisal went through just fine. We're still getting the funds together, as about half of what we had was in an investment account, so the thought that it won't get here in time is my final worry. It's mild, however, not the kind of worry that causes my thumb to randomly start twitching for an entire day. (True story.)
|These two helped me chill out. At least,|
when they weren't causing further sleep
disruptions they did.
It's nice to finally relax. It's nice to feel like this house might actually become ours, although I'm still not going to count on that until closing day. Even then, I think I'll have a hard time taking in that we own a home. When does it begin to feel real?
There are so many reasons we decided to buy a house. There are online calculators out there about whether it's better to rent or to buy, monetarily. We didn't even care (although I think that in this area, it's pretty much a wash) because there were so many other reasons we wanted a home of our own. Among them, we're tired of crappy landlords and worse neighbors. Seriously, we've only ever had one truly good landlord, and we always seem to be stuck with awful neighbors.
I wanted to finally, finally have a garden space that I could do whatever I wanted to. Keep backyard chickens? Maybe! I don't have to seek permission from anyone to plant things, and I know that if I plant a fruit tree or berry bush then I'll be around to harvest it too.
We also will get to remodel our environment to suit us. There were plenty of houses I saw which were nice, but they were someone else's conception of what a nice house should be. The house we're buying has just enough work that needs to be done that we can make it to suit ourselves and our needs.
That includes making it more environmentally friendly. Of course, one of the most environmentally friendly options is just to not buy more crap that needs to get manufactured while throwing out other stuff that will sit in a landfill for who knows how long. And I get that. But even things like increasing the R-value of the attic insulation is exciting to me. How pathetic is that? And that's my point. We're becoming homeowners because this stuff is exciting and fun for us. If it's not making you squee, just a little, to think about it, then renting is a far better idea. Not everyone has the inclination to look up Youtube videos about plumbing, or the desire to refinish cabinets, or to paint walls, or build a patio, or whatever the latest DIY project for a home is. (And I'm not kidding myself--there's always one more project that can be done when you own a home.) We do care about and enjoy these things, so that's what we're going to do.