It has been one year since we closed on our house. This is the first time either my husband or I have owned a home. I grew up on a farm in rural Wisconsin. Hubby grew up in a series of old houses, mostly in the Nebraska/Kansas area. When we married, Hubby was unemployed, and we incurred a good deal of credit card debt. It took us the first seven or eight years of our marriage to pay it off. The last few years, we were making payments equal to that of our rent, and forgoing a lot of extras. We spent the next couple years saving every dime we could for a down-payment. We scraped together $20,000 this way.
So, our dream home was a long time coming. We wanted to do it right, with no credit card debt, and a comfortable, earnest down-payment. We ran the numbers and figured we could afford a modest $125,000-$130,000 home (in our city, I'd say this is on the low end of an average family home). We were nervous about meeting with a loan counselor—neither of us had ever done anything like that before—would she tell us we couldn’t afford the kind of home we wanted or find a problem with our credit?
Well, everything went swimmingly. With the housing market slump and our down-payment, we were told we were in a good situation. We were relieved to learn that our credit scores were stellar. We left the loan officer with confidence—and the name of a great realtor. This was Tuesday evening. We put together a list of homes for sale in the area of our city we liked best—small, well-maintained homes, central to the university (where I work), the interstate, and our favorite stores and restaurants. We set up three appointments for Wednesday evening.
The first house we saw was sweet, but it felt small and disjointed. The second house had a miniscule kitchen and a loft master bedroom, neither of which appealed to us. The third house…well, the third house was just right. It was so perfect, in fact, we couldn’t believe it was in our price range. The kitchen and bath were new, the carpet and flooring was new, the yard was well-landscaped. It sat on a large corner lot, had a two-car garage, and the basement already had the studs and insulation and was ready for drywall.
We made an offer that night, which happened to be our ninth wedding anniversary. A counteroffer came the next day, and we accepted. We closed on June 24, and started moving in that evening.
And we moved. And we moved. And we moved. And we moved….
As I’ve stated before, we don’t always do things the easy way.
I was in the process of leaving my university job of 13 years to start a new one (still on campus). I had two weeks of vacation coming, so I took it between my jobs. And I packed for two weeks straight. When it came time to move, we only rented a U-Haul here and there. We hauled a great deal of our items just the two of us, in our Prius, from 5pm-midnight on muggy June nights. The neighbors must have thought we were nuts. For the big pieces of furniture, we had my older brother and parents come to lend a hand. We cleaned our apartment until the wee hours of the day we had to be out. I can laugh now, but that night was a rocky one for our marriage—mostly because my husband didn’t know it was rocky. Guys don’t really seem to have the same overwhelm threshold as women do. I hit the wall at about 8:00pm. Cleaning the oven at midnight put me way over the edge. But we made it through.
Here are a few photos taken before I started packing up. I didn't realize we lived like Fred Sanford, but apparently, we did.
|Living room. Notice the little mountain down the center of the carpet? That's the main reason my husband wanted to move.|
|Hubby's recording area. Actually, I guess THIS is the main reason he wanted to move.|
|Kitchen. The main reason I wanted to move. You're digging the linoleum, aren't you?|
|Dining room. We used the table about four times in the nine years we lived there.|
|Bathroom. Nothing like 1970s yellow.|
|Back bedroom. There's a half-bath beyond the closet. We used this room for working out, for my library, and for guest sleeping. Basically, anything that didn't fit anywhere else came here.|
I neglected to take a photo of our bedroom, which is odd, since it was my favorite room.
|One of the many, MANY trips we made in the U-Haul. I never did take photos of us moving in the car. I should have to, it would be great blackmail someday. "Honey, remember when you made us move nine years worth of possessions in the Prius?"|
Here are some photos of our new house.
|Home sweet home.|
|The large yard was the only thing that scared us.|
|The huge maple trees--and what they do in the fall--should have scared us.|
|Taken from the corner.|
It was a long time coming, but I don't regret one moment of saving or arguing or dreaming to make it possible. (Photos of the interior to come.)