Sunday, February 25, 2018

Mature Enough to Be a Homeowner?

People who know me know that I have lived in an apartment for the last year. My fiance and I believed it was time (really I believed it was time and he was okay with it as long as he could finish up his schooling and not be expected to pay the bulk of the bills.) Matt and I had the perfect plan: since we both still lived with our parents who were not kicking us out, we (or I) would pay the February 2017 rent and we would move in slowly, luxuriously for the entire month. There would be absolutely no stress. What could be a more ideal way to move in?

The weekend after I paid for our first month's rent, we still had no furniture, no bed, and no cable, which was okay because we were going to move in at our own speed, right? As it turned out, that's not how it went. The animal shelter I volunteer at ran out of things for me to do in the office that Saturday. I still had 30 minutes to go, so they gave me two options: go home, or assist in the cat room. Then I met Teddy.

We just loved Teddy, but we would have to pick him up that Monday, in two days. And now it was time to buy a lot of furniture and move in!

The furniture was delivered in the following weeks, but we had already moved in and were living with our new cat baby. We had a tiny family. The addition of more and more furniture did confuse Teddy at first, but eventually, we made this apartment a home for us three.

Fast forward a year, we have been living here since and have added another kitten, Tip.

What I have wanted for awhile now was a house full of pets. Matt is still in school. but we decided that if he was still able to contribute some, we could get a house. I decided our budget was $139,000 (with him trying to up it to $150,000, but not succeeding.)

Searching for the right home only took a few weeks, but our patient realtor must have shown us at least 40 houses. Some that we walked into and walked right out of (these were just the appointments with me and my dad. If Matt was there, he would take an hour looking at everything even if it was just to confirm how much he assumed he hated that house in the beginning.)

In the end, there was a home I absolutely adored. I wanted it the second I walked through the front door. It was a tiny ranch that didn't have much (or any) curb appeal, but a lot of promise on the inside. The rooms were small, but came with beautiful hardwood floors and the kitchen came with all of the appliances. The basement was really what made me fall in love with it. It was separated into three tiny rooms. The first one had beautiful hardwood, creamy white walls, and a charming gas fireplace. We could add a TV and shelves to make this a nice living area. The adjoining room could be a tiny library, and the next one was unfinished, but large enough to be something one day. The yard was big enough for two dogs and children one day, which Matt and I both agreed that we wanted. It was also the largest yard of the neighboring houses.

Unfortunately, no matter how much I, my father, and his father insisted that this was the perfect home for us, Matt hated it. He wanted a large basement for entertaining with comfy wood panel walls like he grew up with at his parent's house. He wasn't budging and I was heartbroken. It was everything I had ever wanted. I imagined two dogs, a nursery, and a giant fish tank in the living room! I was already painting the upstairs in my mind. It was even under budget, $119,000! I think I cried, but my future spouse hated it. What was I supposed to do?

My father, and even his father, insisted that I still buy the house. That Matt would grow to love it., but our genius realtor had other ideas. She knew of another ranch (my ideal style) that was about to be put on the market. The homeowner had to be moved into a nursing home and her three children were selling it. Currently, her daughter was living in the house until the estate sale. After the estate sale, they planned on trying to sell the ranch that their parents had built from the ground up long ago.

Our realtor, also their realtor, convinced them to let us see the house before it went on the market. She knew what she was doing. It had almost (almost!) the same layout as the other ranch, but it felt huge for us. All three bedrooms were bigger, and the basement was definitely made for entertaining, with wood panels. There are two fireplaces, one upstairs and one downstairs. The living room and halls were a light pink, and the living room had light blue carpet, which actually went well together! Also, once again, all the appliances were included.

Unfortunately, the backyard left much to be desired. If Matt and I stood sideways, side-by-side, we would fill the width of the yard. No room for our future children to make-believe. My backyard was my favorite thing growing up. Our yard wasn't large, but to a kid, it could be outerspace one day and a frontier the next. The swings were perfect for the neighbor boy and I to pretend we were pilots, who sadly had to evacuate our planes, jump, and roll around on the grass to safety. That is just not a possibility with this house, and the homeowners wanted about $134,900, near the top of our budget.

I was also struggling with the space. Was it too large? I didn't want to feel so separated. The tiny ranch meant that the pets, Matt, and I would be together all the time. Was this more space than I even wanted? Matt was thinking of our future kids, though. Yes, one day they would be teens and want a little additional space from us. I wanted a house that would be our forever home, not a starter home, and Matt and our realtor understood that. I wanted a house I would never move out of, unless the day comes when Matt and I can afford a farm with a lot of animals. That is the only reason I would want to move.

In the end, we signed some (many) papers and offered $130,000. The three children snapped this up immediately. They weren't money-hungry, they just wanted someone to take care of the home their parents had built. Also, our realtor who knew how much I wanted a home filled with animals added a feature I couldn't refuse: the children were trying to find a home for their mother's 8-year-old cat, Addy. We had met her when touring the house, so we even filled out a tiny contract for her! I believe this is what made the children say yes so quickly. We were making this move easy for them.

I like to joke that Addy was a $130,000 cat. Now I just have to wait until the end of the month to move in, but that's not all. As much as I love the living room walls, everything else upstairs I want to paint for a rustic-gray look. In one day, Matt watched in a deep boredom as I analyzed color samples from three different stores. I took many swatches and have them lying about the apartment. I have never painted a wall before, but to my dad's dismay, I'm insisting that I can. I have already ready 3.5 design books and I have bought many more to read as well.

Let's see how this goes.

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