The process of selling our house, buying a new one, coordinating all of the timing, and then packing up 10 years of accumulated stuff all while try to get at least some work done and support our kids nearly did me in. LadyBug had surgery right in the middle, and I hit a day where I wasn’t sure I would make it through. I was just stressed and tired and anxious about the whole process, but very hopeful for the new house. A good friend of mine expressed her thankfulness that they had purchased their “forever house” the first time around because she hates moving so much. It got me thinking about the relationship you have with the houses you live in and how you finally settle on the one you want to commit to.
The first truth is that Big Guy and I couldn’t afford the house we really wanted the first time around. We were fortunate in that he already co-owned a house with his brother, so we had that to sell, but I didn’t bring a lot of collateral to the table. It meant compromising on a few of our “must haves” for a house that had a lot to like. The other reality is that you don’t really know what you need in a house for a family until you start having kids. A size and layout that works for a couple is not necessarily great for several active kids. Which brings me to the third thing. Kids are loud (and often messy). That open floor plan that is fantastic when you want to keep an eye on your toddler is a whole different animal when you just want a moment of (introverted) silence. [Read The Open Floor Plan is an Extrovert Conspiracy and note that we bought a different house that had a room just as big as the last!]
So then I thought about how buying a house, or choosing an apartment – when you have the finances to have options – is sometimes like dating. What looks good on paper may eventually be the thing that drives you insane. And sometimes the one you love isn’t the right one for you over the long term. And also? You get used to annoying things and don’t realize until later that you should never, ever have put up with any of that in the first place. Ahem. But then there is a crucial difference between house hunting and choosing a lifelong partner (other than the cost): Never, ever choose a mate with the assumption that you will change that person later. It won’t happen. On the other hand, never overlook a house based on just what you see on the surface. You can (and should, over time) make changes and updates. You want a house that you can mold to your personality. For some reason, many people swap these two truths in their mind and look for a picture perfect house while choosing a mate they hope will “grow.”
Our new house isn’t perfect. In fact, our old house had better décor and more updated household systems. We’ve already found mold and a leaky window in the new house in addition to an aging roof and heating system, and décor that… well, it just isn’t our style. Something in the master bedroom is making me wheeze and our appliances don’t fit in the spaces in the new kitchen. Not even two weeks in, our neighborhood lost power and we had to sleep elsewhere. Despite all of this, I wake up every morning feeling incredibly spoiled (if a bit short of breath). Updates aside, we’ve stumbled into our dream home.
When I first saw the listing on this house, I wasn’t remotely interested. Besides being about $70K more than we wanted to spend, I couldn’t figure out the layout from the pictures, and I scoffed at the fact that it has an indoor lap pool. Who puts a pool in their house, anyway? [Note: Big Guy and I have always said we wanted an indoor pool (in a never-gonna-happen sort of way), so I’m not even sure why I had such an attitude about it.] I came to the open house on a whim and… fell in love. It was unexpected and unfortunate, since there was NO WAY we could afford it. I spent a few weeks staring at pictures in an attempt to convince myself that it wasn’t so perfect for us in the first place. And then the price came down. It was still too high, but at least getting closer. I convinced Big Guy to come for the next open house with the idea that he’d hate it and I could put it to rest. Except he didn’t hate it. He also looked past all of the cosmetic things and saw the perfect layout with a great yard and quiet neighborhood. The kids thought they were in Disney World, so that was an easy sell. We started working through the numbers to see how we could make it work. I even went so far as to email the agent to let her know we were definitely interested if they reached a certain price point. In the end, the price dropped again, we came way up, and finally settled on a spot somewhere in between. They even accepted our offer contingent on selling our current house, which wasn’t even on the market yet.
The buying and selling was stressful and crazy, but now we are here, surrounded by piles of boxes and walls of furniture. Sometimes it’s hard to see past everything we need to do, but then there are the afternoons where the kids go across the street to play with new neighborhood friends. And there are moments when I sit in my spacious new office (which currently has no flooring) or bask in the sun in the atrium. There’s the quiet when the kids are down in their playroom and Big Guy and I can have a conversation in peace. We now sit together most nights for dinner with no TV because we have an eat-in kitchen/dining room area that is dedicated space. This is just where we are meant to be. It’s a strange house, quirky if you will, but so US.
This house was just waiting for us to outgrow our first home. Our relationship is still new, and I’m sure we’ll have plenty of rocky patches as we move forward. But underneath it all, I can’t help but know that this is the RIGHT place, in a way I never felt about our first home. There’s something magical about that feeling and something comforting in knowing that we have the rest of our lives to turn this space into perfection. I’m in love and thankful and feeling very lucky. It’s a good place to be.