“Home Ownership” Archive
I had absolutely nothing to do yesterday. The kids went to their Dad’s house for the first time in a month and I had nothing to do. I needed to clean my house but instead I watched television all day! I did workout in the morning but was back home by 9 am and in pj’s for the DAY! Wow. I don’t know when I did that last! It felt great.
I got sucked into a few television shows via Hulu and the internet. Some were truly mind-numbing (did you know there’s a reality show called “Pregnant and Dating?” Don’t judge me for watching that one!) while others were very informative! I watched House Hunters (both domestic and international) as well as “Love It or List It.” I think I’ve seen one episode of House Hunters before and “Love It or List It” was new for my TV watching list. There were a couple that caught my attention but two stand out. The first was the family from Houston who was transferred to Brussels for the husband’s job. I tend to watch things now with a “pre-blog” and “post-blog” take. I could relate to so many things about this family under my “pre-blog” brain. They were trying to make Europe fit their very American (and dare I say very Texan) ways. The wife kept saying she had a vision of what their European house would be like but then kept including very American aspects to that vision. And they had SO MUCH STUFF that I don’t know how they walked around the final set up of their home. The second episode was the single, female Dallas lawyer who up and moved to Rome. She had a business idea it seemed for consulting on American legal issues for European businesses but the show didn’t go into exactly how that worked. She had an $1,800 budget and decided on an apartment that wasn’t her top choice (the top choice was $2,400 per month) and she recognized that she could not overextend like that until the business was more stable. I have a secret little dream that after my kids are grown and I retire, I will live at least part time in Europe–so it was fun to watch that one.
Then there was “Love It or List It.” The premise of this one is a family’s home no longer meets their needs and one spouse wants to sell while the other wants to stay. So the show brings in a design/remodeling team to convert the current home into what the couple says they need and also brings in a real estate agent to find the couple a new home to buy. After all of the renovations are done and an available for purchase home is decided upon, the couple decides to “Love It or Leave It.” This show is fascinating from a relationship perspective too. The spouse who wanted to leave (in one episode the husband, in another the wife) really went to great lengths to not like their current home. It was as though the designer was dealing with children who did not like the clothes mom picked out and nothing was going to change their minds. The wife even got hostile with the designer insisting on a wall coming down that the designer knew was going to take too much of the budget–but the wife was insistent. In the end, both couples decided to “Love It” because the renovations were remarkable but it wasn’t without a lot of angst once they got a taste of the shiny new house.
It is neat to watch these things now with no envy or jealousy. I used to watch those things and “ooooh “and “ahhh” and want the same. I’d get the “design bug” and go do something random to my homes (when I owned my homes) just because I was sparked. Completely impulsive behavior. Now I still “oooh” and “ahhh” but the prominent thought in my mind is how much everything costs! I did not walk away from this marathon television day and look at my little apartment with disappointment. Instead I was grateful for what has become a simple life.
The Devil that I overcame!
Sunday was a very good day and as I write this I’m not feeling any remorse about my visit to The Container Store. Yes, there’s a stream of thought in my mind that is telling me I deserved that shopping trip. I’ll let you collectively groan as you read that. I spent $225. Yes, I could have sent that $225 to debt and while I am not trying to be flip I need you all to know I don’t feel bad about this spending decision.
Did I buy things that I could have done without? Yes, probably. Did I get sucked into consumerism disguised as organization? Uh huh, definitely. Did I put a lot of things away to pull me off of the $600 I almost spent? I did. Did I get that exciting feeling inside that I get when I shop? Yep. Does that worry me? Not a bit!
This shopping trip was planned. It was not impulse. I intentionally walked every single aisle of that beautiful store and picked up what I wanted on the first pass. My cart was pretty full. I did have a list upon entering but I decided on that first pass to just ignore the list. It was sort of an experiment in many ways to remember the old Claire and stay true to the new Claire. I was in the store for almost three hours and I feel that was time well spent!
I bought the grooviest dresser drawer organizers that essentially double the space of my no-longer-scary dresser. I bought a Simply Human trash can–yes, I did. I have watched those trash cans for years and didn’t need one until this move when the prior plastic trash can finally bit the dust. I love my trash can. It has a side for trash and a side for recycling and it is pretty. They WERE having their Spring Organization sale so the trash can was $50 off. I never knew I’d find so much happiness in a trash can but I have. I gave some thought to why that is and concluded it is because I no longer make impulse purchases. I no longer borrow to “buy” stuff I want. I own this trash can free and clear and there is joy in that reality! I’m not kidding when I tell you I stared at that trash can all evening and see it as so much more than a really nice trash can. It is a symbol of good decisions and that you CAN get nice things when you exercise SELF-CONTROL and wait until you have the money saved.
I also bought a few space saving tools that will come in handy in our new smaller space. I continue to be very content in my apartment and enjoy finding new ways to take up less space! I did not go crazy and will not go crazy but I also shopped and returned home with no buyer’s remorse. THAT is a great feeling! I highly recommend it!
We are getting settled in to the apartment and as I’ve been updating friends and family beyond my immediate family I am making mental notes of their responses. Housing is such a personal choice with, I am learning, all sorts of emotional ties involved. I’m just as guilty as the next guy as I look back at my 20′s and 30′s and realize I was chasing a housing dream defined for me by others–namely, society. When I take stock of the various living situations I’ve been in during my adult life my fondest memories come from my time in apartments! Now obviously some of that has to do with what was going on in my life at the time that was totally unrelated to the housing situation (relationship, job, life events, etc) but to some extent I am determining that the simplicity of apartment living has a lot to do with that contentment.
Now before some of you say it, I’ll readily admit I am not yet two weeks into this new place. I could be sick of it in just a few months and that remains to be seen. Things are very quiet so far and the neighbors are appropriately friendly. The kids are excited and that helps tremendously. I love that I can clean the apartment in all of 20 minutes and that there are a whole host of things that I do not have to worry about by living in a community setting like this.
But the criticism is out there for my choice to move to an apartment. I do think this is even more pronounced in my part of the country–Texas–where bigger truly is seen as better. A good friend originally from the Northeast was most shocked by the size of the “regular” neighborhood lots, the size of the houses on those lots and the seemingly mandatory 6-foot tall privacy fences around the backyard. Texans like their space. But I’ve learned the hard way that human nature is to FILL UP that space with STUFF and then what do you have? TOO MUCH STUFF. I also know the criticism about raising kids in apartments. I’ve never bought into that one though because much of our country and our world raise happy, healthy children in “apartment” like settings ALL the time. I’ll admit though this is a tough stigma to choose to overcome. I am better at it now than I was in my 20′s and 30′s but the stigma is definitely there. The kids seem okay with it but again–that might be the novelty of the whole situation. Time will tell.
Final thought: I’ve been talking to my Mom a lot lately about all of her stuff. My mom is almost 82 years old and was orphaned at age 5. I think her childhood experiences have turned her into the extreme pack rat that she is now. By no means is she a hoarder b/c everything is very neatly organized but serious amounts of stuff. My Dad now wishes they had moved out of my childhood home about 10-15 years ago into a more manageable space. At their age now their physical limitations make the idea of moving too much to bear. And so being the realist I am (a product, I am convinced, of having parents who were in their 40′s when they had me at a time that 40 year old women were not having babies and a mother who was sure she would die before the end of the school day–lol–not kidding…she would put me on the bus and say she hoped she’d be there when I came home…I WAS 8! There is a book waiting to be written about my mom…but I digress) I wonder why we all chase a house with lots of space when in the end…we need and should want to downsize to adjust to our inevitable physical, mental and perhaps financial limitations?!
So as I drove by this really nice Senior Apartment Complex right by our place it hit me. I think I want to live in one of those places! Hey…they include meal plans and activities! I could travel and have a small home base!
I put my 5′x5′ square dining table that seats 8 on Craigslist with the matching buffet asking $750. I’m willing to take $500. I had a couple of inquiries but no follow up. I have to watch myself because once I decide it is time for something to go, I can put it on the curb and let someone take it away. Obviously that isn’t in my best financial interest and I recognize that it is way too early to think it won’t sell. I am observing those thoughts in my head and sharing. I do not want to pay to move that table and then store that table so someone might end up getting one heck of a deal if they just take it off my hands. I haven’t posted my bedroom furniture yet. That’s on the weekend “to do” list. I also plan to use this upcoming kid-free weekend to declutter closets. Thankfully we did a major clean out about 2 months ago so I can count on being able to see what is IN the closet and be better able to pack it to move and or pack it to be donated. I can’t believe how my thought process has changed from totally overwhelmed with the very thought of moving to looking so forward to tackling the move! I have some girlfriends coming over on Saturday to help and that always ends up being great fun as we see those items that somehow have survived the previous clean outs!
The house is officially on the market. I really liked the sellers’ real estate agent and that says something b/c I’m not going to lie… Realtors are sometimes challenging for me to like. That’s a VERY broad statement so don’t freak out on me (after all I am of the most hated profession). I know there are great agents out there but my past experiences have been less than pleasant. The sellers continue to be delusional listing the house at $259K. Their own agent expressed frustration with the price they decided upon and believes they’ll find more motivation after my rent stops. I’m not bothered by the showings really as the constant threat of having people in my house is a great motivator to keep things picked up! I will be shocked if the house sells before I leave.
And finally–Happy Valentine’s Day–the most absurd holiday of all in my opinion. And no, that isn’t because I am single. It has always been silly to me and the commercialism of our culture really shines with this one! I like to tell the kids they are my Valentine every single day of the year and this day should inspire us to just be kinder to one another. My two bickering children were kinder to each other this morning so that’s something I will take as a gift from this silly holiday! Have a kind day!
I spent the last two days looking at nine different properties–six of which would have required DD to switch elementary schools. They were in the middle school boundaries but not the elementary. I was glad I looked at those rental houses even though a few were at the same rent I’m paying now. I wasn’t moved enough by the houses to take my daughter out of her school. I also looked at a three bedroom apartment that would keep the kids in their schools but the complex was old, rundown and had some unsavory characters. The surroundings just didn’t pass my gut check.
So I ended up back at the first apartment complex I found. I drove by at different hours to check things out. The parking situation looks good with a huge parking lot in relation to the building. I looked at the trash receptacles to make sure they weren’t a mess. I even got out and checked for dog poo! Crazy lady! Lol. I did all of this before looking at an actual apartment interior bc I wanted that $350 look and lease! It’s gated but I snuck in! You all motivated me to investigate.
I finally looked at an interior late yesterday. I love it! The apartments are only 3 years old and on a road with very little around it. The traffic flow is good. The bedrooms are generous sized. Overall it is a fit. I applied today and even negotiated a single car garage for free that I am permitted to use for storage. We move in on March 30. Let the decluttering begin!!!
I finally got in touch with the real estate agent for the $1250 house. It isn’t ready to show yet he advised and then proceeded to say, “I’ve got folks in there trying to put it back together again and I thought it would be ready by now but it isn’t happening so maybe this weekend? Then again maybe not. I think I jumped the gun on the listing. There’s a lot to be done.” I’m no sales gal but I’m thinking that wouldn’t be considered a great sales pitch to get the good tenants to come running!
So I drove by the house on the way to the office and he’s right! That house is nowhere near being show ready and I can’t imagine it not needing major overhauls inside with the outside looking as it does. As I pulled away slowly I saw an elderly neighbor out for a walk. My window was still down and so I stopped and asked her for the scoop. I find that often the elderly know the most about this stuff! Sure enough she had a lot to say and based on her observations the tenant AND the landlord are guilty of not taking care of that house! Granted she may have motives to share what she did but either way the house did not pass my gut check AND it isn’t even liveable.
My next move was to call the apartments and find out more about their special. I did see on the website that the special was “look and lease” and (like a reader posted) that means I need to be ready to sign a lease when I get there (or within 24 hours). The great news is not only is the deposit only $49 they are also offering $350 off the first month’s rent if you sign a 12-month lease. I’m definitely in for at least 12, probably 18, maybe 24 months so I will qualify for that discount. I didn’t set up an appointment b/c I need to be sure I can get out of this house lease! The apartments have the floor plan I want available at the end of March.
Enter the text to the landlord asking for March 31. He agreed! I’ve contacted the management company and they are sending me a new lease that ends on March 31. I will likely have to deal with house showings the month of March but I already know I will be gone for an entire week that month so that helps. I won’t go to the apartments until I see the lease in writing just in case he has second thoughts. I’m going to time it so that I don’t have a realtor come in to the house until I have the new lease just in case he is discouraged from listing it now. I don’t want to be held in to help him make his mortgage.
I’ll update again soon!
Right after my last post I got a call from the leasing agent with the management company. She seemed irritated that she found out from the owner’s agent that I was moving out. I explained to her that I had not yet agreed to move out before the contract termination date of September 24, 2013 but that I was not interested in buying the house. She wanted to be sure to remind me that I do not have to agree to showings on the house until the last 30 days of the lease. She then advised that the owner’s real estate agent asked for my number so that she could set up a time to come take a look at the house to determine what needs to be done to get it on the market.
I then received a text from the owner saying April 30 could be the new exit date. Showings would begin March 1. I responded I needed to think about it and I’d be back in touch.
I’ve spent a lot of time today doing research and while the rental pickings are very slim if I want to keep the kids in their schools, I am encouraged by the money I will be saving! As a reminder I currently pay $1795 in rent. I have two options right now that I plan to look at tomorrow. One is a rental house for $1,250. It’s roomy with 3 bdrm/2 bath and 2,600 square feet. That is a lot of house but it’s a very good area and a decent price. It would be a $1,250 deposit and another $500 for the two dogs (and yes, I have given thought to the fact that I have two dogs and don’t need two dogs and could emotionally handle adopting one of the two out but for now I am planning on both of them moving with us–otherwise I feel irresponsible and like the grinch). The other option is a 2 bdrm, 2 bath apartment. The rent is $1050, $500 for the pets but both are permitted and there’s a $49 deposit special going on right now. The kids would have to share a room but that doesn’t give me much heartburn. And DD still likes to come hang out with mom anyway.
Right now I am leaning toward the apartment. We’ll see how things look when I visit tomorrow. The other thought starting to gain momentum in the back of my head is to sell my bedroom furniture and my too large breakfast room table for 8. The bedroom furniture and that table will not fit in an apartment or a smaller house and I simply want to downsize my life! I won’t rush out to list anything on craigslist but I’m definitely thinking!!!
I really can’t believe all of this is unfolding now and in this way. I’m doing okay with it all but truly amazed. I’ll take it as a helping hand from the universe to get me out of too much house and, hopefully, too much debt!
My DebtLarge Graph
- Current: $27,305
- Paid: $70,796
- Original: $98,101
- Emergency Fund: $1500
- IRS Savings: $
- Broken Down:
CC #1: $0 ($64) CC #2: $0 ($240) CC #3: $0 ($650) CC #4: $0 ($785) CC #5: $0 ($1,500) CC #6: $0 ($1,886) CC #7: $0 ($1,984) CC #8: $0 ($2,135) CC #9: $0 ($7,145)
- CC #10: $8,570 ($14,561)
CC #11: $0 ($24,388) Credit Line #1: $0 ($182) Credit Line #2: $0 ($182) Auto #1: $0 ($16,579) Auto #2: $0 ($25,819)
- Cons. Loan: $18,735 ($20,000)
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