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Focused on Housing


All debt pay off is on hold for this moment as I focus my energy and quite possibly my money on our housing situation.  We were SO close at the beginning of this week to making a decision and making a move, but in the end I backed out.

I have all channels open in the housing search and am giving myself until Sept 1 to make a decision.  Here is where we are at:

House to Buy

I have qualified for a down payment grant so with just 3.5% down I can buy a house.  I have set the limit on this right at $100K which would make my house payment right around $600-700 and leave me plenty to make improvements and tackle any issues that came up.  A very gracious real estate agent is on the lookout for this.  If it doesn’t work out by my Sept 1 deadline, I have a second deadline for her of May 1.  Here’s what we are looking for: 1) within 30-40 drive radius of our city, 2) 4 bedrooms, 3) at least 2 bathrooms, 4) first floor master and 5) at least an acre, prefer a bit more and isolated enough for chickens.

Status: We found our DREAM home, a fixer upper with 4 acres for $90K.  Unfortunately, it needed to much work to qualify for a regular mortgage.  Boo!

House to Rent

Seeking 3+ bedroom, 2+ bath for rent that will allow all our animals.  Still want first floor master but am finding myself even more willing to compromise on that as we get closer to the deadline.  Very unrealistic goal to stay around same rent level at $1300, so have looked a bit higher lately but it makes me cringe.

Status:  Have pretty much ruled this out.  Found an amazing home that would have suited perfectly.  It has been on the market for a while and seller seemed rather anxious to rent it as a result, but after a conversation regarding our animals and his nervousness AND more importantly running numbers, I have decided that this would be a STUPID financial decision (rent $1700) and did not quite trust him on the animal front.  So I emailed him yesterday and graciously said, thanks but no thanks.  Kids were quite sad, but I think they understand.

Three Bedroom Apartment

I wrote earlier in the summer about the large waiting list at our current apartment complex for their three bedrooms.  Well, when I went into to discuss options for terminating if we found a house, I asked again.  There are 2 available in September!  And more importantly, they are on special for $1300, approx the same I’m paying for the 2 bedroom.  But it is on the second floor (I hate stairs if you haven’t figured that out,) and on the other side of the complex so not quite the ease of use for the dog park.

Status: Kids are all voting to move.  I’m in limbo, reasons being 1) not sure who would get the single room and 2) would not be as comfortable with the little ones taking the dogs out alone.  Not to mention to pack and move, when I have a definite end game goal of moving to a purchased home in May when the school year is over.


Stay where we are, sign a lease through May and just deal.  Maybe rearrange rooms again because Princess is definitely struggling with not having any privacy…ever (ahem, I am too,) and Little Gymnast and the Twins are ALWAYS often at each others’ throats.

Status: This is definitely the way I’m leaning.  No packing, no moving, no stairs, no inconvenient dog park, no fighting over small single room.  And I keep thinking with the school year picking back up and us getting back to our busy schedules, there won’t be quite so much togetherness so maybe the bickering and stress levels will settle back down.

So this is where my time is being spent these days…the housing debacle.  I am SO ready for this to be done!

SIDE NOTE: Have you all heard of this contest where a couple is giving away a farm here in Virginia on an essay contest… I’m sorely tempted to enter!


Follow a single mom's journey to be DEBT FREE while managing this crazy life's conflicted choices with regards to kids, pets, homeschooling days and self-employment!
The sorrow and joys of this roller-coaster overwhelm her at times, but she is committed to this course.
Hope plans to dig out of debt using any resource possible including her small business EPOH, her blog and any other resource that comes to mind!

Latest posts by Hope (see all)


  • Reply Gina |

    It’s an essay contest – you write well and have a great story. JUST DO IT! Very little risk, huge potential reward.

  • Reply kili |

    Hi Hope,

    a 200 Dollar entry fee? 5000 applicants expected? Those infos would make me shy away from the essay contest…

    for that price dont you think the 3-bedroom is basically a steal?
    wouldn’t that allow for some more time to save up for a decent downpayment for a place of your own?
    couldn’t you guys find a way to rotate so that everyone gets to enjoy the perks of the small bedroom every once in a while?
    how much time would moving from the current flat to the 3-bedroom-flat take?

    can you elaborate a bit more about the reason number 2 that’s making you hesitant about the 3-bedroom-option?
    are the dogs too strong for the kids to take them up and down the stairs?
    would the kids be out of sight with the dogs and are currently not?

    Looking forward to gaining more insight 🙂

    • Reply Hope |

      Great questions, kili! The move itself would take no time. We have very little “stuff” when it’s packed. The packing would take the time, but my dad pointed out we literally could just walk things over a box at a time and then just keep re-packing the same few boxes. (We have access to plenty of free boxes as a good friend just moved and she’s holding ALL their moving boxes for us in case.)
      The move would make the dog park out of site so I wouldn’t be comfortable letting the younger too out alone, and that would be hard because Little Gymnast takes the smaller two out almost every afternoon for a long play time.
      The stairs…I just hate them. I personally have more than a few stories of falling down stairs, and adding the very strong dogs to the mix. I just…ugh! I know we COULD do it, I am just not sure I WANT to do it.
      But if anything this year has taught me that I can do anything I set my mind too! So we will see.

  • Reply Taira |

    If your kids like the idea of the essay house I think you should enter. I think you should have each of them give you their “why I like it” in a set number of words and then incorporate it all into one and send it. You write well, you are passionate about your children and your animals. It is beautiful property and an opportunity to learn many life skills for the kids. If you don’t win your out $200 but the kids used their writing skills.

    • Reply Hope |

      That is a FABULOUS idea, Taira. The contest has even provided the rubric they will use to judge so this would be a great school lesson, not to mention give me some good insight into their thoughts. Definitely going to take you up on this idea.

  • Reply Walnut |

    If your plan is to get a house in the next year, I would definitely not move right now. The thought of moving twice in a single year sounds horrifying to me!

    • Reply Hope |

      Absolutely me too!!! The idea of moving at all horrifies me at this moment and yet it’s also my deepest desire so go figure that one out!

  • Reply Marzey doats |

    Could you explain about not liking stairs? Is it the effort involved going up them? Because after a few momths you wont even notice it anymore. I lived in a third floor walk up for many years ( and laundry was in the basement!). The only time I noticed it was when I had guests over, and they would huff and groan up the stairs, while I flew up them :). The three bedroom might be a bit of a sacrifice for you, but would be better for the kids, because at least someone would be getting some extra privacy and room. And it would be an easy way to incorporate exercise in your everyday routine! And at the same price as your current smaller place, its hard to turn down. You wont care about moving again once you find a place to buy, because you will all be so excited aboutt he move..and it would make the wait time to find the right property more bearable!

    • Reply Hope |

      I have personally fallen down the stairs more than a few time. In fact, in joking, I always say I am going to die by falling down stairs. And when we moved into our last house (Dad’s) I swore I would never again live with stairs…
      I find myself softening to it especially for the kids rooms, but will definitely be adamant about anything long term that I can have first floor living only.

  • Reply Den |

    I vote for staying put. I think it will be easier on everyone to handle the close quarters if they know it’s only until May and that will free you up (physically and mentally) to house hunt and save money.

  • Reply Connie |

    I see why to vote for staying put. I’ve moved multiple times within a year and it is the worst. On the other hand, more space could buy you more time, especially if you can get in on the September deal in your existing complex.
    Hope, have you been told that you’ll need to buy PMI (Primary Mortgage Insurance) with a 3.5% down payment? For me, that’s a total waste of money. Essentially, you’re paying the bank a premium in case you can’t hack your mortgage payment and they have to foreclose. Personally, I would save up enough money to avoid it. You will be sacrificing now, but in the long term you will gain a lot. Most mortgages that require PMI continue to require it until you’ve reached equity of 20% anyway and it may be hard to have the bank reconsider. I think if you check into the additional cost of it, you may find it influences your choice. I’m all for home ownership and have sacrificed a lot over the years to have it. I’ve also made a lot of mistakes because I didn’t know all the nuances. Believe me, the realtors and bankers DO know the ropes.
    I know how badly you want this, but don’t jump into something quickly only to regret it later because you didn’t ask enough questions, or the right questions, now. Good luck in any case.

    • Reply Hope |

      Hi Connie,
      Yes, I am aware of PMI. I have literally been researching housing, building a house, adding on to a house, being a contractor and buying a house since the discussion began about the twins becoming a permanent part of the family…so almost 3 years now I’ve been doing due diligence.
      I’ve read up on ALL types of mortgages and loans and fees. I sometimes think I should just change businesses as much time as I’ve put learning real estate nuances, code laws, etc. But thanks for the heads up.

  • Reply Denise |

    If you move to the 3 bedroom apartment, why not keep the sleeping arrangements the same but use the additional bedroom as a little den/playroom/office space that the whole family could enjoy. That would give you all a little more space for whoever needs it at any given time.

    However, if your end goal is to definitely move by May into a home you own, then I would opt for staying where you are and toughing it out.

    Keep in mind all the extra costs associated with home ownership – insurance, taxes, higher utilities, repairs. It all adds up fast.

  • Reply Katie |

    I feel your pain. With one income and dependents and animals you get stuck at the bottom of the rental pile. We are in the same spot. I can tell you that your utility costs will go up in a 3 bedroom and you will miss the easy convenience of the dog park more than the space. Why not splurge (on a budget of course) on something unexpected and fun? Or buy some unique organizational items to help the space you have. Staying put until just the right situation comes up is the cheapest option by far and allows the most wiggle room in your budget, in my opinion.

    • Reply Hope |

      Two things…1) I have seriously been considering a fun getaway. But not sure on that until I make a decision on this. So more on that, maybe, soon. 2) Yes, I would definitely miss the convenience.
      You will see that there is some “shopping” coming up soon. Stay tuned for that post next week.

  • Reply Angie |

    I’ve said this before, moving to the 3-bedroom even though the rent would be the same there will still be some costs with moving. I mean sure, since its in the same complex you won’t need a truck. But you will inevitably break something, have to scrounge boxes and buy tape, etc. Also, with that many people and dogs in the 2 bedroom you are surely going to have some deductions from your deposit for damages and cleaning. You will likely get close to the same charges again when you do end up moving out of the 3-bedroom also. Just something to keep in mind.

    • Reply Hope |

      I think our moving costs would be pretty much nil as far as money goes…but time wise and stress wise, that’s a whole different ball game, and in fact, I’m much more hesitant about those costs right now in this respect over money. (When I started thinking seriously about moving, I was like “boy, I wonder if I can hire packers and movers.) I’m just so tired of moving!
      I definitely lean toward staying put though and continuing to save money and hopefully finding the perfect place by next spring. We shall see!

  • Reply Marzey doats |

    Its hard to believe that this is the same group of people that this time last year were telling Hope she was insane to move into a two bedroom apartment with four kids and pets! Well, Hope, you have survived and thrived in your new tiny space! Bought a car with cash, 3,000 dollars away from being consumer debt free, kicking it!

    • Reply Hope |

      Ha! Thanks, Marzey! We have definitely learned alot about ourselves, and what we can do when the going gets tough. Thanks for the cheerleading, that is really nice to hear sometimes!

  • Reply Katie |

    I wondered about using the third bedroom as your classroom/office? Moving is painful, but as the kids keep growing, that extra space is important.

So, what do you think ?