Stefan has a job now at the Beaverton-Portland border. It's a good job. It's a job where he'd like to stay for a few years. And everything is telling us that it would make sound financial sense to buy a house now. All of those Oregon towns I've mentioned are too far too commute for Stefan's job -- including the town where we live now, in Canby -- so we have been trying to find a community nearer to his work where we'd want to buy a house - a home. To invest in.
We've zeroed in on Forest Grove, Oregon. It's still far from Portland, but it's closer than where we live now - Canby - and unlike where we live now, the local fire department in Forest Grove really does want volunteer firefighters (do NOT be fooled by the sign outside of the Canby fire station - volunteers might be needed, but not wanted!). Also unlike Canby, Forest Grove has a gorgeous historic downtown neighborhood, and a downtown of businesses that don't all close at 7 p.m. There's a college there - Pacific University, which began as a United Church of Christ institution (and while it's not anymore, any thing that has it's roots in the UCC can't be bad - said the Atheist) - and I always have a preference for college towns, as long as I don't live next to a party house. It also has more regular mass transit service to Portland - we're *really* like to stay a one-car family.
We've looked at around 30 houses in Forest Grove. 30! And it's so... disappointing. Not that we haven't seen lovely houses, not that our real estate agent isn't trying to help us and being super patient and laughing at all my jokes. But every house has a deal-breaker:
- the cheap or affordable house would require at least $50,000 of work just to move in, and then lots more work to make it where we want to live
- it would take too long to be move-in ready after we bought it (we can budget renting our current place two months into owning a home - that's it)
- it has no space to add a garage if it doesn't have one already
- the driveway has a 25% grade (been there, done that, never doing it again)
- it's too small, and would take too long to build on to/expand
- the expensive house needs at least another $50,000 worth of work
- it's three stories and I'd have to go up and down those steps three or four times EVERY day
- it's too far from downtown (we want to be able to walk or ride bikes to downtown)
- the house is heated by heating oil, and we're not sure it wouldn't be crazy expensive and complicated to upgrade it to gas - and there's a pool, and how expensive would that be to maintain?! And it's got a weird layout...
- the back yard would have no privacy or peace because two story houses look down on it or the neighbor's house - with several children - is right up against it (we live that now - no thanks)
- it has no yard - we want a space for me to garden, for us to play cornhole, and for Stefan's weekend night fire
- the neighbors scare us
- there's no place downstairs for me to have an office (and for Albi, or future dogs, to sleep comfortably in the night, feeling like it was truly her/their space)
And... there's really no point to this blog other than to say that, wow, this is really hard, and I'm getting depressed over this process.
I will say that cheap, well-built houses near downtown are on the market for just a few days now - there's no question the economy is getting better.