Haven't updated in a while because we have been immersed in HOUSE BUYING HELL. What an awful process. I've done tons of research over the years, asked friends lots of questions, and I thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong. I'm just really glad we were with a credit union rather than a for-profit bank - I can't imagine how much more awful the process would have been, how much more vigilant against getting scammed we would have had to be, if we'd been with a for-profit bank.
So… we bought a house! And we've moved fom Canby to Forest Grove. We hope it's the right move: that Stefan will, at last, be able to be a volunteer fireman (hope this can happen later in 2013), that he'll have a shorter commute to and from work, that I'll have an easier time getting to and from Portland via the barely marginal PDX public transit system (we continue our struggles to be a one-car family), and that the city will feel like home in a way that Canby never did.
I'm now a home owner, something I've never experienced before. I had a very particular image in my mind of what buying my first house would be like: it would also be the last house I bought, because I would love it so much, I would never want to leave it. There would be a back porch, room in the vast yard for every crazy gardening idea I ever wanted to do, a small bunk house for visiting motorcyclists, a chicken coop and small chicken yard, and space for my pet donkey that I would adopt soon after I bought the house. It would also be in a city and state I wanted to live in forever - I'd still travel, but I'd never move again.
That didn't happen. What we bought is not my dream house that I want to live in for the rest of my life - I couldn't find that house, unfortunately, at least not within my price range or that didn't need at least $100,000 worth of work. Our house is, instead, the proverbial "good investment." Given what I experienced in the housing market since July 2012, there's no question the economy is getting better, and will continue to do so, and buying a house now makes really great economic sense. Therefore, in five years, after ripping out all of the carpets in about 2000 square feet and replacing such with laminate that looks like hardwood flooring, replacing the single-pane windows, painting, putting in a french drain, retiling the main bathroom, putting in a French drain, getting the chimneys in working order, cleaning all the ducts and dealing with whatever huge problem I know is waiting in the wings (furnace? plumbing?), we will, supposedly, be able to sell this for much more than we paid for it.
Would be wonderful to remodel the kitchen and oh-so-pink main bathroom as well, but I'm not sure we can afford it.
And then there's our furniture - our furnishings are a hodgepodge. A couple of pieces are from my university days. Some are cast-offs from friends who were upgrading their own homes. Much of it is from Stefan's first apartment back in Germany. These will be the last things we replace, and that won't be for a couple of years, at least.
I don't at all regret not buying a house before now, as I've blogged about before. I hope I don't regret it now. Buying a house means no more looking for a job outside of PDX. It means I'm tied to this area in a way I've never been tied to anywhere before, and that scares me, the gypsy, hugely. If anything goes wrong, I have no one person to call to fix it - I have a growing list of numbers to handle the problems that are inevitably coming our way.
I like the house, but I love the neighborhood. We live in a historic neighborhood, and many of the houses are gorgeous, either because they have been restored to their historic beauty or because people have remodeled them to be really funky and fun. In some ways, it reminds me of the Highlands in Louisville, though most of the houses are much smaller and much father apart. It's more of a feeling than a look.
Our house has tremendous potential. I think it will be beautiful once we've done all we want to, and that I'll love showing it off once those things are done. This is a neighborhood where it's normal to put raised beds in the front lawn for vegetables (the back yard is too dark for what I want to grow), and I can't wait to really garden again, something I haven't gotten to do since I lived in Austin. There's room for a green house in the front as well. I have a great idea for replacing part of the fence along the side of the house. And the backyard is going to be a great place for corn hole and grilling out, especially on very hot days. There's a big patch of bamboo, and I have all sorts of ideas for harvesting it and using it in various ways.
So... we bought a house!