Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Housing Crunch

I began this house hunt swearing I would not settle for a place where I had to live with orange shag carpet or harvest gold kitchen counter tops. I didn't want to look forward to a future of DIY weekends spent removing disgusting grout from aging bathroom tile or renting a wallpaper steamer. I wanted to keep the part of my European lifestyle that involved walking to the grocery story and five-minute jaunts with the stroller to the park. "It's a buyers' market!" they said to me. "You'll find a great bargain for pennies."

It's never that easy, is it? I'm picky, I want space and a fence and I prefer wood floors. I refuse to pay top dollar when it's supposedly time to low-ball. And I've unexpectedly found it hard to choose a house because I spend too much time gazing into that metaphorical (or, in some of these houses literal, if you count the light fixtures) crystal ball, imagining my lifestyle of the next ten or twenty years, and I'm paralyzed.

Where do I want to grocery shop when I turn forty? Which school has the best set of miniature trucks in its kindergarten toy bins? Is the yoga studio down the street one of those overheated ones, or is it more my style? Will my friends drive up and think, oh, they got a good deal or will they say oh, surprising they couldn't find anything better in this market? In fifteen years will the neighbor's tree be so tall that it will overshadow the skylight? Is there a place for my quilting supplies, when I finally learn how to quilt?

The other, more practical part of my brain, is reminding me about last time we tried to find a place to live. It was torturous, there were tears and compromises and it was not a good way to begin a big life change. I'm a little bit afraid we're off to a bad start again. We've already hesitated and lost at least two places, and we learned this morning that our latest candidate, which had been on the market for 17 months, was likely sold at auction(!) the same day we viewed it.

But I'm working hard to look at the bright side, which today includes waffles at the breakfast buffet and Theo reaching out to some weeping guy on a TV talk show and yelling HUUUUUUUUGGG.


Anonymous said...

Find a nice comfortable apartment and take your time looking. I hate the temporary "my life is on hold now" aspect of doing the apartment thing but house hunting is hard, especially when you're working under a deadline. Hang in there!!!


Hazel's mom said...

So cute what Theo said. It's amazing what they pull together in their minds sometime. I was putting on my shoes yesterday, and Hazel wandered in from the other room and casually handed me the shoehorn. Ok, not such an amazing thought, but still, I hadn't asked for it and have no idea where she found it.

Hazel and I must have looked at every house on the market over 8 weeks last Fall. When I found ours on the internet, I knew it was ours without even seeing the inside. If it isn't driving you crazy to live in the hotel, wait for your epiphany. And yes, we did end up with several DIY weekends, and I haven't stripped the wall papered bathrooms yet, but it's so worth it.