So, let's start at the beginning. I'm thinking that by the time I tell you the full and complete story of our new house, the kids will in college and the details will have worked themselves out...so there's no point in not getting started, because let's face it, we're not getting any younger. Well, maybe I am, because I have sipped pure fruit juice, daily, for almost a month (translation: I have earned a tattooed gold star OR a plastic surgery machine, you pick).
If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, then you know that Mike and I have gotten the itch to "simplify". It seems like it was so many moons ago, that it's almost hard to remember it--but you'll have to take my word for it, that our life had become really *complicated*. And we had made it that way, with owning our own business, and growing that business, and being a member of a country club, and owning a nice house right next to said country club, and having four kids that went to three different schools, and NEVER having enough storage space in a house that had infinite amounts of storage space. We were responsible for juggling So. Many. Things.--as most people are--but ultimately decided we wanted this to be easier. We don't want to live conventionally--and by that, I mean that we don't want to teach our kids that there is only ONE way to do things. That if you are tired or restless, you CAN change. A nice house in the suburbs is NEVER a great excuse for growing complacent, you know?
However. Mortgages, in this day and age, tie us down. And I will tell you, that in his 36-years, and armed with his infinite real estate knowledge, Mike has NEVER rented. He went straight from his parents house into owning a home, and he was a believer in ownership--until he wasn't. And that is what I love about my husband, and why I trust him, without a doubt--he knows when something doesn't work, and he doesn't cling to old mentalities out of convenience or fear. He reminds me that everything we are unsure of now (mainly, WHERE we want the kids to go to school), will be up for debate again in two short years, when G is on the threshold of middle school. Locations based on this decision alone will work today, but may not be as appealing in a year. Instead, we came up with parameters for what our best case scenario is, RIGHT NOW. Right now is what we know.
But also, we have learned that having a big mortgage limits us--and in an ideal world, we would buy a house with cash, or a very tiny loan. No debt. We're just not there right now, but we're working toward it. And so, from the very start of this, when we made the decision to put our house on the market, we always knew we would RENT.
GASP! This goes against everything we are taught to believe as Americans, that owning your own home is the bees knees. It has always been the way we thought, and might be again one day--when we really know what we want. When we're ready for it. We want to really love it. I mean, REALLY love it. Because now, we have all the time in the world to figure it out, and I'm getting fairly good at knowing what it is that God actually wants for us. It's pretty obvious, really--when you are still enough to listen.
The decision to rent doesn't change a lot for us; we were always going to have a monthly payment, and at the end of this, we'll save a little money, but that isn't really the point. For us, this decision has always been about letting go of our mortgage--which gives us the freedom, real FREEDOM, to figure out what comes next and to act upon it in our own timing. We aren't jumping into anything, only to decide we would have been better off somewhere else. Now, that kind of discontentment can happen at any time, BUT, we want to be clear. We want to study our new area. We want to KNOW what we want, because honestly, I'm just not sure. And there is nothing like a good ol' fashioned panic attack to prove that I just don't know--because we are literally changing everything, and mostly this is exciting, but it's served with a side salad of overwhelming. Or maybe it's that we don't have a 25-year landscaping plan, or a vision for where our grandchildren will play someday--and that's somewhat terrifying, when it shouldn't be. All of that will come. But we feel strongly, that in this market, if you are going to buy something, you are committing to it for at least five years--and there is a lot that will change with our kids in that time.
Which brings me to our philosophy on renting. It gets a bad, potential-for-a-meth-lab kind of reputation--because we are a society that covets OWNING, and we don't understand anything else because it's not according to the "plan". Add to that the fact that the stuff that's out there and listed for lease is...pretty dismal. But we were never looking for that. We have been looking at houses that have sat on the market; and there is NO SHORTAGE of them, friends. Homes that are sitting vacant, because their owners have purchased another house and are sweating through TWO mortgage payments. Or, GREAT stuff, rehabbed by developers for a profit--that simply cannot be moved in this market. If you open your eyes, and look unconventionally--there are amazing things out there that you don't have to own. In EVERY neighborhood. You just have to educate yourselves, find the owner that NEEDS a solution, and convince them to trust you aren't going to sell narcotics, or house 14 great danes.
The last bit of back story: Since putting our house on the market, I have always kept one eye open on what's out there. On any given day, in any given month, I could find something to get excited about. But there has always been one house, in particular, that Mike and I have both loved in equal measure. It was ODD. But, surprisingly charming. We could never mess this thing up, because it was so unconventional to begin with--but it met almost NONE of the criteria we had talked about. It had sat on the market for MONTHS--and we were so close to breaking our rules and submitting a contract (for purchase).
Until someone else did it first. But you have to know the rest of the story, to understand that this was miraculous sign #1. Because when our first choice fell apart, we were led, almost immediately to the one, perfect house that has met every parameter we have set since we began this adventure...