House hunting

As I mentioned a while back, I’ve been haunting Zillow lately, looking for our next house. This afternoon, I went to look at one with Natalie, our real estate agent.

It was not the house we planned to see. That adorable house had been listed yesterday, inconceivably, at $419,000, and I wondered if the sellers were trying to start a bidding war. When Natalie finally reached them the next day, they admitted that they’d listed it for the wrong price: It was actually $729,000. Don’t even ask me how they could have made such a massive error. Needless to say, we moved on.

The house we did see was great. They’d completely remodeled the kitchen, taking down a wall to form a great room. They did an excellent job.

It was a perfect one-level, with bedrooms at one end and a huge family room at the other which reminded me of our basement. It had A/C, newer roof, windows, furnace, carpet, wood floors — the whole kit and kaboodle. It was well-priced, too.

But it was too far out for where we want to be as long as we are still working. Well, David, really. He’s got such a short commute that more than doubling it probably seems onerous, though it’s probably under 20 minutes each way. (‘m 🚊 to a* g Fell asleep writing this, sorry! Thought I’d leave the ghost typing, just for fun.)

I don’t think we’ll be moving there, sadly.  We need to get our financial ducks in a row. We really need to purge our things down to a reasonable number. But seeing the “perfect” house made that process more real, somehow. Now, as I sort through things, I can picture the hypothetical rooms they will be destined for. And if I can’t find a space for them in the little home in my mind, then they obviously need to go.

Which means I’ve got a ton of scrapbooking to do in my immediate future.

Itching to move

Since Quinland started college, I’ve been trying to think of ways to save money. We canceled cable. We quit paying for (but not going to) Southwest Community Center. We decided to no longer pay anyone to walk our dog or (periodically) clean our house, tasks that are tough for me to plan for since my energy levels are all over the map. It seemed, though, that all my ideas were just drops in the bucket.

So I looked more closely at our expenditures. The one that jumped out at me, more than any other, was how much we spend on our home for mortgage, property taxes, and utilities.

I should start by saying that we live in a great house. It’s not the fanciest; it hasn’t really been updated since it was built in 1990. It’s not in one of the “hot” Portland neighborhoods; it’s smack in the middle of an area that doesn’t really have much within a walkable distance, and is hilly and has no sidewalks, to boot. Parts of our street are not paved by the city, and the nearest cross street is a washed-out gravel road. However, it is BIG, and it was really inexpensive on a per-square-foot basis. We like deals, and we had a ton of stuff, so it seemed like a good fit for us. We’ve loved having an above-ground finished basement (aka “double down”) where Quinland and his friends can hang out and stay up late and make tons of noise and not disturb us at all.

But if I was embarrassed before by how many square feet each of us had to live in (we can each pee on a different floor!), it is even worse now that Quinland is away at school. Although we’ve managed to stuff every last bit of it, two people don’t need this much space, especially when it costs so much to heat!

A few weeks ago, I started checking out the Zillow app (which is super fun) and keeping tabs on what was out there. I realized that if we moved two miles west, we’d be in a neighboring county with much lower property taxes. Now I’m checking for new listings every day, bothering my real estate agent about various houses, and trying to talk up the whole moving thing with David.

He doesn’t want to move. He figures we can realize a similar level of savings by renting out the basement. He doesn’t think we could fit into a smaller house, nor does he think our house is ready to sell. He’s correct on all counts.

But oh! I am ready for a new place, a new start, a chance to find a home that’s perfect to downsize into. The market is great for sellers, and…

Sigh. I can wait. There is time. Houses will continue to be sold. We can use this time to look into converting the basement to a rental. I can pare down our belongings to a reasonable number. Who knows? Maybe we’ll decide to just rent an apartment, one of those glorious places where somebody else deals with calling people to cut down the tree that is over the broken water main…