Monday, October 29, 2007

Life - House Hunting

The problem with life is that it sometimes gets in the way of blogging.

Seriously, though, we've been busy looking at houses - with a CPA's schedule (the missus), we either move before January or after tax season - May would be safe. March and April are out due to the Bethel Spring Series but the missus's schedule overlaps so it doesn't make a difference - we simply can't move then. Although moving around the holidays wouldn't be ideal, if we didn't we'd have to stay in our apartment for a few extra months. I know, not a big deal, but it feels like we're on hold and we'd like to hit "Play" on our life movie some time soon.

We spent the weekend looking at houses (online, in the paper, and then a whirlwind tour of open houses on Sunday). I did some recon first - and the best way, of course, it to ride a bike around. This is what I did - on what had to be the rainiest day we've had since we moved up here. I was looking forward to riding in the rain for some reason - I alluded to that in my prior post - and the rain, thankfully, didn't let up until I was well into my ride.

One thought that crossed my mind - if I'm going to get wet riding outside, it better be raining. It would be much worse getting wet from just road spray and dripping trees.

I planned a route, but without using any topo type maps, I had no idea how hilly the route would be - and I learned the hard way when I hit my first major hill out here. Struggling in the 39x25, I climbed this massive hill as best I could, my main goal simply to stay upright. Eventually I got up the hill and saw the house - a nice one, the road seemed reasonably trafficked, so the house went on the list.

A quick descent and I proceeded on my way. The roads up here are quite bucolic and I felt like I was riding into the foothills of the mountains.

Come to think of it, I was.

I avoided them all though - I didn't have that time to ride into the actual mountains - and returned to the apartment a couple hours later, soaking wet and happy.

Sunday we visited many of the houses I rode past the day before. We found two new ones in particular we like - one is about a mile away from here, 2500 sf (so a big house for us), older, and renovated to an extreme level (enormous stove in a beautiful kitchen, 8 foot tv screen in the living room with insane sound system, third floor plumbed for a master bedroom suite, beautiful garage, but only 1.1 bathrooms and a low ceiling basement that sometimes gets wet). The other is perhaps 8 or 9 miles away in the middle of nowhere, bigger (3200 sf), has central air, lots of land, usable basement, but has an old kitchen, tiny garage, and virtually no lawn (the land is mainly forest on a steeply angled valley - we'd own 2 acres on each side - with a stream at the bottom).

Seeing these two diametrically opposed houses really stopped and made us think of what we want in our home. Until now we had limited our looking to more cookie-cutter houses (4 bed, 2.5 bath, about 2000-2500 sf, some lawn, garage) and jumped when a house had an extra like, say, an office room. Our world view was relatively limited.

I read in a car racing book once that when you make a suspension change, first you should make an extreme one. Go out, drive it, and you'll see what an extreme, say, shock stiffening change would do to your car. Then you adjust it so it's closer to what you actually want. I did the same for mountain bike suspensions - make it super hard, ride a bit, then super soft, ride a bit. You get an idea of what each does and now you're in a position to make a better judgment on what you want.

These two houses were the extremes of our housing world and opened our horizons a bit. We ended up talking about them until we fell asleep.

We still have a few houses we want to check out but it seems our list of "housing wants" has been refined just that little bit more. We need to talk to our agent, schedule a few showings, and see what we find. However, compared to our prior showings, I think we'll be a lot better prepared for spotting what we want (as opposed to what we don't want - we're pretty good about that).

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