Note: The above image has clearly been messed with. Because, you know, #strangerdanger. But it’s a fairly good depiction of what our new home looks like! And doesn’t it kind of look like a Lilly Pulitzer painting?! :)
WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!
Okay. Technically, it’s half of a house. But it’s our half of a house. ;) And we couldn’t be happier! Seriously, we feel like all our dreams have come true, and we’re so grateful. Eeeeee!
Also, I’m starting a sub-blog called Little Home in the City, which I’ve wanted to do for a long time. You can access it by simply going to littlehomeinthecity.com, or by hovering over the “Little Home in the City” tab in the main menu!
Let’s back up, though.
In New York, Mitch and I spent a lot of time wandering the West Village, picking out our dream townhouses.
No, that one doesn’t have cute-enough shudders. Yes! I love the front stoop on that one. OH. MY. GOD. How great are the flower boxes on that one?
We both knew a Manhattan townhouse would never happen, haha. But the game served as a reminder that one day, all of our scrimping and saving might pay off. All the crummy living situations we’d endured, all the vacations we’d opted not to take, all the after-school hours we’d put in, all the eBaying we’d done, all the challenges that came along with taking on fellowships to avoid student debt, all the times we’d cooked at home instead of going out, and all the time-consuming photography gigs we’d taken on. That one day, our painstakingly attended-to savings account would allow us to put a down payment on something at least livable in the Big Apple.
(Don’t even get me started on how difficult it is to save money while living in New York. Gosh darn near impossible!)
After we got married, we became far more serious about buying, and about finding a semi-permanent home. We were tired of moving every time the rent would go up (which was every year), and we yearned for stability. Eight apartments in eight years is a little much, wouldn’t you say?
If you’ve been following along for a while, you might remember our home search in Brooklyn. Or our home search in Hoboken.
As much as we searched, we just couldn’t find something in the New York City Metro Area that was within our price range yet had the space we needed and the commute times we desired. I mean, we’re talkin’ tiny, dirty holes in the wall. With horrendous commutes.
It was really disheartening. And it was especially disheartening considering we were nearly killing ourselves every day to give back to New York, and New York couldn’t give us a respectable home in return. The sacrifices we’d made for so long seemed like they were all for naught. We talked a bit about moving to the suburbs, but neither of us wanted to do it. Since childhood, we both knew we belonged in cities. (Plus, I crash cars like it’s my job. So…)
After weighing our options for way too long, we decided to make a big change. We moved to Chicago, where Mitch grew up.
I can’t lie: I wasn’t happy about the move. But, not wanting to move to the suburbs, and wanting to be a team player–I kept my chin up. The idea was that we could afford life in Chicago… and hopefully afford to one day buy a home in Lincoln Park–Mitch’s childhood neighborhood, and an area that shares a lot in common with the West Village (my favorite NYC hood).
Our first year in Chicago was fabulous. The beginning was rough, but we ended up making amazing friends, falling in love with the city (specifically Lincoln Park, where we rented an apartment), and building new memories in a new location. But we also discovered that finding a relatively nice home in Lincoln Park would be much harder than we thought. While Mitch and I looked at hundreds of properties in LP online, we couldn’t find any that matched our criteria. Everything was either horrifyingly small (one bedroom units) or horrendously dumpy.
This past spring, we nearly threw in the towel.
What do we do? Do we move back to New York and rent forever? Do we simply pay for gold-plated car insurance and move to the suburbs? Do we move in with our parents? Do we give up on our dream neighborhood and look elsewhere? Do we start looking for four leaf clovers?
It felt like we were dealing with Brooklyn and Hoboken all over again.
One day, a friend–after hearing our story–recommended we search for “for sale by owner” properties online. So we did. And while we didn’t find anything, we did find a brand new listing for a house four blocks from our Lincoln Park apartment. In our price range.
(Half of a house. Built in 1873. But whatever, haha.)
I nearly screamed when I saw the listing. I quickly texted it to Mitch, and his response was “WE NEED TO BUY THAT PLACE.” So I texted our real estate agent, Lisa Kalous of Dreamtown, and she was all over it. I could sing Lisa’s praises for years at this point, but that’s a story for another day. The bottom line is that the girl was fabulous–and got us in to see the property and submitted our offer in record times. (We love you, Lisa!)
And the buyers accepted our offer.
(Why did I keep it a secret for so long? I was convinced that if I talked about it on the blog, the deal would fall through. Apparently I’m superstitious. And crazy.)
When it happened, I started crying. Besides getting into college and marrying Mitch, I’ve never wanted anything so much. It didn’t feel like real life. Mitch and I had struggled–both independently and together–on the living situation front since 2006 and 2007 respectively, and I couldn’t believe that we were getting everything we’d ever dreamed of having. Not having to move every year? Really belonging somewhere? Being able to make a space our own? I couldn’t fathom these things.
Granted, our house is not a mansion. Like I keep saying, it’s actually half of a house. ;) (We have the first floor and the basement, which has been dug out and finished, making it feel not very basement-like.)
But to us, it is everything. It’s something we’d started to think was impossible, and somehow, it’s now real. And while I have so much more to tell you–from the all-too-stressful mortgage process and the move-in story to our decor plans and the layout–I’m realizing that this post is getting WAY too long. So I should probably stop, and pick back up in a couple of days. ;)
So for now, let’s just leave it at this:
I am a very lucky girl. I love my life, and I’m so grateful for everything I’ve been blessed with. I’m also eternally grateful to our parents, who sacrificed so much to get us through college so we weren’t riddled with debt in our early years… and who graciously provided us with support and guidance throughout the (very confusing) home-buying process. (You are the reason this happened. Thank you.) And then there’s Mitch, who taught me that you can save and have a really fun, exciting life at the same time.
Mitch, I’m ridiculously excited to build our lives together in our Little Home in the City. :) Congratulations, Homeowner! I love you.
Stay tuned for lots of home posts!