Paul and I have been talking about buying a house. Our friends that I mentioned before bought a house about a year ago, and talking to them has got me looking at real estate sites online again. My biggest problem is that I don’t know where to live. We live on the very edge of the perimeter of Atlanta, and any closer is expensive (or not a good neighborhood), and any farther away will just add to Paul’s commute (already an hour long). Our area is too expensive for us to buy in – I think houses start around $250,000.
So we’ve been looking around for ideas of good areas that are affordable and good to live in. Where do we want to live? What is important to us? We have come up with the ideas of a “7-year house” and a “20-year house”. The 7-year house is basically one that would fit our needs right now, and the needs we expect to have in the next 5-7 years. It has a stronger focus on location, resale value, and details that would best suit a young family (like nearby parks). The 20-year house would have to suit us for more long term. We would focus on having a room/area in the house to homeschool, good neighborhoods where our kids can play and make friends, being comfortable in our house, and having a yard. Paul and I are the type of people that want to have a little more freedom in our house. Some of these pretty neighborhoods with all their HOA rules and regulations would drive us nuts. We want a yard with trees – not houses that are too big for their lots and only have 3 feet between them. That’s fine for some people, but it’s just not our style.
We have debated whether we should look for a 7-year house, or just skip that and rent until we can afford the 20-year house. There are advantages and disadvantages for both, and we definitely haven’t made a decision yet. One thing I mentioned was location. Paul works downtown, and he likes his job, but it’s not a position he wants to be in long term. If he isn’t able to move around within the same company in the next few years, he may have to seek out a different job. So where do we want to live? Where is he likely to work?
One place that we keep coming back to about where to live is downtown Atlanta. We love the city; we spend a lot of our time down there. We like to live close enough to places that we can walk to stores, etc. (We love that aspect of our apartment now.) We like to take the train and bus, and avoid driving altogether (it’s cheaper! and better for the environment!). We like the community feel some places have in the city. We like to see people walking their dogs, jogging, riding their bikes. (Both of us grew up in the city, so it’s not something we’re not used to.)
I spent some time on a real estate site today looking at condos. How small would I be willing to go to live in the city? Prices are high – $200k-300k for a one bedroom condo! We can find them cheaper in other areas – even within our budget! But, we would most likely have to get a two-bedroom.
So the question is, how small can we go without going crazy? Can we get a two-bedroom condo, knowing that in 7 years we’d most likely have to move? Unless God has other plans for us, we probably would have two to three small children in there. But hey, both of us lived in places that small with our families when we were growing up. And when your kids are all under age 5 or 6, does it really matter if they’re all in the same bedroom? It would be great to get a three-bedroom, but I’m not finding many that are within our price range. So should we go for the smaller place? Or are we rushing?
And lest you think we’re hurrying off to buy the first thing we see, note that we have 7 months until our lease is even up. At that point, we just need to know how much longer we’ll be here – should we sign a new lease, and if so, for how long? If we look to buy a year from now, we will be more aggressive about saving for a down payment.
I don’t know, just ideas we want to think about. We may just decide to forget the 7 year house and go for the 20 year house once we figure out more long-term things. Though the thought of getting a place all to ourselves in the city excites me!
* By the way, I should mention, Paul is completely on board with the idea of a small place. He doesn’t see the problem at all. It’s me who is hesitating. :-)