housing options

housing options

So our lease is up in October and we’re trying to decide what to do. Here are our options:

1) Sign another year lease and stay where we are. We like the apartment, it meets our needs mostly, and we wouldn’t have to move. After 3 apartments in 3 years that appeals to me. :-) However, there are a few things I don’t like – the cable company we’re forced to go with, and a few other things that are characteristics of an old apartment and a maintenance staff that has suddenly decided never to answer calls again. I also am not a fan of the area where we live and so I wouldn’t mind moving!

2) Become a CARES team through Apartment Life. Paul and I have been talking about this option for a few months now. Basically, we would be placed in an apartment complex somewhere around Atlanta and our job would be to encourage community among our neighbors. From my understanding, we would work with the leasing office to organize events (cookouts, get-togethers, etc.) as well as making it a point to greet new residents, and other such types of activities. We would be committed to this for 18 months, and in exchange we get a free apartment.

This option appeals to us because it would be a ministry. This is something Paul grew up doing, as this is a passion of his parents. I also love the idea of all the things I can do – planning things (you know how much I love organizing events!), new resident packages, doing things like sending out birthday cards. I can definitely put my love of crafts to good use. I also think it’s good to meet your neighbors, and I’m not sure I would do it if I didn’t have to. Another benefit is that it would give me the freedom to follow my heart while still supporting the family. We also would possibly be able to move to the area of Atlanta where we eventually want to settle. That appeals to me a LOT. I’d also like to get an apartment not on the bottom floor. I don’t like that people can walk by and look into my windows! I’d like to be able to open the windows without worrying that the cats are going to push out the screen and jump out.

We have a few major concerns though. #1 is that we both tend towards being an introvert. I am enough of an extrovert that I can enjoy being with people, but I’m shy so it’s hard for me to meet new people. I’m worried that we’re going to get burned out. At the same time, I think it could be really good for us and might help us learn how to get over the hurdle of making friends (which is something we’ve struggled with a LOT since graduating from college). Also, I know that God can enable us to do anything. If this the direction He wants us to go (we’re still praying about that) then He’ll provide – just like He did for Moses. Another concern is we’re unsure where we would be living. I have to ask the question – I don’t know how picky we can be (i.e. live close enough to the train station so Paul can continue to use that for work, which is our main priority). With a number of exceptions, we generally like the apartment we live in now. It’s big, has washer/dryer hookups, a nice screened in porch (I would be sad to lose the porch!), a separate dining room, and a pretty big kitchen. The idea of not getting a choice where I’m going to live and spend most of my time makes me sad. :-(

3. We are also considering buying a house! Actually a condo, because the area where we want to live is rather expensive and so we can’t afford a house. (But we HAVE decided on what area of Atlanta we want to live! And that’s kinda exciting. :-)) This would be signing a shorter lease at our current apartment and moving around next spring. We all know the pros and cons of renting vs. buying so I’ll skip those and talk about our specific situation. Prices are in a lower dip right now, so it wouldn’t be a bad time to buy something. We’re not sure how viable of an option this is for us, however. We don’t have a down payment, hence why we have to wait until next spring. We would be able to save enough for a 10% down payment by then (or less, depending on the price of the condo) but it would require me sacrificing something I was counting on. That is a huge thing, but I can’t go into details in this public blog. (I will be happy to explain privately if you email me.) We are concerned that our credit hasn’t been built up enough to get a good mortgage, since we have never had any credit cards (though we did have a car loan for a year and a half, and student loans). I think those are questions we are going to ask now whether we decide to buy now or later – mostly because if we AREN’T able to get a mortgage then I want to know what to do so we’ll be able to get one whenever we decide to pursue buying.

Buying a condo will mean getting something smaller that our family probably won’t be able to grow into. Of course, there’s always the possibility that we won’t have to worry about that factor, but I hope not. Three bedroom condos in our price range are few and far between, though we HAVE found a few. There’s a good chance, though, that we’d end up with a 2 BR condo and we would have to move in 5 years or so because we’ve outgrown it. Like I said, we can’t afford a house right now so the alternative would be renting. Townhouses are mostly out of our price range, though still cheaper than houses. (Just so you know, houses in this area start at $300k or so!) Another concern is getting in over our heads with the monthly costs. We’re aiming to keep our mortgage lower than our current rent, but we aren’t sure what the HOA fees are, and we know there are always other unexpected expenses associated with buying property. Anyways, I could talk on and on about this but I’ll leave it here.

4. Option #4 – move to a new apartment. Hehe I kinda stuck this here for a joke. I wish we could afford to rent in the area where we would like to end up buying but rent is high there and we’d have to take a much smaller apartment. Also, I don’t want to move unless we are either moving to something we’ve bought or moving to pursue a ministry.

Lots of options. We need to know in about a month because we have to alert our apartment complex if we’ve decided to stay or not. I think it’s time to spend some time on our knees and pray about this situation!

UPDATED TO ADD: Two things I forgot to mention. We have definitely considered the possibility of doing #2 with the intention of #3 after the 18 month commitment. That has its own benefits too – another year and a half of saving money for a down payment, though we also have to consider what the housing market could do in that time. The other thing is that Paul is in complete support of all of the options.

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