Buying a House is Fun!

Right?

Well, no. Not from my experience anyway. And trying to do it virtually is even less fun.

for_saleSome time tonight or tomorrow, we will most likely ink a contract to buy a house. I guess. A house I have not seen, except for one picture of the exterior on the web. Samantha has done all the legwork on this hunt, and the Internet does make it easy for me to get the nuts and bolts of the listings. But no amount of words and pictures can make up for that gut feeling, good or bad, you get when you make the approach to the potential new home. When you step inside for the first time. And so, after my initial pleasure of thinking we he had found a house well within our price range – solid, if not a dream home – I started having bidder’s remorse.

Samantha called with the good news that the owner accepted our bid. I had to tell her the bad news of my second thoughts. The hesitancy comes from wondering, “What’s wrong with this house?” Why is it so much cheaper, and nicer, than other we’ve checked out nearby? And the neighborhood gives me a big pause; actually, the biggest. The area borders one of the worst parts of New Haven. Not like stray-bullet-hitting-your window close, but close enough that the town has a police substation about a mile or so away from “our” neighborhood. Close enough that I wonder, despite the middle-class feel of our street and the ones directly around it, what lurks a half-mile or so away.

We are obviously no strangers to city living, and I’ve lived in some sketchy parts of Hartford, or areas that were close to those parts, and our last home had a similar placing to this one: cheaper neighborhood not too far from the poorer neighborhoods that border one of the worst parts of a poor city. But close by were large, well-kept homes along a broad, tree-lined street that ran into the historic town center. From what I can see online, there is nothing comparable here.

Do I sound horribly bourgeois and superficial? Guilty as charged. As I age, any bohemian tendencies (if I had any…) fade, replaced with concerns about resale values and not being the victim of a crime. I am not an urban homesteader. At the same time, I’ll accept living conditions a lot of people I know wouldn’t. For what that’s worth.

I feel at a huge disadvantage, under the circumstances, trying to get comfortable with the biggest decision I will make during this phase of the Crisis. But I know we have set a lot of parameters on our house search – primarily price – that would make finding a great house in a great neighborhood pretty damn tough even under the best of circumstances. One big plus: our friend Rick went with Samantha yesterday, and I trust his judgment on the house itself and the neighborhood. No bells went off for him, no bad vibes. He thinks it’s a great value. And that is another huge plus – we will be spending less than what we thought we might have to spend, which means we’ll have some cash available to do some things. Of course, we have to buy a gas stove and a dryer, and maybe a dishwasher, so that eats into the surplus. And don’t forget down the road, probably a second car. There are stores near this neighborhood, but no library. And I won’t know for awhile how far I’ll want to ride my bike, or in which directions, until I suss out the surrounding neighborhoods. I think, and this seems funny to say, that the safety radius we now enjoy in Chicago – how far we could walk at night and not think about where we are, who might be accosting us – will actually be shrinking.

I said I didn’t want suburbia. Looks like I might be getting what I wished for. Rick and Samantha are taking another drive down tonight, to perhaps talk with some folks in the neighborhood or at least get a feel for the streets a little farther out. This safety/crime issue probably makes me sound like a wuss, but considering my reservations about the whole move anyway, I want to be living someplace where I feel comfortable, where I can live for a long time. By the end of the night, we will have either decided to sign that contract, or I’ll be online looking for the next dream home.

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~ by mburgan on April 27, 2009.

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