The Journey to Buying Our Home:
We’ve wanted to buy a house for a long time. As I’ve shared, in 2017 we paid off a ton of debt, and in 2018 we paid off our two remaining debts: Michael’s car and our last student loan. Living debt-free has been amazing. It has allowed us to put money away and put us in a place where we finally felt comfortable, financially, to purchase.
But, another reason we hadn’t bought was that we weren’t ready to be committed to one place. When you have the freedom of renting for so long, the idea of being married to one place (or at least a little more married than with renting) can feel like a big jump. But, when Miles was born, I think we both really wanted to put down roots even more than before. Personally, I lived in 3 houses in 2 states growing up. There was nothing wrong with it. I liked each house we lived in and I stayed in the same school system through my schooling years. But, I always thought it was something special when my friends from college went home to visit their parents in the house they grew up in. Part of me wanted that for Miles. Sure, there’s a chance this isn’t our “forever” home. Things change. But, our hope is we’ll raise our family here.
While we always browsed online, we started looking a little less casually in the late fall of 2018 and started actually going to see the houses in person. Every time we walked into a house we both knew immediately it wasn’t the one. You just kinda know. We actually put in an offer on a house in the late winter but both deep down knew it wasn’t the right one. The owner came back with a high counteroffer and we used it as a way to get out of the house we knew wasn’t right for us.
We viewed the house we ended up buying the weekend of Memorial Day. I knew the minute I stepped in the front door that it was the one. You just get this feeling. It doesn’t hurt that we’ve lived in 7 houses/apartments together, so we’ve had a lot of experience in a lot of different kinds of houses. We really knew what we wanted and we didn’t. This house not only met our “gotta-have” list (3+ bedrooms, 1-1/2+ baths, yard, sidewalk access, no need for immediate renos, good foundation/electrical/plumbing, shoreline town, good schools), it also checked off a lot of our wishlist items (covered front porch, fenced-in yard, older-house charm but updated, hardwood floors, garage.)
Budgeting for a house
The most important thing about our new house was that it was in the budget we wanted to spend. We decided throughout the house buying process that we did NOT want to buy a home at the risk of being house poor. We didn’t want our mortgage + insurance + taxes + all other living expenses to leave us with no wiggle room in our budget. The reason we’ve been able to be financially successful and stay debt-free is that we live below our means. It gives us wiggle room in our budget every month to save up for big purchases, pay off any debt accumulated that month, etc.
Tips for Budgeting for a House:
- I’ll always advocate for getting debt-free first, this is how we did it. We didn’t have any debts when we made the offer on our house. No credit cards. Cars paid off. No student loans. This allowed us more income every month to allocate AND allowed us to get a WAY better interest rate.
- Factor Mortgage + Insurance + Taxes: Sites like Zillow and Realtor suck you in by trying to show you a $350k house and tell you your monthly payments will be $1,400. This is how people get themselves into trouble buying houses. You need to factor in that cost (the mortgage) PLUS insurance and taxes, which can range wildly depending on where you live, the size of the house, etc. I’m not going to go into the nitty-gritty of all this in this post, I’m just cautioning you not to get caught in that trick.
- You’ll probably get pre-approved for more than you should buy: Before you buy a house you need to be pre-approved to prove you can afford to pay for a house you’re putting an offer in on. They usually say something like you’re pre-approved for a mortgage to a certain amount. The amount they give you is MORE than you should plan to spend. Trust me. Do your own budgeting, know your own expenses, and have a good idea of what you actually feel comfortable paying every month.
That’s really all I have to say about that. Michael and I have done it 8 times now and it sucks more every time. It’s even harder with a baby because really only one person can work at a time.
We started packing and decluttering about 6 weeks before the move. We wanted to get rid of a lot and only take the stuff we really wanted. 7 houses together, we had accumulated a lot.
The week we were supposed to close on our house they pushed the date back from a Friday to the following Monday. We were supposed to have the entire weekend to move and now had to cram it all into a single day. We had a friend come down on Sunday to help us pack up the Uhaul. Even though after every move I tell myself “I’m gunna hire movers next time!” I never do, because I’m too frugal.
On Monday afternoon, after our closing, we had my dad help us unpack. It was about 95 degrees both days. I was mostly useless because I was on Miles duty. I did drive the Uhaul and I did knock over the For Sale/Sold sign outside our new house while 10 cars waited on the road watching me. It wasn’t embarrassing at all. I’m sure our new neighbors were thrilled.
Monday night I stood in our new house, surrounded by madness and wondered how the hell we were going to survive. But, we did.
Moving sucks. But, it’s just a short period of time and then it’s over and you’re in your new space and getting settled.
- Start early – like earlier than you think you’ll need to. Everything will take surprisingly longer than you plan.
- Consider bulk removal – we did a ton of decluttering. I took a lot to the Goodwill, recycling a lot, but we also did a bulk waste pickup using a Bagster. If you have a lot to get rid of, it’s not a bad idea. Goodwill is sort of picky on what they will and won’t take nowadays so not everything can get donated.
- Organize as you go – It’s impossible to avoid some of those last-minute “just throw it in the box” packing boxes. But, when you can, organize while you pack. Only put like things together that should go to the same spot. Label your boxes well. It’ll make unpacking 1,000x easier.
- Storage items go in storage bins – For items not getting unpacked when you get to your new house (like seasonal things, mementos, etc.) I suggest you store them all in large Tupperware bins. This way they are stored and organized and in the new place they can go right into the basement/attic and be good to go.
- Vacuum seal – Another good storage idea is to pack things in vacuum seal cubes like comforters, pillows, winter clothing. Not only does this stuff take up space, but the bags will protect them in the move.
- Get creative with packing – bubble wrap and packing paper is helpful, but then you’re stuck with a bunch of bubble wrap and packing paper to throw away at the new house…. Use stuff you already have to pack fragile items. I use bath and dish towels, clothing, pillows, blankets, etc.!
Well, guys, that’s it. We made it. We’re “moved in” –if you wanna call it that. There are still boxes EVERYWHERE – we plan to tackle that this weekend. I needed to paint all the downstairs walls so unpacking too much just yet didn’t make sense.
We also don’t have a living room. We got rid of our couch because we’re buying a new one and it won’t be here for 9-12 weeks. So, while we’re “moved in” we’re not totally settled.
BUT I plan to share os much home content with you! Some great affordable DIYs and home decor inspiration, as we makeover our rooms and put our own personality into this place. The house, luckily, was move-in ready. While it doesn’t NEED any work, we want to give it all our own look – like in the photo above I already painted an accent wall. It’s the color Inkwell by Sherwin Williams and I love love love it!