Perhaps I should clarify that first statement about not finding a house -- I have found LOTS of houses. Houses that are too small, too expensive, in crappy school districts, and just plain weird. I have also found a couple that I would like to have. Our financing options are limited though because when we moved from Georgia to Texas in the Fall of 2007, (you know, right when the housing market crashed?), we had a house that we couldn't sell. We kept it going for about 20 months or so before we admitted defeat and filed bankruptcy in 2009. I will not be eligible for an FHA loan until after December 29th of this year. So we are looking for a lease purchase. Now, I don't know about where you live, but here in North Alabama, lease/purchase is sort of code for "I want to live in your house and treat it like my own and then not really buy it" so sellers are a bit leary of those offers. It doesn't matter that *I* am a serious buyer, since there is no way to convince them of that. So we have had a rejection or 2 from our lease/purchase attempts.
I thought that the first house we found was awesome. Enough space that every kid would have their own room, nestled in the woods on over 2 acres of land, well within our budget, and although an older house, it was well taken care of with a very nostalgic feel. And it had a pool. Granted it was a small pool, and it was an older concrete pool, but still. I LOVED it. I took my parents to see it. They burst my proverbial bubble about how awesome the house was. I was so excited to show them this romantic cottage in the woods, and they saw a money trap and time vacuum. Here is sort of how that went:
"Dad, look at this beautiful driveway! It is almost a quarter of a mile long through the woods! We'd have so much privacy!"Then there were concerns about the age of the house and how hard it might be to maintain. There were concerns abut the schools (although I had already checked them out). Then they said that it seemed pretty far away. Seriously? I just moved here from TEXAS. Up until a few weeks ago, I was 13 hours away and now this 20 minute drive is too far out?! It didn't matter that they had valid points, they had rained on my parade.
"You'd have to be cutting back those trees every few weeks or it will seal you in. And who knows who could sneak up here on you. Bugs will be bad too. They'll eat you alive."
(Okay, maybe he had a point or two, but it would be totally worth it for the views. Once they saw the house and everything, they'd agree.)
"Mom, look at all of the trees! Can you imagine how gorgeous all of this will be in the Fall?! I can sit on one of the screened in porches and sip coffee while admiring all of the fall colors!"
"Hmmmm....it will be pretty. But you won't have time to be sitting on your porch admiring it because you'll have to be raking leaves most of the time."
(Oooookay....this was not going how I had planned it out in my head at all....)
"And look! It has a little pool! Just big enough for the kids and I to cool off in, but not so big that it dominates the backyard!"
"Pools are expensive to maintain. And you'll have to be really careful with the kids to make sure no one drowns."
(Alright, my feelings were starting to get hurt and we hadn't even been INSIDE the house yet....)
"Look at the hardwoods! At the fireplace! Look at all of this space! Its got a cute kitchen, a sunroom, a living room, dining room, den, and rec room! We wouldn't be crowded at all in this house! All the kids could have their own rooms. Isn't it amazing??!!"
"It will probably cost a small fortune to heat and cool this place. How old is the roof? You're going to have to have the chimney serviced or you'll burn down your house and half the hillside. Have you checked on the plumbing? The HVAC system? What are the average utility bills?"
(Wow. Just wow.)
It turned out to be a moot point since the sellers wouldn't consider a lease/purchase, but still....
So we kept looking. We found a house in a pretty much perfect location -- halfway between my parents and my in-laws. Good schools, nice lot, but smaller than the house in the woods -- the kids would have to share rooms. The sellers will consider a lease purchase, and they have agreed to a lower rent payment than what they had originally asked for since we want to buy it, but they have yet to accept our offer. And there is some work that needs to be done to this house -- it needs painint, some of the facia boards need to be replaced, and the master bathroom looks like something out of an old "Designing Women" episode from 1985. Its got dark green counters, tub, and shower with brass fixtures and dark green, bold, floral wallpaper. Suprisingly, all of the work that is apparent on THIS house, did not freak my parents out even a little bit like the potential for work on the other house.
I value their opinions, that is why I asked them to see the houses in the first place. And I know that they worry about us biting off more than we can chew (not just financially, but in every other way as well). I did point out that the longer it takes for us to find a place to live, the longer me and my 4 kids will be camping out at their house....and as much as we all loe each other, if we ended up here for 6 months we might not feel the same way when it was over. My dad literally JUST retired -- like a week before we got here. And he has already been doing some consulting at his old job -- probably to escape my kids for a day or two a week. They are used to us coming to visit for 6 weeks, but 6 months would most likely drive us all nuts.
So for now, we are still homeless. We are saving a lot of money by not having to pay rent and utilities, but we would really like to have our own place. In addition to invading my parent's home, I have had to reconcile myself to the fact that they are not used to this either. The other night, as I was leaving to go to my in-laws house, my dad said "Now, where are you going and when will you be home?" I felt like I was 16 again. I mean, I haven't had a curfew in about 20 years and it seems a little odd to have to answer questions like that while I am walking out of the house with my 4 kids in tow. Besides the awkwardness of living with my parents, school is starting in August and it is almost July. If we have to enroll the kids in school out here where my parents live, and then change their school a few months into the school year, that would not be good. I am under a lot of pressure to find somewhere that works and FAST (and that is one reason that I haven't been on the computer much). Also, my way of doing things differs greatly from my parents....but that is a whole other story that would take too long to go into here.
In the meantime, pray for me, my kids, my husband, and especially my parents and their sanity as we continue to encrouch on their golden years of retirement with 4 rowdy kids who fight over the TV, the computer, and the "good" chair, and who turn their noses up at dinner (and lunch, and breakfast....). While I usually tune them out until I hear breaking glass or smell smoke, that is a skill that I have developed over time and one that my parents never really had. I pray that they will continue to put up with us until we can find our own place to call home and before my kids destroy theirs.....