Category Archives: Rent or buy?

Eating my words: I want to go home!

I loved the idea of being footloose and fancy free, of downsizing to so little Stuff that I could live happily in a carefree studio apartment or tiny cottage with just a handful of my most special Things around me.

I loved the idea of being so unshackled to Home and Stuff that I could pick up at a moment’s notice and go to Italy, India, or indeed Indianapolis. Well, maybe not Indianapolis. But wherever the whim wafted me.

I thought house-sitting for others would also be a workable option. Take care of their pets and plants in exchange for a place to stay.

The house-sitting thing hasn’t been so great though. In turns out that I’m still a nester at heart. My own nest. It’s one thing to live out of a suitcase when you’re traveling, as I was for a month.  But when I returned to the community I call home, I re-entered the world of obligations and responsibilities. Where were my files? my printer? easy internet access?unrumpled clothes?

Worse, I didn’t enjoy cooking in someone else’s kitchen without my favorite knife or Caphalon skillet. I missed my radio and CD collection. I worried that my cat would scratch their favorite chair. I wanted my own bed. In short, I was getting crabby.

In the nick of time I fell in love. With a house.  A darling Craftsman, built in 1926, updated in 2002. Great walkable neighborhood, close to everything. Many friends nearby. It is 30% smaller than my last house, and the yard is about 1/5 as big.

I made an offer, they countered, then I countered and they accepted. I move this weekend.

The amazing thing is that most of the furniture that I saved from my former house fits beautifully here. In fact, I’m having to retract some of the furniture I’d planned to give my peripatetic son, because I will have a second bedroom for guests after all.

So… I’ve gotten to a lot less, but not as LESS as I originally intended. My excuse is that one must ease carefully into these transitions…

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Filed under Baby steps, Downsizing, Envisioning a simpler life, Rent or buy?

Costs of selling a home mount up

Yesterday I did the deed. Or more accurately, I paid Chicago Title a queen’s ransom to do the deed. For them to guarantee that there were no liens against my property I paid more than $1,500.  I also paid the realtors (mine and the buyers’) a commission of $21,000 and (state and local excise) taxes of $7,500.

In other words, it is very expensive to sell a house. Nobody mentions this when you’re in the lustful phase of buying a house. When you sell all those fees you avoided up front as a buyer come back to bite you. Too late you realize they should be figured into any profitability equation.

The pain in my purse would have been less if home prices hadn’t plummeted in the past couple of years.  To console me, my realtor brought a bag of handmade chocolate-coated toffee to the signing.

Ah well, what’s done is done.  I loved the house, I loved transforming it into a thing of beauty and functionality, I loved living there. The money I lost is just the money I lost.

Right now the house is empty but for the stuff I plan to carry in the car during a two-month stint of staying at other people’s house. So today is about packing the last remnants and final cleaning.

Here the kitchen looks as pristine as the day I finished the remodel.

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Filed under Attachment - Vairagya, Downsizing, Envisioning a simpler life, Rent or buy?, Selling stuff

Cute little house: Found. But now what?

706 W30This afternoon my realtor friend Lee took me to see a cute little 1920s house in the neighborhood I want (I think). Unlike the cute little dump I saw a couple of weeks ago, this place has had most of the glaring problems repaired. The hardwood floors are newly refinished and the paint colors are very close to what I might chose for myself. The basement is even dry and has no mildew smell.

The price is even right. Less than $200,000. (For the moment forget that the kitchen needs some major work – and let’s forget that the stated 1600 square feet is actually about 800 on the main floor and 800 in the partially finished basement – and I’m not much into basements.)

BUT. I can’t afford two homes, and my current home will not sell overnight in this climate unless I practically give it away. And damn it – I may have to give away the humongo-desk, but I’m not handing over the keys to the house.

So, I need to prepare for Plan B.  Get the house ready to sell, and once it does, which could take a year, trust that I’ll find what I want fairly quickly – which could even be a rental.


Filed under Downsizing, Rent or buy?, Selling stuff

Rule out the fixer-upper…


They say the secret in buying property is location, location, location. “They” also say to buy the worst house in the neighborhood and fix it up if you want to get the best bang for your real estate buck.

A house in a great downtown Vancouver neighborhood came on the market recently – a short sale – meaning it had been foreclosed on, and the bank just wanted to get its money out. The price was very low for that neighborhood of mostly 1920s craftsman bungalows – certainly in my ball park  if I could sell my house fairly fast. (A gamble right there inasmuch as it’s not even ready to go on the market…)

Streetside it had a lot of curb appeal. So my realtor took me to see it.

On the plus side, all the houses around it are darling, and I have several friends nearby. The house, once fixed up, could be every bit as darling.

HOWEVER. The place on close inspection is a mess, even if you ignored the fact that it was piled high with the owner’s crap in every room. Dry rot around the windows, mildewy basement, bathroom and kitchen redone badly in the 1950s, other random and ill-considered “improvements” made recently.

My current home was a fixer-upper when I bought it in 2002, not because it was in bad shape; it was just dated.  Luckily back then I had the money to hire a great contractor.

This little Craftsman is the perfect project for a couple in their 30s – one of them would be a contractor, the other an architect.  They’d have oodles of energy and enough money to buy quality parts. Every spare minute they’d hammer and wire and plumb away together. Sweet sweat equity.

Alas, not for me any more. My heart just sank at what it would take to make the place livable. I’ve already spent decades of my life dealing with home and hearth issues; I’m ready to do something else.

So, scratch the “fixer-upper” option from my list.

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Filed under Baby steps, Downsizing, Envisioning a simpler life, Rent or buy?

Ruling out a condo…

condosWhen you have to make a decision, it can be easier if you first eliminate some of the options.

My current options:

1. Remain in my 3000 sq ft home

  • gradually spend all my money to keep the place up or
  • rent two rooms to help with expenses

2. Sell my home and  then:

  • buy a much smaller house
  • buy a condo
  • rent an apartment
  • rent a house
  • move into some sort of adult community
  • move in with an adult child or friend

I have no adult child with an extra room, and I’d have to be really hard up to ask a friend to let me move in, so that option is out.

I am not old enough, and may never be old enough in spirit, to live in an adult community.  Yecchh! That option is scratched.

And last night I scratched the condo idea from the list, after visiting a friend who lives in a very nice condo of just four townhouses.

It was great at first, she said. But then the quiet older woman next door sold her place to a noisy and disagreeable couple. The couple was friends with the people on the other side of them, and they sided with the new couple at condo meetings.  Condo meetings have become very unpleasant, needless to say.

The covenant is extremely restrictive – it won’t allow my friend to knock out a wall between the kitchen and dining area, which would open the place up significantly.  She can’t even change the curtains in the front window.

Another friend belongs to a much larger condo association, where 30% of the units have gone empty.  As a result everyone’s condo fees have skyrocketed, to cover the costs of the empty units.

So I’ve scratched the condo option. That leave me with

a) rent out rooms (which still leaves me with a lot of responsibility I don’t want, though it’s a temporary alternative)

b) buy a little house (but to do so will be near impossible until this one sells)

c) rent an apartment or small house (not easy because it means paying rent as well as house payments till the house sell)

More and more it looks like the only feasible option is to rent rooms while I fix the place up to sell (and get rid of lots of crap), put it on the market and when it sells see what’s left in my pocket for my next living space.

Argh. I want so to have a specific place in mind, so I know what MUST go and what will fit into the new place.

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Filed under Baby steps, Downsizing, Emotional issues, Rent or buy?