28 November 2005

Thanksgiving in Seattle

We went to Seattle for Thanksgiving this year. Originally we were going to host again, but perhaps we'll do that again next year. And it sure was nice to take a break from the home-buying process for a while!

The obligatory family photo. (Hey Loren - WAKE UP!)

- Mike (& Corinne)

01 November 2005

The Next "Big Purchase"...

We have lived in the Gorge now for 1.5 years. We have good, stable jobs that we like; there are more things to do in this area than we have time for; the climate and weather is great; and we've made quite a few friends.

It's time to start looking for a house.

This project has been on our radar for a year or so, but we've been so busy with work and travel and visitors that we never made enough time to do it. But now we resolved ourselves to make some significant progress. We may not buy anything at the end of the process, but at least we will have a better feel for how much things cost around here, and how likely it is that we'll find something we like.

After we found a realtor (through recommendations from friends and coworkers), we started to communicate with her to let her know the type of things we were looking for. Since we had already discussed that we were looking to continue the "country living" that we started with our rental in Husum, we decided that there were two possibilities for us: (1) Find a house on 20+ acres; or (2) Find 20+ acres and build a house.

Since this area is not actually very large, we knew our choices would be limited. As it turned out, within about a week we had looked at virtually all of the house options that matched our criteria, with the biggest limiting factor being the acreage. The fact that we were finished looking so soon wasn't necessarily a bad thing, though. In Boston, for example, you could look at places continuously for years and never find the "perfect" place for you; here, once you've looked at everything and knew what your options were, it's a bit easier to make compromises and not keep looking for the perfect house (which of course doesn't exist). For people who like to do tons of research before making decisions, and who find it hard to compromise (like us), I think the latter actually works out better.

We took lots of pictures, of course, and would review our options each night. Initially we were skeptical that we would find something that we truly liked, but initial indications were good. We looked at our share of "not for us" places: a country-style home with a shop twice the size of the house; and a house we referred to as the "homemade house" because it seemed to be cobbled together from spare parts. But in the end we had a list of 5 houses that we would consider buying.

Once we had looked at all of the house options, we wanted to spend some time looking at land-only parcels. For us, building a house sounded exciting and daunting at the same time: when you were finished, you'd have a house that you truly love; but getting there would be a trial, especially for people who like to research and don't like to compromise (see above). But you also had to wait a year (if you're lucky) until the house was ready enough to move in.

Man, looking for property is time-consuming! In all, we spent about a month looking. But that was just prelude to the purchase process which comes later...

(stay tuned...)

- Mike (& Corinne)