Tuesday, May 31, 2011

House Hunting: It's sorta what we've been up to

As you know, we've been renting a house. I actually love renting. These days when a home is more of a liability than an asset--and definitely no longer an investment--renting kind of redefines the American dream. BUT there's this whole issue of settling in. I am not settled in to our rental. There are only 2 clocks on the wall and one poster up in the boys' room. And in full disclosure, that poster covers up a hole in the wall (no, we did not put the hole there). Plus we have stacks and stacks of boxes in the garage that have not yet been unpacked.

So I'd love to have a place to call my own so I could paint the walls the color I want them, put things on those walls, and unpack the boxes. We're aiming for November to be out of here and into a place of our own.

Even though that gives us 6 months, being the impatient people we are, we have been poring over listing after listing. A few things that bother me about homes up here:

1. First and foremost: no Central Air!! Our rental has no means of AC either. At this point it has kind of a been a game to see how long we can go before we give in and buy some of those ugly AC units you hang out of your window. In the listings, they describe them as "individual cooling units"; makes them sound so posh, doesn't it? I hate to buy them, though, in the off-chance we purchase a house that actually has added that modern convenience of central air! You might think the northeast is ahead of the times, but I'm telling you - just look at the AC situation, and you'll see they are in fact behind the times!

2. No garages or detached garages: This is actually not an issue for us because I have specified in my search that I only want to look at homes with a garage. But there are A LOT of homes out there without a garage. Again we must look at the average age of the homes here; I mean who would park a horse and carriage in a garage anyway? As for me, however, I will take a house that is just a garage if I have to, but I will not live with having to dig my car out of 6 feet of snow just so I can go pick up a gallon of milk at the grocery store.

3. If you're from the south, you know that most homes have a master suite, which means there is a master bedroom with a private bathroom connected to the room. Well, here, again probably because of the age of homes, it is not as common. So when there IS a master suite, the listing will say, "possible in-law suite". OK, I get that too EXCEPT that these are descriptions on homes that are sometimes right at 2000 square feet. That's not THAT small, but it's not huge. Throw in my 4 kids...well, I love my in-laws, but that really would be kind of crowded, wouldn't it?

4. I described our rental house in a past post and explained how there are like 12 different types of flooring in it. I see that in the majority of the homes I see on realtor.com. Each room has different carpet. Now I saw a friend's house who did that tastefully, and the different colors complemented the theme of the room, but with these, there will be one room that has bright green carpet, another with mauve, another with bright red.

5. Some of our top choices have an above ground pool in the backyard. Why in the world do so many people up here have pools that they can only use for 2 months out of the year? I guess maybe because they don't have AC. I don't know.

6. The prices of the homes aren't too bad, though CT has certainly not been hit like GA in the housing crisis, so prices aren't bombed and homes are still moving. BUT the price of a home can be misleading if you are trying to work up a budget because you have to take the property tax into consideration. The property taxes up here are outrageous. I have not found a single house with property taxes even close to the little we paid in GA. Most times, the property tax comes close to doubling your mortgage! I'm surprised everyone here hasn't just up and moved to GA.

OK, I'm done griping. There are some good points about the homes here. Because they are old, they are full of character. Also, many of them have been renovated but the character retained. So it has been interesting looking at the homes. Our top pick right now was built in 1912! It's fascinating to think of all of the voices that have echoed down the halls of that home...if the walls could talk, huh?


Catherine said...

We had the same issues here in Wisconsin. We had our first house built for us and it had a master suite. We didn't have air conditioning put in till the second summer because we're from Florida and Louisiana. We thought that if we could survive LSU dorms without AC, we could certainly make it up here. Well, now we're old, so we got AC.

Then, when I quit working and we had to get into a smaller home, we were in for a shock. Our current house (probably built in the 40s) has three upstairs bedrooms, but no upstairs bathroom. The bathroom is on the main floor but there is a sad, lonely toilet in the basement. But, it does have central air on the main floor - not common in older homes. But, we put window units in the upstairs bedrooms because we didn't want to be sleeping in the basement when it gets really warm.

And I think we only have central AC downstairs because they did a remodel at some point.

Good luck with your househunt! It's definitely a culture shock!


dclouser said...

Love the sound of a house built in 1912! Keep us posted once you make a decision - I'm expecting to see pix of everything! (But hopefully no lonely toilets in the basement LOL!)

Jenn said...

I agree a master suite and central air are a must. Those were two things I wanted in our house too! House hunting can be frustrating, hope you find the perfect one for you soon!