It all started in the summer of 2012. Matt and I were living in a tiny roach-friendly apartment in the sweltering city of Columbia, SC. I was working fulltime and he had just graduated with his Master’s in Accountancy and was studying fulltime for the dreaded CPA exam. Matt had accepted a job with a CPA firm in Spartanburg in the fall and we knew we would be moving back to the Upstate area. I’m not sure what sparked the idea (maybe it was the cramped quarters and unwanted house ‘guests’) but naively we wondered ‘what if we bought a house instead of moving into another apartment?’
So we started dreaming. We made a list of all the things we would want in our first place. We (well Matt) began running the numbers to see what we could afford. We thought for sure house hunting (and finding) was something we could do in three months and two hours away.
Then Matt got the call. His future firm needed him in August, not October, and could we make that work? So frantically we put the house dreams on the back burner and began searching for an apartment. We found one (with space! without roaches!) and moved – all within about a month.
Looking back that change of plans was such a blessing. It gave us the time to save money (back then Matt wasn’t even getting a paycheck yet), get to know the area where we would be living, and really define what we wanted.
dreaming about our new house down by the river in Columbia
Fast forward to Spring 2013. We adopted a rescue Boston Terrier named Sophie, I got a new job, and Matt was full swing into his first tax season. Zillow.com became my new best friend as I tried to fill my time being home alone by searching for houses. We had narrowed down the area in which we wanted to live to a tiny ‘town’ about halfway between our two workplaces. I’m pretty sure I looked online at every for-sale home within a ten-mile radius and there just wasn’t much out there. On the rare occasion Matt had an afternoon off we would drive around exploring the few existing neighborhoods and picking out our favorites. The Sunday after his March 15th deadline I drug him to an open house I had seen on Zillow. The house was older and not really in our price range but I was antsy so we went. And what we found was a house at the top of our budget that still needed new floors, a roof, and an A/C unit. And frankly that was our experience everywhere we looked. Pricey houses that needed work. We weren’t afraid of a little labor but our lack of experience and the idea of a money pit scared us.
However that open house wasn’t a total waste of time because the friendly realtor who was hosting pointed us to a couple of neighborhoods in the area we hadn’t discovered before. We drove through one of those she recommended that day and discovered they were actually building a new phase of homes there. ‘Just for funsies’ we decided to walk-through a few of the complete for-sale homes they had open and that’s when it happened. I.fell.in.LOVE. Seriously, I might have swooned and hugged the beautiful granite counters in one of the kitchens. The houses were gorgeous: all bright, shiny, and new. (Of course they load the spec houses with all the upgrades so it’s hard not to love them.) I walked out of there and I told Matt that was it, I wanted a new house. Luckily my husband is not as distracted by shiny things as I am decided to actually look at the numbers. So I crossed my fingers and lo and behold he figured it out. With the right constraints we could afford the kind of house we wanted, in the area we wanted, and best of all in would be NEW! There would be no leaking roofs or broken A/Cs to worry about which was music to our ears and money in our pockets. We wouldn’t be scared stiff by our lack of handy-man knowledge (I can use a hammer and power drill but that’s about the extent of it) and just learn slowly as we went. My favorite perk was that we could pick and choose the layout, design features, & upgrades that we liked best and start of with a clean, beautiful, and functional (albeit blank) canvas.
So we did it. We bought a house.
Stay tuned for more as the new house chronicles continue.
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