When we arrived at our duty station, we began looking for places to rent. We did not want to buy a home, as we are only going to be here for three years. Every duty station we had been to we were able to rent a home for under our housing allowance and still have money left over for utilities. We were surprised to find that was not the case here.
I had found some potential houses in the newspaper and we started our search. The first home I drove to was in a bad neighborhood. The houses around it were worn and uncared for. When I found the house I was looking for I kept on driving. The porch was sagging, the yard was overgrown with weeds, paint peeled off the sides of the house and shingles were missing from the roof. The entire home reeked of despair and negligence. I refused to accept a home like that for our children.
The next house we looked at was near the top rated elementary school in the area, so we were a little more optimistic The picture looked fairly good and the rent was less than we expected. As we drove up, the surrounding neighborhood was quaint and quiet. There were nice homes mixed in with middle class homes; even a few houses that had seen better days.
When we pulled up to the driveway, my face fell. The windows and doors were all boarded up. The roof over the porch was leaning precariously on one side. The once beautiful wooden fence now had a large tree growing right through the side and several branches had cause it to collapse in sections. The home itself was tiny compared to the photo and looked like it was going to fall apart. Needless to say, we didn't even go inside. The landlord was afraid our dogs would tear up the place and didn't feel comfortable letting them stay there! I couldn't believe she said that. The house was already falling apart and she was worried about them doing damage.
The rest of our search continued in the same manner. Eventually we decided to look into buying a home. The mortgage payments ended up being less than the rent was at the houses we looked at. We found a Realtor and began searching for our new home. At this point we were eager to get out of the hotel, but we also didn't want to settle. We looked at several homes, but nothing really caught our eye. Our expectations were not unrealistic, but we just couldn't find anything that felt like home.
After several days at looking at houses, the hotel was starting to become suffocating. We were tired of eating out three meals a day and the room felt like it was getting smaller and smaller. To top it off Mike's leave was about to expire and I was terrified of the prospect of handling the two children, the dogs, the cats, and find a place to live. We were running through our savings account like it was water and things were starting to get frightening.
Finally we found a home. It was an older home and needed new Windows, but it had a certain kind of charm that was really appealing. It was a family friendly house and had a fresh coat of crisp white paint. The vaulted ceilings added to the charm as did the ornate fireplace and built in bookshelves in the children's rooms. A formal entry way and large fenced yard rounded out the appeal. Mike loved the house immediately. I was excited at the prospect of getting out of the hotel. We decided to put a bid on the house and within 24 hours it was accepted!
Then the inspection came. We got a reference for a reputable and thorough inspector and arranged for him to look at the house on a Saturday. He walked through the entire house showing us things that were wrong. That's what his job was, to tell us what needed to be fixed, what was minor damages, and what could cost us money down the road. There was a slew of problems with this seemingly perfect home.
The safety issues concerned me, but many of them were quick fixes. The stove and dishwasher were not bolted down, which meant that they could tip over onto a child. A plate was needed to attach the leg to the floor. Then the fireplace cover tipped forward when he touched it. He didn't apply on pressure, but the heavy metal frame fell right off the wall! There was water damage on one wall that had a doggie door, the dishwasher was rusted out and needed repairs. The windows in the master bedroom wouldn't stay open and one wouldn't open at all. Another window didn't close properly and left a gap for bugs and other insects to enter. The hot water heated was completely shot and needed to be replaced and there were live wires hanging out of sockets that should have been taped off and covered up, and the roof needed repairs.
We requested everything be fixed, although we really only wanted the major things resolved such as the water heater, the wires, the water damage, the roof, and the one window. The rest we could have fixed and replaced on our own. We decided to ask for every thing in the hopes that they would come back and offer to fix the larger items and we would call it even. Imagine our surprise when our Realtor told us what the counter offer was! The sellers offered to take $500 off the asking price! We couldn't even replace the water heater with that!
Then our Realtor called us with a house that had just come on the market. It had everything we were looking for and even had one more bedroom than we had planned. The house was immaculate and well kept. It was also over 2,000 square feet, making it ideal for our growing family.
We fell in love with the house as soon as we walked in. The entire home was decorated in soothing earth tones. The kitchen had a Tuscan design and even featured faux brick designs that complimented the house. Each bedroom was also painted in a different theme. One room was pink on top and had pail green stripes on the lower half. Another room was painted a light yellow green and featured different color circles in a retro pattern that was both modern and charming. The office had another theme as did the master bedroom and bathe. The final room was painted red, but if that was the only thing I didn't like, I could live with that.
We immediately bid on the home and the offer was accepted within a few hours. The inspector came out once again and we were pleased to find only minor problems with the home. Things like air filters, door stops, and such. Nothing that we asked to be corrected or fixed. We started the ball rolling and soon we had all the paperwork to close on the house.
After living in a hotel for over 30 days we closed on our new home and were handed the keys. Mike was away at his headquarters when I picked up the keys and finalized the paperwork (we had to wait for the sellers to move out of the house). It was hard transporting the dogs to our new home, but well worth the effort. It felt so good to be able to walk into our beautiful new home with it's spacious living space. We even gave the dogs their very own room!