Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Caught In The Middle

Yesterday was a successful day house hunting.  I didn't think it would ever happen.  We saw three houses yesterday, and all of them would work great for our family.  I normally get sick to my stomach, after looking at houses, but this time, I didn't.  I could actually see our family living in any of the houses.  So, as I sort through things, feel free to tag along.  I'd love some perspective.

The first house (2700 sq feet, finished).  Our realtor found this house for us.  It wasn't in any of our "designated" places that we were looking to buy.  It is in a different school district; a school district that we had always heard "stay away from that district.  It's terrible".  So, we stayed away.  However, this house came up, and since we were desperately at the end of  our list of available houses, we decided to take a look.

I can't say that I really like the area it's in, although it isn't bad.  It feels like an older neighborhood, with lots of mature trees, and lots of mature houses, so to speak.  The outside of the house is very unassuming.  It looks old.  It doesn't look fancy by any means.  But then you walk in.  It's OPEN!  What I mean by that, is that there aren't a ton of walls dividing up space.  It has a huge living room that is open to the kitchen.  It has a great backyard, with garden planter boxes already established.  It has a big tree with perfect branches to climb on.  It has five bedrooms and three bathrooms.  It also has a laundry room, that is just as big as one of the bedrooms.  When you go downstairs, it opens up into an even bigger family room, and it boasts a lovely wood stove.  The downstairs level is completely finished.  In essence, this house is really perfect for our family.

It has a few drawbacks, though.  I already mentioned the area.  Not too sold on it.  The schools are in the district I heard wasn't great, but now I'm hearing that they are just fine.  Anyway, the elementary school is too far away for the kids to walk, so I'd have to drive them, which I find a huge bummer.  The master bedroom is pretty small, as well as the adjoining master bathroom, which only has a shower and one sink, but neither of those things is a deal breaker, just not the greatest.

House number two (2543 sqft, finished).  This house we have walked through before.  The first time we walked through, we had just come from visiting a house that I fell in love with.  Any other house just wasn't good enough. So, I didn't give it a chance.  However, the house I loved isn't available for us to buy, so we have moved on.  This house is also another "rancher" type house.  It has beautiful tile in the entryway, and tile granite on the countertops in the kitchen.  It also has five bedrooms, two of which are in the finished lower level.  It has three full bathrooms, a laundry room (which is small, but fine) and another room that is a storage room.  It has a three car garage also.

The downside, is that I don't like the upstairs living room.  It's small, and shares it's space with the dining area, which is carpeted, and I hate that.  So if we had a party, we'd all have to be in the downstairs living area, which is plenty big enough, but I feel like the small living room upstairs is just a wasted space.  Also, this house has a tiered backyard, which is almost unusable.  It backs up to an open space, with a great view of the mountains...and the train tracks.  However, the upside is that it is in a beautiful neighborhood, with lots of huge, well-kept houses, and it's just down the street from the elementary school.

The Third House (1460 sqft finished, 2900 total).  I'm seeing a theme, now, because this house is also a rancher.  It has a nice open floor plan, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms.  It is very well kept up.  The yard has planter boxes for gardens, and already had a huge space, filled with strawberry plants.  It had a swingset for the kids, and nice thick grass.  It was a corner lot, and even though it wasn't a huge lot, it was designed well.  It was also near all new schools, which would be great for the kids. We liked the open, farm-like feel of the area, and that it's a close drive to Heath's work.

The downside of this house, is that it only had three bedrooms and two baths, but once you went downstairs, it was HUGE.  It was the entire square footage of the upper level, but it was completely unfinished.  Although it has great potential, we need to be able to use that space for a few years until we could finish the basement.  We could make a playroom down there, as well as section off some bedrooms, but it isn't as ideal as having it finished.

This house was also pretty far south, in a different city.  Although it is minutes from Heath's work (as well as the second house) it would feel like we were starting new, in a different city and a different area than where we have lived these past two years.  Then again, any of these houses is in a new area.  Which ever one we pick, we will be starting new.

So, that is our dilemma.  What do you think?

17 comments:

Nancy said...

hmmm I like the first house the best. That seems to be the best!

Mags said...

I would find out why the chatter about the school district being bad. It could be super old news or there is legitimate concern there.

Unusable backyards would be a deal breaker for me. How much does your family play outside?

Unfinished basement has HUGE potential and you can make it whatever you want to make it if you can survive long enough without it until you can get to it.

However, having the hubby home sooner because the commute is less might be a huge plus.

All sound like they have their good and bad. I guess that is was makes the decision so hard. Good luck Shaina. I am glad you had a good day of house hunting, finally!

Megan said...

That's a tough one but I think I'd pick house #1. Have you looked up test scores/rankings for the school/district? The last one sounds great too but knowing how little work we've ending up doing in this house (even though we planned to remodel/update lots) has occurred. So if you're like us that basement would stay unfinished for much longer than you'd really want. I hope you choose soon so you can move in asap. We moved on Dec. 19 last year and let me tell it was NO FUN moving and getting ready for Christmas in the same week.

Sharon said...

I think the first house.... I like established homes, with trees and mature yards. Plus there is something charming about an old house. I never liked walking to school anyway (I did like to walk home though, weird?)

Katherine said...

Being in a "go to school district" is not always the plus you think it is. We live just about a quarter mile from THE Elementary school in THE District in the area and we have had TONS of ISSUES. We are also not the only ones. We have discovered that the reason this Elem. is so "Special" is because of all the accolades attached to the outside wall. NOT because it is a great school.

With that in mind, I would seriously give the first house info more research time. That house seems to meet your needs more than the others and if, truly, the only thing holding you back from it is the school info - do some digging and find out why and what other options might be.

It will probably wind up being time well spent!

Good Luck! At least y'all get to move and make some changes! I married a farmer and we are in the only house we will ever own-FOREVER. I don't think that ever really sank in until the twins turned 5 and all their Navy friends started being transferred other places... Just sayin'...

LollyChops said...

I like the first one best. I liked how you described it and it sounds like it's got things that you can work with (location and school district). The house itself sounds fabulous!

Burns Family said...

When we moved into our house I was told don't put my children into the elementary school. I had no choice but I went in and met the principal (which you could do now and tour the school). 4 years later I love the school-not perfect, but my expectations have changed. You have to feel comfortable in the area-to me that is important. Having said all this. House #3 has the most sq. footage potential, and it doesn't sound like you have too many other cons. Good luck...you'll know what to do!

Nicki said...

Oh, I wish I could go house hunting with you! I love to look at houses---but I see you are a little over-looked with your hunting. Dreams and signing in your sleep. You need a solution:). I really liked the look of number 1 and I'm sure those kids would love a tree to climb. . . Number 3 sounds good too and that would be great to do what you want with it and maybe even have a big craft room to take up half of the space. Can't wait to see what you choose.

Patti said...

I only had one thing to add to everyone else - we used our backyard EXTENSIVELY when our kids were little; it's a place where you can let them play with less supervision, and you can put whatever you want in there - we have a large swing set, sand box and several raised square foot garden plots. Plus, if you ever want dogs, you need a backyard (I don't know if this is an issue for you or not). We had kids over all the time, and had many a wonderful birthday party in our own backyard. Ours is a well-used back yard, and we only have 2 children. With 5 children, I would think living in a house with an unusable backyard would be a deal breaker for me. But that's just my opinion; you will live there! So glad you actually have some viable choices!!

Renny's little things said...

Number One totally...You said it It's open, it has the space, it has what you need. Australia is different sort of living but we bought in an established area and with that we got families who had been here for a long time who knew the area and now there families are here too. Check out the school see if they will let you have a come and try day to see what the kids think. You guys are so good at doing not normal that you can handle this!!!!
that is only my opinion so good luck and enjoy
Cheers Geniene

Bek Bek Bek Bekah said...

I agree about the yard, not having a safe fun usableback yard for my girls is just awful for me, and for them. I like that you would be able to do with the unfinished basement what you would like to it, however I agree with what someone else said about how it could not get done for a while or even at all. The first house seems the best to me. The school can be worked with, and if you are driving them to school anayways, there is a chance that you could get them into a different school. A lot of people in spokane do that with their kids, you would just have to look and call around. As an involved parent I do not think that the school will be a deal breaker. But I could be wrong.

Colleen said...

I think the first house sounds wonderful. But the school district is pretty huge on my list of "must be good." Especially with Kamy starting middle school next year. It freaks me out in a good district! I feel saddish even typing about this moving away thing, but I am trying to be supportive. The second and third are kind of tied for me. The second is good for some reasons like the finishedness of it and the open space but not others like the backyard and weird upper floor. And the third sounds great if you think the basement could be finished in the next year or so, but if not that is a lot of wasted potential. Although, you've been so creative with your unfinished basement in the rental, you could make it work well. So basically I've told you exactly all the things you've already said. Aren't I helpful?! :)

Jennifer Magreevy said...

I'm so intrigued to know which school district you were told was bad! I think in any district you'll find problems. I did a lot of work in the Cheyenne Mountain district, which when I was there, was one of "the" districts to be in. Of course, it had the wealthiest inhabitants in the area, which helped quite a bit. Lots of good test scores, tons of moms helping in classes...but it was referred to as parents "running the school" and apparently the high school had a HUGE drug problem. Then I worked in some of the elementary schools in the Harrison school district (which I'm betting you might be considering as the bad district) and the elementary schools weren't bad. Lots of ESL kids, and definitely a lower level of materials than in Cheyenne Mountain. But the kids all love to learn, and if you get a good teacher who loves to teach, it doesn't matter what district you're in.

I hope you find the house you're looking for! That one house with the beautiful mountain view...even with kids, I think I'd give up a back yard for a mountain view. But that's just me. :)

Cheryl said...

Hey Shaina, well, if you've narrowed it down to these 3, my vote is for #3. Although the first one has some appeal, mature trees indicate mature house which can mean more maintenance $$. Maybe I'm wrong, but it looks a little more dated than the other two homes. I realize #3 needs some finishing, but it's stuff you can likely do on your own mostly (I mean hubby can do on his own!), and at your own pace. That being said, follow your heart. This is a big, exciting step. Enjoy!

runningfan said...

I might choose the third house, even though it just has "potential." A tiny commute for Heath would be such a bonus for your family life. New schools sound terrific. And from the perspective of someone who can't seem to sell her house, things like a lame master bath can really come back to bite you. I don't care a bit about my bathroom, but no one will buy my house because of it. Re-sale is something to think about! Another thought about location: sometimes it is easier to start in a new place when it's too far away to stay fully invested in the old place. Don't get me wrong -- I sure hope you don't disappear! But from a social standpoint it's more necessary to let go and reinvest. Still heart-breaking....

Trinette McCrary said...

When it comes down to it, you just need to follow your heart. I liked the district we moved from. I never said it was "bad". We loved our elementry school. The area we lived in would no question not be good for my chidren as the moved on to middle school and high school. When it comes down to it parent's just do what they feel is best for their children. I'm amazed how many people choice their kids into different schools in the district we are in now.
Just do what is best for your family.

courtney said...

I made a huge comment that didn't make it in...I choose house 3. When it comes to hearing that the school district is bad is simply someones oppinion. So many people said Jared's school was bad, but it is from parents who had a beef with with the school and didn't get their way so they start complaining!

Haveing a newer home where you have to finish the basement doesn't seem as bad as having a mature home where you have update everything. For me, spending 5,000 on new carpet and 8,000 on new windows is just the same as putting that money straight into the finishing the basement. So, finishing a basement because of money shouldn't be an issue. You could do what we do and pick a project every year to do with our income tax return. That way, you increase the value of your home without breaking the bank.

Though, older communittees are great, it tends to mean that the residents are "more mature" lots of grandmas and grandpas...fun, but not so fun for the kids to have local playmates and friends for you to have as well.

Once again, I vote #3!