My husband and I lived in a small third floor apartment when we had our first child. It was a cozy place at the end of a street next to a historic school campus. When we learned that the small apartment had lead paint and the baby began to get more active, I knew I had to move--I didn't want to risk our child's health.
With a mere $5,000 in the bank, I began the house hunt. I read a book about how to buy a house, and applied what I learned to the search. We found an angel-realtor who not only was interested in doing her job, but was also interested in giving us a good start in life. She showed us sixty houses in child-friendly neighborhoods near my job. I also drove around nearby neighborhoods looking for houses for sale. That's when I spotted a white split level house about one mile from my workplace. The house was evidently empty, and one tip I learned while reading the house buying book was that it's good to buy a house where the people have already moved out since that possibly signaled an eager seller who might sell the house for less.
We inquired about the house and were told it was out of our price range, but we asked to tour the house anyways. When we toured the house we liked the fact that it had plenty of space, was close to my work, and didn't need a lot of work. We weren't as keen on the house style or town at the time, but it was clearly a lot of house for the price so we made an offer. The realtors scoffed at what they thought was a too-low offer, but we persisted, and the house owners eventually accepted the offer mostly because they were eager to move and clearly had made enough money so that a few thousand dollar difference wasn't a big deal to them.
With $5,000 down and two jobs, we were approved for a mortgage, but had to pay the extra mortgage insurance. I remember our first day in the house--we simply sat in the middle of the empty living room amazed that we now owned a house. My family moved us in. I thought we'd live in this house for a few years before moving on, but now about 32 years later, I'm beginning to think this will be our forever house. In fact, while this house offered us some good value when our children were young, it's actually an even better home for an older couple as the town has great services and the home is near lots of needed places such as grocery stores, health care facilities, and recreation. Plus we have terrific neighbors--it turns out that our neighborhood is the kind of place where people stay for a long time and where people are ready and willing to help each other out. That's awesome.
Rather than move to a place by the ocean or mountains, from time to time we'll rent a home in those places for a vacation, but for now we'll enjoy our home, a place we've customized over time to the way we like to live. We've created a number of spaces that support our interests and enable us to welcome our friends and family members. Onward.