We've boarded the home-buying train. Which is actually more like a roller coaster.
I was prepared for expensive. There's no question of expensive. And we're in a position to get a decent first house, excepting the fact that Raleigh isn't a place with cheap houses. A good rule of thumb here is that if you've heard of the neighborhood, you can't afford to live there. There are a few pockets of good places in town even once you've ruled out the suburban sprawl hell of north Raleigh. (This is not a big enough city to have any decent excuse for a 30+ minute commute through heavy traffic within the city limits, which is what a north Raleigh existence guarantees.) We live in one of these pockets now, and are considering staying in the neighborhood or changing up. Sort of on the table are nearby peripheral towns, but they better not get their hopes up since I hate every possible aspect of commuting.
What I was not prepared for was the great emotional swings of:
1. Find information about a house.
2. Imagine that it is the greatest house in the history of the world.
3. Find out you are wrong.
Just this week we've looked at six houses in person and dozens more online. Each one is like a brief junior high relationship of eternal commitment lasting about four hours. But you must get attached in order to talk yourself into spending hundred(s) of thousands of dollars. And then you find out the dining room ceiling is so low you can press your hand flat upon it, and the courtship abruptly ends. It's a brutal exercise.
I realize sellers are not going to post the unflattering picture of the grimy brown shower in the basement that emits only thick grey water. And written descriptions will not mention that the house has only one window on the entire back, even though this turns out to be a good thing because the house abuts a highway and opening this feeble barrier to the noise of a thousand cars an hour would be a terrible mistake.
Nevertheless, we must proceed and continue to subject ourselves for a bit longer. Luckily the houses are by no means all bad. A few have been great. It's impossible to make a perfect decision. We do not always fully agree with each other on the best choice. Each house has things that we don't want to go without as well as things we would be happy to never ever deal with. Some are tens of thousands of dollars more expensive, and you have to somehow figure out if what you get for that money is worth it. Money in the many thousands of dollars (that you'll be borrowing anyway) has an imaginary quality about it where you cease to concern yourself with a few thousand plus or minus.
I'm also having to conquer preconceptions of what a "good" house actually is. It's impossible not to compare it with the house I grew up in, even though that was purchased in a much different place and time. And it was my parents' third or fourth house. I think I want a yard, but it's not like I'm all that vigilant about taking care of the tiny plot of back-lot space I have at my current place. So, really, am I serious about that? How can I be trusted to make a major decision when I often regret what I eat for lunch?
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