I hesitated to title this post "Back Home". We're not home here. This has just been a landing pad, a stopover on our journey. I think we're ready to get back on the train.
All told, we spent three full days with an agent, looking at about 30 homes, several more than once. Some were quite forgettable; others rather unforgettable, for good and bad. What's amazing is the realization that housing where we're looking is without exaggeration 1/5-1/6 of the cost of comparable housing here. On bestplaces.net, our current area rates a 325 for housing costs (U.S. average=100) vs. the prospective community's 53-60.
We had set our priorities: a nice-sized and well-laid out kitchen; a good-sized yard (big enough for a vegetable garden, and running around room for the boys); a decent neighborhood; priced under $150k; 3+ bedrooms (at least two of good size); we need space for our books and piano, space for a home office, space for our entertainment center, and space for the boys to play.
In the end, we were down to three under consideration.
A) Listed at $124,000. Wood exterior, needing paint in the next year or two. Two car garage is a tear-down. Kitchen on the small side, but possible to remodel into the dining room (maybe a rather large eat-in). Large yard, corner lot. 10x10 sun room could be home office); fireplace; hardwood floors throughout; central air, fairly new furnace; unfinished basement; good neighborhood.
B) Listed at $150,000. Three bedrooms upstairs. Large yard, corner lot. Office room on main floor. Nice kitchen (everything updated, new cabinets and stone floor). Hardwood throughout; carpet in living room. Newer furnace; central air; programmable thermostat; vinyl siding; 5-year old 2.5 car garage; unfinished basement; large yard; same neighborhood as above.
C) Listed at $135,000. Great neighborhood. Lots of cosmetic work needed (including new kitchen). Hardwood throughout. Aluminum siding. Partially finished basement. Medium yard (but two houses down from a nice park and playground). 1.5 car garage needs work. Across the street from new friends from the synagogue with two kids. (They had us over for dinner on Saturday).
What are your thoughts? More coming soon...