Erin and I are moving to a new house today, and for the past week we’ve been busy packing. The new house is less than six miles away, so we’ll still be living in NW Las Vegas.
When we bought our current home in 2005, we could just barely afford it, and we knew going into it that it wasn’t an ideal choice for our situation. It was smaller than what we needed, so Erin’s office ended up becoming half of our master bedroom. Consequently, she spent both her waking and sleeping hours in the same room, and her workspace was only a few steps from the bed.
I expected we’d be in that house for 3-5 years, and I didn’t really want to move at this time, since I knew it would delay many projects. But I didn’t have the same incentive to move that Erin did, since I at least had a separate room for my office. The main reason I got my own office while Erin had to share hers with the bedroom was that she enjoyed the bigger office in our last house, so it was a reasonably fair trade. Erin and I can’t share an office because she needs a quiet, private space for doing her readings.
A few months ago, Erin and I sat down for a long-term planning session, both personal and business related. As we considered many different paths, we realized there would never be a perfect time to move, but it made the most logical sense to do it now. We could easily afford it, it was a buyer’s market, and the kids would be ending their school year (our daughter would end up switching schools). Also, our business was enjoying a fairly calm, stable phase without major deadlines or commitments, especially after Erin sold VegFamily.com.
I didn’t like the idea of moving again after only 2.5 years, but as we began looking at houses online, I realized we’d be in a much better situation after it was done, and I finally stopped resisting the whole notion and became more aligned with seeing it happen.
After a short time, we began attracting the resources we needed. Things fell into place rather easily, but not until we were already in motion. We hooked up with a great realtor who understood our needs and helped us find houses that made sense for us. And the son of a close friend is in the loan business and helped us get a good loan. Since Erin and I are self-employed, and since our income has increased significantly within the past year (by about a factor of 4), our financial situation is fairly complicated from the lender’s standpoint.
We ended up buying the new house for about 70% of the maximum amount we were willing to spend… mainly because we were able to find what we needed without having to spend that much.
There were certainly some obstacles along the way, but we overcame them one by one. When we found a suitable house we both liked, it was in a community with a homeowner’s association that had an explicit rule against running any home-based businesses. There was a policy to request a waiver, but it required getting permission from the HOA’s board of directors, and the next board meeting was nearly two months away. Fortunately, there were only three board members, so we were able to get the waiver with some effort via phone, fax, and email. Obviously running an Internet business doesn’t negatively impact the surrounding community, but I didn’t want to run into unforeseen problems down the road.
Although some people hate negotiating on expensive purchases, I rather enjoy it. I could feel the tension in everyone around me as we went through a series of counter-offers, but eventually we got the type of deal I was aiming for. I think it was a win for everyone.
One thing that really helped us was getting clear about what we wanted. We selected the must-haves that we weren’t willing to compromise on, but we also figured out where we could be flexible. We needed a certain number of bedrooms to accommodate two home offices, two kids, and overnight guests from out of state, but we didn’t need a huge yard. We needed a very quiet location, but we could be flexible on the specific neighborhood. We looked at a lot of houses. Many were very close to what we wanted, but something was a little off, so we said no and moved on to the next candidate.
This was the first time we’ve been able to move without some kind of time pressure, so we took our time and shopped around. Eventually we found two houses on the same day that met our criteria. We ended up buying our first choice. Goal accomplished.
This will be my last blog post from our old house, so hopefully we’ll be back online soon at the new house. For a blogger, the computer is the last thing you pack.