Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Home Sweet Home

While Jenn searches for her groove, I’m hunting houses. Well, just one house. I looked at it while Jenn was away a few weeks back and then it went under contract to some other buyer.

I love my apartment but, truth is, I am also tempted to do something crazy like buy a house in this soft market. Yep, take the small annuity I have and use some of it as a down deposit and become a mortgage holder once again. I did this once in my life, as a newlywed, and home ownership lasted thirty years. Then, I got my very first apartment. Most people do it the other way around: leave home, get an apartment, and then buy a house.

Now in my second apartment, life is good. No lawns to mow or snow to shovel. I can afford my monthly rent and utilities and sit on my back porch. The neighbors are sometimes noisy but, overall, it’s n-i-c-e. I’m in a duplex, and have the entire second floor to myself.

So, why am I going back to look at this quirky little house now that it’s back on the market? Do 60-plus single women really buy houses? Most seniors have paid off their mortgages and are downsizing. I'd be going in the other direction.

Not that this would be taking on a huge property. The house sits on the corner of a quiet, hilly street. It has lots of light and a narrow staircase that leads to one bedroom and a half.

The seller has put in a new kitchen and bath. And that's the strangest part of the place. The bathroom sits next to the kitchen and it’s about the size of a walk-in closet. The toilet is under a window and an outside red door leads directly into the bathroom. There is no bathroom on the second floor. Quite a leap on those cold Berkshire mornings to make it down the steps and into the john … and, at my age, I’d rather have a stall shower than a deep jet tub.

The rest of the house is kinda cute and has possibilities. As you can see, I took pictures during my first visit. Whatcha think?

Do banks really offer mortgages to women over 60? Jenn tells me that my dad would be saying “go for it” but I didn’t tell her that I remember when friends of my parents bought a house and took on a 30-year mortgage in their early 50s and my dad thought they were loony. Dad, of the “house is a good investment” philosophy, seemed to have a change of heart as he, and his friends, got older. He bought a duplex and then spent the rest of his life on what was originally his parents’ old land. Mom wanted out, and seemed to enjoy her small apartment near us once he passed away and she sold the house. What would they think of their daughter, a couple years shy of retirement, becoming a homeowner?

And then there’s Sophie. I drove the girls past this little red house while mom was out of town. Sophie lamented that it was “too far away” from their house. I tried again this past week.

“Sophie, do you remember the house babci took you past? What if she bought it?”

Sophie seemed upset and sad.

“Babci, I like your apartment. I can walk to you. You can meet me at the corner.”

I am two and a half blocks from Jenn’s. The house is two and a half miles from Jenn. Sophie is finding a new sense of independence – walking to grandmom’s seems like something to look forward to. Would she feel that I was abandoning her? Tough call.

Here I am, thinking of the immediate future and setting down roots, but also hearing family voices (present and past), wondering if this would really be a wise decision.

Oh, there’s a garage.


David said...

It's the cutest thing I've ever seen -- buy it!

Jenn said...

Mom, don't even get me started. Think of your dad, who would tell you if you can afford to buy a house, BUY A HOUSE, so that money doesn't go down the toilet in rent! Stop this "Would a bank really give an old lady a mortgage?" crap. That "old lady" happens to have a full-time job and deserves a place of her own! Surprise yourself. It's adorable. It could be YOURS. There are kids who will shovel your walk for $20! Stop with the old lady stuff or I will buy you a cane!

slouching mom said...

Umm, it's a bit tough to follow your daughter and SIL.

So...I will say that:

a. it is absolutely adorable!


b. Sophie's got a point about being able to walk to see you. That's unusual and special.

I think I'll go with a., or jenn and david might come after me.

Jenn said...

SM: Did my mom neglect to mention THAT WE CAN HAVE SOPH AT THIS HOUSE IN THREE MINUTES FLAT???? It's not like we are talking ANOTHER STATE!


Do things for YOU, now, Mom. It's time. Do not build a life around what a six-year-old wants. She won't even remember the apartment after she gets a load out of the bubble-bath tub!

And don't even get me started (again) on your "Aging Arthritic Bones" (please!) not being able to step into a gorgeous new tub.

I'll use the damn tub, lady.

Okay. I'm going away now. I know you are relieved. Aren't you glad you blogged about this?

Anonymous said...

Its really cute and if you want it, you should buy it.
Go with your gut feeling.

And what? no pictures of Sophie as a princess? I was sure you have some in the Libby Liu post.

Barb said...

It's not my business,
But why not keep looking for a cute ONE story home.

kirsty said...

That's a tough one...
...I lean toward buying it, myself. It IS very cute. And somewhat quirky.

ps: here's a virtual gift for you, M. - a bumper sticker that I just heard about that says "Marching to the Beat of My Own Accordion". If I ever see one for sale, I'll send it to you. You could put it on the letterbox of that cute house.

moxiemomma said...

age is relative, right? i mean, in dog years just about everyone is already dead :) 60's not old and anyway, maybe you're living giant tortoise years (they can live up to 177 years in captivity!)--i've seen your pictures. YOU ARE NOT OLD.

jenn's pretty fired up on this, so i'm going to vote with her--i say buy it. and if you need to, turn that 1/2 bedroom upstairs into a little bathroom.

(meanwhile, i think that was the most random thing i've written anywhere in years. i scare myself sometimes.)

geogirl said...

Judging by that clankly looking radiator upstairs, I'd say it looks like you've got steam heat. So that's what...oil? Natural gas? The price of heating oil is skyrocketing and natural gas is going up too. Sorry, that's just the practical side of me coming out. It also wants to say that now you will also have to pay for things like insurance and upkeep.

However, the completely impractical side of me says:
For Gods sakes woman follow your your with the wolves...etc...

Seriously, if you truly think you can afford it I say go for it. Sophie survived years with you living 8 hours away...I think she can survive you living 3 minutes down the block. has a GARAGE!! Do you have any idea how what I would do to have a garage! I'd be happy if all I had was a garage. Seriously, just a place to park my car with maybe a toilet in the corner. I would be ecstatic. And you get a chance to buy a garage with a house attached!!

John M. said...

Beautiful question. At the end, with Sophie's reaction. Our daughters both adore their grandmother, who lives 1,000 miles away and keeps threatening to move nearby. To even contemplate two blocks versus two miles is foreign to us... but it's a beautiful reminder of perspective and how little girls' minds work.

The Mater said...

You guys are makin' me LOL! Well, I stopped at the local bank on way home today and I'm good to go - we fed everything into the computer and dang it, 60-plus isn't a bad place to be. I'm pre-approved and might even manage a house with a monthly mortgage payment lower than my present apartment rent!

We go to see the little red outhouse, er, house tomorrow - the clan and I. May look at others too.

geogirl said...

Well heck...if you're going to be looking at other houses, see if you can find one with a nice guest room.

You know...just in case...

Terry said...

Oh, I really think you want this! Why else would you have taken so many pictures and described it so lovingly. And, coincidentally, the house we are buying is exactly 2.5 miles from MY Sofia's house, which has me giddy with excitement since we currently live 10 miles apart.

The house does look very cute. Love the wood floors and the nice little yard and trees and the red door. Having to traverse the stairs to pee in the middle of the night looks like the only negative I can see. And man, oh man, I would love to have a nice deep tub to soak my achy old bones in.

I can hardly wait to see what you decide!

velocibadgergirl said...

I love LOVE that house. I wish we could magically move it to within walking distance of Jenn & David's.

I can TOTALLY see you in that cute pinkish mauve house. :D

Earthmamagoddess said...

This is awesome too...I LOVE exciting, so glad you decided to go for it.

Make your money work for YOU....and enjoy, I agree with Jen, as usual, now it is YOU time, Sophie will be there, no matter what.

pogonip said...

I love the light and the wood floors. It looks so totally cute. I would look at others too though! This one got you started and it might be The One, but it can't hurt to look around. Be practical and then let your heart decide. And hey, 60 is the new 30, isn't it? Can't wait to see the house you pick!!

Tina said...

the house is adorable, and on top of that, sophie will get older and then be able to walk two miles to your house...unless kids don't walk any more. i have no idea. maybe they'll be able to like vaporize and re-animate to whereever they want by then

Angie said...

I'm thinking that bathroom would be a deal breaker. Are there any other cute little houses--possibly closer to Jenn?

jenniwd said...

I don't know what you should do.

pnutsmama said...

i think you should definitely own a home, if not this one, then why not look at as many as you want to while the market is ripe?

you could throw a bath upstairs, i'm sure, and don't you live on the 2nd floor now anyway?

this is very exciting!! best of luck!