I’m popping online for a few minutes while Baby Stapler is asleep because I have a question that has been burning through my head during the wee hours of the morning, when it’s just me and the Baby — and the Baby doesn’t have an answer for me. So, I’ve been trying to get online and ask my readers about it.
For my entire adult life, I have wanted to buy a home. Yet, my life circumstances had me thinking that I would live in that area for more than three years. So, I couldn’t justify the purchase. In the past two decades, I have lived in five different states — one of them twice! I longed to paint my own walls and decorate my own home. Maybe even buy a china cabinet to display my prized and sentimental ornaments of life. Right now, they’re in boxes in my garage. Sometimes I take them out to look at them, and who I am comes flooding back to me.
Now, if I wasn’t living long enough in one place to justify the purchase, you may be thinking, “you weren’t really interested in buying a house. What you really wanted was to have a home.” This is absolutely true. I rarely bought the things people buy when they have a house — we still don’t have a bed with a headboard and right now we don’t even have a bed frame. Our mattress is on the floor. We furnish our home with cheap Target bookcases, Closetmaid cubicals, and plastic drawers.
I never wanted to buy furniture that wouldn’t work for the house we would eventually buy. To that end, we have only a few pieces of quality furniture. Ne — just two: Our couch and my Pottery Barn desk. And even those are modular. In the event that they don’t work for the house we buy, we can re-configure them. Every other piece of furniture we own cost us less than $150.
This is not to say that expensive furniture and knick-knacks picked up along the way make a home. They don’t. I have a home, where my children feel safe and secure and I hang my proverbial hat at night. But it still doesn’t feel like it’s mine. I still feel like a transient here — someone just stopping by for a little while until I move on to the next place. I always keep our moving boxes from the last move. Some of them have been with us longer than our oldest son.
Now that we live in a state with a bustling tech economy and plenty of potential for legal work, as well as fabulous public schools and proximity to my parents and friends, the time is nigh for us to buy. I am finally really to set my roots down in one town forever.
The biggest problem with this very emotional, and more certainly irrational, desire is that I want to live in my hometown. My parents live there, my church is there, it has excellent public schools, and I love the character of the homes there. Many neighborhoods have older trees, woods behind the houses, and privacy between the neighbors. But not so much privacy that you couldn’t stop by for a cup of sugar if you needed it.
So, what’s the problem?
My hometown doesn’t have a robust rental market and the homes there are very expensive. I’m talking $480,000-for-a-fixer-upper-expensive. We are contemplating making a $570,000 offer for a 2,000 square foot house with 1.5 baths. Yup. It’s less than five minutes from my parents’ house, and has the kind of yard where the kids can play but still have trees between us and the neighbors.
When we are already $185,000 deep in student loan debt, it seems like a stupid financial decision to make even if we could make the monthly payments. It seems like we should pay off our debt before taking on more. So, why the urgency? Little Stapler goes to kindergarten in the fall, and we want him to start off at a great public school and the same school district that will grant him his diploma.
As we try to hammer out a plan for how the heck we’re going to pony up the down payment and whether we’re out of our minds for trying to buy such an expensive house while we already have loads of debt, I thought I would get some input from you — If you had to choose between having a nice, big house and putting your kids in a better public school, which would you choose? Would you even choose to be “house poor” to make that happen?
photo by lavoview, via www.freedigitalphotos.net