I have spent so many hours over the last week looking for rental housing in our potential community. It's a college town and has quite a variety to choose from. Donald and I are trying to avoid undergrad-type housing and we have found several good options. I'm going out with him next week to visit and I have appointments with eight different places of varying styles and prices.
This experience has been a bit more energy-sapping than I had anticipated. I am the kind of girl who loves projects like this, creating spreadsheets and lists, and doing lots of online research and making phone calls. Sneaking into all of this, however, are several thoughts that have had me sitting back a bit and thinking about our next steps.
Living with Donald's parents has affected us. As in, going out on our own again is actually a bit scary sounding, even though it's something we really want. I'm having a hard time trusting prospective landlords and property management companies. I'm wondering what elements will really make our new place a good home for us. Do we pay more for some things? Should we be saving all of our money for a down payment on a house?
The plan right now is to rent for a year or two until we learn about the neighborhoods and get a sense of where we want to live, and then look for a house to buy. We have never owned a house before, so this step is huge for us. The place we move in to first might be for only a year, or it might be for longer, so we're trying to find a balance between saving money and having the amenities that we really want.
Laundry in-home, for example (we have gotten used to it). A yard (garden, dog, space). An extra bedroom or two (office, visitors, babies!). Are all of these worth spending more money on? Even if it delays a house purchase?
And that's just housing stuff. Donald and I definitely need to sit down and figure out our budget further. We have our basic expenses figured out (utilities, groceries, etc.) and it has been a long time since our incomes could cover our expenses. That is a wonderful feeling. It's the extra stuff that we're saving for that gets complicated. I'm going to be consulting Get Rich Slowly for a lot of advice as we move forward.
A down payment on a house is pretty easy to figure out, because we want to hit a certain percentage of the sale price and we have a sense of how much money we want to spend on our first house.
Starting a family is a very fluid thing to save for. Do people actually do that? Or do you just decide it's time to have a family and then deal with whatever expenses come along? Obviously, you can always spend more money on kids, but does anyone have a suggestion about a baseline for a first kid budget? Am I crazy thinking that this is something over which we have control?
Travel is a big one. My family lives in California and we want to see them there at least once a year. We're also trying to set up a yearly visit with some friends of ours, and there are always family get togethers that are fun to attend. My best friend is also getting married this year and I'm throwing part of her bachelorette party, so those expenses are included here as well. Donald and I want to visit a dude ranch (remember my need to learn to barrel ride?) and I want to take him to Europe (Scotland and Italy are first on our list).
Creeping into my consciousness are also a lot of mixed feelings now that this seems like it's actually going to happen. We have had a truly wonderful year staying with Donald's parents. I am so grateful to be able to say that. It hasn't always been fun, but we have really made the most of it and it feels so wonderful to have gotten to know each other so much better. It has also been pretty cushy and we have gotten used to a certain level of pampered-ness that will be hard to leave. We have gotten dependent.
It has been so nice to always have someone home, to talk to, to eat with, to sit in the same room with. It will just be the two of us again (and our two cats) and that might be weird to adjust to at first. That's why my So Close post included making new friends - it will be so important so that we get out of the house and don't drive each other crazy (in a bad way).
We have a snowed-in kind of weekend ahead of us, so maybe it will be time to figure some of these things out. As always, your words of advice, support and encouragement mean so much to me. Thank you for reading.