PART 1 | Deciding to stay in the city…
Since starting this process over two months ago the number one question we have gotten is “how did you go about it?”. We bought our current little house in 2013 with every intention of it being a five year house. Our daughter was born in January of 2017 and it became obvious that we needed more space fairly quickly. After the residency restriction was lifted for my husbands job over the summer, we started researching all of our options for upgrading to a bigger house. We looked at new builds and while we loved the option to fully customize something, but it became clear in our first meeting with a builder that all of the things we loved about the idea of customizing a new build wouldn’t really be an option in our budget. What fell within the top of our budget for a new build was mostly base, builder grade materials. While I do not personally see anything wrong with that, we couldn’t imagine stretching to the top of our budget for the “base” of what was available. I have champagne taste on a … “fancy label wine” budget.
So we continued our hunt to older “finished” houses in the suburbs. We looked based on school districts and ease of the commute for both of us. I am constantly driving all over the city for photoshoots and weddings, so moving somewhere that involved a lot of sitting in traffic wasn’t an option for me. I hate traffic. We started off by going to open houses, and then enlisted our agent, Jessica Baker (more on her later, because she rocks) to show us more options. In this process we learned a few things about ourselves fairly quickly:
- We both grew up in big old houses in an urban neighborhood. While my husband was “over” a lot of the quirks of our current old house, neither of us realized how much we love the bones of an old house until we saw “newer” homes in the suburbs.
- While our current neighborhood doesn’t have a ton of “walkability”, it has a little business district, sidewalks, and is incredibly convenient and accessible to the city and the burbs. It takes us 5 minutes to get into Downtown Pittsburgh, and that is huge for both of us.
- There are a ton of reasons why “development” style neighborhoods, and even older suburban neighborhoods are great. But again, we both grew up in diverse, urban neighborhood. For us that means more than the race, color, or creed of our neighbors. Our current neighborhood has a broad mix of socioeconomic backgrounds. Again, this may not be something that is important to everyone, but we both saw this as something that helped form us into the people we are today. We were both nervous about raising children in a neighborhood where everyone looked like them and lived a similar lifestyle. Lots of people have goals of “getting out of the city”, but that was never us. We love living in the city.
- BUDGET. If we bought a house in the burbs in our budget, we would have been settling. The kitchen would have been technically nice, but probably not my style. You get the gist.
Around September we decided to hunker down in our current home and bank money until we found something great. And then a house came on the market that needed renovations and was out of our budget. I bookmarked it, kept an eye on it, but moved on. And then the price started dropping, and our adventure began.