This should actually read more like: Project Downsize Reversal. Gulp. After a lot of condo shopping, cabin browsing, neighborhood scoping, and house hunting, Jack and I came to the conclusion that our plan to sell our townhouse, move into a small intown condo, and buy a mountain cabin, just wasn’t going to work for us.
First, there was the issue with the type of condo we could afford on our budget. Since we were splitting the cost between two homes instead of one, we knew we’d have to compromise on both. But when it came down to it, we just couldn’t stomach the idea of living in a teeny-tiny, older condominium, that was also going to have hefty HOA fees and wouldn’t allow us to have more than two dogs. (We currently have three, and while we have no intentions of adding anyone, we are also hoping not to lose one of them any time soon!) Part of the appeal of our plan was that we’d get to live in one of Atlanta’s great intown neighborhoods. That meant we’d pretty much be stuck in a one-bedroom, one-bath place, or deal with a much older two bedroom (but still most likely with one bath). We had to admit that we just couldn’t do it. Even if we were escaping to the mountains every weekend, that would still mean four or five days a week waiting for the other person to hurry-up-and-get-out-of-the-shower-so-I-can-get-ready-too. Since I’m now working mostly from home, it was also going to be close-to-impossible to have a decent home office, something that’s suddenly become very important for my productivity.
Another issue was all the stories we were hearing about what a pain in the a$$ owning a vacation property can be. First there is the matter of two sets of expenses: mortgage, property tax, utilities, cable, security, etc. We had also been interested in renting it out now and then to help with the costs, but then we learned more about the hassles of dealing with guests, the potential damage to the cabin, the expense of using a property management company (less hassle, more $$$), the fact that we wouldn’t be able to use it whenever we wanted (and would therefore be stuck in our tiny condo in the city over the weekend). So the reality of all this began to sink in more, and the fantasy of our cozy, airy, mountainside getaway began to fade a bit.
We started to look more at homes in Atlanta. We’ve always loved mid-century moderns/California ranches, but our house hunting showed us they weren’t in very walkable areas, and they are obviously older homes. We’ve already had a 90 year old house and there is no way we would be up for dealing with any of those issues again. Yes, 40 or 50 is younger than 90, but it’s still old for a house. We also looked at newer homes intown, but they were either tiny (there’s that one bathroom issue again) or way too expensive or a townhouse. There’s no point in moving to another townhouse; been there, done that.
Our next idea was to try to find a house a little bit further out of town, but in a community with a lake or near the river. Those homes turned out to also be older than we liked, and worst of all, they were all DAMP. That’s the problem with living in a woodsy, shady area, close to water – everything is damp. Damp = mold and mildew, which is miserably hard to get rid of (and which I’m miserably allergic to). Damp also = roof damage and stinky basements.
It makes me feel better to write all of this out, because we’re still wondering whether the decision we’ve made is crazy. This makes me feel much less crazy 🙂 We are now under contract for a big ol’ house in what can’t even really be called a suburb of Atlanta; it’s more of an exurb. It’s also five bedrooms, which is most decidedly not downsizing. But here’s what it’s got going for it:
- There is a deck off the master bedroom, so we can sip coffee and look out at the woods.
- It has a full basement, just waiting for us to fill it with a ping pong table, pool table, music room, gym, media room, etc.
- It has a creek in the backyard.
- The neighborhood is so pretty and has swim/tennis/gym.
- There is a ridiculously perfect spot for a hot tub.
- We can walk to the grocery store and several restaurants.
- We can ride our bikes to the Greenway and a fantastic park with a large gym.
- We are six miles to the marina (hello, lake life!).
- It has tons of room for entertaining and for our friends and family to spend the night. Did I mention it’s about seven miles to my sister’s house, instead of the current ~35?
- There is room for both Jack and myself to have our own, private office, vital since we both work primarily from home.
Most importantly, it’s lovely and gracious and warm and feels like home.
We still have to do the inspection, and we’re both a little uncomfortable with the fact that we’re pretty much moving to the country. It’s one of those decisions that will probably never feel 100% perfect. We may find that we’re miserable way out there, and you’ll be reading here that we’re putting it on the market in a year or two.
But. I’m all about taking (calculated) chances and having new experiences. This could be a pricey mistake, or a very happy decision. Stay tuned!