Like last week, I haven’t had much time to really start unpacking, due to not only working on Saturday, but spending most of the rest of the weekend in my hometown. Instead, this is going to be more about the journey that brought me here, and how I feel about this place so far.
Before buying this townhouse that I’m currently typing this blog post in, I lived in the same house for the first 32 years of my life. Well, 2 days short of 32 years, but you get the idea. I wasn’t a freeloader mind you – I paid a small rent and I helped out around the house when I could. I also sometimes bought groceries, and often let my mother use my employee discount while I still worked in a grocery store. But I wasn’t emotionally ready to move out, at least not on my own.
About three years ago, I got it in my head that I wanted to skip the apartment and start saving for a house. I already had a third of the down payment I’d eventually save up. I gave myself a rule – half of my income goes straight into savings, and anything I didn’t spend by my next paycheck also went into savings. Having money left over happened more often than not. Months after I decided to start saving up, I also learned that I’d be getting a $15,000 buy down into the new contract at work. I decided that about $2000 of that would go towards a new computer, and the rest would all go straight into my house savings. That was completely worth it. I also decided that as soon as I got the money, I’d begin my hunt for a new job.
Having semi-recently graduated from Journalism Print in College, I first started by looking for a Journalism job. That was hard. It didn’t take too long for me to realize there were more layoffs than there were new jobs in that industry, unless you wanted to either try your hand at being independent, or go with a smaller news organization. Most of them don’t pay very well – not enough to buy a house on your own anyway.
I tried my hand at getting a job in a couple other related industries, like PR. As much as there were more jobs available, most of them wanted either PR education or some sort of related work experience. Journalism experience could have worked … if I found a journalism job anyway. In the meantime, a management shakeup at my grocery store made that job a lot less enjoyable. Without naming any names or locations, let’s just say one of the store managers was a bit write-up happy. He once tried to write up the main frozen foods worker for almost slipping on ice on the floor in the freezer. Yeah … he tried to write someone up for a safety hazard that in reality, he’d be responsible for.
There came a point where I just had to leave to not only make it easier to find a job, but for emotional reasons. At that point I just needed a full-time job. Thankfully I heard about one through a friend of the family, and got hired within weeks. It was as if I didn’t even miss a paycheck. At this new job, I learned basic welding skills, something I could easily take further if I want. I get along with all of my superiors and I feel appreciated. That alone can make a huge difference in how you feel about an otherwise mediocre job. The fact that it pays more than twice what my old job paid is another plus.
The only downside being, it was 45-50 minutes away. That really eats into your free time.
My plans for where I’d move went back and forth between staying in my hometown, just closer to work, or moving to the town I worked in. There would be advantages to both, like staying close to where all my closest friends live if I stayed in town. Well, except for the one who lived about 35 minutes North, who’s now just over an hour away. But the money I’d save on gas for moving into this new town would be amazing.
I actually put an offer into a place in my hometown that was accepted, back in January. At first glance it clearly needed some cosmetic fixes, but it looked nice overall. That changed quickly after the inspection, which I later learned, the sellers tried to convince my real estate agent to not include in the conditions. That’s always a good sign, right?
We didn’t even finish the inspection before I called it off.
There were several major problems with the place; the first wasn’t even under my control. The main power breaker for the neighboring unit was outside, on part of our shared porch. This breaker was unlocked, with live wires exposed. If one of the kids from across the street came over and touched that wire, losing several fingers or worse, died, I could be named in a lawsuit. To make matters worse, the main power wire was corroded, to the point where it was already an electrical fire hazard. As for my own unit, the garage floor/wall showed evidence of the entire building sinking, and there was a major water leakage problem that we couldn’t even figure out the source of. It could have been one of the walls, multiple walls, or even a serious foundational problem. That would also explain what we found in the garage.
The repair bills could have easily been in the 10s of thousands.
Even though we called it off right there, the inspector took a quick look upstairs and didn’t take long to find even more potential problems, just for the sake of curiosity. He was kind enough not to charge me for an unfinished inspection, so obviously I hired him again for the place I eventually bought.
The search for another place took several months after that. I saw a number of places that were nice, but slightly out of my range. We saw places that I could afford, but were just too small. We saw one place that I almost considered – there was just one too many things I didn’t like, one being it needed a lot of work before it could look half decent. I almost put an offer on one place that was really nice and appeared to be within my range, until I learned that it had already been sold. Furthermore, we learned that that deal, and two others, fell through because the buyers found the owner owed the condo corporation thousands of dollars, which would be passed onto the buyer. Furthermore, the condo corporation had run out of money for major external renovations, meaning the fees would likely skyrocket in the near future.
Admittedly, I started to feel a bit discouraged after a while, even if I didn’t want to say that out loud. But on a week when virtually nothing in my range popped up in my hometown, a townhouse popped up in the town I now work in. I saw it the next day, liked the price, liked the house and the 4 minute drive to work. I put in an offer, started a three day negotiations process with the owners, and landed on a price that I believe worked for everyone. I could have afforded the asking price, but knocking off a couple thousand helps.
The closing date being 2 and a half months away would also help with saving up money for furniture, a good sized emergency fund, and enough money left over to afford a PlayStation 4 Pro for the 4k TV I bought a year and a half ago. The inspection also revealed no serious problems. The only noteworthy thing was a very minor problem with the main breaker panel that ended up being a $2 fix, and some holes in a couple walls that my dad and I filled in with material he already had.
This is the fourth weekend I’ve been living in this place, and it’s starting to feel like home. My parent’s house will always feel like home as long as they’re living there (they’ve got no plans to move any time soon). Sometimes I catch myself saying and thinking that it is still home. But I can relax here. I’m starting to sit on my new couches downstairs at least once every couple days to watch a movie or play a game for a couple of hours, something I haven’t found the time to do since I got this new job. Instead of being interrupted with a “supper” announcement when I’m in the middle of writing, I can eat whenever I want.
At some point, I’m going to need to make sure I get a Saturday off just so I can spend a full day to clean and unpack. But I also don’t mind the overtime money. I could use some of it to buy one more couch for the gaming room upstairs. I could also use several overtime shifts to buy myself a 4k computer monitor, now that my main computer isn’t connected to my 4k TV anymore. I could use a couple overtime shifts, in addition to the bonus I got, to buy a nice sound system for my main entertainment area.
Instead of being stuck in a job I hated more and more by the day for the entirety of 2017, I’m in a job that I sometimes even have fun with. Instead of living in one single room, I’ve got an entire house to myself (for now at least). As much as I’m by no means a lazy person, I feel like I can start to relax a bit. Well, after my gym workouts, my swimming, and all of my writing of course.
This is by no means something I’d recommend everyone jump into. It took years for me to be ready to take this leap. But as much as I’m still nervous about some things, and I likely will be for some time to come, I’m overall satisfied with how everything’s turned out so far. I definitely look forward to when this place is cleaned up, so I can start hosting housewarming parties for all of my groups of friends and family.
I hope you enjoyed reading this. I probably won’t post my final adventures in home ownership post until I’m done unpacking and cleaning up. Then I can include photos of my final setup. I’m not sure when that will be, but it’s hopefully not too far off. I’ve also watched Lawrence of Arabia for my War Movies theme month, which I’ll write about tomorrow after work.
Great to hear about your journey to home ownership. This was a great read. Thank you.
It sounds like you really worked hard for this house. Which is awesome. I hope everything continues to go well! 🙂
So far, the hard work seems to be worth it. And thanks.
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It’s been quite a journey for you, but it’s all worked out well in the end. It takes time to settle in somewhere new. Think I was about a month before I got everything unpacked and sorted properly. It’s just great to enjoy your own space to relax
I’m pretty sure I’ve got a long weekend coming up thanks to Canada Day. If I do, I’ll probably spend the entirety of Saturday cleaning and unpacking, and then see if any of my friends want to pop by on Sunday. If so, then I’ll definitely upload some pictures of my final setup.
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Hi Ben. I’ve just had the chance to read your three installments about home ownership. It’s an adventure, all right, and you’ve done a great job in saving, planning, and executing your plan. I hope your home gives you a lot of pleasure in the years to come. And it’s great to read that you like your job. That is so important. We’ll hope to come and see your place one day.
Thanks. I would like to have at least one family party here some time. It probably shouldn’t have everyone because it’s not quite that big.
I’m not sure if I’d go so far as to say I like my job, but it has its moments. Sometimes I have fun there, and it helps when you get along with all your superiors. I definitely don’t dislike it.
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