Friday, February 29, 2008

Home is where the Navy sends you....

Hello Friends!!
Put on your house hunting shoes, because we are going to find us a house!!!!

It's that time again and I'm finding myself pouring over rental listings as we anticipate another cross country move.
I'm still battling with what could have been and am a little frustrated that our plans for a house hunting trip (our first ever) had to be canceled because of my ankle injury and subsequent surgery. Sigh.

It is killing me to not be able to see my choices in person because I really do believe that houses have personalities and a certain feel to them that either makes them a good match or it doesn't. That's hard to judge by a photo.
Also, just like you don't marry a man, you marry his family don't just rent a house, you rent the neighborhood right along with it.

I so wanted to stand in the kitchens of all of these homes and mentally place my furniture in the living rooms. I wanted to look out the windows and walk around in the yards, and I wanted to drive around the neighborhoods.
I wanted to be certain that the house we chose to rent for the next three or four years was going to be a match.
But, God has other plans, and even though I don't understand why right now, this is where He has I'm going to do the best I can from here. But I have to admit, I'm sitting here seriously wishing that He would just write on my wall....because I have no idea what to do!!
Here's my deal.....

We started on Monday with 12 homes on our list.
Four have been rented since then.
We decided that two of them are out of our price range, even if just by $50 a month.
One is located too far away for David to commute and the last one I struggled with for three days before finally determining that although I loved the floorplan and the fabulous backyard, it was just not going to be large enough to meet our long term needs.
And so we are down to five.
I'll give you the run-down of each, but keep in mind that my number one necessity is that the house be comfortable, inviting and it MUST have lots of natural light. I'm the kind of girl who is definitely affected by weather and since we are moving to a place that tends to be a bit gloomy, I need light to pour into my home as much as possible to help combat that. So, lots of windows are a big plus.
Other than that, I think I can live with any of the choices I have listed below. I'm just not sure what choice to make for quality of life. So I need your help.

House Number One:

4 bdrm, 2.5 bath 2 Story home ( approx 2022 sf). Large bedrooms. Large kitchen w/ lots of storage. Casual and formal dining areas. Deck w/ large fully fenced yard. Gas fireplace, gas heat and water. 3 car garage.

I'm worried that there is just a living room and no family room. I'm hoping to find a home with both so that I can set up my studio in either room.
Pros: it says the bedrooms are roomy.

Cons: There are only four bedrooms, which means Madison and Bren will have to share. They can totally do this, but will they want to for the next couple of years?
Pros: large fenced yard.

Pros: large kitchen with storage

Biggest Con.... no available interior photos so it's impossible to see how much light this home gets inside or what the floorplan looks like. The house will be occupied until mid-march, so unless I want to do a walk through in person, I will not know what this one looks like inside until it is vacant. And time is of the essence here.
Huge Pro: This one is almost $300 below what we have budgeted for our monthly rent.

House Number Two:

4 bedroom, 2.5 bath, 2-Story home (approx. 1969 sq.ft.). Kitchen w/eat-in area, breakfast bar & pantry. Separate dining room, laundry room w/W/D. Gas fireplace, gas hot water/heat. Master bdrm has walk-in closet w/private bath & soaking tub. Office. Lots of closet space, 2-car garage, all appliances.

Here are some interior photos of this one:

I REALLY like this kitchen!

(Dining Room)

Pro: SOAKING tub! A luxury we have never had!

Pro: This house looks like it gets plenty of natural light.

Pro/Con: This home has a 10x0 office that was described to me as an open space, so I'm guessing it has no door. It does have a storage closet though. This would be too small for me to use as a studio, but it could be the fifth bedroom for Bren if we could come up with a creative way to close it off..... or not because do you really need a door that closes when your are five? Then again I don't think that loft areas that are at located at the top of stairways are appropriate for bedrooms, and if that is what this "open space" is, it probably will not this is one of those "I wish I could see it "things.

Pro/Con: There is a possibility that the separate dining room mentioned could be used as studio space, but it's hard to tell if the kitchen is big enough for our kitchen table and chairs.

Con: Again no mention of a family room plus a living room.

Con: Only four bedrooms, unless we can work out that fifth.

This home is also less than our monthly budget for rent.

House Number Three:

Nice 5Bd, 3 ba home in the Vineyard development. This home has a living room w/fireplace, family room, vaulted ceilings, kitchen, ref, stove, and dishwasher and dining area, laundry room, gas forced air heat, 2-car garage. It is located at the south end of the lake. 1800 square feet.
Really bad interior photos:

(living room)

(family room)

( master)

Pro: 5 sharing!
Pro: Adequate natural light
Pro: Living room and family I will be able to have some studio space!
Pro: looks like a nice yard and deck
Con: No photos of the kitchen or bathrooms
Biggest Con: Does 1800 square feet for a five bedroom house scare you at all?
I'm afraid that the bedrooms are going to be super tiny.
On the other hand, none of our kids have alot of bedroom furniture, so perhaps the less is more idea will work here.

1800 square feet when laid out well can be nice and roomy, but if chopped up, it can feel like a mouse maze! This is another one of those "I wish I could see it" things!!

I do like the look of the neighborhood that I can see. It looks newer and well kept. I'm not crazy about the entrance, but I'm guessing we'll go in through the garage instead of climbing the front stairs.

This is the least expensive 5 bedroom home I've seen and is about $100 below our monthly budget for rent.

House Number Four:

Brand new 5 bedroom, approx. 2100 sq. ft, home in Lake Stevens school district. Home has living room with gas fireplace, dining area, kitchen with stainless steel appliances, gas stove, and island. Master bedroom has attached bathroom and walk in closet. Living Room and Family Room. Fully fenced yard and a 2 car garage.
Interior photos:

(living room)

(family room)
Pro: Brand New!
Pro: 5 bedrooms so no sharing.
Pro: Kitchen has an island and stainless steel appliances
Pro: fenced yard
Pro: Living room and family room, so I'd have my studio space
Pro: I like the exterior appearance of this home
Pro: Seems to get enough light
Con: yard seems a bit small judging from what I can see through the window.
Con: no photos of the bedrooms or bathrooms
Con: Might not come with a refrigerator
This home is $100 more per month than home number three. Is 300 more square feet, a kitchen with an island and upgraded appliances and a fully fenced yard worth an extra $100 per month? Also, this home mentions a walk in master closet and the other one does not.

House Number Five:

Nice 5 bedroom house on shy 1/4 acre. Living Room (with fireplace), Kitchen, Family Room, laundry room, and 1 bedroom downstairs. Upstairs has 4 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms. The master bedroom has a large walk-in closet and a 5 piece bathroom. New carpet and new interior paint throughout. 2 car garage with opener. Fully fenced back yard.
Pro:I really like the exterior look of this home too!
Pro: 5 bedroom so no sharing!
Pro: Family Room and Living Room so I'd have my studio space
Pro: Large fully fenced yard
Pro:One bedroom down is a good idea in case we have overnight guests who have difficulty with staircases.
Pro: New paint and carpet
Pro: five peice bathroom, so I'd get a tub with this one too...but maybe not a soaking one like with house number two.
Con: no idea of square footage.
Con: No interior photos available for a few more weeks, so I can't really make a decision on this one yet. I have no idea how much light it gets inside. I'm hesitant to hold out for this one and let the others slip by for fear that I may hate the interior.
This home is the exact same price as home number four and at the top end of our budget.
Here is where you come in! I need some help, some opinions, some clarity!!
So, given these choices, what would you do?
Which house do you like the best?
Which house do you think has the best personality?
Which one looks the most inviting with a light and airy feel?
Would you go for the least expensive home even if there are only 4 bedrooms, or would you go with the least expensive 5 bedroom home even though it is on the small side?
Would you go for broke and rent house number 4 or 5 even though it is at the top end of your budget?
If we got a 4 bedroom, we could just sign a one or two year lease and then move up to a 5 bedroom once we get to know the area better and had time to really shop around. In that case though, we'd incure the expense of moving ourselves when the time came why not just settle in somewhere for the duration of our time there?
Ug! So many scenarios are swimming around in my head.
I really, really wish that I could get on a plane next week and fly out to see all of these homes and neighborhoods so I could settle it once and for all.
I just know that one of these houses would clearly stand out from the rest if I could see them in person.
Here is the real kicker though....if I drag my feet, all of these homes could be rented at any time while I try to make my decision.....and then I'll have to start all over!

See, isn't Navy life fun?


Anonymous said...

Wow, I remember those days. (Army brat.) there a reason you Can't pack up and fly out for a quick trip? I'm sure there must be, but I have to ask LOL.

Houses 3,4 and 5 look really great. I would check on that 1800 square foot bit. The rooms look way too big to be in a house that size. Our home is about 2100 and those rooms look bigger than ours. It's so hard to tell from a picture!

I see your predicament. I'm getting confused myself and am going to go back to my original plan and tell you just to fly out there and see them! LOL This is too hard a decision to make without seeing them! Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

Yay house huntin!. Im no where near ready for a house of my own but I LOVE taking house tours and mentally planning where things can go or what room can do what etc.

Right off the bat House number 5 TOTALLY catches my eye. The exterior is gorgeous and stunning and the layout of the house from the outside to me looks like it has potential.

5 bedrooms where it may break you a little more off your budget. Id think more even if I do get along with the sibling id have to share a room with in a 4 bedroom, i think a 5 could be a safer bet. Maybe a little quieter to perhaps.

As stunning as the exterior is on house number 5 you mentuioned lighting, now less there are more windows on the side and the back of the house, it doesnt look like you would achieve a goal of more natural light with house 5 no matter how stunning the exterior has drawn me in personally.

House 4. The exterior is still lovely and because of the box window in the front downstairs and upstairs this house has more potential for giving you light. You still get your five bedrooms so no sharing. You can see what it looks like and from the pictures which can only give you so much to work with, they will are appealing to the interior of the house. The yard from the picture, again a picture does look small, so there could be a chance that it stretches out more once your off the part of the deck there. My cousins yard looks small from the side if your looking but it expands more when your actually there in the yard.

I personally am not crazy about house number 3 by the exterior or the interior. Im really not keen at all on the front entrace, and I just think the other ones offer more.

So for me. Out of these houses Id lean towards house number 4, and house number 2

House number 2 again exterior is nice, windows look like it will allow decent lighting for you. Bren has a possible room here and i kinda agree about a 5 year old not needing a door its not that important at this age. And a room that can pose as your studio. House number 4 if you can go on your budget though, it seems to have the most to offer.

I dunno if this helped at all. But they are nice choices, you have a good eye for what you want and im sure whatever home you choose you will be happy there.

Auntie Martha said...

It a hard decision I'm sure. I'm like you, must have lots of windows. I would HAVE to fly out and look. It would be awful to be in a house you don't like. I'm sure I didn't help but just fly out!

Kelly @ Love Well said...

Personally, the words NEW have a ton of weight. We've moved a lot and bought/rented a lot of other people's homes, and I'm just tired of dealing with other people's dirt.

But that's me, which is why house hunting is so personal. And really, all your choices look decent. It's a good position to be in. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Having lived in Seattle, go for windows and light. It rains a lot there and if you need the sun, then opt for those windows.

Key questions - how long will you be there?

I wouldn't break the budget on rent.

I also would take into account the cost of heating the house with the size the house.

Looks like some good choices, but hard to make a decision when you can't actually see them.


TheCatLord said...

k. right off, i am drawn to house five. the exterior is gorgeous and it looks bigger than house 3. house 3 is 1800 sq ft and it looks it. house 5 doesn't look as small, kwim?
but still the interior is a huge factor. as far as windows, i see a downer already with the picture window in the front. it has a tree in front of it. this photo was taken in winter, but can you imagine when this tree blooms? it will block light therefore no light will be "flooding" in.

the other house i am drawn to is house 4. i think this might be your best bet if you are iffy about house 5. i see lots of windows in the front alone and the photos look well lit. and then there's the fact that it's brand new and 2100sqft so how bad can the bdrooms be? i think those extras you mention are worth the extra hundred. the only con i can see is that it is awfully close to the house next to it, but that doesn't mean that the backyard doesn't extend.
is there a way to call about the questions you have about these homes? like whether or not a fridge will come with house 4, and the size of the lot? or the sq footage of house 5?
house 3 is just too small(we have close to 2000 sq feet with 5 bdrooms and we have outgrown it. i have a couple more kids than you, but still...)and i see they used a fisheye lens to make the rooms look bigger. never fall for that!
as for houses 1 and 2, they don't have enough rooms, except #2 has a possible space for bren, plus no mention of a familyroom and is that room with the small picture window in front the livingroom? or dining room? i am hoping it's the DR because it looks like a small space. plus the yard is not fenced.
ok i am nit-picking now. lol i hope that helped a bit.

Anonymous said...

I am sure I am not going to be of much help.. But here is what I would suggest.. I would definitly HAVE to see the houses, for sure!!
Since you can find sitters for all 3 of your older kiddos, I wonder if the person that is offering to keep your older daughter could also watch Bren? I mean, It says alot if you can trust her with one of your daughters, about the persons character.
If this is not an option.. I definitly with go with new! House number 4 just catches my eye, with all of the windows and layout, and just the fact that it IS new!!

Andrea Nelson

Mari said...

Which ever one you choose Becca, I cant wait to drive over those gorgeous mountains to come see ya. Good luck. Love house #2

Baby Go Retro said...

Hey there..if you can't make it out..send me a map and make some appointments for weekend getaways..I love house hunting and really am not far away at my lunch a few times when you get out here and you will have paid for my ferry fee' hubby is back in LA so I am totally up for weekend getaways and I can always drag Mads along and get modeling photo's! I do have a camera ya know! I found when buying a house here on Whidbey (Washington)..nothing is what it seems..really I am happy to me 360-321-2342 and send me out girl..I offered before but I think you were heavily sedated..I really don't mind..and it may help..unless you can get out..that is the best thing! If even you can come out for a can crash my pad or my auntie's..she is in Everett..could be fun.


Anonymous said...

Definately #4. It looks great, has all the room you need, and it says NEW!!!!! So what if it has a small back yard, use the frontyard or go out to play. Besides if it rains all the time you might not even get to use the yard.

Happy house hunting!!!
Andy and Debi and family

Anonymous said...

Definitely not #3 with 5 bedrooms. My house is about that same sq. footage with only 3 bedrooms and we are all over each other.

Just bite the bullet and go out there!!!