House Hunting Adventures

November 8, 2010

Today I’m going to tackle a topic that departs from my normal blogging repertoire: house hunting. As some of you already know, I’m going to be moving to Maryland soon. Sigh…right when I was just starting to get used to Jersey.

Anyway, buying a house is probably the biggest decision my husband and I’ve faced together since getting married, and while I’m pretty excited about the prospects, I’ve been getting plenty stressed out too. I knew from the start that it was going to have its challenges, but over the weeks we’ve brainstormed, made our lists and differentiated our wants versus needs. We’ve decided to tackle this on our own, at least for now. So armed with Google Maps and a printout of listings, we drove down today and did some recon around the neighborhoods.

We’ve all heard the real estate saying “Location, location, location.” We’ve made it our first priority, but not being familiar with the area was our biggest obstacle, so we did our research ahead of time and marked down places close to shopping centers and other public amenities while still being close to work. We even took a look at the different neighborhood statistics to get a sense of the safety in the area or how densely populated it is, etc. The purpose of today’s scouting was to see these places for ourselves, but it also taught us a lot about our own individual preferences.

Even the smallest factors can make a difference. Our first stop was a more rustic neighborhood, which we reached via a narrow road through the trees. My husband started reminiscing about his childhood and going on about how he grew up in an area much like this, while I put my foot down and said NO WOODS. I have no stomach for the bugs nor driving in the dark under the shadows of the thick canopy and if that makes me sound like a snooty urbanite, then a snooty urbanite be I. I also told my husband that I didn’t want some coyote making off with our dog, the way one had made off with his mother’s.

Another house we checked out was in a neighborhood on top of a nice sloping hill, which we liked. But the houses were built really close together, which was a minus for my husband because in his words, “Who the hell wants a neighbor like two feet away from you?” Then there were the houses where every neighbor down the road had two or three cars parked in the street even though they had two-car garages with a double-wide driveways. To be honest, I didn’t even notice. Unfortunately though, it’s a pet peeve of his that drives him completely bonkers since in his view it makes the whole street feel like one big parking lot.

It was amazing to see how quickly our list of several dozen houses dwindled down to only about a handful. Tomorrow, we’ll be visiting a few. Not sure if we’ll be making any offers this trip, but hey, you never know. If the perfect home presents itself, we’ll definitely be thinking about it. For a big decision like this, my only concern now is keeping my emotions in check, as they do have a pesky tendency to take over.


  1. Well, good luck in your continued search. I would have to agree with your husband on the wooded areas. Having grown up and spent most of my life in non-woodsy places (the American Southwest), I can certainly appreciate a good forest.

    • Thanks your well wishes. My husband and I certainly came from very different backgrounds and grew up very differently…sometimes I wonder how we’re able to get along at all! But I guess they also say opposites attract…

  2. Snooty Urbanite! 😛

  3. Maryland is a beautiful State. Good luck on your house hunting!

  4. I hear ya. I recently just bought a flat (we move in on Friday!!!!) and it’s a very stressful process. To be fair, the stress for me was due to the mortgage and my bank taking forever to get itself sorted out whilst my due date for payment kept creeping ever more forward.

    Best advice I can give is to take your time and make sure you get something you really love! It’s worth it in the end and it’s a great feeling to actually own your own property.

    Anyway, good luck 😀

    • True, I’ve ended up in a house and location I am not fond of, because I jumped into it without really looking. And it’s even more aggravating to sell a house than to buy one.

    • Thanks, that’s good advice. We saw a handful of houses today, took notes and diligently made lists of pros and cons and everything! It’s exhausting! 😛

      Good luck on your move!

  5. Good luck with the house hunting! My wife and I bought ours back in 2005 and it was a stressful, but ultimately very satisfying experience!

    • Thanks! I’ll be glad when this is all over.

  6. Best of luck with the hunt. My wife and I will be doing the same thing here in a couple months and I’m not looking forward to it.

    • I guess looking at houses is at least somewhat fun 🙂 We looked at a bunch today and there were a few potentials. When we move forward, then the fun part starts…

      Good luck with your upcoming house hunt!

  7. If you’re thinking of a family in the future, you may want to think about school districts too. My American friends used Greatschools.org to research the schools. Apparently “Charter” schools are a big bonus too look for.
    I agree with No woods too. Woods = slugs bleech. My mother in law has woods on the back of the property and they have wild turkeys…good grief.

    • Thanks for the link! That’s something we definitely want to research…there were a few neighborhoods we wanted to take a closer look at, so that link will come in handy. I just gave the site to my husband and he’s actually searching up some districts as I type this lol.

  8. No woods? Aw, that’s the best part about having a house is being a little closer to nature.

    I have to agree with your husband about parking and lot sizes too. Last time I was looking for a house, I had to limit it to houses built before 2000 since anything after that tended to be right next to it’s neighbors. Who wants to be able to lean out the bedroom window and touch their neighbor’s house? That’s just stupid.

    I’d say it’s a good thing that your preferences have eliminated so many properties, since that’s less to look at.

    Good luck with the hunting, I hope the timing works out between selling your current place and getting the new one.

    • The best part about a vacation or quiet getaway is being close to nature. Where I live better be tidy and immaculate, and close to no fewer than 3 shopping malls 😛 Ah, city living has definitely spoiled me.

      And no, I agree with the lot size thing too. Woods make me feel claustrophobic, but so do houses being packed all close together. I didn’t so much mind the cars parked in the street, if anything I feel a little safer since it slows drivers so they don’t zip up and down a residential area. It does look a little congested though, especially if the street isn’t so wide in the first place.

  9. There are only two things I think of when I hear Maryland; Fried Chicken and Cookies…

    • Hmm, most people I know have said crab cakes 😛

  10. Location is key for sure. A great home in an area you don’t like or that’s a hassle living in, or getting to and from, just isn’t worth it in the end. However, a great location can make an ok home much more enjoyable and you can always improve the home to your needs. You can change the home but you can’t change it’s location.

    (Experiencing closing/moving induced stress myself as we are getting down to the wire on a high-rise condo we didn’t know existed a month ago in what we always thought was just a commercial building we both pass on our walk to work. We weren’t even looking or considering moving until we noticed an “unauthorized” realtor sign in a window. )

    Good luck, stay positive and remember to…breath.

    • Thanks, that’s good advice! 🙂

      Location was definitely our priority. My biggest concern is safety above all else, so we started our search in reputable neighborhoods. I mean, it wouldn’t make sense to buy a property in a crappy area, even if it is the perfect, perfect house! 😀

  11. Good luck on the house hunting. My wife and I bought our first and only home 17 years ago and successfully paid off the 30-year mortgage 2 years ago – woot. List out your needs versus your wants in a home. Newer versus older, single story versus 2-story, location, property tax hit, zoning or town planning for your area over the next 10, 20, or 30 years.

    Fixer upper, low maintenance, older established neighbors, younger, school district etc.

    Oh and something everyone can appreciate, closets, closets, and more closets.

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