Tag: moving

Five Phases of Home Buying

There are five phases to the home-buying process. Having just completed this process I thought I’d share these phases with you. Had I known about these phases in advance, I would have been better prepared for the experience. But in the end it would have made no difference.

Phase 1: Excited!

Anything new has an element of excitement to it. You’ve been living in the same place for ten years, and now you’re going to move to something new. All kinds of good things will come from this move. This is a promise you make to yourself. You’ll quit smoking, start going to gym again, cook instead of eating out. Everything will change with your new house.

Your real estate agent will help generate excitement in this phase. In the “excited” phase, everything is theoretical, so looking at those million-dollar houses will seem practical. You’ll worry about how to pay for it later.

Phase 2: Disillusioned

It turns out that buying a house is not like buying milk at the grocery store, and this is mildly upsetting. You find the perfect house. You can see yourself living in that house. You are mentally arranging the furniture to support your new, healthy lifestyle. You put in the offer.

The offer loses out to 17 other offers, and you learn that yours was the lowest of the batch. No one can actually tell you what the other offers are, for reasons that boggle the imagination, but you ultimately learn that the winning bid was all cash, and no contingencies whatsoever. This is what you are up against.

Now it is difficult to drum up enthusiasm for any house. Why fall in love with a house if you’re certain you’re going to lose it? All of the initial excitement is gone. You wish you hadn’t sold your old house because now you are trapping. You put an offer on two more houses. On the second one, the agents look at your offer and snicker.

Phase 3: Hopeful

Your agent finds a house that is close enough to what you wanted (although still miles from the map of perfection you’ve made in your head). You are desperate, and the house is good enough, so you put in an offer—and it is accepted! Now you are hopeful. All that’s left is the paperwork, and in 45 days, the new house is yours.

Phase 4: Frantic

The lender suddenly needs all kinds of documentation. You have the highest possible credit score, no debt, and some savings, never missed a payment in your life. You provide the papers.

This is followed my more requests for information. Time is ticking. Now it’s a month to closing. Now a week. Just one more clarification need on this PayPal statement. Now two days. Are you going to make it? It’s like a footrace and you are frantic, running flat out just hoping you’ll cross the finish line in time!

Phase 5: Relief

The day before closing you get an email that everything is set. You slide out of the chair and curl up on the carpet. You’ve had at least seven dreams that something has gone wrong. All that’s left is to sign some papers and the new house is yours. Moving will be a breeze compared to this.

The irony is that now that I know what to expect from the process, I’ll never have to go through it again. The information is useless. Nothing will pry me out of this new house. Nothing. Winning ten million dollars in the lottery couldn’t get me to put myself though these roller coaster phases ever again.

If buying groceries was as harrowing as buying a new house, we’d all starve.

New Beginnings

New Year’s resolutions are convenient because they are tied to the calendar. A fresh new calendar means a fresh new beginning, a way of wiping away the past and starting from scratch. I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions. I prefer, instead, using my birthday as a time to start something new. After all, in the world of me, my birthday is my New Year.

There is, however, an even better time for putting new resolutions and ideas into practice: moving to a new house.

We are moving to our new house in June. It is the house that, at this point, we plan to be in at least until the kids are all off to college, which means at least another 16 years. It seems like after that we could reasonably downsize. By then, of course, the kids will be coming home for holidays, and bring with them significant others, and eventually, perhaps, kids of their own, so maybe we’ll have this house longer than twenty years. Certainly the bank hopes we will.

I have been looking over my cluttered desk in my office here, and daydreaming how wonderful my new office will be. My current office is a spare bedroom, that’s about 115 square feet. There is a single window looking out back into the tops of some trees. None of my books are here, as they won’t fit. I have this small desk, and it is constantly cluttered. My new office is nearly three times the size of my current office. I like having a lot of sunlight when I work, and my new office has window on three sides. In that respect, it is more like a sun room than an office. All of my books will fit in the new office, although I’ll need to get some half-sized bookshelves to go along one wall.

I think that my new office will solve all of my problems. I’ll write better in my new office. I’ll have a desk that can handle a bigger screen, and they’ll be no need to hide the mechanical keyboard in a tray beneath the desk. I will separate the areas that I work and write. On one side of the office, I’ll have desk where I do my work. On the other side, I’ll have a desk at which I can sit and write. That desk will face toward the backyard, which overlooks the trees and woods of the local park. It’s important to be able to stare out at nothing when I am writing, and the trees make a pleasant nothing to stare at. I imagine that once I am setup in my new office, that bestseller that I’ve been meaning to write will finally take shape. Traffic here on the blog will increase a hundredfold because of the improved quality of my posts thanks to my new office.

Of course, the office is just one part of the new house. There is, for instance, a large space in the utility room that can be used for storage. Instead of tossing all of the junk in there haphazardly, I plan on putting in shelves, and stacking things neatly on the shelves. I plan to keep extras. One shelf will have a supply of every kind of light bulb we need for the house. On another shelf we’ll stock the toilet paper. The tools will be neatly organized, and some of the more frequently used ones will be hung on the wall. I will install bolts that can hold the ladder so that it is no longer stored in the guest room.

Moving into the new house seems like the best time to reorganize the kitchen so that is it more sensible and functional. I am always preparing food far away from the dishes and utensils I need, so when we get into the new place, I’m going to figure out where I will prepare the food and put the dishes and utensils there.

This is a great opportunity to clean out the closets. I give clothes I no longer wear to Kelly when she takes things for donations. We’ve filled the car with these donations, and yet the closet seems as full as ever. This time I’m really going to purge. The closets in the new house will be empty when we arrive, and should appear only half-full once we’ve moved in.

The new house has a big deck in back, just off the kitchen. The deck overlooks the woods to the local park. We generally eat dinner together as a family, and I am going to resolve that we try to eat outside more than we do inside, at least between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Yes, moving to the new house will be a new beginning, and I can already feel my life improved by these big changes I intend to make. I explained all this to Kelly, and she reminded me of a few things:

  • We’ll need to put the table the kids use to do their homework in the office for the time being, so I’ll need to work on just one desk instead of two.
  • Until we get that shed, all of the bikes will need to go in the utility room. That’s better than in the living room where they have been, but it means I’ll need to hold off on the shelves, and thus, the organization of the junk that goes on them.
  • Kelly reminded me that I never know where anything goes in the kitchen, and besides, she prepares dinner more than I do, so she should be the one to organize the kitchen for peak efficiency.
  • The closets in the bedrooms are somewhat smaller than what we have now. I’ll have to use a closet downstairs in the family room for my clothes, no matter how much I manage to get rid of.
  • May thru September is peak mosquito season. Eating dinner out on the deck every night sounds nice in principle. In practice, it may be more irritating than it is worth.

Except for all that, boy I can’t wait to move into the house, and get started on this new beginning!

Busy lately?

So here’s the deal:  We moved.

This move culminates a series of (wonderful) events that have taken up the better part of the last two years.  Now that the move is over the unpacking has begun and this takes time and meanwhile, the house is in a fair amount of disarray.  I don’t work too well in disarrary and so we are working hard to get things unpacked in proper array.  This includes the office.

The office/library is a pretty large room and once it is completely unpacked and organized, it will be a wonderful room.  Bookshelves line the wall, filled with something on the order of 1,200 books and old magazines, including rare signed books, rare editions, and a complete collection of SCIENCE FICTION AGE magazines.  Unpacking and then organizing those books in the proper order on the shelves is a slow and complicated process.  In an ideal world, I would arrange the books alphabetically by author, and then chronologically within each author.  However, given limited shelf space, this isn’t currently practical and the best that I can do is alphabetically by author.  To do this, all of the books must be unpacked and then arranged around the room in roughly alphabetical order.  Once that is done, I can start loading up the shelves, using my LibraryThing collection to help guide me along the way.  In an ideal world, I would get the books on the shelves and the office completed this weekend.  For three reasons:

  1. It would be nice to have it done.
  2. I’d like to use the office in the early mornings next week to complete a short story by Halloween.
  3. NaNoWriMo!

Meanwhile, there are still other things to do.  I’ve anchored to the wall 4 of the 7 bookshelves in the office.  This is to ensure that when Zach is old enough to roam around and pull on things, he doesn’t pull a bookshelf down on top of himself.  (Incidentally, I did this the right way:  I got some corner mounts, pieces of metal bent at a right angle with a screw going into each end.  I used a stud-finder (jokes welcome) to align the mounts to a stud and then drilled a small hole in the wall (and the top of each bookcase–though it pained me to do so) and screwed the mounts tight.) 

Since we have an eat-in kitchen, we’ve converted our dining room to a kind of TV sitting room.  We removed the chandelier and put in a light that makes the room look less like a dining room.  We put a new 27" Vizio HD TV in there (the big TV is down in the family room).  Still, the room can use a little work.  As can the kitchen.  And don’t get me started on the guest room, which is a complete mess at this point.  And I still have to put the grill together, although I agree with strausmouse about grilling between November and April on the east coast.  We have to mount all of the art work on the wall–which in turn will clear out space in one of our storage closets to put our bicycles.

And in between all of this there is a baby to take care of, a wife’s birthday coming up (tomorrow!!), Game 6 of the ALCS (and ultimately a Yankees/Phillies World Series), finally finishing the Stephen King novel that I’ve been reading for the last month, and of course my day job.

So yeah, things have been busy lately, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel that I can just barely see.  But it is getting closer and closer…

Living space

It occurred to me driving home from the metro station yesterday that I just passed the 57 month-mark in terms of how long I have lived in the house I am living in Riverdale. It is significant because it is longer than I have lived in anyone place since 1989. In fact, since the summer of 1989, I have moved 8 times. (8 times in 18 years is not that bad considering the fact that 4 of those eight moves were in college.)

Northridge, CA                    15 months
Riverside, CA (UCR dorm 1)         9 months
Riverside, CA (UCR dorm 2)         9 months
Riverside, CA (Apartment)         24 months
Northridge, CA                     9 months
Studio City, CA (Arch Drive)      37 months
Studio City, CA (Tujunga Ave)     52 months
Riverdale, MD                     57 months

August 1 will be 5 years in Riverdale. If I had moved to Riverdale when I was beginning first grade, I would be entering the 6th grade now. In that respect, 5 years seems like a long time. It is, in fact, 1/7th of my life, which also seems like a long time. But I’m fine with that.

The house in which I live is not perfect, but I have an absolute abhorrence of moving. Furthermore, the only reason I can think of to move is to buy a house, but I am simply unwilling to pay the prices being asked for houses, even though I could afford to. The housing market has priced itself out of my range. (People think I am strange for this, but everything is relative. I would be willing to pay hundreds of dollars for a rare Isaac Asimov book on the one hand, but I would scoff at paying $200 for a pair of jeans. Why on earth would I pay $300,000 for a mediocre house that would increase my commute time and require ten times the attention of the house in which I live now?)

Ironically, moving signs are springing up all over my neighborhood. There are probably a dozen houses within virtual eye-shot that are on the market. Recalling my macro-economics class, this should indicate a lowering of price, but even so, it is more than I am willing to pay. I think all houses are overpriced. When the price drops to around half of what they are now, or my income doubles, then I would be willing to consider it. But not until then.

It is therefore very possible that I will break my all-time record for living in one place in the house that I currently reside. That record is the 82 months I lived in Somerset, New Jersey. All I need to do is stick it out through the end of the summer of 2009.

Temporary office

For the next week or so, while construction goes on in the ceiling above my office, I am sitting in a temporary office. It is never quite the same as what you are used to. I just got my dual-monitor configuration setup. But it’s not my keyboard and it feels different. It’s not my mouse. And the desk itself seems somewhat askew. In fact, it seems to be leaning toward the left by an inch or more. I need to find a tape measure or marble or something to confirm this, but just looking at the screens is making me dizzy.

In my 12 years at the company, I’ve moved offices twice: five days after I started, and again eight years later when I transferred to the Washington office. I hate moving, even if it’s temporary, even if it’s to another office accross the hall. I’ve been in this new office for ten minutes and already I’m counting the hours until I can go back to my old office.

Some pics from NYC

Here are a few pictures from my weekend in NYC. They are all pulled off of my cellphone, so that quality is not that great. But they should give you some ideas of Jen and Jason’s new place. And a bonus at the end.

Jen (jen_ashlock) and Jason’s new place

Okay, this is looking straight down the only staircase in Jen and Jason’s new place. There is no elevator, and this is the staircase in which we had to move everything up and down. Dad! See what you are getting yourself into?

This is a view of the new place from the front door (toward the back of the apartment) looking forward (north) toward the front of the apartment. I am standing in the living room. The next room down is the den, and beyond that is the bedroom. Behind me is the kitchen and the bathroom. And yes, that is the shiny hardwood floor upon which I threw up.

Jen and Jason’s den. Also known as Buttercream Card’s corporate offices.

Jason is installing the AC in the living room. From this view you can also see into the kitchen. Isn’t it nice and bright!?

This view is looking south, from Jen and Jason’s bedroom to the back of the apartment. You can see the kitchen and the entry to the bathroom way down there in the distance. (It’s a very Dr. Seuss-esque kind of design, with your bedroom over here, and your bathroom over there.)

Bonus Picture
Friends will recall my trip to Vegas back in March and how one of the incidents involved giving Andy $10 to drink a bottle of ketchup. Well, last Saturday, before heading up to Ava Lounge, we stopped for drinks and appetizers nearby and during our stay there, I told Jason I’d give him $5 to do a “shot of ranch dressing”. The following picture is Jason doing that shot. Turns out it wasn’t ranch dressing. It was Bleu Cheese. Jason realized it when he got to the bottom and it was, in his words, “chunky”.

Jen and Jason may have some pictures as well, and once they have their Internet connection setup, you might even be able to find some of these pictures on jen_ashlock‘s blog.

Move complete!

Luck, some planning and hard work were the ingredients required to make the move of Jen and Jason’s stuff happen so quickly. While Jason picked up the truck this morning, Jen and I moved all of the boxes and most of the other stuff downstairs so that we could pack the truck quickly. As it turns out, it took us longer to load the truck and move boxes out than to unload the truck and move boxes in.

As luck would have it, Jason was able to find a parking space on 85th directly across the street from the entrance to their apartment building. This made it very easy to get stuff from the truck into the building.

We had a total of six people doing the moving. Myself, Jen and Jason, as well as their friends, Jenn, Tommy, and his brother Dean. Jen and Jason live on the fifth floor and there was no elevator, so we used a fire brigade method of organization: Jenn sat in the truck and handed stuff to Tommy. Tommy brought the stuff into the building to the base of the stairs, and handed it off to Dean. Dean brought it up to the second floor landed, handing off to Jen. Jen brought it up to the third floor landing, handing off to me. I brought it up to the fourth floor landing, handing off to Jason. Jason brought the boxes up to the fifth floor and into the apartment. Using this method, we got into a rhythm that allowed up to have everything moved in in just about an hour.

It was hard work, however. We agreed to meet later on this evening for dinner and drinks. In the meantime, Jason is returning the truck. I went down to the corner to get a haircut. We have a few hours to shower and rest and then we head out for the evening.

Shake Shack, Baby, Shake Shack

We spent the early part of the day today trying to get more of Jen and Jason’s old place cleaned up. We then headed over to their new place on 85th in order to bring a few things over there. It’s really nice. Despite the fact that it’s a 5th floor walkup,it has many advantages. It’s a railroad style apartment, but since it’s on the top floor, they’ve got a lot of light. It’s bigger than their place in Astoria. It also has 4 times as many windows (8 compared to 2 in their old place). I really like it. Plus, it’s in Manhattan, in a convenient part of town, just 4 blocks from the Park.

For lunch, Jen, Jason and I headed to The Shake Shack in Madison Square Park on 23rd and Madison. Jason said they had the best burgers and shakes in the City and he compared them to In’n’Out. The comparision is a good one. While I don’t think the burgers are quite as good as In’N’Out, they are certainly in the same class. The fries were okay, but the chocolates shakes were excellent and I found myself not wanted to get up from our table in the park after eating. There was a cool, light breeze and I could have sat there all day, but we had more errands to run.

I took a bunch of pictures of Jen and Jason’s place empty, which I’ll post when I’m back home. Tomorrow is moving day and so I’m sure I’ll have more pictures of the new place with all of the boxes inside.

On the way back to Astoria, we walked past a place on Broadway and 43rd that had the Brasil/France game on and watched the last minute or two, seeing France knock Brasil out of the World Cup. Go figure!

To buy, or not to buy…?

I really don’t know what’s wrong with me.

I was asked by two people today if I’ve started looking for a house yet. I haven’t. I wasn’t planning to start the search until around my birthday. The thing is (and there has got to be something wrong with me), the closer I get to the day, the less enthusiasic I grow about buying a house. What’s ironic about the questions today, is that last night, while in the shower, I found myself once again thinking (between belting out verses of “You’ve Gotta Start Off Each Day With A Song”): Am I really ready to do this?

The truth is that I don’t know. There are many advantages to doing it. There are also reasons to wait. Let me list some of each.

Open the Can of Worms