I lived in 13 houses/apartments before I turned 16.
Some of those were nuclear family moves from a small house to a larger one, but lots of those occurred after my mom left my dad and we stayed with friends or relatives for a while. As a result, I didn’t have my own room, really, until I was 15. A few years after my parents divorced, my mom bought a house, and I finally, after years of unfulfilled promises, had my own room. All that said, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I hate moving and I’ve always wanted my own home.
When I got a job in DC after college, I had one weekend to find a place to live and another weekend to move into that place before I started work. I landed in a studio apartment downtown, on 12th & M, and intended to move when my lease was up the next year because the rent was crazy expensive relative to my income (about 50% of my paycheck rather than the finance-guru-advised 30%). But the psychic pain that accompanied the thought of moving (along with my not having any extra money to do so) and the desire for stability kept me in that apartment for 6 years. Only relocating to New York dislodged me from my studio.
My husband, on the other hand, has had the exact opposite experience. Until he went to college, he lived in two houses, the second of which his family moved into when he was 2 years old. As an adult, he bounced around from apartment to apartment, usually seeking cheaper rent or nicer amenities.
So, the four years we spent in our New York apartment were deeply treasured by both of us: him, for the stability of creating a home as a married couple; me, for not having to move from one place to another.
When we decided to move back to DC, we chose to get an apartment for a year and begin the search for our forever home, the place where we would raise our children and have family over Thanksgiving dinner and invite friends over for cocktail parties.
But the DC real estate market slapped us across the face and told us to quit dreaming.
The sticker price on something we’d consider a “forever home” in the District is approximately $2 million over our current budget. So we said, let’s get a starter, something we’ll stay in for five to seven years, then pray that it appreciates well enough (and we hit the lotto) that we can move into said forever home.
Last week, we found the perfect starter. It was in Brookland, an area of DC that neither one of us had hung out in, but we realized was actually really cute. It was a detached house (DETACHED!) in the city (IN THE CITY!) with grass (GRASS!) and a screened-in porch (PORCH!). We both saw our future selves raising our kids there in that city farmhouse (FARMHOUSE!). So, we bet the farm, went all in on an offer and even offered slightly more than would have been prudent for us to pay.
And we lost.
Someone out there wanted our city farmhouse so much more than we did that they bet not only the farm, but the contingencies that would ensure that the farm was worth what they were betting.
So, we lost a bidding war for a home. The thing that I’ve sought out for such a long time, the thing that my husband is so used to, neither one of us could get.
Well, not this time. There will be other houses. We will be comfortable. We will be stable.
So help us God, we will make our home.