So yesterday I fell…

So yesterday I fell madly in love with a place, but Kevin has a bunch of reservations and isn't sure it's a good idea. Argh, I say, argh. I don't want him to pick someplace he won't be happy with just to please me -- that's a recipe for disaster. But I want him to just be happy with it. It's so pretty. It's a rehabbed 1889 greystone; all the walls of exposed brick are old and so beautiful.

We've seen lots of places that are fine, and some, I admit that are more functional -- this is on the high end of our price range and a lot of the space is taken up by a massive roof deck that we don't really need; we'd rather have an extra room for that space. But oh, almost everything we've seen that's functional is also new, and lacking in soul. I suppose eventually it'll have soul too...but still. I love this place. It's so very very pretty.

My brain is spinning with desire and frustration.

I also only slept five hours last night. Woke up thinking about this place, couldn't sleep. We're going to back to the open house this weekend, look at it again. Should make a decision one way or another soon.

Tea, cooking. Maybe that'll settle me down.

This is not quite the first time we've chosen a place together, by the way, but almost. The last time was almost a decade ago, in Philadelphia, and a far more brutal experience. We had to move out of the place we'd been living in; I can't remember why. Landlord issues? And so we were trying to find a place quickly, in Center City, but I had no job yet and Kevin had bad credit from paying mortage bills late. We were walking from place to place on a blazing hot day, getting turned down over and over, and he was sick -- really sick. We were both just miserable, and we took the first place that would have us. So this is really the first time we've actually had the luxury to choose a place to live together; it's disconcerting, in an odd way, actually having to think about what someone else wants too. :-)

What about you guys? Any of you had difficulty coming to an agreement with your sweetie on a place for you both to live? I think I could use some collective wisdom on this. I've never actually bought property before myself...it all feels a bit unreal.

9 thoughts on “So yesterday I fell…”

  1. Esther and I have totally different aesthetics. I would love a crumbling 19th century gothic edifice. Esther likes everything as clean and austere and brilliantly white and modern as an IKEA catalog.

    When we move — which we do a lot — we usually live for like 6 months with no furniture, because we have to argue about 100 candidates for a chair until we find something we both like. And there are lots of compromises, like things that we can only have in the house with a sheet over them.

    I’m often tempted to say “fine, honey, whatever you like”, because my knee-jerk reaction is that I don’t care what anything looks like, whatever; but I resist, because I know we’re both happier when we’re in a place that appeals to us.

    So my advice is: perservere. Find something that works for everyone. That you love.

    If you find you have severe ongoing incompatibilities in taste and priorities (like Esther and I do in the aesthetics department) take whatever you unspokenly assumed was the number of options you’d investigate before deciding, and revise the figure upward by a factor of 10.

    I wrote a story about househunting problems. 🙂

  2. Mary Anne,

    At the end of 2003, I had to pick out, buy, and close on our first house all by myself, because my husband was frantically finishing his dissertation under a hard deadline. And because we were moving from upstate NY to Houston TX (and renting for the short term was not an option due to our animal population), I didn’t have much time to look — I could only fly into Houston for 4 days to find the house. Luckily it’s very much a buyer’s market here. (You’d be disgusted at how inexpensive houses are here.)

    We’re happy with my choice (or at least my husband pretends to be!), but it was nerve-wracking. The main thing I think I did wrong was not pay enough attention to the state of the appliances. We’ve been in the house just over a year, and we’ve already had to replace the air conditioning and the hot water heater. We also had a toilet overflow two months after moving in, causing $4000 worth of water damage in 15 minutes. (This was something of a fluke, though — not really due to disrepair or anything.)

    Anyhow, happy hunting! It probably does make the process more difficult in terms of agreement on a place, but overall I think I would have preferred having his input!

  3. Bates & I have never managed to look together. We moved into a place together ’cause it was one of the only places that didn’t suck and would let us sublet [College Town, Year long leases from Sep to Sep and we were moving in April]. The apartment we found after that was I did intial search and picked 3, he picked 1, based more on price than anything else. Our current apartment was something he picked with my mom and I got sight unseen. It is nice and I have no problems with it, but there was some initial disappointment.

    We are currently trying to houselook. Just getting him to talk about what he wants is a chore. So I get the feeling he’s just going to let me have whatever I want and guess that he would be happy with and not give much feedback.

  4. Thanks — these stories are helpful. Keep ’em coming. 🙂

    Our aesthetics are actually almost identical — we both like living in places that are open and full of light, the classic style for a modern city condo. But we both also harbor a deep-seated affection for old stuff, medieval-ish stuff, gentlemen’s libraries with walls lined with bookcases, the possiblity of secret passages…

    Where we differ, I think, is that I’m generally easy-going, can be content almost anywhere, but will occasionally fall passionately in love with the aesthetics of a particular place. Whereas Kevin cares about aesthetics, but he frets a lot more about practicalities: comfort, usability, etc. I’m willing to put up with some inconveniences for something I irrationally adore; he has to convince himself that he can love something despite its obvious flaws, which can take him a while to be certain of.

    This may also explain our relationship history. 🙂

  5. Two issues to keep in mind when buying an old place:

    – How old are the *systems*? Mostly, electrical wiring, plumbing, heating/cooling and roof.

    – If you plan to live in the place for at least five years, are you prepared to spend more on *upkeep* than you would on a new place?

    The second bullet is mostly an issue of going into the place with a realisic attitude, but the first bullet is key: Old plumbing, heating and electrical systems can really affect the livability of a home.

  6. Just had to respond to Dawn B. — the apartment we had in upstate NY for seven years — my husband picked out with my mom, and it was sight unseen for me. And they did a great job choosing it.

    It’s good when your mom and your spouse/S.O. get along, isn’t it?!

  7. My spouse signed the lease for our first apartment as a married couple together (as opposed to the apartment I moved into when I married him) without me seeing it first. That was fine. However, he did take me along when deciding to buy this, which was a good thing since I promptly burst into tears and we had to talk over (1) why I thought he was completely out of his mind and (2) whether I could really believe him when he said he would do all of the work, because I was working 60 hours a week at that point (with an hour commute each way) and damned if I was going to add rehabbing a sty on top of that.

    (We ended up living there 4-5 years, and it was an okay house but never really grew on me, unlike the one we live in now, which was at the top of both of our lists the weekend we flew into Nashville (a month or so prior to moving here), told our realtor which neighborhood we wanted to live in (similar to our old one in Detroit — historic district, progressive/diverse neighbors), and looked at twelve houses in one day. I could see myself living here for the rest of my life but he gets restless now and then; a main difference between us is I’d never really thought past living in apartments and he’s always known that he would buy a house someday. The other big difference is that he’s into buying things that are exceedingly cheap because they’re imperfect with the plan to fix them up someday (houses, cars, furniture) whereas I tend to be cynical about us ever quite getting around to it. (Seeing that there’s a non-starting Celica and a non-running Neon in our back yard this very moment, I don’t think I’m being unfair. *rueful smile*))

  8. Amy, it is devine. I’m so going to want to get to know you better at the next con. Keep “seeing” you all over this internet!

  9. Dawn, it’s fate — that Locus picture! (Sorry to highjack, Mary Anne! — back on topic, looking forward to the next installment of the house-hunt. It really is a Big Life Thing, you know?)

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