Some of the possibilities:
a) a place that costs a quarter again more than our current place, but is out in Oak Park (half an hour west on the train), and thus is more than twice as large -- that would make hopping into the city to wander around downtown definitely a fair bit more effort than nowOption a doesn't require my getting a full-time job, obviously. Options b and c might be do-able if I did the Vermont job two semesters a year. Option d definitely requires that I have a reasonably-paying (more than what I was making in my years as a secretary) full-time job. Which means that if I don't get an academic job, I have to commit to doing something like adjuncting full-time, teaching a lot of freshman composition, possibly for several years, which doesn't leave nearly as much time for writing as would be ideal.
b) a place that costs about half again more than our current place, and is in our neighborhood, with 1-2 more rooms
c) a place that costs about half again more than our current place, and is in northern Lincoln Park or Lakeview, and is thus about twice as large -- *but* which would require a 20-40 min. commute on the Halsted bus (fine when there's no traffic, dreadful when there is)
d) a place that costs almost double our current place, is in our neighborhood, is twice as large -- this is pretty ideal in terms of what we want, but the price would require my having a full-time job, taking all our savings and putting it into the house, *and* cutting back pretty seriously on spending money
There's of course always the possibility that my two HC books will sell well, or that I'll manage to sell the nonfiction book, or the terrorist novel, or the YA fantasy novel -- but you know, you just can't count on that when you're facing a scary mortgage. So we have to make this decision with the assumption that the book stuff won't sell noticeably, so we're sure we can make our mortgage payments regardless. While at the same time, protecting my time to write as best we can.
Option d, while tremendously appealing, because it's someplace that we might well want to live for the rest of our lives, is also a bit scary, because if the books don't sell, I'd be facing an awful lot of freshman comp. Hmm....