August 14, 2009

House Hunting

So, I am house hunting. This is driven by a bunch of things.

On a personal level, Zippy and I have been discussing some sort of housing move for a while. I'm a bit of a clutter hound, which drives Zippy (a rather neat and organized lad) mad. So he'd love to get me (and my clutter) out of the house. I'm never around anyway - between my office and the yoga stduio, I spend no more than an hour or two at home each day. We're no longer coupled and have not been for years - yet neither of us is dating - the simple act of cohabitating I think provides a minimum level of companionship (and awkwardness) to inhibit connecting with another. And at 48 I'm not ready to completely turn off my desire for an intimate relationship.

Back in January I was looking at apartments; and Zippy (who is always frustrated by the neighborhood here, specifically noisy neighbors and parking issues, neither of which, truthfully, is all that bad IMHO) fantasizes about finding a duplex where we can each have a side (so we can remain close but not too close). But with the recent drop in housing prices, the drop in mortgage rates, and the incentives to buy ($8K tax credit for first time buyers, which I qualify for, I last owned property in 2001 or something like that) - its seems like the right time to purchase. So right now, I am looking at and for someplace on my own.

I'm not really flush, but I do have $10K I can pull out of my IRA for a down payment / closing costs. My credit is not great but I've been slowly raising my score in the past 3-4 years. And I'm presently paying Zippy rent plus rent at my office which adds up to 100's more than the expected monthly mortgage. (I would plan to close my office and work out of the house, which I did for years prior to moving in with Zippy)

I was initially looking at small ranches and capes; keeping an eye on distressed properties and foreclosures. But after looking at a bunch of these which needed much work and had a lot of serious issues (things like roofs, buried oil tanks, structural stuff, etc.), decided that, at this stage in my life (48 years old, with an overly busy work and social life and my peak "sweat equity" years in the rear view window) I needed to be more reasonable; that a condo might make more sense.

I've been looking at stuff over in New Britain - convenient enough (to the yoga studio, to my balloon chasing, to my Bristol teaching gig). And though NB taxes are high, places there remain affordable and available (not so many condos in Hartford / WH / Newington / Farmington / Plainville).

I have figured out that I prefer an older / less updated place in a more rural / quiet area - have seen some really spiffy places in less desireable areas (often the complex is kept up, but the neighborhood is funky) and I am looking closely at one place in particular in a tucked away corner of New Britain. Looking to make an offer soon....I'm not in love with the place, but I've come to look at a condo as more of a long term apartment with tax benefits - not a perfect space to fall in love with.

I am a little concerned about being further from what has become my social world - Hartford's arts and films and culture, my yoga peeps, my friends. I am a little concerned about isolating and being lonely (my house sitting was very informative about my tendency to isolate)

On the other hand, I think working out of my house will make me more productive; right now I spend a lot of time at home (mornings and evenings), not working or kind of 1/2 working - I think with an office in the house I could get a few more hours in each day without really changing my routine. And though I planned for a 2nd bedroom office, the place I am looking at has a finished basement (presently occupied by a pool table) that might make a nice office - freeing up the 2nd bedroom for a yoga / music / library sort of alcove. Which is kind of exciting.

Much as I hate the idea of leaving Hartford, just not finding affordable spaces here that (a) will not require a lot of time / money / sweat and (b) are in parts of the city that I feel OK as a single woman living in. If you know of any give a shout....

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