In two days, J and I will be officially moving into our first real *home* after renting for 5+ years since graduating college. Buying a house feels like a huge deal. Not only is there the whole “we’re getting older and wiser and fatter and more wrinkly” bit. It’s not even the fact that after years of watching your bank account grow flush with savings, it’s all suddenly gone and you’re panicking about starvation and never again seeing the inside of a Starbucks.
No, a big part of it is leaving the world of renting behind. For us, that means leaving behind our home of the past four years, a 900-square-foot townhouse situated just north of a swanky Metro Detroit bedroom community, full of shops and restaurants way outside our price range, multi-million homes, beautiful parks and trails, and all the bragging rights among our friends and co-workers (“Oh, you live in joe-schmoe-surbub? Yeah, we live where the Detroit Lions live.”)
OK, we didn’t really brag all that much. Other people gave us funny looks, but we always insisted that we happened upon our townhouse by chance. In 2010, J and I were sharing a one-bedroom apartment near the University of Cincinnati, where J was finishing his degree, and we needed to find an apartment in Detroit. J was going to start working at one of the major automakers up here the summer after graduation, and we needed to find a place by July. We scoured Craigslist and made several trips up I-75 (which takes, if you want to know, 4-5 hours one way) to look at apartments in communities we knew nothing about. We probably Googled “fun places to live in Metro Detroit” – not the best idea. We knew a little bit about the area where we eventually settled, but we assumed it was out of our price range and focused our search elsewhere.
We had some trouble; a few times, we found apartments we really liked, only to find that they had already been leased, or that sleeping on the decision was a bad idea because someone else already claimed it (word to the wise: never sleep on anything in real estate – just go with your damn gut). It was getting frustrating. Then, we saw this place on Craigslist and lined up a showing for our next trip up north, along with a few other places. There were some good choices during that trip, and I told J if ANY of them turned out half as nice as the pictures, we were signing a lease on the spot.
We saw two other places before this, the second better than the first. But we had a feeling about this place. And what do you know – we walked in, walked around, confirmed the rent, confirmed that no one had signed the lease yet, then told the agent dude to go back to his office and get the lease, we were signing. He was a little surprised and left us at the townhouse, where we actually had to ward off another agent and her client who wanted to look at the place, telling them that no, this was ours, go away, mine, WE CLAIM THIS.
Since then, this place has worked. The townhouse is owned by one woman, who is also our neighbor. She never raised our rent. The small second bedroom with huge windows facing south turned out to be a sunny and quiet office, perfect considering I worked from home for two and a half years. The bedroom is huge and actually fit my bedroom set. We bought all new living and dining room furniture, and raised our kitties here.
We also bumped elbows plenty of times in the tiny kitchen, and felt awkward trying to enjoy our back patio while also sharing the space with the five or so close neighbors. I’ve been accosted by all the little dogs in the complex who like to bark at me while I read outside, and spent days nervously listening to the little old lady living next door navigate her own two-story townhouse, hoping I didn’t hear a fall.
Our place is also located right off one of the busiest thoroughfares in Metro Detroit. This road is the center of a huge rolling car show/cruise every August. During the week leading up to the actual event, the road is choked with slow moving muscle cars, peeling out, hitting their throttles, vrooming all over the damn place…and showing off how loud and flashy they can be. Now, J loves cars and even he’s tired of living here in the summer.
And yet, there’s a lot to miss about this place:
Then, there’s the things I won’t miss:
Also, maybe this is weird, but I’m actually very concerned about how our two cats will adapt to the move and like the new house. This has been their only home! What if they’re miserable and hate it, and by extension, hate ME!? Oh, the guilt! While I’m sure they’ll adore all the windows (with ledges!) our new place has, I will miss the banister right by our front door. For the past few years, whenever we come home, if our boy cat, Mr. Bennet, is upstairs, he immediately comes running as soon as he hears the door open. Then, he’ll stand on this banister, where he’s about face height, and give us a little head-bump in greeting. It’s absolutely the most adorable thing I’ve ever encountered, and I only hope that Mr. B will still greet us even without the banister.