Tuesday, December 11, 2007

That At-Home Feeling

When I walked into our house for the first time, when we were looking for houses, I knew I was home. I knew that I wanted to live here, to raise my family here.

And now I live here. It's been a month now. My feelings have not changed. It feels like home. Having explored some of the surrounding area, I'm even happier.

At first, I only ventured to places within a block. There's a pizza place on the corner, just a few houses down from us. Another half-block up from Art of Pizza is Dona Torta, a mexican eatery. There's a Jewel-Osco across the street, a Starbuck's the other way, a Jimmy John's down the street from there, and a cozy little diner, S & G, across the street from the Jimmy John's. All of these places are five minutes or less from our house - walking.

This is what I'd had in mind when I wanted to stay in the city. Our condo was great and all, but there was less within walking distance. We were five minutes from many places, but driving.

I've only mentioned a few places, but there are many other retail stores and services filling in the gaps between the places I've mentioned and beyond. There are several bars and restaurants, a couple of music stores, a couple of sushi places, a pawn shop, a couple of banks, a couple learning centers for JD to choose from, an art store, and more. I'd say at least 90% of these storefronts are independently owned and operated, which I favor patronizing.

I feel no urban sprawl, no cookie cutter existence. I'm in the best that urban living has to offer. This, to me, is what I'd envisioned in being the Downtown Dad. We can walk to the many parks that are nearby. I will walk JD to Burley Elementary, the public school that's two blocks away. Maybe he'll take music lessons at our own "School of Rock" (yes, there is a music school here with that name. I don't know if there's any relationship with the movie.) And all of this if we never venture out of our immediate neighborhood.

I'm already a happier person and we have a happier family. The downside is the cost and my wife's increased commute. It feels much more grown up. Even more than that, I feel my family is even more solidified.

From the time I moved into the condo, we were in a transitional state. I moved in two months before we were married. Then, my wife was pregnant with JD the following spring. We anticipated moving the next fall, but things didn't work out, as that was the beginning of the real estate bear market. We spent all of last summer showing our house and finding neighborhoods and houses that we wanted to be in. Finally, we're in a place where we'll stay for years beyond our planning.

We've got room for expansion. There's plenty that can be improved. But we're dug in. We're vested. And if things that make me this happy keep happening on a consistent basis, I'll be a fortunate man.

Monday, December 3, 2007

A Condo Sold, A House Purchased

It's been a month since my last post. What have we been up to?

Well, we closed on our condo on 11/14 and closed on and moved into our new house 11/15.

Apparently, when you sell your property, there is little or no need for you to be present for the closing. Everything is a formality from your side. It is the buyer who has all of the responsibility. They must understand what they're getting into, from the property lines to the financing. The latter is probably the most important part - the lender wants to make sure that you know that you owe them a lot of money for a very long time; and if you fail them, they will take everything you have, and would own you in your next life if they could.

The condo closing went seamlessly. There was some delay, but all resolved and we got paid. From that point, though, we were not living in our condo anymore, but were renting the place for a day from the new owner. This is called a lease-back. It felt strange renting our place, but was worth the money.

Thursday was our big day. It was coordinated and delegated. My mother picked JD up on Wednesday and would bring him to the new house on Friday after the move. My mother-in-law showed up at 7am so she could supervise the move. The movers would come to the condo at 9am. My wife gave me power-of-attorney to sign all of the papers at the 9am closing, as she had to work. The first furniture delivery had a delivery window between 11:30am and 1:30pm. Everything had to go according to plan.

(Note: For anyone out there who will at some point have POA in this circumstance, make sure that you practice signing the person's name! You will have to sign it many many times and if you're not practiced at it, it takes longer and there is a greater possibility for a mistake. Mistakes are bad on these forms.)

I was able to overcome my failure to practice signing my wife's name. My mother-in-law made sure the movers did what they needed to do. The closing went smoothly and I made it to the house well before Room & Board showed up to deliver our bedroom and living room furniture. The movers showed up not long after and they had everything put into our house by around 6pm.

We have been in our house for over two weeks now and we are very happy here. There were a few unexpected things and we are still learning the idiosynchrosies of the house, but I am very happy here, as are JD and my wife. He's so happy here, that he started crawling the first day that we were moved in!