Friday, January 06, 2006

Sign, Sealed & Delivered

Mr. Chick and I are officially tenants in our own home. We closed the sale of the house 2 days ago. We dragged the kids into the title company's office bright and early and signed the papers allowing the lesbians to be the legal owners of our cute little house. And I do mean little. I'm more than ready to move into a bigger place so we can all stretch out some. We're cramped and I'm ready to move on. But until we figure out where we're going, we're staying here, renting our own home from the new owners. It's a sort of strange reality.

On the upside, we did pretty damn well with this house. We rode the real estate wave during our law school years and turned a pretty profit on this place. The property appreciated more than 50% in 3 years. Plus, the buyers found us and eliminated the need for us to spend one red cent on marketing or commissions (sorry to all you agents out there. We buy with a real estate agent, but we sell FSBO). The property funded yesterday and Mr. Chick went to pick up the biggest check he's ever held with our names on it. So big we can't put it all in one bank account because it exceeds the limit of federally insured funds. How cool is that??! Mr. Chick took it to the bank to deposit it and told the teller he wanted to cash it and get the bills in $10's and $20's. He's funny like that. He said the teller was even handling the check delicately and nervously, nevermind us. It's not very often a check this big comes walking into a bank around here, I guess. For the moment, we're RICH! And earning 4% interest on it while we're renters. We're talking of going to Vegas and betting it all on red, Indecent Proposal style. We'd have to take our chances on the tables because I doubt any Fat Cat would offer us a million dollars to spend one night with me like they did in that movie. I'm cute, but no Demi Moore. Maybe in my dreams...

Sadly, every penny of that money will have to be rolled into the down payment of the next house because of the high cost of house prices in the areas we're likely to move to. Oh well - easy come, easy go. And I know it's not like we're losing the money if we use it for the next down payment, but it won't be enough for us to buy anything super-impressive. It's not like we're jumping into the neighborhoods of the rich and famous. Just the 'burbs of Portland (did I mention the job in Bend was offered to someone else with 15 years experience? No? Well, it was. We're disappointed it didn't work out). We are a single-income family making it on less than full-time hours. Mr. Chick is earning a decent wage, certainly, but that check is much, much larger than his annual salary (that's why he went to law school, to change that fact). He's working 3-4 days/week. That's it, folks. So we're not going to be able to float a huge mortgage or anything. That's why we're going to need the full amount of profit we got out of this house to fund the next one.

Anyway, the deal is done and the search for the next home has begun in earnest. The market for business attorney's SUCKS ASS in Oregon right now, but Mr. Chick is doing all the right things to find a job. So, in the absence of a job we're setting our sights on moving closer to Portland - home again, essentially - to make his current commute of 1.5 hrs each way shorter, and to get us closer to the biggest city in the state. The place where he has the best chance of landing a job. The place where we have friends and family nearby. The place where homes are out-of-control expensive. On par with the Bay Area, CA, all things being equal. The Portland area is in the top 10 most expensive places to live. We're targeting spring for moving.

I look online at houses listed in the areas we're interested in a few times a week. There aren't many on the market right now. Slim pickin's. But since we get to choose where to move, I'm selecting areas based on schools. I want the best possible schools for my kids. Since I get to choose and all. I don't care if it means we have to live in a crappier house if the schools are the best. I value education higher than I do the square footage of my house. So, that narrows things down quite a bit. Nicholas will be starting kindergarten in the fall. It's time to look very hard at the schools. On paper, I'm a fan of public education. We'll see how it plays out in reality. I want to be in the best-rated schools and school district (sue me!) for public schools. If that ends up being a sub-par option and we deem the public education lacking, then we'll consider private schools. Hopefully, the public schools will rock and our kids will thrive. I just want to increase the odds of that happening. So I'm trying to look at our upcoming move as a huge opportunity to get settled in the best possible place for our kids since WE control the move. We're not moving somewhere random because of outside factors. We're in total control of our location. We can choose anywhere in Portland. We can choose to stay where we are (just a different house - the lesbians own this one). We can go to the southern part of the state. Or Bend in the middle of the state. It's our call. And that kind of freedom is very, very nice. Liberating, even. We have the luxury of deciding what is best for our family instead of trying to make the best of things. See the difference? So we're in a really good place, and I'm grateful. Plus, we have the luxury of time. We don't HAVE to move for 6 more months. We get that long to find the best house we can afford in the area of our choosing. We have that time to truly make the best decision for us. It's uncommon to have such flexibility and we're going to make the most of it.

Wish us luck! We're going to need it. There are big, big changes ahead for our little family and it's going to be an exciting ride. I hope we all survive.

Congratulations on the closing! It's a wonderfully liberating feeling to hold that fat check, I'm sure! I love your positive attitude about the move & I wish the best for you in your home/job search.

Good luck MP! I totally agree with finding a house in the best school district, even if it means a smaller house. Good resale value. Location, location, location!
Congrats on the sale of your old home, and good luck in the finding of your new one, MP.

And way to go on your successful mornings of running! :)
I've been reading a book called "The Two-Income Myth" by Elizabeth Warren and you might find it interesting--the whole premise is that middle-class America is going bankrupt because families are all trying to find homes in good school districts. Her proposal is a public-school-only voucher system. Neither you nor I fit the two-income family description, but your home search certainly hits the mark.
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