Monday, January 26, 2009

Buying a House

We've been considering buying a house lately. We're not completely decided, but we've been looking on websites and driving around looking at houses and reading books on buying a home and all that.

And I have to say it is very depressing. Not buying a house--that's exciting. But driving around and looking at all the subdivisions being built, all the blatant waste, all the houses that are huge with tiny yards, all the confusion and backwardness of what we think life should be like, the distancing of our lives from nature and from the resources we're wasting. We don't need that much space. We don't need that much stuff. And we're hurting ourselves and our world and we need to stop it. And our system is set up so that we can't stop it--we are supposed to keep producing, so people can keep buying, so people can keep getting paid, regardless of whether or not we need the products (mostly we don't), or how many resources we are burning through needlessly, with God-knows-what consequences for our children and our world. Very depressing.

However, the books provide some comic relief. My favorite is one of the money-saving tips from Your First Home: the smart way to get it and keep it, by Lynette Khalfani-Cox. I don't have the book in front of me so I'm paraphrasing here, but I am completely serious that this was in the list of ways to cut back on expenses so you can have a sizeable chunk of cash for a down payment:

"Bounce one fewer check per month."

What a brilliant ideas. Those experts, they are so smart. Why didn't I think of that? Problem solved!




At 3:57 PM, Blogger rach cortest said...


You will be well pleased with me when you come out to our house. I love everything you said, rachel

At 4:32 PM, Blogger Jimmie said...

Good luck with the home-buying. I know how frustrating it can be, especially when you can't find exactly what you're looking for.

(Though I must say I would give major $$$ to live in a place where subdivisions and new-builds abound...I know the whole wastefulness argument and all that, but there's something to be said about consistency...up here, we never knew if we were going to walk into a rat-infested craphole or a nicely-restored colonial...all in the same price range!) :-)

At 5:34 PM, Blogger Susana la Banana said...

Rachel--I can't wait to come see your house and your land! We will have lots of fun. =)

Jimmie--The biggest problem I see is that people are not taking the right things into account when they build new houses. People need to focus less on square footage of houses, more on function and stuff like passive solar (so we don't waste resources on heating and cooling), and we need to start having yards that are big enough for gardening, and people need to get into gardening and being outside again if we're ever going to remember that we're part of nature and all that jazz. It's not necessarily the building of a new house that's the's the wastefulness that goes into corporations building 50 new subdivisions when 1 or 2 will do, and then houses sitting empty forever, and then the really bad design and function of the package deal, if that makes sense.

At 7:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are so wise to know that space is critical. I feel sick when I see subdivisions filled with MANSIONS, with ten feet between the houses. It's the worst of both worlds. If you are going to live smack up against your neighbors, at least be in New York City, Paris, or London, Chicago, somewhere exciting. I can't imagine living like that and then you are in a suburb with no trees, parks, decent paving, or even sidewalks.
I have had the luxury of large, spacious homes. Keeping them up is burdensome, even though it's nice to be able to have a quiet spot of your own. Something manageable with handicap access and a second bathroom would suit me just fine. and NO built-on rooms or converted garages. horrible ideas. I agree it can be depressing to see what someone's idea of a good design is. I bet you wind up with an older home. Some of them are pretty solid. and they don't have energy-wasting features like vaulted ceilings. can't wait to see the results of your househunting!

At 3:10 PM, Anonymous Tara said...

Lucky you - I mean lucky to be buying not selling! I totally agree with you - although we are some of those who live in a new neighborhood (well, new-ish) surrounded by houses with mini-yards. We start at least three conversations a day with "our next house..."

At 5:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you considered looking at properties outside the city limits? That's the best way to get more nature (i.e., acreage) and (possibly) less house. Unfortunately, you'll likely have to go some distance from the city limits to avoid the high dollar huge homes on the fringe.


At 3:57 AM, Blogger Hobo Mama said...

I was yelling at "House Hunters" yesterday when I saw your post. If you're not a cable junkie, it's a show where a real estate agent takes some doofus to see three houses. The buyers are always saying inane things like, "I don't really care for that paint color," as if a can of paint is worth the extra $10,000 the other house is charging.

Last night was a single woman moaning that she really needed three bedrooms and two bathrooms -- at least one with a double sink. I kept telling her, emphatically, "You're ONE person!!!!" She didn't hear me, though -- just kept going on and on about how essential granite countertops were to her well-being. I pointed out that we had three people living (happily) in a one-bedroom apartment with one bathroom with one sink, but she wasn't fazed.

She eventually chose my least favorite of the three options, of course -- the soulless new townhouse in the middle of dirt.

Since no one got to hear me yelling, thanks for letting me get that out. Best wishes to finding the home that will make you happy. We love our current apartment so much -- its 1926 charm, its location across from the water -- that we know any place we move next will be a step down in either location or interior. We're trying to enjoy it for now. But maybe our future dream home is also out there.

At 12:08 PM, Blogger Susana la Banana said...

Tara--but I thought you had a big yard when I was at your house! At least you can have chickens and a garden if you want to...the abundance of houses with like 10 square feet of yard around here are INSANE. Totally takes away any chance of self-reliance or sustainability.

Becky--Absolutely, we are looking out in the country's just that we DO need a HOUSE on the land, and the country houses with a good amount of land are either really horrible or really expensive. We're still keeping an eye out.

Hobo Mama--You crack me up! Why didn't that lady listen to're so wise! ;) We really miss our old apartment in Raleigh...which was tiny but perfect for us then...and now everyone exclaims over how big the house we're renting is and we're like...yeah...we don't really like that part. We got it for the yard! Oh well. I'm glad you love your place...and good luck finding your future dream home someday!

And Mom--hi! I'll keep an eye out for that handicap-accessible place...or maybe we'll just get an acreage and you can have a mom-in-law house on our land? Huh??? ;)


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