The second half of the last year was a period of dreams for us, as a family.
Dreaming of new horizons and getting out there to achieve them.
It took humongous effort for the husband and I to dream beyond our comfort zone, to break the monotony of daily living and start thinking what could be.
It was scary, it was unnerving, full of doubts – what if we chose the wrong timing? What if all the dreams and plans were just not meant to be? What if..?!
But, once those dreams were etched in our heads, there was no looking back.
Today, I wish to share those dreams with you. I wish to share my joy at having hatched them, finally! 🙂 I wish to make you part of my big hug and share the happy tears I feel. I do regret not making you part of my journey towards achieving these dreams. But, I know I am still not too late. You have been virtual family and a very kind, loving one at that.So, here is the story:
It was around August, last year, that we got serious about owning the roof that we lived under. Renting a house was very convenient – we choose the location, we decide on a budget, utilities are taken care and you don’t worry about maintenance.
But, the crazy ballooning of the rent prices in our area primarily motivated us to think beyond the comforts of a rental house. Our own house meant more freedom – to customize, to make it cozy to our taste. To hammer a nail on the wall!
Paapu was almost four and deserved space to grow. The 2nd floor rental home, as we realized, was indirectly restricting her. What with Shushing her often, stopping her from jumping, just so that people below would not complain. Kids need to jump and run around, and the rental place was not making it conducive.
The hunt to find our own place, began with cautious slow steps. We went to see open houses, studied the real-estate market for areas of our taste and spent hours discussing over every nuance on the topic.Our real estate agent is one of the best things that could have happened to us during the period. Let’s call her Reema.
The lady was experienced and professional. Honest and outright when you needed her to be, but never pushy. Our criteria were in dozens and the choices were small, but we prodded on.The new year sneaked up on us and we realized we are no where close to our dream of owning a house yet!
Frustration crept in. The amp was raised and the hunt got aggressive.We bid on several houses – even though they were much beyond our budget. But, our offers were outbid or rejected every time! Debates,fights and even angry tears became regular part of our household. Was it all worth it? Just when we began to rethink, the game changed.
We went to an open house in a familiar neighborhood one day – a simple 3 bedroom house with a backyard. The house was very old and creaked at some parts. The kitchen was bad, almost depressing with 60+ year old appliances. Fading walls and horrible cabinet designs.I cringed at the ancient looking wallpaper in the dining room. Also the exposed brick wall in the family room. Also, the backyard had a swimming pool that required heck a lot of maintenance. We did desire for a pool for kids safety reasons too.The roof was so old, it would start leaking in an year!
But..but, it fell within our budget. The neighborhood was great. The people were friendly . The backyard was good even though the big pool took all the space.
We bid on the place with a dollar amount that did not exceed one penny from what they asked for.Given the real estate bubble in our part of the world, it would surely be rejected, no doubt. In addition, we dared to ask the owners to replace the old roof for us. That should have been an obvious suicide for the deal.But, what do we know?! Our offer was accepted! Apparently, the owners (an aged couple) liked us and wanted their beloved home to go to a family like ours 🙂
First news of them accepting our offer, I went into a state of shock. The agents on both sides were moving fast with the papers and there wasn’t time to re-think. Within the next day, we were sitting with a pen to sign on the dotted lines – to be home owners! I recall having a cold feet. I recall shivering. I recall sobbing and not agreeing to sign the papers. It was Reema who came to my rescue. She helped untangle my confused brain and showed me some clarity. She spoke to me candidly, like a elder aunt and not the real estate agent. She was honest again about the good and bad and she was candid enough to say that I would badly regret if I let this opportunity pass. “This house came too easy.No rejection.How can this be good? Isn’t that what you think?”- She gave the right words to my thoughts.After a long discussion and listening session, I was ready. I knew this deal is the best we could get in the market. I signed the papers along with the husband on Feb 20th 2014. We were officially owners of a house in the United States of America!
It still feels unreal saying that 🙂
Then, came another hurdle. The kitchen definitely needed renovation. Planning began. Took us a month to finalize a contractor after interviewing half dozen of them.The one we finally signed up with, was a very cheerful Latino who knew how to keep his clients happy while getting the most from his workers. The original kitchen was demolished and a new one ( designed by me!) was raised from scratch. From flooring to the roof and appliances, we spent hours choosing, deciding, discussing and rehashing. Also, made innumerable trips to the city office to get building permit every step of the way. Although it required lot of patience and time- I was happy to see how the city officers worked to help the residents. Each person offered suggestions and explained risks. They seem genuinely concerned! Not a single paisa was passed under the table ( if you know what I mean). The permits never took unreasonably long either.
The brand new kitchen was finally ready by the end of April and the result was all well worth it! Here’s a glimpse:
We repaired some creaky parts, removed wallpapers, painted some walls, cleaned up the pool and put a fence around it. Although we were drained of our bank balance, it finally looked and felt like home!
We officially moved in on the second day of May 2014.
So far, the home has been a sweet nest and I’m loving every moment of it 🙂
P.S: I realize this is a long post already. Shall post the rest of the dream series in a follow-up post. Promise, It will be up here within a couple days . Do come back to check! 🙂