Ten Things We've Learned in our First Six Months of Homeownership

by - Wednesday, September 03, 2014

1. Find your Pizza place (or your sushi place, or a Chipotle)- Moving to a new place means that nothing feels like home. You might feel homesick for the weirdest things (I did), but order pizza from a new place every time until you find a good one. Or sushi. Or whatever you do when you just can't handle the thought of cooking or you realize the chicken smells funky. I feel convinced that we only have warmed to Seattle because we found good sushi and pizza. It is worth the time investment, especially because at some points, all you will really want is to get the heck out of your house for an hour.

2.Who you gonna call? No seriously, who?- Oh Roy or Hugo (after Roy ran off with his internet girlfriend). How I miss you. I would complain to you in a tone I tried to copy off your domineering mother, and somebody would show up to fix it the next day. I miss you so much. Now, every problem has a different set of conversations, estimates, and random dudes in my space involved. If you are renting, even to a goober, it kind of makes you want to hug your landlord. If you own where you live, nobody cares but you.

3. Be careful about making friends with Jehovah's Witnesses (because you are making friends for life)- The very first week two very sweet ladies showed up at our house to tell me about Jehovah. I didn't want to be rude, but I tried to make my affiliations clear. It apparently does not matter to them, as they come back to visit every couple of weeks and when they can't catch me during the day, they will show up on weekends. I honestly don't know what to do about it, because I don't even think they are trying to convert me anymore, they just want to hear about the baby. You have to hand it to them, Jehovah's Witnesses are persistent.

4.It's not that something will go wrong, it's that something else will go wrong the second this current wrong thing is mostly ok- I don't think we were so naive to think we would move into the house and everything would be perfect and easy and fun all the time. At the same time, no one warns you that just when you feel like your feet are under you, it must be time to get your butt kicked by a new challenge.

5. Kill the Spiders- Spiders make more spiders. In worst case scenarios, you end up with one really big spider under your bed in a way that should only be reserved for children's nightmares. The Boy is sometimes merciful, but Washington is wet and spidery, so I have quickly abandoned my mercy. I am not James. There is no peach. If you are a spider and you come in my house, I will kill you.

6. Donations, Plastic Bins, Shelving- The only way to keep things clean is for everything to have a place. The only way for everything to have a place is to maintain a healthy ratio between what you have and (real, the floor does not count) places to put them. You would think that most of the donating would happen in the "moving out" stage, but it is crazy how when you move things out of their context, they sometimes become so much less necessary. We gave up car loads of stuff already, and every time we give things away, I feel like a weight is lifted. You need less than you have, and somebody might need it. Plus those piles only make homes for spiders.

On a similar end, I think under bed plastic bins might be the key to a happy home. I love buying decorations and things to make our house warm and homey, but decor is like the skin of your house. For the whole thing to work, you need the organization muscle, all the stuff behind the scenes that keeps the machine working. Our old apartment was a lesson in organization, and we reorganized multiple times just to avoid a move. I think we will master the same art here, and we have started on the right foot for that.

7. You are never done, but you should take (1 day!) breaks- Six months in, our to do list remains epic. In fact, on the actual six monthiversary, we discovered a leak in our roof, so we have to call in someone for that. It is ok to decide you are overwhelmed and take a break. We had more than our share from hiding from the world weekends. But if we played Mario and watched TV all day on Saturday, you better believe we were back at it on Sunday. Momentum is half the battle (having a plan and flexibility when the plan fails is the other half). Just like with a good friendship or relationship, sometimes you can have basic maintenance phases, but a lot of the time you have to put genuine work in. So take your day, but have a plan for tomorrow.

8. Take the help- My in-laws were awesome about this in their move (also this year, just the worst!), because they had so many people come help them move their furniture. My mom says "it takes a village." If you are completely new to that village, this can prove a challenge, but we were surprised to get the help when we really needed it from the Boy's coworkers. Many hands really do make lighter work, so if someone offers to help with your project this weekend, let them and make them a really nice dinner.

9. Wait for sales, be stingy, know that whatever you are spending now is probably not the end of it- Wow, moving into a bigger place is expensive, and it often feels things wait to break until after you have just spent a bunch of money on something else. The bright side? Home Depot, furniture places, they all love holiday sales. You should never stand too far away from a sale, so if you can wait out a jank appliance or an air mattress until you can buy it on sale, crown it an adventure and go for it. Because something else with absolutely come up. On the other hand, don't try to wait out a problem, because things do not fix themselves by you ignoring it. EVER. You can have a slow game for a solution, but no solution is too dangerous a game.

10. It will be alright. This is the nicest thing I can tell you, as you pine away for your renting days. I am sure there are people out there who would say they are so glad they did it and it is so worth it, etc, etc, etc. Whatever. Owning things doesn't seem like all that impressive of an accomplishment to me, but I do feel genuinely proud that we haven't backed down, we keep working at it, and we still like each other most days. If you feel pride at owning stuff (which is cool, each to their own), owning a house will make you feel really good all on its own because it is a lot, but I notice that you can find a lot of joy in realizing you have figured out how to do something new (weeding! stripping the deck! buying a refrigerator!) because you have to. You learn all the time. Also, except for the money part, you can't mess it up as bad as it feels like you are messing it up all the time. The punishments for not having your shit together is mostly just having to deal with the shit until you figure it out, but you can live through that. Eventually (I am not sure we are there yet, but I have faith I am not lying here), you can look around and just feel fine about things. Plus, you get to do your laundry in your house, which is genuinely great.

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