This past week, we took the boys down to DC to go house hunting. We are very blessed to have family in the area that we could stay with, making this a very inexpensive trip. The boys were so excited to go see their cousins* and have a chance to explore our new home town. We went down with cash in hand and a huge folder of documents to secure a rental house. But despite our best efforts, we are back home once again waiting on the decisions of others to determine a large piece of our near future.
(*In our family we call all related kids cousins and all related adults aunt and uncle regardless of how they are actually related to us. The boys DC “cousins” are really 2nd cousins somehow removed. I never did understand how the distinctions work, and honestly it doesn’t matter. We’re happy to just call them family.)
This is not the first time we have rented a house, but it is the first time we are using a realtor. The initial plan was to use house hunting websites to generate a list of potential properties and contact everyone ourselves. Things must have changed since we last rented a house 6 years ago. That or the DC market is just unusual. All the houses listed were through property management companies or realtor offices. In addition to much of the contact information on the website being wrong, anytime I called a realtor’s office they wanted to know who my realtor was.
Long story short, we found a real estate agent to help us find a house. He did an amazing job of rounding up options that met our preferences AND allowed pets. I was a little surprised at how few rental properties would allow pets. We ended up with 4 properties to view. I was initially disappointed with such a low number, but I’ll explain why my attitude changed in a few paragraphs.
House #1 was okay. Nothing spectacular, but nothing totally awful either. It would have worked for us just fine. It was a huge relief to have the first house be one that we could have been very content in.
House #2 was scary. It was dirty and disorganized. I was afraid to look in any of the bedrooms or the bathrooms That’s all I’m going to say about it.
House #3 was really nice. A bit small compared to our current house because it doesn’t have a basement, but it immediately felt like home. We left very happy with finding a house that not only would work for us, but also felt like a place we could instantly be comfortable in.
House #4 was very, very nice. Like way underpriced for the market nice. We both really fell in love with the luxury of this house. Newly renovated bathroom with a double tub overlooking a professionally landscaped backyard… yes please! The only downside of this house is it’s big and it’s on a big lot. We will easily fit with room to spare, but it also means a serious commitment to keep up with the maintenance.
We put in an application on house #4 only to find out a few hours later that they also received an offer from someone to buy the house. So now we’re back to where we were a few weeks ago on the sale of our own house. We’re in limbo simply waiting for the decisions of others to determine a major decision for us.
At the end of the day, we could be very happy in either house #3 or house #4. Each has its pros and cons and neither is completely perfect. The only issue I’m having is my own impatience. A part of my soul that continues to need serious refinement.
Back to the attitude change about only having 4 options to look at: I expected in moving to a large metropolis like Washington DC that we’d have endless options of where to live. Nope. Even living on base, while technically being an option, isn’t a realistic one due to the wait lists. My expectation was that it would be extremely easy to find the “perfect” house for this season of our lives. And I was wrong. I left DC very frustrated.
Ironically, on the way home we started listening to a podcast on the economics of having choices. Specifically the number of choices that is ideal for people to be happy with their decision. In a nutshell, if you only have 6 – 10 choices when it comes to something like choosing a salad dressing or what movie to watch your expectations of the experience are much lower than if you have hundreds of choices. (Fun fact – the average supermarket has 150 salad dressing options). “Its better to be pleasantly surprised than to be completely disappointed.” (quote from the podcast).
So as I’m pondering our house options and trying to not get overly invested in house #4 that may not pan out as an option for us, I was reminded of my own words from just a little over a year ago. As a family, as a mom, I want to fully engage the next season of life regardless of which home we are in or which community we get sent to. God is faithful, he has always positioned us exactly where we need to be. This time that may mean the smaller house is the right place for us. And that’s okay.
Stretching their legs on one of our snack stops. The boys do so well on road trips now that they are all a little older. (Watching movies helps!)
Exploring the Air and Space Museum. We braved the heat and the crowds to take the boys down to the National Mall. We were hoping to create some excitement for our new home… it totally worked!
While walking by the tidal basin, we saw the presidential helicopters fly overhead. I’m not sure if The President was on one or if they were going to pick him up. Either way it was very cool to see.
I spend one evening teaching my darling baby cousin (who’s now 14, when did THAT happen!) to make s’mores casserole. Put this in the totally unhealthy column!