My boyfriend and I are currently house hunting. Not to own, but to rent.
We could just rent another apartment, but we’re pretty much at our bullshit threshold for neighbors. In our current apartment we can hear our neighbors’ loud sex noises, shouting matches, and crying babies.
Another reason we want a house is due to our dog’s separation anxiety which causes him to howl whenever left alone. We’re pretty much stuck at home unless we’re working or we find someone to sit with him while we’re gone.
One of the biggest problems we’re having is cost. My boyfriend and I both work in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which is a college town. If you want to live next to the thriving downtown area with all the local shops and bars and restaurants, you can expect to pay 2-3 thousand a month in rent.
The thing is, you’re not even getting a nice home for those prices. Many of them were built in the early 1900s, have wood siding, and are commonly referred to on the listings as “charming”, aka small and old.
Our realtor showed us a house about 8 miles south of the downtown area, since downtown is way out of our price range. Still, it was $1400 a month for 900 square feet. The inside looked small, but nice enough, until we got to the “converted garage”. I’m pretty sure the only thing they did to turn the garage into a room was to add carpet and paint some walls. It didn’t have any windows or mechanism for heating or cooling.
The worst part was the smell. My boyfriend said it smelled like mold, our realtor said it smelled like dog pee. I didn’t know what it smelled like, but it wasn’t pleasant. Our realtor said that they could wash the carpet and if it was still bad we could just use the room as storage. Maybe if I was a millionaire, I’d be okay with that. But the “converted garage” was the size of the two bedrooms put together. That’s a lot of wasted space.
My boyfriend and I spent the day going back and forth on whether or not to take it. That’s how terrible the real estate market is in Ann Arbor. We were considering a house with a mold/piss room. Fortunately, the decision was made for us that day when someone else leased it. Houses go fast in Ann Arbor.
Our other option is to move outside of Ann Arbor, which is problematic because we share a car and work different hours. I could buy my own car, but the thought of car payments, car insurance, and maintenance is not appealing. But it’s looking more and more like an option as I continue to see old, small houses go for $1500 a month or more.
But the biggest problem is the difference in our tastes. My boyfriend likes medium to big size homes with large backyards for entertaining. I look at those houses and immediately start calculating how long it would take to clean the entire house, how long it would take to mow the yard, how much furniture we’d have to buy just to fill it, and how much it would cost to heat and cool a place like that.
I’d rather live in one of those tiny homes that you see on HGTV that are like 300 square feet. And I wouldn’t be one of those people who sees it and goes, “Hmm there’s not enough closet space for my stuff” or “It’s a bit small.” I would love that shit. The problem is, it’s hard to fit two people and a 60 pound dog in one of those houses.
In addition to these normal differences of opinion, I have my own weird requirements. One is that I don’t want to be near schools. Doesn’t matter what kind of school, elementary, middle, high school. I don’t want to be near them. Children are loud and teenagers are assholes for the sake of beings assholes. I know these things because I was once both a child and a teenager.
I also don’t want more than three bedrooms: one for sleeping, one for my boyfriend’s board games and hobbies, and one for a home office and reading room. If we have any more than that, one would have to be a guest room and I don’t want a guest room. Guest rooms encourage people to stay at your house. I want people to visit and then get the fuck out of my house that same day.
My last requirement is that I don’t want to be too close to my neighbors. If we can see each other through adjacent windows, we’re too close. If my neighbor is outside, I want to be so far away that if they start talking to me I can mime “I can’t hear you” and run back inside.
Now that I think about it, maybe my boyfriend should find a house and I could build a tree house for myself in the backyard.
Off to Google tree houses.