Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bungalow Dreaming

Jason and I both love old houses with lots of charm and character.  A Craftsman style bungalow is our dream home!

When we were first married and living in Connecticut, we bought our first home: a beautiful 200 year old farmhouse at the top of a mountain overlooking fields of farmland and rolling hills.  Our first home was filled with charm: wide moldings, wide planked pumpkin pine floors, built-ins in the kitchen, living room and family room.  It was gorgeous!  But we spent a fortune every year maintaining the house, making necessary repairs, a small project would always turn into a much larger project.

When A was a year old and my mom was diagnosed with cancer and Jason decided that he no longer wanted to manage a tree farm and was offered a position with a company that had a branch in Connecticut, and a branch in New Jersey, we decided to take the position in New Jersey and move back.  I had decided to be a stay at home mom and the thousands of dollars we were spending each year on maintenance and repairs for our house was a struggle; life was short, I had a baby and wanted to be near family, I wanted and still want my girls to grow up surrounded by family.  We moved back to New Jersey, and this time we told our realtor that we wanted a low-maintenance home.

We bought an adorable Cape Cod house about 40 minutes from my parents and 20 minutes from Jason's parents and less than five miles from his job.  I loved that house.  It was small, but easy to maintain.  It had character and we had a great neighborhood.

Two years later, Jason was offered a promotion at another location, still in New Jersey but about two hours North, so we sold our Cape Cod house.  We were in a pinch, as Jason was commuting two hours each way to work and we felt pressured to buy something closer.

We went by the old real estate adage: LOCATION! LOCATION! LOCATION! and we bought a ranch that needed some cosmetic work in a very desirable area.  Our house is in a quiet residential area, but the former owners planted a vegetable garden in our front yard.  The whole house was carpeted and the carpets were soaked in cat urine.  The walls had either aztec wall paper prints or were painted with brown and orange stripes (the movers called it the Greg Brady house).  But we knew...within a few months we pulled up carpets, refinished floors, stripped wall paper and painted, rototilled the garden and planted grass seed...and within a short time we had a substantial amount of equity.

Our house is cozy and warm.  We have made a lot of improvements: a new bathroom, a new deck, finishing the basement... but I long for the old world charm of an older home...wide plank floors and wide moldings, radiators and built-ins...

There is a part of me that wants to stay around here, near my family; between Manhattan and Philadelphia, with the ocean and the mountains all less than an hour away.  But then my parents are at their summer house for six months out of the year, everything is fast paced around here, our taxes are steadily there is also a part of me that thinks about moving South, to where we could buy our dream house with the equity we have in this house.  Taxes are lower, we wouldn't have a mortgage.  The pace is slower, people are supposed to be friendlier.  Jason's company has locations in North and South Carolina...but we would have to wait for this project to be over.  So, for now, we look at and Tulia and dream...