Today was our first official day of house hunting: it’s now March, and if we see a house we love, it’s within the realm of possibility that we could, and should, buy it, since we need to move out of our apartment by the end of July.
We saw three houses today—and loved all three. Today may very well have been the beginning and the end of our search. We saw one in Maplewood, one in Glen Ridge, and one in Montclair. All three were enormous—six bedrooms, finished basements, large decks, decent yards, living room, extra living room, dining room, etc etc etc. Space! We can afford them all, more or less; we’ll only have to eat ramen noodles for about twelve to twenty-four months. One package a day. Split four ways.
Anyhoo, the Maplewood house has fully captured our imagination. It’s on a gorgeous street, one of the town’s loveliest, and is just huge. Old and huge. It has all the charm and character we could ask for. The downside: it needs a LOT of work. A couple of things—like asbestos tiling in the basement—would have to be done right away. Other things—hideously outdated kitchen and bathrooms—could wait. And the fact that this is beyond the top of our budget means those things might have to wait and wait and wait. But the location—unbeatable. Quick walks to the train station and the town. Ideal.
We actually liked the Glen Ridge house better. It, too, was huge and charming, with dark wood throughout, tons of extra rooms, lovely deck and screened-in back porch, great almost-finished basement, perfect attic rooms for office space. Downside: nowhere to walk except around the (beautiful) neighborhood. Oh, and a tax bill that is embarrassing to say out loud. There’s a “tax appeal” filed, which could lower it. But there’s no guarantee.
The Montclair house was gigantic and pretty, too, though across the street are tennis courts for a private middle school, so it’s not the prettiest thing to look out on. But the layout was great, especially the bedrooms, and there was an amazing attic bedroom too.
So, three for three. We could see ourselves in any one of these. This was either a fluke, and we’ll spend the rest of our hunt ruing our failure to purchase one of these; or a promising indicator of houses yet to come. It seems too soon to commit to something. We’ve only begun our search. But we’re heading out again tomorrow, so maybe we’ll have a better idea if we should be jumping on one of the ones we saw today.
One big piece of house-hunting news is that we’ve decided to focus only on New Jersey. Until today, we were still open to some of the River Towns and parts of Connecticut. But after today, for various reasons of interest only to people actually engaged in a NYC-area house search, we’ve realized NJ is the best fit for us. Onward.
The girls did amazingly today, and we really pushed them. Lucia seemed excited to be looking at houses. “It’s a beautiful house!” she announced after the Maplewood one. There was a cat in the Montclair house, always thrilling. The ride back to Brooklyn, however, was a total nightmare. By 5:00, Lucia was exhausted, Greta was exhausted and starving, and we were stuck in traffic for AN HOUR AND A HALF. I despaired of ever getting home. It was horrible. Greta was screaming her tiny head off. Lucia was screaming her bloody-murder scream. We were at a standstill, not even in the tunnel yet, Brooklyn a distant dream. It was…horrendous. We’ve learned our lesson. We’ll start for home much earlier tomorrow.