We recently signed another six month lease on our apartment. Our original plan was to start looking for a house to buy when our lease came up this spring, but after stalking the real estate websites for the past few months, we’ve realized now is just not the right time. So while we are still conducting frequent searches to see what’s out there, our plan is to maybe try again in six months. If we think things are looking better then, we’ll go month-to-month on our lease. If things look about the same, we’ll probably do another six month lease.
We are pretty lucky. We love our apartment, and while I wish we had a bit more storage, we don’t need it so much that it’s worth renting out a storage unit in our building. We have a nice kitchen and our bathroom is huge. We have views of the monuments from our window. There’s a nice gym in the basement. We have access to a great running and bike trail, can walk to many restaurants and shops and the metro, and we’re as close to everything in DC as you can get without having to pay DC rent.
We don’t want to buy a house just for the sake of buying a house. We know a lot of people who bought a few years ago and are ready to move onto something bigger already, or at least in the next year or so. When we buy we’re not doing it for investment purposes, or because everyone else thinks we should. We want the house we buy to the the only house, barring any huge life changes, we live in for the next 10-15 years. We want at least three bedrooms, preferably two bathrooms (although I grew up with 1.5 and one less shower/tub to clean is fine with me!), a dining room large enough to host Thanksgiving dinner, and enough yard to have friends over for a barbecue. We want access to public transportation, preferably the metro within a mile, so we can remain a one-car household as long as possible.
One sticking point for me, though, is that I work out in the suburbs. A lot of people have assumed that means we plan on moving closer to my job, but my reaction is the opposite… I want to remain as close to the city as possible. If I was just going to live and work in the suburbs, I could do that anywhere. I don’t want to lose everything I love about living in (or a 15 minute walk from) DC. Sure, the city won’t be that far away and we could drive in to go to restaurants and museums and baseball games, but would we? I just don’t see it happening. Commuting sucks, a lot. But I’d rather commute out to work during the week, then be able to ditch my car and walk or metro everywhere on the weekends.
Of course, wanting to live in a location where there are restaurants and shops within walking distance, where the metro is within walking distance, limits our options. Obviously, the houses in those areas are more expensive. Also, I don’t want my commute to suck much more than it already does, so living in the more affordable parts of DC or Maryland are out of the picture.
All this said, now is not the right time. In order to get the house we want, we have to keep on saving and maybe hope that prices come down even more (which I doubt). It might be six months, it might be a year, it might be two years. We’re happy where we are, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t have that itch to go out and find a place to call our own, where we can choose whatever colors we want for the walls, where we can sit outside having a drink on a spring evening, while dinner cooks on the grill. But for now, we wait.