After a long day of loading and unloading two trailer loads of our things into our new home, I stand in the living room in a daze. The past several months have been quite a ride. We searched for a place to live for 9 months – we looked at a few places to rent but decided it wasn’t worth it for the price, and the three other places we made offers on didn’t work out. And buying this place wasn’t easy, either. The first time we offered, the seller felt that our offer wasn’t good enough. A month later it was still on the market so we tried again, and the offer was accepted.
But it still wasn’t easy. With a closing date set for the end of March, I get an email on a cold, blustery morning in mid February from our loan officer saying we don’t qualify to buy the house, even though pre qualified for the loan. It’s not even close – we’re off by about $13,000.
As I sit and stare at the email and think of our options, I feel like this is yet another house to fall through, and I’m not excited about picking ourselves back up and starting the home search all over again. Meagan and I take the weekend to figure out what we might be able to do. We speak with another loan officer, give her the situation and all of the numbers, and within hours she tells us that this should be able to work. Not only that, but the closing costs and interest rate are better!
But it’s still not easy! A snowstorm hits and the appraiser is unable to submit the report on time. The seller wants to back out and put the house back on the market, because, as you can see, this has been a real circus! But we all stick with it, we sign the papers, and we are owners of a multi family home where our tenants’ rent pays for about three quarters of our mortgage. Pretty amazing right?
So, as I’m standing there among all of our stuff – boxes stacked and covering the entire floor, why does it feel like I just lost? And I don’t mean a “you’ll get ‘em next time, buddy” sort of loss, I mean a “something was taken from me loss,” and it cannot be replaced.
First of all, this place is tiny. We live on the first floor of this place, and the tenants live upstairs. We live in about 800 square feet. Meagan and me…and our two kids…and our chocolate lab…in two bedrooms, a living room, a bathroom, and a kitchen. In the grand scheme of things, 800 square feet isn’t really bad at all, but we aren’t used to it. We owned a home before this, and we loved a lot of things about it – twice the size of our current living space, two car garage, a little under a half acre with our chicken coop, bee hives, and gardens, three nice bedrooms and two full baths and lots of storage space in the basement. All of this in a quiet place out in the country…who doesn’t want that?
But even that wasn’t easy. Yes, we have fond memories of that chapter of our lives, but my job was challenging in a lot of ways that weren’t good, and we had tons of student debt whose balance never seemed to diminish. At one point I had three jobs to try to pay the debt off faster, and Meagan did all she could with her photography business while taking care of our daughter at the same time.
Anyway, I find out that my job is going to be bumped down to part time, and I take it as a sign. It’s time to move on. We list our house, and it goes sale pending in six days, we move and pay off all of our debt with the money we made from selling the house, and I join Meagan in the photography business three months later – one year ahead of our scheduled goal.
But it’s not easy…growing a business is hard! And we learned the hard way that, while banks love self employed businesses for the economy, they don’t love lending money to small business owners for homes because of their irregular income. We’re earning more money now than when we applied for our first home, and we qualified for less because we’re self employed!
And so I stand in our new living room, with memories from what seem like a different lifetime (it’s really only about a year and a half ago), and look at our new place and wonder, “we just spent HOW much money?? How are we going to make this work? How much stuff are we going to have to get rid of in order to live in this place without sitting around with our elbows touching?”
A truck barrels down the street just outside the window and I hear the tenants upstairs walking around. Living in the quiet country, I’m not used to this. I think they’re bowling upstairs. I didn’t sleep well that night.
As we unpack and get settled in and the floor begins to reappear, Meagan and I start to become hopeful. Our kids don’t seem to miss a beat, except for night time – they’re now sharing a room. But other than that, it’s the same old story for them. They have their mom and dad, their toys, and each other, and that’s good enough for them.
That’s some good perspective. I’ve been learning a lot about perspective. We’re debt free (except for the house) and our tenants cover most of the mortgage with their rent. That’s huge. Our business is growing…that’s also huge. And as our family settles in to our new place, this downstairs apartment is becoming our home…that’s great.
As I sit and type at our kitchen table (it’s a card table because our actual kitchen table doesn’t fit in here!) and think about all of the things that we’ve been through as a family, I can’t help but wonder what lies before us in the future. For the first time in a while, I’m excited about what’s in store for us. I’m excited to grow our business, thankful for the change of pace that will stretch my comfort zone. We’re excited to share our adventures of tiny living for the next year or so, and we hope you enjoy the ride with us!