It’s a Halloween miracle!

We did it! Again! The day before Halloween, we bought a house in Wyevale. It feels like both a trick and a treat : trick because we’ve got some minor renovating to do (argghhhh will it never end?); treat because we quite like the place.

The new place, in all its glory

Our search for this home was fraught with obstacles. The market dried up when our Elmvale house sold. Interest rates rose. We bid on another house and lost. Most of our viewings coincided with Arthur’s poop or bed times.

Arthur and I on Halloween day – right before he pooped.

As the months wore on, desperation forced us to consider all sorts of stupid options : money pits, overpriced split levels, expensive mcmansions, remote cabins, and other oddities.

When this listing appeared last week, it felt like a patch of sun in a cloudy sky. It was a balm to our weary hearts, battered by months of uncertainty and doubt.

The house is nothing fancy – just a little bungalow on a dead end street in a residential neighbourhood – but it has a layout we like, the space we need, a price we can afford, in the area we want. It ticks almost all our boxes. With a little elbow grease, we think it’ll shine like a new penny.

Before we start calling contractors for quotes, this lightweight is going to have a celebratory bowl of roasted pumpkin seeds (plus a glass of wine or two) and enjoy the prospect of a new adventure.

Happy Halloween!

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Movin’ on up

It’s true. We’re moving. We put our house on the market in early July and it just sold a to a nice couple — a bittersweet moment.

House with sold sign

Our lovely old home, sold!

Public service announcement

If you have a small child, staging and cleaning a house for viewings is not advisable. You will find vacuuming with a wriggling fifteen-pound baby in your arms exceedingly annoying. You will also seriously resent regularly dismantling and putting away exersaucers, activity mats and jolly jumpers.

Those of you not watching my Facebook feed are no doubt thinking « what the damn hell!? »

It is rather confusing. We quite like Elmvale – particularly the high quality doughnuts. We also love our pretty victorian home. But the arrival of a certain little goober has changed a few things.

A baby on the ground, surrounded by toys and smiling

Arthur is the reason we’re moving

Why we decided to move

  • We want to live closer to family and friends in Lafontaine, Perkinsfield and Midland. Our parents are going to offer part-time daycare when I return to work. Ah-mazing.
  • We’d rather move while I have “free time” (ha) to pack up and manage logistics. Mat leave for the win!
  • We’d also rather move while baby Arthur’s mobility is limited. I do not want to have to renovate/set up a home while chasing a toddler.
  • The kid is going to a French school in North Simcoe County (Elmvale is already in that catchment) so we want to ease his commute.
  • We still want a country house! Or a least a house on a quieter street with a bigger yard.

Which brings me to my next public service announcement. We need help finding a home. Do you know someone with a great house who’s thinking of selling? Are any of your elderly neighbours (with well-maintained homes) on the brink of death? Awesome! Let us know!

What we want — must haves

  • Something in Tiny Township — south of Balm Beach Road so our drive to Barrie remains bearable
  • A quiet street, low on traffic — so Arthur and Odie can roam free
  • A big yard that is either a) private b) fenced or c) ready for fencing
  • At least three bedrooms
  • Good, solid bones — we can update a kitchen or put in new floors but we don’t want to rejig walls, put in new electrical, or replace plumbing

What we want — nice to haves

  • Acreage — one or two would suffice, more would be great
  • Surrounded by trees for privacy
  • A garage
  • Two full bathrooms
  • A finished (or finishable) basement

Is that so much to ask? Probably, in this market — especially with our limited budget. But we’re putting it out to the universe anyway. Wish us luck!

House Hunting — Not for the Faint of Heart

Holy. Choosing a house is hard.

Our quest for the perfect home has now spanned four weeks, bazillions of google street view searches, and at least 25 in-person showings across about a dozen towns. Tobias has been earning his keep.

With guidance from our trusty real estate agent, we have bravely picked through yards strewn with debris, held our breath through homes that reek of cat pee, ducked into dark crawlspaces, and faced angry barking dogs.

Lately I’ve been spending more time with my new friend realtor.ca than with any of my human friends. Or JF, for that matter.

Remember our tale of two houses? Well, multiply that by three. We have:

–       The pretty house in Elmvale that’s too expensive (my Elmvale house from post 2)

–       The four floor, six bedroom mansion in Midland that’s too big

–       The lovely home in Coldwater that’s too far

–       The run-down house in Elmvale that has potential (JF’s Elmvale house from post 2)

–       The farmhouse in Hillsdale that doesn’t have a working kitchen or insulation

–       The expensive Midland house with good resale value, but only two bedrooms

This house has six bedrooms, four floors, and a butler's staircase. Crazytown.

This house has six bedrooms, four floors, and a butler’s staircase. Crazytown.

None of these houses are perfect. Not a single one.  And we have come within inches of making offers on them all.

This whole thing is rather complicated because much as JF and I have a similar vision for our future lifestyle, we can’t seem to agree on two important things: location and house style. I favour Midland and red brick victorians. He wants Horseshoe Valley Road and a “well maintained old person’s house” (his words). We may as well want different continents.

Woe is me.

What I’m trying to focus on tonight is this: whatever house we choose, we will make it a great home. We will love it, live in it, beautify it, host dinner parties in it, and be happy. Because that’s just our M.O.

But golly, do I ever wish we would get to the finish line, already.

A Tale of Two Houses

When JF and I first set out to meet Kevin, our real estate agent, it was the best of times. In fact, I was convinced we were going to find our house that morning. Having watched plenty of HGTV, I knew I could turn any fixer-upper into a masterpiece. All I needed was imagination, a bit of money, and two weeks.

The three of us sat down at the Elmvale Tim Hortons (which is apparently where shit gets done in Springwater Township) to talk about what we wanted in a home. I oozed enthusiasm and expectations. Kevin played it pretty cool.

As we pulled up to the first one, I was literally bouncing in my seat. It was beautiful. A quiet country road, acres and acres of field, a rustic barn, and a pretty, two-storey, red brick victorian. It even had a lilac tree.

As soon we opened the door, I was overwhelmed by an interesting, earthy, wet wool smell. The living room featured a pea green carpet I originally thought was polka dotted — turns out it was mould. The kitchen was okay, if you don’t care for running water. One bedroom had a ceiling fan with coca-cola bottles for blades. Another had a hole in the floor, convenient for reaching into the kitchen. Several walls were buckling from a leak in the roof. Best of all, this place was at the top of our price range. I left feeling dispirited.

It’s now several weeks later and we’ve seen houses all over Simcoe County. My skin is thicker. I feel older and wiser. And JF and I have come to a few basic conclusions:

  • To protect our relationship and sanity, we don’t want a giant project.
  • We can’t afford a real country house (with good land) that doesn’t need to be gutted. So we’re going to shelf that dream for later and start with a house in town.
  • We want something we can add a little value to.
  • We don’t want to be house poor.
  • We still want three bedrooms and some good yard space.

That leads me to our current dilemma. Our tale of two houses. At this juncture, JF likes one Elmvale house. I like another Elmvale house. Here is my unbiased assessment of both.

JF's house

JF’s house. Still pretty cute.

Good things about his house:

  • Great yard
  • Three bathrooms, four bedrooms
  • Big kitchen
  • Garage

Bad things about his house:

  • Weird, ugly floors
  • Dirty and covered in pet hair
  • Smelly basement
  • Located on a busy street
  • Dark
  • Crappy layout
My house. Even cuter.

My house. Even cuter.

Good things about my house:

  • All new electrical and plumbing
  • Historic home, gorgeous top to bottom
  • Move in ready
  • Nice, private yard
  • Great location on a quiet street

Bad things about my house:

  • No garage (buildable)
  • Leaky basement (but at least it’s not pretending to have a finished basement like JF’s house)
  • Currently only has two bedrooms (I have a plan to add a third)
  • No air conditioning (easy fix)

We are going to try to resolve this showcase showdown tomorrow. We’re looking at a few more houses in Coldwater and Hillsdale. Maybe we’ll find one we both love. Or maybe we won’t and we’ll fight to see whose Elmvale house prevails.  I like a good row now and again.