Monday, May 30, 2011

Big Changes #1 - First Time Homebuyer

Finally, after 3 decades and two continents, I've planted roots and bought a condo!


It's been a long time coming. Back in the day when people my age were buying cheap big houses in the suburbs of Edmonton, I was living in various dingy/cheap houses/flats in the UK during the London years. When I got back, house prices in Edmonton had skyrocketed. And then I decided I needed to pay tuition for three years. I lived with my parents mostly, did some live-in pet sitting and spent two winters house sitting for my aunt and uncle who live in Arizona during the winter.

I love Edmonton (for sometimes unexplainable reasons) and plan on staying here forever. I'm too old to be living with my parents which that was driving me crazy, plus the commute from my aunt and uncles was turning me into a road rage filled grumpy driver. Finally getting my dream job at a local university library gave me the location stability I wanted (...even though I'm still on term contracts, so half stability? Actually, no stability, really it was a crazy thing to do without a real job but still cheaper than paying rent.).

So I saved my pennies.

In January, a guy I curl with helped me boost my RRSP contribution so I could use it for a First Time Homebuyers credit. A couple I curl with have a son who is a realtor, whose girlfriend happens to be a mortgage broker so I was all set. I called them my 'triumvirate'. At the end of March I started looking for a place - one week later I was getting a home inspection - and two weeks ago I moved into my very own place!

I'm actually quite shocked at how easy it was. I have a hard time making adult (or any) decisions, especially when it concerns money - I am a A#1 ditherer. But I saw this place, figured "yeah, I could live here" and that was that. Shockingly easy really.


And then, during the six week period between buying and moving in, I panicked. I started second guessing the condo, the furniture I had bought, the location, the price, every freaking little detail. I stopped sleeping. It wasn't pleasant.

But two weeks ago I moved in, and so far it's been great! The place is small, but perfect for me. The building is an older, but completely renovated three floor walkup and my itty bitty one bedroom is on the top floor. I love the hardwood floors, even though the dark wood is proving impossible to keep smudge and dust free. I love the boring mushroom beige paint and white wood trim which were move in condition: no painting or renos needed. I've got an East-South facing window that looks onto my tiny balcony and the view of the alley and neighbouring building could be worse. The kitchen has more cupboards than I'll ever figure out how to fill and new appliances I wont need to replace for awhile (hopefully).


Honestly it's better than I just made it sound. It's the perfect little place for me.

As an added bonus, my furniture purchases actually worked out - who buys a blue couch? But it looks great, is super comfy and matches worlds-ugliest-rug really well. The tv is awesome - what did we do before HD, and wireless internet for that matter.


And all my stuff is here. Not in a different country. Not boxed away in a corner of my parents basement. Not in various different houses I happen to be living in while house/pet sitting. I can finally display my small library again.


The neighbourhood is just west of downtown, and is quite walkable with tons of amenities nearby. And best of all?  It's just a 10 minute walk to work (although that brings the conversation back to that no job security issue and the fact that I'm crazy for buying a place)!! I no longer spend 45 minutes each way in a car, getting increasingly cranky while bitching at the a**hole drivers who don't signal around traffic circles. I wont have to commute during winter blizzards. With gas prices being stupid high I might actually save some money.

The only downsides? My parking spot is not covered and a bit cramped. And the walls 'may' be quite thin which 'might' make it noisy, especially in the bedroom. Right now most of the units are still empty post-reno-slow-market so it's super quiet. I hope that doesn't change (I mean, please move in! I want some lovely quiet neighbours!). But if it does get noisy I'll just suck it up until I can sell - and being 6 blocks away from a university and 15 blocks from the potential new downtown arena - as long as the real estate market picks up it should have good resale potential.

Yes, it took awhile, but I finally have a place to call my own. So far I'm pretty happy with it!