Backstory: The goal has always been for me to get a job that pays enough to support the family on one income so that we can switch back to Stephanie being the full-time parent. That is evidently never going to happen on this continent until I can do something else, so back to school I go. The whole point of working at Walmart for two years was to save up tuition money. Once that was done, I could quit Walmart and focus on school.
Having tuition saved up and quitting Walmart was also the moment we reexamined what we wanted out of life, whether we wanted to be global nomads or anchored with all the nice stuff living in one spot gets you. And if you're going to stay in one spot, you might as well buy a house so that you can be earning equity instead of lining someone else's pockets. So the choice was always pretty much go back to Asia or buy a house.
We didn't go back to Asia.
We started house-hunting in early August, looking mostly outside the Lynchburg city limits but within commuting distance to the library. The USDA has a program where you can buy a house with no down payment if it's in the county, which I realized too late is taxpayer-subsidized encouragement of suburban sprawl and commuter traffic, but it got us what we needed when we needed it. We could have managed a down payment by blowing my college savings, but then we ended up blowing my college savings on a minivan after the Honda was totalled by an uninsured motorist. Yeah, it's been a fun couple months. We'll find a way to make school work out.
We found a place in Madison Heights, an unincorporated community in Amherst County, just across the river from Lynchburg. The 'neighborhood' is kind of white trashy, but there's no traffic on our street, we're a 10 minute drive from the library, it has three bedrooms, a dishwasher, a microwave, an established vegetable garden, and it doesn't have lead paint. And our monthly house payment is less than our rent in Lynchburg.
USDA loans always take longer than normal to close on, and buying a car in the middle of the process forced them to reevaluate our credit, and we were told over and over that we wouldn't be closing until mid-to-late-October, and I kept pushing back the date of our move-out with our old apartment. Then we got a call saying we could close at the end of September, so we did. This gave us a nice, long overlap. For a week I came over at night to clean, paint, and repair stuff before moving any big furniture in, and I brought over a trunkload of boxes each time, so by the time we actually moved in on the 10th, it was pretty much just the table and beds, some shelves and some lamps. Then I spent the following week going back to the old apartment every night to clean and touch up paint so we can get our deposit back.
The place was on the border of being a fixer-upper, with holes in the drywall, broken doors, a a population of stray cats bringing poop to the yard and flies to the house. The previous occupants seemed to be enthusiastic about home improvement, but not particularly competent. I painted houses for a summer during college, but working alone at night after an exhausting day of parenting, with limited tools and budget, but it still looks a ton better. Fortunately, most of the yard/exterior work can wait until spring. This place could have sold for a lot more if the owners had bothered to clean and do basic maintenance, so unless there's an unforeseen market collapse, we could make a tidy profit with some cheap blinds, a coat of paint, a washcloth, and a little elbow grease.
We've got about five boxes left to unpack before we're done moving in, and a list of more home improvement projects to last us as long as we expect to be here. It turns out I've pretty much forgotten why a microwave is supposed to be desirable and have barely used it for anything.
Pictures and video tour to follow.