At least I wasn’t swollen and bruised from the unplanned tooth extraction. Two days after the excruciating procedure we began our long drive there. Periodic meds held pain at bay as we drove on and on.
A perfect window to secure housing opened and nothing could get in the way. An accepted offer should provide the time I needed to unpack, get acclimated and comfortably prepare for the school year. There wasn’t a contingency plan, finding and securing housing was not optional. Usually I hold things loosely because I’ve learned the tighter I cling to things and expectations, the harder life becomes. With all the eggs in one basket I found myself nervous.
I’m often asked, “How do you move somewhere you’ve never lived and buy a home?”
We don’t have a process but here are things we did that led us to writing an offer that left us dangling from uncertainty as we drove back to California.
Seven things that helped us find a home:
1. We prayed and had people praying specifically for our housing need. I am blessed (complete understatement) to have women who love God and pray in my life. These women asked regularly how to pray and I’d send texts as God’s plan for His ordinary girl unfolded.
On morning a neighborhood woman out for a morning walk and I began talking. Turns out she’s a woman of faith and I asked her to pray for our housing when she walked by in the mornings. When we’re unashamed to speak of God’s faithfulness and calling we find other prayer partners.
Nothing is more powerful than the prayers of the faithful. NOTHING. Commit to praying for others and allowing yourself to be vulnerable and ask for specific prayer. Write those prayers down, follow-up and watch God at work! I love the Prayer Notes app.
2. We Dreamed. There’s nothing wrong with desires and dreams surrendered to God. My husband and I dreamed of a home with land for experimenting and exploring. We dreamed of a quiet and simple life, a place where the hum of cars is overpowered by the sounds of nature. We dreamed of stars shining bright in the black of night and of giving our kids the freedom to cultivate curiosity in creation. Our dreams felt lofty, that’s why they’re called dreams.
3. We looked at Options. We looked into our housing options. Initially I wanted to rent a home for a year and get our bearings. Two things happened that instantly nixed that option.
(1) Qualifying for a loan when self-employed is tedious and requires proof that a business is established. Moving to a new market meant my husband’s income would not be applied and we would need to qualify for a loan solely on my nominal salary. However, Even with my steady position teaching a lender would require six months of employment to pass before approving us. Economies are shifting and who knows what will happen to interest rates. At this moment we could qualify for a loan while privately budgeting a purchase on my salary.
(2) There aren’t any rentals! Rentals are rare, I didn’t even notice an apartment complex (though I may find one). It seemed to live there meant putting skin in the game. I’ve never lived in a community of invested people and I’m curious how, if at all, that dynamic affects a community.
4. We Researched. Before we drove seventeen hours north we watched the real estate market and noted patterns. We noticed the lack of inventory available in our price range and how quickly homes priced at market value sold. We familiarized ourselves with the few surrounding communities and said driving distances. We evaluated our dreams in relation to available homes and left flexible margins.
We didn’t have personal experience purchasing land so we found resources to help. My husband enjoys Wranglerstar’s videos and his new book Modern Homesteading proved to be helpful. Though we’re not homesteading, he and his wife share experiences and lessons (many learned the hard way) in selecting land. They provided a handy criterion for evaluating land that opened our minds to a new perspective.
5. We remembered nothing here lasts forever. Our identity and security aren’t tied to earthly geography. If we purchased a home and didn’t like it we could likely make another move. Life is wet cement.
6. We trusted God’s direction and provision with the details surrounding our housing. As we drove to find a home our painter sealed off our kitchen and began work painting our cabinets inside and out. We didn’t plan and orchestrate our trip around his work, yet details like that kept happening. God cares about our lives! When we let go and let Him amazing “coincidences” happen.
7. We listened to each other. Our list of possibilities began with a dozen properties. We ruled a few out when we physically drove the geography. Several others were axed because the CC & R’s (covenant, conditions and restrictions) prohibited chickens. Really, three acres backing to forest land and chickens are not allowed! The list shrank to four possibilities. FOUR.
The first home we viewed felt peaceful but the floor plan was odd. It stayed on the list of possibilities as we moved on to the next home. The second home in a cul-de-sac left my husband longing for more distance from neighbors. Home number three I found creepy. An uneasy feeling sent me back to the car quickly. The world calls this “energy”, I know it is the Holy Spirit. The final home on the short list required a long drive on an unmaintained road and the house itself needed a full remodel. I really didn’t want to move and immediately remodel while starting a new job and acclimating to a new community.
We were left with ONE.
We went back to the first home and walked the land. It has a bit of everything, a house with lawn, a huge shop, an area to garden. Icing on the cake the property included a meadow with a grove of quaking aspen trees (my favorite trees EVER), a breathtaking mountain view, a small outbuilding just large enough for a writing desk and a mere fifteen minutes drive from the school.
What concerned us was how long it had been on the market. We saw this home hit the market at the beginning of our search. If you recall, good homes priced right sell quickly. Why was it still available? Our Realtor reassured us there wasn’t anything wrong with the home, price or location. He didn’t understand why it hadn’t sold either.
Regardless, we needed a home and this was the single home that worked for our family and dreams. It’s nice when God makes decisions for us! We wrote an offer and began our drive home hoping but uncertain we’d have a place to call home in a month.