Thursday, March 15, 2007

the family weighs in

This past weekend, Poppa Alex flew in from Arizona to lend his parental wisdom on our most recent quandry. Charlie called his dad on Tuesday night to tell him that we were seriously contemplating purchasing a new house, and it would be great if he and his dad could have some face-time.

By Saturday afternoon ... Poppa Alex was here.

One of the great things about this blog is that our friends and families are totally in-tune with our lives. Infact, they are dialed-in to the challenges and decisions we are facing each-and-every day, because that's usually the stuff I write about.

Fortunately, because of this blog, Poppa Alex already knew alot of the background on why we feel compelled to move. He knew about the house across the street ... the concerns with taking on more debt than we might possibly should ... and how our seemingly dwindling home is slowly driving me clinically insane, despite my best attempts at embracing a small space.

So, rather than spend a lot of time catching him up to speed on WHY we need to move ... we were able to spend a lot of time watching the kids play with the fuzzy scarves, shiny pocketbooks and beaded necklaces that Grandma Kathleen sent. Yet as much as the children loved their new toys, for the first time ever - they were more enamored with having a new person in the house that they could follow in to the bathroom and have read to them.

After visiting with Poppa Alex for a while, Charlie and his dad went to look at the new house we are considering.

The brand spanking new house that is on a cul-de-sac and backed up to preseve land that will never be developed.

A 3,200-square foot sprawling one-story with 5 bedrooms and 3.5 baths that is surrounded by beautiful parks, and some of the best schools in San Diego.

Equipped with an interior fire sprinkler system, the most gorgeous gourmet kitchen I've ever imagined and a laundry room that is the size of our current nursery. Not to mention a three car garage and a walk-in pantry that could double as a sixth bedroom.

A home that costs almost twice what our current home would sell for - giving us a mortgage payment almost three times what we are currently paying. But man oh MAN is it nice.

Poppa Alex even thought so.

After seeing the house, discussing finances, and gushing over how we would have wonderful parties for years and years to come around the 8-foot center island ... Poppa Alex thinks that we should wait for at least a year until we move. Not because this house is ridiculously expensive (which it is) ... but because I am 6-months pregnant and putting our house up for sale within the next few days seems ludicrious. Especially when we might have to get it ready for potential buyers on a moment's notice ... when it looks like this.

My mother, who has been religiously reading my blog while vacationing in Florida, has been calling every couple days to inquire if we've made a decision, and then adds her two cents. "You're absolutely crazy to consider moving and should stay right where you are and pay off your current mortgage, completely! But, I say nothing."

My friends tell us to DO IT.

Our family tells us to WAIT.

My boss told me that I have job security for at least the next 30 years (the term of the mortgage) and if we do buy this house, he wants to come to a lavish party.

Our tax accountant thinks this new house is doable, but we we might be biting off a bit too much since we're both planning to continue working part-time.

Our realtor wants to show us other houses that might be a good intermediary step. Provided I wanted to move now ... and then, again at some later time. Which I don't. Moving is physically and financially draining and a complete hassle. I'd be perfectly happy staying where we are - if we only had the room.

In hindsight ... we went about this house buying stuff all wrong.

What we should have done ... is figure out what we can comfortably afford and then look at homes in that price range. Instead, we looked at a dream house and are now trying to figure out how we can afford it. At this point in the game, all the other homes that we can comfortably afford look like crack-houses.

In defense of this back-asswards approach I would like to add that we have found a house that we could truly see ourselves living in ... forever. Therefore, although it might be a financial stretch now, eventually ... in say, 10 years ... we will undoubtedly feel comfortable with the expense. Provided our children don't need braces. Or glasses. Or new shoes. Or, have any desire to go to college.

Besides, if we're going to move ... I've decided that this is the new sink I want. I could put all four kids in it ... should our other two bathtubs, or whirlpool tub, be unavailable.


  1. Ug. I don't envy your decision at all. (I think I've said that before). But I'm inclined to say - Go with Papa Alex. :) In the long run, tight space will be less of a strain than cleaning and sprucing and showing a home (my definition of hell!), moving out (right up there with showing a home to sell it!), moving in, and not being able to throw a party for ten years because the mortgage payment doesn't allow budget for more than bite-size frozen corndogs as appetizers. Not to mention giving birth to #4 in the midst of all that...But you know all this. We're in a similar boat, though - this housing market is killer for families, huh?

  2. Don't do it, Jen. Just don't. I know the temptation is overwhelming but DON'T. DO. IT! Why? Because you are having a new baby. Just what if this new baby has colic and is screaming all the time for the first 3 months and you CAN'T work? Just wait.

    Charlie's father is a brilliant man and he is coming in from a completely objective point of view and after the new baby is here and has fit into your life, THEN go look for new homes. Don't make yourself mortgage poor. If you or Charlie lost your jobs, then what?

    I would LOVE to have the house you are describing, more than you can imagine, but I'm telling you, the kids get more and more and more expensive. All the activities are really adding up.

    I'm a security-freak and I vote with the FIL..... WAIT!!!

  3. I can't even vote, but I do pity your uncertainty, it seems like such a weight.
    working part time and having lots of time for your kids is a luxury not many parents have and is worth a lot...I'm just saying :)

  4. Don’t do it now! And if you really really wanted to, talk to your accountant about finances. I am in Asia and I work in the finance industry. Lately (these last few days), we have been receiving a lot of reports on the housing bubble in the US and the problems with credits and foreclosures etc. And many of our researchers/investors feel that a correction in the US housing market is imminent (magnitude, no sure). Of course, everyone’s financial situation is different. The last thing you want is 4 kids and a mortgage that is larger than the value of your property. Believe me, I am been there (Asia in 1998) and it is no fun! Sorry, I hope my comments are not too serious for this blog. Good luck!

  5. Steve & Kathy3/15/07, 11:18 PM

    Go for it! You'll always wish you did. Moving is never easy and it won't be any easier with 4 kids. Good luck and we're willing to help.

  6. My dilemma is different yet same.. if I sell my current house, my mortgage is paid off and I have enough left to buy a large acreage in the middle of Saskatchewan (Wyoming) with nothing for miles and I won't have to work ever again.... but if I hate it, I can't afford to come back. And what if Darling Daughter Number 1 decides to stay in Calgary for Uni rather than the original decision to move to Ontario to go to school there and if she stays here, I will have to work because her rent will be $1000 a month for a hovel.

    My point? I have no idea... but you really need to weigh the financial options out. The space thing is obviously a need, but the financials are the biggest.

    Good luck with whatever you decide.

  7. How wonderful that you can call in the reinforcements for help on these decisions!!

    My husband and I went about house buying the same way you did... we looked at our dream house and then looked at each other and said, "How can we do it?"

    And we ended up figuring it out... and so happy we did!

    But, I know everyone has different things to consider when making such a huge decision.


    (But I say go for it) :)

  8. I have found that in situations like these when you have a nagging gut of doubt...that maybe you should wait.

  9. Best of luck in your decision making! I can feel for you as we are in the same boat trying to make the same decisions. It is hard!

  10. Just b/c I'm a SoCal Mom, I think you should wait. Poppa Alex is a smart man.

  11. Poppa Alex, is a smart man and I know you value his opinion as you do mine---so now, do whatever you will---it is your decision. If I win the lottery I will pay for it.
    Love the pictures and the scarf---

  12. I have been in the same delima as you for about a year and a half. We are not thrilled with where we are, but have no absolute about where we would rather be. So, just as it was when we had to wait all those years to be blessed with our trios, I think that we should take that wisdom and patience approach and wait to see when it is the "right" time to move. You will know when the time is right, and if you thought the time was really NOW, I think you would've already been gone.