I thought we would stay in this apartment for a really long time. Tim and I have never enjoyed a living space as much as this one. Before we found this apartment, we fiddled with the idea of buying a home and quickly found out that we would have extra hoops to jump through on account of being self-employed, including proof of a growing income for five consecutive years...and we hadn't even been out of college for five years yet. So we decided to be happy renters until further notice. We found this place and settled in. It's enough city to keep us entertained and enough suburb to let us sleep through a quiet night. I renewed our lease for 2013 without thinking twice about it.
And then Liesel came along and changed our priorities in the way that babies do, and when I started seeing the world through her eyes, I realized that there are a lot more friendly places we could be raising her. We had started getting serious about being smart with our finances when I was pregnant (things like retirement savings and life insurance) and at some point I added up how much we have spent on rent. Knowing we'll never get any of that back was disheartening. Of course there are risks in home ownership, but when stacked against the assurance of losing money in rent, those risks seem less daunting.
As someone who has moved at least once every two years since I was 18, the prospect of being tied to a piece of land makes me shake in my boots. There is a sad side to it too...neither Tim's nor my parents are within 1,000 miles from here, and buying a house looks a lot like a nail in the coffin of "we aren't moving closer to you". We did a lot of soul searching on that one. We imagined our business in Florida and in France, we even pushed on some doors, but nothing opened, and meanwhile we kept getting requests to shoot Chicago weddings in 2014. That looks a lot like job security and an invitation to stay and grow right where we are.
So we started looking toward the West Suburbs to see what there might be for us and doors just started flying open. Part of this whole process involves us going to a new church, and that bit is just an upheaval. Church community is really important to us, so to leave one church and start at another was a hard decision, but in the last two months we have felt a lot of confirmation that we are going the right direction. Through the whirlwind of June, we found ourselves connected to an amazing realtor who found us a surprisingly perfect house, and we cautiously approached a recommended local lender to see how they would deal with us and our self-employment situation. Three hours later, we were pre-approved for a home loan. We couldn't believe it.
That was a big moment for Tim, and I am still reveling in pride for him. Because when you decide to start a business when you're 22, it's one thing to actually make a little bit of money at what you do. And then it's another thing to be able to feed yourself doing what you do. And it's another thing and another thing to add a wife and then a baby and be able to take care of them with what you do...and then to turn over your tax returns to a bank and ask them to trust you with, um, a loan for more money than you can make in a year, and they say yes--quickly-- that means that you pretty well made the transition from a dreamer to a doer and the world has looked at what you can make out of nothing and says they need that thing on a regular basis. He skipped down the sidewalk that day and I wiped away a couple of tears.
So we're buying a house and moving to the suburbs. It's a nice house with a fenced in yard with lots of trees for a swing and shade for playing. It's walking distance to a little elementary school that has amazing community reviews and good test scores. It's close to our friends and our new church. It doesn't have a fireplace, but we did find hardwoods underneath the carpet. There are rosebushes in the back yard and hydrangeas in the front yard. We're really excited, and we close in three weeks.