They say moving is one of the most stressful occasions in life—next to divorce and unemployment. But I would argue that getting settled in a new home and a new neighborhood counters the stress with a sense of comfort and happiness that feels kind of like falling in love. I write this as I sit on a cozy couch in my new-to-me home. Lucky me.
But just a few months ago, my boyfriend and I were in the Siberia of house hunting. We are renters, but still the two of us have very particular standards. We were looking for a house in an Old Town in one of the towns in Boulder County. We came with baggage (a dog, a cat and a VW bus), and we had a small list of wants and needs: two bedrooms, some semblance of a yard, a solid location in walking distance of good restaurants and trails.
The housing market is tough for almost anyone—buyers, renters, Realtors and anyone who might happen by a for-sale sign. It’s an absurd time filled with ups and downs, but finding a little two-bedroom rental didn’t sound as tumultuous as making a $500,000 investment in real estate.
But then we met, a man we’ll call, Leonard, a homeowner in Longmont who was renting out his little downtown bungalow. Despite the horrid wallpaper in nearly every room, it was a stellar place with crown molding and hardwood floors, a backyard and a garage. Leonard had hoped to sell the house—and had already lowered the price $30,000. Like many sellers, he figured he could rent it out until the market improved. He wanted us to fill out a six-month lease and then consider renting-to-own. He talked a lot and used words like “conservative” and “investment” with enthusiasm.
We filled out an application, and Leonard called us two days later to let us know we had checked out. “I’m out of town this week,” he told us.
“I’ll call you on Friday and we can set up a time for you to sign the lease.”
We were thrilled and gave our landlords 30 days notice. But on Friday, no Leonard. I drove by the house the next day, and oddly, the lights were all on and there were people inside. We called him again, and were told he was still out of town. Can you wait til mid next week? Being optimistic, we waited for his call. The following Friday, my boyfriend received a text from Leonard. “The house was sold! We won’t be needing you to sign a lease.”
Oh, really, Leonard? You won’t need us to sign a lease?
It was a lesson in adaptability (and anger management). We had less than 30 days to find a new house, something far away from Leonard and his bad wallpaper. We went south to Louisville and Lafayette. And we saw place after place.
And finally, there she was: a cute little spot in downtown Lafayette—with honest, trustworthy landlords, a sunny living room and a tiny yard. After the stress of packing and a weekend of moving and cleaning and unpacking and more cleaning, the house became a home. With that came pride and comfort, happiness, lots of barbecues and bike rides around the neighborhood. We can now walk to Efrain’s.
The moral of the story: Whether you are renting or buying, sometimes you have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince.