Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Downsizing - Trying to Find the Perfect House

Like many people, once our kids left home, we suddenly realized we didn't need a big house anymore.  In fact, heating/cooling and cleaning a big house was starting to seem a bit crazy.

Photo:  City of South Portland
So we started to think about downsizing.  But what did that really mean?  And what did we want?  We'd recently had several friends visiting and during the course of the weekend, I was constantly shooing them out of the kitchen and our tiny family room - while our large, formal living room sat empty.   And in reality, the formal living room almost always sat empty.  But the kitchen - as everyone knows - the kitchen was the hub of activity!  So suddenly, the idea of an open concept floor plan seemed like a brilliant idea.  We knew most old houses don't have that, but we wanted a layout that could be renovated to achieve it.

Petey running on Willard Beach
Next criteria - water views.  We live right by Casco Bay, with lots of islands, boat traffic and sparkling blue water.  We loved the idea of waking up every morning and having that beautiful view.  But we didn't want to be right on the water.  Price was certainly a factor - but so were taxes, flood insurance and the constant beating those houses take from the elements.  A little bit back from the water seemed like a smart idea.  And with the steep hills we have, you can have views from a block away - as well as right on the beach.
Fisherman's Point - beautiful even in the winter!

A walkable neighborhood was also high on our list.  We hate having to get in the car to go places all the time.  We wanted to walk to restaurants, shops and the beach.  Luckily, our little SoPo neighborhood already had all that!  Plus there is a great bus system that goes right through the area.

Small yard.  I love the idea of a big garden with lots of vegetables that I can put up for the winter.  But I think it's just the idea I like - I can't imagine actually doing it!  So as long as we have a small, sunny place for a few tomato plants and some herbs, we don't need a big yard (and its associated maintenance).

3 Bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.   We needed a couple of guest bedrooms.  And I know lots of people like big bedrooms.  But we didn't need a giant master suite to get away from the teenagers in our house.  They've already moved out!  We just needed a place for us (and guests - you get a lot of houseguests when you live in Maine!) to sleep.

So the house hunt began.  With our 5 criteria, we started to look around.  This was during the start of the recession and homes were incredibly hard to find.  People either didn't realize their house had dropped in value - so they were overpriced.  Or they decided to just stay in their house and wait for prices to improve.

And we started to realize that water views were really hard to find!  So suddenly that went to the top of our list and everything else became much less important.

Water views!!
Then we got a call from our realtor telling us about a little cottage that had been under contract - but the deal fell through.  We went to look at it.  It wasn't a thing of beauty (actually far from it), but it was at the top of the hill and as we crouched down to look through the bedroom windows (very low ceilings), we got a glimpse of water!

As far as the house was concerned, we weren't too worried about the shape it was in, after all, we love to renovate houses.  So we quickly made an offer and in a few short weeks, we were homeowners of a cottage by the water!

Little did we know what we were in for :-)

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  1. I'm so excited about this series!

  2. Ooh, the fun story begins! :) Out of your five criteria, we shared four (out was the water views one) when we were house-hunting. We ended up in a one with two of the criteria met (yard size and beds/baths), one so-so met (the walkable one, though we still rely on our car pretty much), and the rest one left to a future project (the open concept one)... why not have fun later :)

    Looking forward to reading what you guys got yourself into! ;)

    1. It's funny how you can start with a set of criteria - but they go out the window when you realize it's just not possible to find everything you want!!!

  3. Love it... can't wait to


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