After some research and contact with a real estate agent, we decided to finally bite the bullet and head to Jacksonville, North Carolina (Camp Lejeune), for the weekend to see the area and start looking for a place to rent. It really was too early to look at rentals (since everything we looked at would surely be gone by the time we were ready to plunk down a deposit) but we went with our real estate agent anyway just to get a feel for what was in store for us.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much…having pets really cuts down on the number of available options. So, what there was we either didn’t like (the first house we saw was absolutely gorgeous on the outside with a cute little driveway and front yard…but the inside was very old and in need of TOO much work—plus it was $850/month) or the ones that we really liked were just too expensive (the last house we looked inside was perfect—just the right size, great amenities, and much much newer [what we’re used to]—but it was $925/month—somewhat outside our budget).
Sidenote: For those of you who know what we pay now for our dinky apartment ($900), you may be asking “What’s the big deal about paying that much for a house?” Well…it’s a matter of how much Tom is allotted for housing. Since Quantico has a higher cost of living (pretty much the highest in the country), we get just over $900/month for housing. Camp Lejeune, however, has a much lower cost of living, and we’ll only get about $700—so anything above that comes straight out of our pockets. And while we could afford a BIT above that, we certainly couldn’t afford $200 or so above that.
We looked at many neighborhoods, and we didn’t like any of them. Most were very crowded (think cars parked on the road and houses an arm’s length apart) and were older buildings besides. The townhouses were nice—somewhat crowded but acceptable—but none had garages (something we really wanted for storage purposes, which is why we wanted to rent a house in the first place). So, since we weren’t finding any acceptable rentals, our realtor (of course) suggested buying a new house. After we got done laughing at him, we explained that we’d love to, but that we didn’t really think our finances were in good enough order to do so. He said “Let’s just go look at some new houses. You’d be surprised at what the rent would be…considerably less than what you’re looking at for rentals.” So off we went.
About eight miles out of town, we reached River Hills, a brand new subdivision (where, ironically, we saw neither a river nor a hill). And we looked at two new houses, neither of which was even finished being built (but one of which was the reverse twin of the house we loved earlier but which was too expensive). Of course, we loved both, but didn’t want to get excited about them…I mean, really. Us buying a house? What planet did we think we were living on? As we stood there falling in love, the agent whipped out his trusty calculator and figured our payments would be about $700 a month. What? That certainly got our attention!! On the way back to the office, we again explained our concerns with getting a loan, and he said “We’ll just have you call our mortgage agents and see what happens. We’ll go from there.” So we did. And to our surprise, we were pre-approved for a VA Loan!! So we decided to go ahead and buy a house! We quickly debated which one of the two we wanted and he started the offer-to-purchase paperwork! We came back a few hours later and signed!
It’s a three-bedroom, two-bath house with a two-car garage, fireplace, and a huge screened-in porch. Since the house isn’t finished, we will get to pick the carpet, flooring, countertops, and cupboards. It comes with some appliances, but we have to buy our own refrigerator and washer/dryer…along with some other things we hadn’t though of like a mailbox and garage door opener!
So, after we finished the paperwork, the rest of the night was spent saying “OH MY GOD. WE BOUGHT A HOUSE” about every 10 minutes. We are so very excited, yet scared to death. The whole process was just so sudden (we were NOT planning on buying and by the end of the day, we had bought a house!) and easy (I had always imagined the house-buying process to be looooong and very tedious).
After we had dinner out with friends, we decided it was time to call the parents! Tom called Marsha first and of course, she was thrilled for us. Ironically, she told us, she had recently bought a landscaping book for us, in the event we EVER bought a house. Then I called my dad and Linda—and the first words out of his mouth were “Without asking me?” Gotta love dad. Of course, they were also thrilled for us, and wanted to know every last detail (and you know dad is just itching to get here to make sure the contractor is doing everything correctly)! Then I called mom and David and after the initial shock wore off, they were thrilled for us, too!
We’re both excited to actually have space, space, and more space. For once, we’ll actually have too LITTLE furniture!! We’ll also have a dedicated computer room and a dedicated guest room (you won’t get a real bed, but you’ll get a blow up bed in your own room)! Tom is excited because he’ll get to have a workshop in the garage (which means he’ll have to park in the driveway, which he accepts!). I’m excited because I actually get to decorate—I’m already picking out paint colors in my head (master bedroom, light sage; main bath, golden yellow). We don’t relish the thought of having to spend a few grand on appliances, etc., but it’s a necessary evil. I also don’t really like having the washer/dryer in the garage, but we liked that house better overall (the floor plan felt more open and therefore bigger) plus we really liked the screen porch (or “The Fuzzy Run” as we’ve taken to calling it—he’ll probably get his own kitty door).
Closing is officially May 30, and we’ll be moving in shortly after Tom graduates on June 13!! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?? WE STILL CAN’T!!!!