I thought I should start with the why. Why did we choose this little house with it's complications and space challenges?
3. Location ok....ok.....
4. Large lot size
6. Curb appeal
7. instant livability
8. it's size
Ok, I'll elaborate. Before we had even moved home, we were pretty certain we'd end up in a small old home near Washington Park or in a big sprawling suburban home in an area called Highlands Ranch. As our KS home took so long to sell, we spent A LOT of time exploring other areas and neighborhoods but always came back to these two. I actually became set on Wash Park rather quickly and after our focus narrowed we even took one last trip to the Ranch to make sure we were content in our choice. I chose an awesome home there to look at that had every single one of our suburban "wants" and "must-haves" and we still were unimpressed.
As is happening all over the country right now with people our age, we wanted to move in. (There is a great NY times article on this trend here) We wanted urban. We wanted city with safety and good schools and that's just what we got. Because of the hot Denver housing market we did not get it quickly and there were other urban neighborhoods we made offers in, but all along Wash Park was the one we wanted most.
So, with any real estate decision there are give and take's. In Wash Park, Bonnie Brae (technically our neighborhood) and surrounding areas there are 3 lot sizes. 3125 sq ft is actually standard, many are 1.5 lots with 4000 something sq ft and double lots are 6250 sq ft. Although we considered a few 1.5 lots we always really wanted a "big" lot and that's one thing we got. We got the added bonus of a very treed lot and treed street but gave up a two car garage for a one car shop. Expanding the garage is at the top of our big project priority list. We do however have the only front driveway on the street which is very handy and street parking hasn't been an issue so far.
While we looked at other bigger homes on big lots, many of those were lots newer than ours (built in the 50's vs. 20's) and lacked curb appeal. Though we both love craftsman style, this little tudor's curb appeal and charm quickly captured both our hearts.
As the NY Times article above discusses, walkability is a huge aspect of urban living. We have a quick walk to several different enclaves of shops and restaurants, to Washington Park itself, and to all of Ben's schools through high school. Both our bank and the library are short walks. Ben and I even walk to the grocery store for small trips and I get exercise, errands, and Ben's "bob bob" time done all at once. Because we are also closer to Ryan's work, our spending on gas has already decreased dramatically.
Speaking of schools, while most in this area have great ratings and test scores, we had always hoped to find a house in the Cory_Merrill area. Cory elementary has long been rated in the top 5 elementary schools in the state and often finds itself at #1 on different rankings by educators, parents, and based on test scores. To save any readers the argument of parent involvement mattering more than great schools, I will agree wholeheartedly. However, having a great school as a foundation is very important to Ryan and me as parents.
Ok, we are almost through the list! More than many homes we looked at in this area, ours had a lot of "instant livability" for us. Because the size of house we could afford wa$ limited, we knew we would likely one day expand any house we bought. It was hard to imagine living in many of the houses we viewed for 5 or 10 years while we saved for expansion. Therein lied a bigger conundrum of how much we would want to do in the interim if said improvement would just be torn-down or redone in a few years. Though we will soon paint lots of our house, even that was neutral and pleasing. Though our kitchen is small, it has tall maple cabinets and granite counter-tops. Both bathrooms have been updated to our liking. A new high-efficiency furnace and AC sealed the deal that we could love living here for many years without major renovations.
Size! Yes, size! While a bit more space all over and a larger eating area would be quite handy, part of the appeal of urban living for Ryan and me is using only the space we need. Walking places, living with fewer material things, and decreasing our impact on dear mother earth are important to us and important lessons for Ben. These were not easy or realistic options in Wichita and aren't in many places. The sacrifices aren't for everyone but I think that for us the rewards outweigh the inconveniences. This early post will also serve as a great reminder as our expansion dreams become reality.
Now the fun begins! I wish I had documented the house before our stuff was here at all as we've already accomplished many space-saving, life-organizing projects. I'll do my best to fake the "before's" where necessary and be sure to capture it all from here on out.....................