Let's start by saying that my husband once threatened to call the cable company to put a block on HGTV. In fact, I just took a five (okay, 15) minute break from writing this post to see if I could download the House Hunters International theme song for a ringtone. (My search came up empty.) I also subscribe to about five home magazines, and actually look forward to the dentist, so I can read the design magazines in their lobby.
So you can imagine what it's been like in my head over the past year as my husband and I embarked upon our journey (I hate that word too, I know) to sell our home and find new digs. I've been like Bridezilla in HGTV-land. In other words, a complete lunatic.
My life has felt like real life episodes of all of my favorites - Love it or List It, House Hunters, Property Brothers, Fixer Upper - complete with marital bickering, compromise, obsessive compulsive realtor.com checking, and LOTS of home tours.
Through it all, it dawned on me… the process of looking for a home felt a little familiar. You see, searching for a home is a lot like searching for a life partner. Sure, humans are different from homes, but I have to tell you… what you put into finding one that matches your heart and soul's desires in each case is pretty similar. Let's examine how.
1. You go into the search with specifics in mind. When searching for a mate, you have an idea of physical characteristics you're attracted to. For example, I like rugged but wholesome, good looking guys; I've never been one for blond hair (Brad Pitt- meh) or tall-dark-handsome pretty boys (get over yourselves, nobody's hair stays perfect 24-7 and if it does, I want nothing to do with it). The same goes for a home. Mini McMansions with modern touches and flash have never appealed to me. I like old school charm with classic details, and I'll pay the price for these features by doing my laundry in an unfinished basement, thank you very much. So, at the start of our search, I had a specific wish list: less expensive than our current home, urban but not too-urban location, charming yet updated but with classic features that haven't been monkeyed with, small but not too small, and on a great street. Not too much to ask for, right? Oh, and I also wanted all of these things in a condo, something my husband was not exactly on board with.
Enter compromise #1- we'd look at homes and condos, with an emphasis on homes.
2. Be careful what you wish for. Like the search for a mate, if you ask for a good-looking successful guy with lots of money, chances are he might work tons of hours to make that money. He also might be kind of arrogant with all of his success. Or, if you want an uber fit mate to call your beau, that mate might have to pencil you in after 3 hour gym sessions. Translation, it takes a little weeding out to get a quality guy with the "solids" we want but who's also actually someone you want to spend time with. Similarly, ask for a charming, older place to call home, and guess what? It may be charming, but it's also old! And with old can come problems. Our realtor showed us many places that met the bill… but unfortunately, we came to realize that the bill would soon be doubled or tripled with all of the improvements that were needed.
3. The search can get discouraging. Ask any single woman about her experience on match.com, and she'll likely tell you that dating downright sucks. You start to question why you're even looking in the first place when date after date disappoints. Same goes with the home search. As my husband and I went through countless homes that we absolutely hated, I can't tell you how many times we came back to ours saying, "Why are we even moving? Our house is great, let's stay here."
4. Yet, you continue because you get glimmers of hope. Every girl has had the first date where somewhere between the second and third glass of wine she starts to envision things like oh, I don't know…. walking down the aisle with this date. Having children with this person. Traveling the world together. It really does happen. I call it the "first date fantasy sequence." Others call it a wine buzz. Sometimes the buzz lasts for weeks, until that date never calls again, and you realize that fantasy just went down the drain. In the world of homes, this fantasy has a similar "love at first sight" feel that translates into one moving Into that home immediately after the first tour. In our home search, there were about 7 homes that I had mentally (and almost physically) moved into after a first showing, or sometimes just after seeing them online. I'd find a house, declare to my husband that it was "the one," and then proceed to completely and totally OBSESS over it until one thing or another (price, my husband hating it, another buyer purchasing it, etc.) would snap me back into reality. Thus, starting the search all over again.
5. Disappointments can make a person a little gun-shy. You can imagine that after mentally marrying someone or mentally purchasing a house and then having those dreams fall apart… one tends to not want to "get out there" again. Yes, when you get psyched about someone or something and it doesn't pan out, it's very hard to imagine ever finding something that can match the fantasy sequence that you had created. It would take me a few visits to my house version of match.com… realtor.com… to reinstill my faith. Yet, the longer we were in the process, the more nervous I'd get when I actually found a home I liked. Quite simply put, I didn't want us to get burned again. Much like the game of love.
6. In the end, you just know. People used to tell me that I'd "know" when I met "the one." I really didn't believe them, mainly because I met so many people who definitely weren't "the one" that I doubted his very existence. Yet, then I met my husband and I immediately knew what all of the people were talking about. Similarly, after scouring the web, touring homes, running down every street within a five mile radius, I couldn't imagine ever finding "the home." Yet, when our realtor opened the front door and let us in the home that will soon be ours, I immediately felt a sense of comfort and home. I felt like I wanted to stay and get to know its walls and bones, and see what kind of memories we could make there. Quite simply put, the home felt exactly right and exactly what we had been waiting for. Sure, it's not perfect, and I'm sure when we move in it'll present all of the quirks that any home does when you live it in for awhile. But, this home has what feels like will be a great match for my husband and me to enjoy for years to come. This makes me ecstatically happy and excited to begin a new chapter. Like finding a good mate, or anything good in life, isn't this what we're all after?
So friends, whether you're looking for a partner, a home, a car, a job, or a parking spot… may you all find exactly what you're looking for.