My first apartment in North Carolina was actually pretty nice. The rent was fairly cheap, at least for the area. The floorplan was good, the location was excellent, the neighbors were not a bother, and the property managers were very nice.
Naturally, I wanted to move.
I’m not sure what possessed me to want to buy a house. Maybe I’d done some math which suggested it was a good financial decision. Maybe I’d talked with a co-worker about it. Maybe something had happened which made me aware that I didn’t actually own the place in which I lived. I honestly can’t remember. But in Spring of 2008, I started looking for a house.
I approached the search in the naïve-but-methodical way characteristic of how I did things back then. I decided I wanted to live in the same basic area that my apartment was in, so I told my realtor to center her search on that address. She would send me house listings, and if one looked reasonable then I would ride my bike out to go see it.
I don’t recall exactly how many houses I looked at, but it wasn’t very many (when your search area is a two-mile radius around one apartment complex, you don’t get a huge number of hits even in a market as booming as Morrisville in early 2008).
Eventually, I had two candidates. One was a good-sized semi-detached townhome, and one was an absolutely sprawling single family home with something like six bedrooms. When I sent both the listings to my parents, their first thought was “why would you not go with the bigger house, given that they’re about the same amount of money?”
My response was “come see them”.
So they did. They made the drive (which is a six-hour drive, not a quick jump down the highway) and looked at both. After they’d seen both houses, they both acknowledged that although the townhome was smaller, it was also a much nicer house.
To cut a long story short, I went with the townhome.
The lease on my apartment wasn’t up until August, but I bought the house on May 1, 2008. The leasing office at my apartment complex let me leave my lease early, since the area was booming so much they knew they could find another renter nearly immediately. I had about a month of overlap, which worked fine for me. Every day after work I took a load of stuff from the apartment to the house. One afternoon I got a couple of friends from church to help me with a few larger items, and then I was officially moved. This was by far the easiest and least-stressful move I’ve ever had.
Of course, those familiar with recent history will recall that the market crashed in September of 2008. It turns out that early-to-mid 2008 was not the ideal time to buy a house. But the RTP area was so high-growth that I’m not sure the value of the house ever ended up dipping down below what I paid for it, and I lived there for almost exactly 10 years. By the time I sold it, the value had gone back up and I made a (slight) profit.
It was a good house, and I’m happy with the decision I made.