Our Decision To Buy A House

Tim and I bought a house this spring, and we closed in June. No one is more shocked by this than me! It was such a whirlwind experience. The housing market (as I mentioned before) is super competitive, and house shopping with two toddlers was certainly not an easy experience.

I have always said that I love renting. Like, until really recently, I thought we might just never buy a house. But then, the housing market in Seattle started rising and rising and it became a fear of ours that we would eventually not be able to afford a house in this area at all. (We already can’t afford a house in the actual city of Seattle, so we are moving a few miles north of where we are now.)

A little about our decision to buy a house Then there were the other considerations… we wanted to ensure the girls would start school in a decent school district, we wanted to establish a community with neighbors that would last for years, we wanted to give the girls some consistency, we wanted to buy furniture we know will fit in our space, we wanted to feel settled and not need to move every year or two… the list goes on.

Honestly I love change, so I enjoy moving every few years to a new neighborhood, but with two small kids, moving is such a hassle, and we decided it was finally time to settle down, become a ‘real’ adult, and buy a darn house.

Tim had owned a house before and loves being a homeowner, so he was on board immediately when I brought up the possibility of buying a home. Three weeks after we started looking, we had a house under contract!

A little about our decision to buy a house

And now we’re moving in at the end of this month. 

Between the end of June and the end of August we have been working on a ton of renovations. And by ‘we have been working on’ I mean ‘we have hired people to work on’. We redid all of the floors, the paint on all of the walls/ceiling, we re-tiled the fireplace, took out the kitchen and completely redid it, tore out three bathrooms and redid those, and are creating a little laundry closet.

It’s been A LOT. So all of that is coming together… and now I’m working on picking out all new furniture for the house, too.

It will be a miracle when this all comes together.

Although house ‘stuff’ (anything domestic) isn’t really my thing, the process has been relatively painless from a decision-making standpoint (because I’ve been working with an awesome interior designer who makes my life easy). I have always said I don’t care about making the small decisions in a house, but the more I see the house coming together, the more I realize that it is going to be so pretty, and such an upgrade from the houses we’ve had as rentals.

So wish us luck these next few weeks! We have three (!!) trips planned, a  move, and just a lot of life planned in that time! I can’t wait to see it all come together.

Posted in consciously evolving, home, life events | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Getting ready to go back-to-school with Fred Meyer!

It’s that time again…

When it’s suddenly the beginning of August and I feel like summer has just started but somehow the stores have their back to school gear out which makes me almost long for fall.

We love shopping at Fred Meyer for all of our back-to-school needs!

In particular, I’m most excited for:

+ Slightly cooler weather. OK, I say this reluctantly because the PNW has gorgeous, perfect summer weather. But if I’m being honest with myself, I prefer the fall temperatures here.

+ A good rainy morning.

+ Our routine. Summer feels so chaotic and a little bit stressful because each week seems different. Part of me thrives in this, but part of me cannot wait for the school year routine.

+ Extracurricular activities. This year I plan on signing Clara (and maybe Isabelle) up for quite a few different activities. TBD on what they are… suggestions welcome!

+ School! (For both girls!) Isabelle will be at school this year, too, as soon as she turns 2.5 years old, and I’m already so excited for some toddler-free time. What will I do for these 4 (maybe 8?!) extra hours a week?! NO ONE KNOWS but it will be fantastic.

Don’t misunderstand me, though, we have a lot of plans this summer still and I am in no rush for this season to end… but there is definitely some good stuff to come!

This is what put me in a fall state-of-mind: I was at Fred Meyer with both girls the other day (a recipe for disaster, as they somehow manage to load up my cart with whatever they can reach every time I turn my head for just a moment), and found quite a few goodies for my girls.

We love shopping at Fred Meyer for all of our back-to-school needs!

We love shopping at Fred Meyer for all of our back-to-school needs!

Per usual, I bought them each a new outfit, because I simply cannot walk through a section of kids clothes without buying them something. Girl mom problems, I guess. (It’s a good thing I don’t go shopping more often!) But what I really loved were the lunch goodies. There were so many water bottles and insulated lunchboxes and basically all of the things in so many cute patterns. Clara eats lunch at her preschool, so I just had to grab a few items for her. I decided not to give her the items yet (even though she of course saw them in the cart), and I think she’s going to be thrilled to receive a new lunchbox and water bottle for a back-to-school gift in September!

We love shopping at Fred Meyer for all of our back-to-school needs!

We love shopping at Fred Meyer for all of our back-to-school needs!

I was excited to learn that Fred Meyer has a “Support Your School” program, in which the customer’s school district earns $1 from Fred Meyer and $1 from each participating brand (including Under Armour and GE!) when they buy Back To School clothes and shoes. All you have to do is link your Rewards Card and scan it every time you shop at Fred Meyer! I happily supported this cause by buying the girls an outfit (or two…).

I’m hosting a giveaway on Instagram to win a $100 Fred Meyer Gift Card, so be sure to check that out!

I would like to leave you with this photo, because this is what happens when I ask my kids to show me their backpacks… this is not what I had in mind, exactly, with that request.

We love shopping at Fred Meyer for all of our back-to-school needs!

This post was sponsored by Fred Meyer, but all opinions are, of course, my own!

Are you ready for fall and a new school year?!

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Adventuring with kids: A weekend near Mt Rainier!

Mt Rainier has been on my bucket list ever since we moved to Seattle. Or actually, it may have been on my bucket list before we moved to the PNW. On summer days it can be seen in the background, overlooking the city of Seattle, and it is just stunning. Truly, she’s a thing of beauty. I can’t believe it took us almost 3 years to see her up close.

Weekend trip from Seattle: Mt Rainier National Park!

Weekend trip from Seattle: Mt Rainier National Park!

But this past weekend we went camping near the MRNP (Mount Rainier National Park) and it was every bit as fun as I thought it would be.

Here is what we did for a weekend in MRNP (with toddlers), should you decide to do something similar:

  • We stayed at Silver Springs Campground.
    • Pros: good location near hiking, running water, big camp sites, lots of trees and shade, great roads and paths to ride bikes on within the campgound, can bring dogs (because it’s not in MRNP).
    • Cons: Located directly off a highway (that our particular site backed up to) – which means there was car noise, there are no hikes accessed without driving somewhere, it’s not located in the actual park, no showers.
    • That all being said… I would definitely stay here again! We were in sites 53 & 55, and we fit three families/tents comfortably. And while we did hear road noise, it wasn’t awful. There are some great tent spots near the river, but that made me nervous with toddlers… but something to keep in mind for next time!

Weekend trip from Seattle: Mt Rainier National Park!

  • One morning we hiked Naches Peak Loop, which was an excellent hike for us! The little legs of our family only made it about a mile, but it was only a 3 mile hike, so it wasn’t too bad to carry them the rest of the way. The only thing I will say is that the bugs were awful and I am still covered in mosquito bites. The views, however, made it very, very worth it. This is a must-do, in my opinion. (And as a plus, no pass is needed for the parking lot access at Tipsoo Lake!)

Weekend trip from Seattle: Mt Rainier National Park! Weekend trip from Seattle: Mt Rainier National Park!

  • That afternoon we rode the gondola at Crystal Mountain. The girls absolutely LOVED the ride, but could not have cared less about the (gorgeous) view. At first I didn’t think the price would be worth it, but we really enjoyed our time there, so I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to others, especially if you have young ones and need an afternoon activity before dinner time!
  • The next morning we did the Sheep Lake hike, which was another great one! This hike was beautiful because some of it was on a ridge, and some of it was in a forest. Then, it ended at a beautiful alpine lake. The best part of the lake was that it had an easy entry for toddlers, and grass all around it! Sometimes alpine lakes are super rocky or have steep banks all around it or have too many trees to make it easy to get in. This, however, was perfect, albeit a little chilly! We brought our lunch and all had a little picnic before heading the 2 miles back to the car.

Weekend trip from Seattle: Mt Rainier National Park!

  • On our final morning near Mt Rainier, we drove to the Sunrise Visitor Center where we saw the mountain up close and personal, and had a picnic near the stunning views. We also went into the visitor center to learn a bit about the area. This drive was so pretty and I thought it was well worth the extra minutes it took to drive there.

Other info: It’s about $30 per vehicle to get a day pass to the National Park, so we bought the America The Beautiful Pass which gets us into all national parks (I think?) and also is combined with the Northwest Forest Pass, which is a pass we use all of the time for hiking. If you live and hike in Washington, I strongly suggest you get the America The Beautiful Pass so you can get into Rainier National Park and the Olympic National Park.

I cannot wait to go back next summer and explore more of the hikes in that area!

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Workout update: I’m trying ClassPass (again)!

Years ago I did ClassPass (in Chicago) and absolutely loved it. Then, when we moved to Seattle, I stopped my membership because I simply was too pregnant and busy to try out different gyms. Not to mention, I wasn’t familiar with the area and ClassPass in Seattle had gotten really expensive for how much I used it – which was only a few times per month.

So, I tried out different gyms and paid per class, which worked for me. Most recently I tried out Title Boxing and was a member for a few years there. I absolutely love boxing workouts and highly recommend that particular gym to anyone looking to get stronger and work on some cardio in the process!

However, I’ve recently decided that I don’t go to boxing class enough to justify the price – mainly because they only offer classes a few times per day that I could actually go to, and it’s hard to leave my house at 6am or 7pm! Working out around Tim’s work schedule is challenging, to say the least. So I thought I would look at ClassPass again, just to see if there were any gyms nearby to our new house.

Classpass is a fitness membership program that I can't wait to try out (again)!

And I was so pleasantly surprised by what I discovered! (Note: this post is completely not sponsored, but there are affiliate links if you want to try ClassPass for a big discount on your first month. Maybe it’s even free? I’m not sure. Just click away and see.) ClassPass has completely changed their membership structure. Now, instead of paying for unlimited classes, you can pay for ‘credits’ which can be redeemed at gyms/classes.

For instance, with ClassPass in Seattle you can pay $35 for 20 credits (2-4 classes), $50 for 30 credits (4-6 classes), $100 for 60 credits (8-12 classes).

This works perfectly for me because I can pay the $35 and see if I actually use them. Plus I can always add credits to any month, or upgrade my plan. I can also pause or cancel my plan at anytime… so this seems very low risk to me. (And it’s way less money than what I was paying at the boxing gym to only be able to go a few times per month.)

I think this has made ClassPass way more accessible to people who work out semi-infrequently! Unfortunately for me, most of the classes are in the actual city of Seattle (and we’re moving about 20 minutes north of the city), but I still think I’ll be able to make it to a few classes per month! I’m excited to do more barre and yoga classes, but have already seen a few dance and strength classes I may try out.

I wish ClassPass had been around when I traveled 100% for work because I would have been able to workout easily in any city I traveled to! One of my favorite features of ClassPass is that I can see all of the workouts (filtered by location and type of workout) at a specific time of day so I can choose the one I most want to do around my specific schedule. It’s so much easier than looking at individual schedules at all of the yoga places in the area!

I’ll keep you posted.

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Buying a house in Seattle

I mentioned a few weeks ago that we bought a house here in Seattle – which is the biggest commitment I’ve made since getting married. Or maybe since having kids… but we may be in this house longer than our kids live with us! (OK, that’s probably not true, I can’t imagine living in one place that long!)

The housing market in Seattle, especially when we bought the house a few months ago, is crazy. It was actually the hottest housing market in the country for many, many months (years?).

What to expect when you're looking to buy a house in Seattle or a similarly hot housing market

Let me give you a brief synopsis of what you can expect if you’re buying a house here (or in a similarly hot market):

Waived Contingencies

To make a competitive offer, most prospective buyers in Seattle waive all contingencies: finance, inspection, and title.

Pre-Inspections

Of course you don’t want to buy a house without having an inspection done, so you can expect to schedule pre-inspections for every house you want to make a bid on. These run you a few hundred dollars, and you may need to do quite a few during your house search. Sometimes buyers also have inspection reports available for prospective buyers to peruse, but of course, you probably want to have your own inspection done.

Quick Decisions

Houses here are usually on the market for less than a week, and sometimes they’re only listed a few hours before the sellers accept an offer.  This means that as soon as a house is listed on Redfin, Zillow, or a comparable site, prospective buyers need to figure out that day how to see it. This allows enough time for one visit to the house, a pre-inspection, and an offer within a few days.

We visited one house the day it came on the market, and there were quite a few other people walking through it. It had an inspection already done by the buyers, and we knew it would go quickly (and for way over asking price) so we decided to draft an offer. Our realtor got a call later that day saying that the sellers were reviewing offers in two days (originally they said they would be reviewing offers five days from when the house went on the market). Then, as we were trying to decide whether we really wanted to make an aggressive offer, the realtor called back and said they were actually reviewing offers the next morning because they had received such a strong offer. Bottom line: We decided not to make an offer, but if we would have wanted to get the house, we would have had to offer $100k over the asking price with all contingencies waived.

Bidding Wars

I have friends who put offers on 5-10 houses (that’s a lot of money in pre-inspections!) before they finally got a house. There are just that many people out there bidding on good properties! Or even not-so-good properties! This means that no one offers asking price on a property unless it’s  been on the market for quite a while. Prospective buyers always include escalations in their offer to go well above the asking price. It wasn’t unusual, for a while, (I’m not sure if it’s still the case) for houses to go $100-200k over asking price.

A Time Intensive Process

We were only on the hunt for a house for 3 weeks, and then we basically decided we needed to buy a house ASAP before we went completely crazy. I would look at houses with our realtor at least 2-3 days during the week, and we’d always go at least one day on the weekend. Since we don’t have family living nearby, we had to drag our 2 & 3 year olds with us to practically every showing. I would go see a house during the day, and if I loved it, we’d all go back with Tim in the evening. Basically, this schedule was not sustainable for us… who has this much time to search for housing?! Not us! Not anyone! Plus, we cast a wide net of neighborhoods we’d consider, which meant that we were driving all over north Seattle and I was trying to research a bunch of different schools/school districts/crime reports in my ‘free time’… if you have bought a house recently with the intention of raising kids there, you know how it goes. It all takes a ton of time.

Stress

All of this makes buying houses a super-stressful process. Needing to make a quick decision about something so major is difficult, plus, with waived contingencies, it really makes it hard to back out of the offer if you change your mind. For instance, if the bank comes back and says the house is worth $1M instead of the $1.2M you paid for it, guess who needs to pay the $200k difference in cash?! The buyer, of course. Hopefully a good realtor will be able to tell a potential buyer what the bank will probably appraise the property at, but the idea of paying much more for a property than it’s worth (and needing to cover the difference), is stressful. And then there’s the risk of buying a property without an inspection contingency… it’s all a lot to consider.

… And I won’t even go into how expensive houses are here in Seattle. In the past few years the prices have risen about 13% a year, which means houses we could have afforded a year or two ago are no longer in our price range. That’s a hard concept to handle and it puts even more pressure on potential buyers to buy a house quickly, before it, too, drifts over the affordable price range.

A lot of my friends have been buying houses here recently, so it can be done! And then the home renovations start, since almost no houses here are affordable and move-in ready! As I type this, our ‘new’ kitchen is being put in! Work on the bathrooms start next week. Our hardwoods are already down. And at some point painting is going to happen… but I’ll talk more about that later. We’re planning on moving in about 3-4 weeks. Wish us luck!

Do you own your house?! What was your house hunting experience like?!

Posted in being an adult, home, seattle | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments