We’re Buying a House

A BuildingSo Kim and I are in the process of buying a house. We’re going through a lot and learning tons of stuff that would be great to share with all of you.

Perhaps more importantly, there are a bunch of folks smarter than me who occasionally read this. So I’m hoping we can get some good advice here and there.

But to start I’ll just try to give a little background in this post before I get into some more specific topics later. For those who don’t know, I do web development with my wife Kim. We work for our own company Stranger Studios and work from home (our apartment right now). This is all going very well. Work is good. Making your own hours is great. Spending every minute of every day with the woman I love is truly incredible. I doubt most couples could do it, but Kim and I pull it off with style.

Life is good. Ok.

Because we work from home, we could live anywhere. And we’ve been conscious of this. We’ve considered a number of places to settle down for the next 5 years or so: Arizona, New Mexico, Mexico Proper, San Francisco, Napa, Oregon, Idaho. One fun game we had was to open up Google Maps and just zoom into a random spot on the map. We’d look for lakes, rivers, small towns, or anything else that looked interesting to live near.

We’ve seriously considered Puerto Rico, where I have family and there are incredible deals on ocean-view land. (I think this may eventually turn into a location for our second purchase.)

Our latest idea has been to find a small town, buy an apartment building on a “main” street with a store front, setup our office in the store front, and live in one of the apartments. Here was my reasoning for this approach:

The other apartments in the building will provide income to help with the mortgage.

It seems to me that inner city and main street properties have experienced less of a boom over the past 10 years and so have also experienced less of a pullback over the past 2 years. This is because the rental income of a property puts a bottom limit on how much the property value can drop.

The nature of our work means we can live anywhere. However things could also happen which would require us to up and move to California or somewhere else. If this happens, we can rent out the building as an investment property and won’t have to sell the house at a loss or keep a mortgage we can’t afford.

(I’d love to get some feedback on these assumptions of mine.)

We found something perfect in Columbia, PA, nestled between Harrisburg and Lancaster. It would have worked well, and Columbia seemed like a nice little town to settle down in for a while. The real estate agent we were working with grew up in Columbia and was really passionate about his hometown. Seeing his passion made us get nostalgic and reconsider our own hometown of Reading.

And so after considering just about every place to live within 4000 miles, we went back to our roots and started looking at properties in Reading, PA. And we found one! We’re in the process of getting a mortgage and working through the red tape and paper work. I’ll be posted more specifics on that soon… some insights, some open questions, good stuff.

We’re excited about this move (haha) in our life. We’re excited about being close to our families for a little while longer at least. Since we started our business, we’ve adjusted our schedules a lot to be able to spend more time with our folks and old friends from home. It has been incredibly rewarding, and I’m looking forward to continuing these good times.