Musings from a life of chances and changes
I drove past my "dream" house dozens of times, wishing a for sale sign would magically appear on the front lawn. I believed that if I were able to live in that house, the pain of giving up my city lifestyle would be less disturbing.
It was an identity crisis of sorts. I felt confident in my solid relationship with Chicago. Living in the city for a long time, I was connected with its vibe. I found my neighborhood niche. The unique shops dotting nearby streets; favorite corner restaurants or bars; best local workout studios; or simply the proximity of parks or the lake. Walking my dog day and night, I felt the magnetic force of the city. The real estate trend to live in the city longer than previous generations made sense. But while walking my dog along with my first child, I began to have more complicated feelings about living in the city. By the time I was walking my dog and two children, I experienced the classic quandary. Should I continue to live in the city with children (ultimately four children), or should I move to the suburbs? Certainly not every city dweller finds this to be an issue. But for me, the time spent enjoying this relationship was nearing its end. I noticed certain irritations that did not bother me before. I needed to re-think my priorities and when I did, the break up was inevitable.
Being the real estate fanatic that I am, I was knowledgeable about many suburbs. I did not need a real estate agent to educate me about the qualities of a particular suburb or the right questions to ask to smooth my selection process. Yet, my journey into the world of buying the "right" house in the "right" suburb was lengthy and complicated. Obviously, I was not alone. Where was the road map to determine the best suburban fit? As I imagined life in suburbia, I was clear about one thing,-there was no way I was going to live where I grew up.
If faced with the dilemma of the best suburban choice today, I would have the advantage of being a real estate broker. But without my license, my real estate stalker instincts went into overdrive. The internet provided me with all the information I could digest. I scoured every website, and viewed all of the photographs, and statistics to make the selection process easier.
I investigated, researched, obsessed, and fixated on numerous factors which led me to see a variety of homes in numerous suburbs. I critiqued the homes in more ways than I can even count. Where was the house located: On a corner? Near to anything undesirable? Walkable to a Starbucks? (Another one of my addictions.) Was the house on a nice lot? Was I giving up my deck in the city for a decent backyard? Was it too close to the street? Was it in a quiet area? Were the houses nearby nicely maintained? Would I need to renovate? How long would the commute be to work? Was there a train easily accessible? You get the picture, and that was only the beginning of questioning everything about the purchase. I will spare you the questions about the home's interior. Even I could not stand to dissect this decision any longer. I was completely stressed out. My intense struggle to find the right house in the right suburb was just getting in the way. I realized that the decision of one suburb versus another suburb, or one house being better than another house was no different than most life decisions. I needed to focus on core values and keeping a balance in my life. My focus to move was about my children and how to best serve their needs. Re-energized with a specific viewpoint, I found my dream house much quicker. There remained one problem...it was not for sale. Of course that didn't stop me from willing it to be available. I never went up to the door or badgered the owners at any time. Amazingly, one random day I drove past the house again and saw it. It was for sale by owner. I bought that house before I even walked inside. And of course...it was within a mile of where I grew up.