What? No one wants to rent a house to someone with 3 cats?! We can’t find a house to buy and now we can’t find a house to rent. Just when I was about to lose hope, enter the miracle worker, Jodi. You can read the beginning of the story here. The plot thickens and now onto house number five.
Side Note . . .
Up to this point, all the above houses we missed out on were before our actual move across the country from Michigan to California. We moved in August of 2015 and the three of us were living in three different towns, all in different guest rooms. I moved in with my parents 75 minutes away, our teenage daughter moved in with John’s parents 60 minutes away, and John stayed with gracious friends near his work.
What if we couldn’t find a house in our desired neighborhood? What if we just kept getting outbid? How much longer could we stay apart? No one would rent to us with three cats so we started looking at other options. This is when we strayed from the plan. I know, I know. We spent about a week looking at homes outside of our target neighborhood.
The Waterfront Property
We got super duper close to purchasing this house. Oh. My. Gosh. The house and the property were absolutely everything I wanted. It checked off everything on my wish list–plus some.
Do your research. This property backed up to the water treatment plant. Thus our funny little description of the waterfront property. The plant was blocked by trees so it really wasn’t that big of a deal until we looked up the property line on the county website. The backyard was technically only half the size that was currently being used. The other half of the backyard was an easement to the water treatment plant. Meaning, the backyard looked like it was twice its actual size. We spent a week asking questions and trying to find answers to see if this part of the property could ever be taken back. We could not get a concrete answer. That was too much of a red flag for us, so we walked away.
What we loved about it. The floor plan, the vaulted ceilings, the white kitchen, the large outdoor covered patio, the fruit trees, the rose garden, the berries, the giant oak tree in the backyard.
Why I’m glad we missed out. It wasn’t in our target neighborhood. This was a non-negotiable issue for us. What were we thinking? Desperate times call for desperate measures and we lost focus.
The Rental House
Our friend Jodi, aka the miracle worker, work in property management. She knew one of her clients was considering selling a house in our desired neighborhood. She contacted the owner and they allowed us to walk through. Spoiler – this is now our urban cottage because after reading there is more to the story.
I don’t know why I didn’t like it at first. Maybe it was because the tenant was there watching us walk around. This made for a really awkward 5-minute walk/run through of the house. It didn’t have everything on the wish list. I knew I wasn’t going to get everything on my list but, to be honest, I think I was tired, frustrated, and just not paying close enough attention to the miracle that was going to happen. Plus, the house just flat-out smelled bad.
To make a long story short, we told Jodi we weren’t interested in buying the house but we were wondering if the owner would rent to us month-to-month WITH the cats until we found something to buy. The answer was yes, but she would want to sell it after the holidays. This would buy us some time to keep looking and all be back together under one roof.
The Garden House
Shortly after we moved into the rental house, the garden house hit the MLS at 8:30 a.m. We toured it at noon and placed a nice big offer over asking. We were going to play the pool house game and win! This was really a yard with a house to go with it. Fruit were trees everywhere, birds and nature galore, an outdoor pergola, and a koi pond. Everything was looking great. The selling realtor told our realtor it looked good and we were the highest bidder. That was until the 72-hour mark. Boom. They got an offer they couldn’t refuse. Sold! Darn it, again.
Why I loved this house. The yard. I just really loved the yard. It felt like paradise to me.
Why I’m glad we missed out. The house was going to be a lot of work. It was a fixer-upper. I think it would have been a complete money pit.
Home Sweet Home
On a warm September evening sitting outside on our patio at the rental house, we were eating a late dinner. John said to me “let’s just buy this place.” We had moved in about 20 percent of our things – beds, sofa, and basic kitchen needs. Knowing we were going to up and move again, we didn’t want to fully unpack the storage unit.
We were functioning perfectly fine on just the basics in our new little home. We contacted the owner and she said she would sell to us, but not until the spring. With the busy holidays and traveling back to Michigan to see family, that timing would be fine with us.
Over the next few months, we started to fall in love with the house more and more. I began dreaming up the projects we would do to put our own stamp on it. At the beginning of April 2016, we closed on the house.
Jodi, the Miracle Worker
I really do think of Jodi as our miracle worker and this house as a true blessing. We purchased from the owner, so the house never went on the market. No chances of being outbid! Woot! We were able to test drive the house, and the neighbors, before we bought. How many people get the chance to do that?
Living small has been an adjustment but we welcome the challenge with creativity and anticipation. We have lots of plans for our urban cottage. Some of those plans are going to take years to accomplish. I look forward to sharing those projects as well as personal stories along the way.