Archive for August 1st, 2015

August 1, 2015


by Tabitha Kidwell

A year ago today, I moved into my house in DC. It was on the dodgier end of Columbia Heights, I had two roommates, and the place was a total disaster. I spent most of the month of August cleaning and organizing, and by the time my semester started, the place looked great! Though sharing a bathroom with two (initially) total strangers wasn’t ideal, we all got used to each other, and I came to love living there – especially my sunny bedroom and the peaceful front porch. As I was nearing the end of spring semester, however, my sister bought a new house in Colorado. After looking at her house on Redfin, a real estate listing webpage, I did a few searches to just see what was listed in DC. I searched for places in the district under $175,000 – which cut down the results real fast – and I was surprised to see that there actually were places within my then entirely hypothetical price range. I kept coming back to one listing, a little studio in a co-op in Adams Morgan, just to see if there were any status changes. After a week or so, I thought, “I’ll just go see it.” My realtor was super smooth and somehow convinced me to put in an offer – “no strings attached, you’re just holding your place” – and, almost without trying, I was under contract!

At that point, I had to start putting in some effort, because next came weeks of jumping through hoops – reviewing the co-op documents, doing the inspection, and digging up endless financial documents for my loan officer. Anyone who has bought a house knows the gauntlet you have to go through. It’s a pain in the neck, but then it’s just over. And the hustle and bustle distracts from the fact that you are preparing for the largest financial transaction of your life so far. I kept thinking I should feel stressed out or anxious, but the truth is, I felt very little emotion about the whole thing – neither positive nor negative. It just seemed like the right thing to do – a pragmatic financial decision. In the final calculation, the amount I needed for closing and the down payment was almost exactly what I had saved, my monthly mortgage payment was precisely the amount my measly graduate student stipend let me qualify for, and my HOA fees and mortgage total about $10 less than what I paid in rent. I’m not especially superstitious, but I do love synchronicity, and the fact that everything added up so nicely was comforting.

So now, I live in a nicer place, in a nicer area, with no roommates, for less than I was paying before. Seems too good to be true, but it’s helped by the fact that I used to live in a pretty crummy place in a bit of a rough area. My new neighborhood is Adams Morgan, which is full of bars and restaurants, between the green/yellow and red lines, and steps from the trails in Rock Creek Park. It’s actually only 1.3 miles from Park View, where I used to live – I basically moved the other side of Columbia Heights, and still take the metro out to campus from the same stop. It’s a 400 square feet studio, which isn’t huge, but it’s big enough for me, my books, and my bikes – in fact, I need to buy more furniture! The best part is that I have a kitchen and bathroom all to myself! I hadn’t realized how much I hated sharing a fridge and shower with two roommates until I didn’t have to any longer. My first night, I just kept looking inside my semi-empty refrigerator. I have never owned a refrigerator before! Or a stove, ceiling fan, or sink, for that matter. And certainly not a charming old clawfoot tub. But now I do. I’m a homeowner! Once I’m more settled, I’ll post pictures, but I have already learned that lots of home improvement projects come along with home ownership. That should fill the month of August again this year!