Wednesday, October 24, 2012

House hunting: Strike two!

Someone offered 200k cash for the house. That's 25% over asking and was 28k more than my upper offer. Good gravy, how is a person supposed to compete in that kind of situation? I guess the answer is, they don't. Back to the drawing board.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

House hunting: possibilities

I'm a decisive person and I find being in the deciding stage very uncomfortable. I like to make a decision and move on, thank you, and have no problem revisiting and changing the decision later if necessary. But right now I'm in the middle of a decision that is NOT easy to revisit, and it's painful!

I've put a fair amount of thought into what I want and why I want to buy. I've been saving 27% of my take-home salary (and now that I'm renting a room from a friend, I'm saving 42%) towards the down payment. I have been watching the market and have already made (and lost!) my first attempt to buy.

In the three-plus weeks I've been back I've done lots of driving, biking, and walking around looking at neighborhoods and absorbing being back in Portland.

I even visited the condo group I've been stalking eying for the past year or so, and got super close to making an offer before realizing they are facing a lot of complex problems AND I can save myself several hundred dollars a month by buying elsewhere. I do have hopes of joining that community, perhaps ten years from now, but maybe I'm kidding myself.

Anyway, Sunday night I came home from the condo association's open meeting just feeling so disappointed and not at all sure I should take the plunge and make an offer. I saw a little house online that was in a great location (not as great as the condos), four miles from downtown Portland, 0.9 miles due east from three of my friends' households, 1.3 miles from one of my favorite breakfast spots, and 2 miles or less from several other really great locations. The price was even lower than the condo I'd been so set on, with a quarter the taxes and no built-in HOAs.

I was a little concerned I was acting in a rebound mode, and wondered if it would be indecorous to buy so soon after spending time with the condo people, but I arranged to see the house midday Monday. As far as I can tell it would cost about what I was paying in rent for all my fixed expenses (mortgage, interest, utilities, taxes, insurance), and I would be able to continue to allocate about a third of my take-home pay toward an emergency fund and home maintenance/projects/mortgage paydown.

The house is small (I actually laughed when I got inside and saw what an amazing job the photographer had done to make it look bigger than it is), but it's big enough for me. It's not perfect but I can see living there for the foreseeable future, and would likely be able to resell or rent it out without a lot of problems. The neighborhood has some really interesting businesses in it and is still being discovered by the city residents. 

So to sum up: I'm making an offer today.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Settling in: Free time!

It's already two weeks (and a bit!) since I returned to Portland. I'm working 8-5 and my commute takes no time at all. So what am I doing with my free time? It's a bit haphazard so far, but it's actually been rather busy. Among the highlights:
  • Rejoined my old book group
  • Went to a couple wine tastings - at Friday night's I was invited to find out more about some food/wine group, at Saturday's I was invited to drop in on a regular Thursday tasting. I am not convinced either will pan out, but it was nice in any case. 
  • Went to a couple different yarn shops - I think I've been inside two different shops a total of 5 times in the last couple of weeks...but did NOT purchase every time, thank goodness. 
  • Had brunch at a friend's.
  • Gave blood.
  • Went to a movie (and nearly wept with joy to pay 12.50 for the movie, a slice of pizza, a pint of beer AND a tip).
  • Went to a pub to see some music (it was a total Portland experience, including the sidewalk chit chat that covered camping, biking, and global warming).
  • Helped a friend paint a rental property.
  • Helped another friend with some yard work
  • Went out for Ethiopian food while watching the debates
On the to-do list:
  • I just joined another book group, coordinated by a former coworker. We will meet for the first time next month. I belonged to two book groups about a decade ago, and frankly it's probably unwise, but I'm doing it in the name of expanding my social circle!
  • I'd like to find a good knitters group to join
  • I'd also like to find some bluegrass music venues to check out 
I've also walked and biked around my part of Portland quite a bit, looking at cute little houses, wishing I thought I could afford one, wondering if I'm REALLY willing to commit to yard work and the maintenance of a dwelling...

One weird thing is that shopping is a non-starter. I'm not really cooking much, I don't have any nesting to do so long as I'm renting a room, and I'm avoiding the one shopping trip I really need to do - getting an office chair from IKEA. Maybe tomorrow....

Finally, my roommate turned me on to the existence of a panaderia - a Mexican (or at least Latin American) bakery in my neighborhood. Oh. My. Goodness. They make everything themselves from the puff pastry (hard!) to the pastry cream (not so hard) and it was gooood and inexpensive. So far I've only visited once but the writing is on the wall there.

I have some upcoming social plans to reconnect with more people. We'll see how this all settles down after I've been here a while. So far, so good. Fingers crossed. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Working from home: Food

So I already mentioned I'm not really settled in and am not doing much cooking yet. So what am I eating? I've been pretty healthy, actually, due at least partly to my housemate who is both crazy-frugal and very health-conscious. Dave wastes absolutely nothing - it's daunting, honestly. On the plus side, though, I can easily pawn anything off on him by hinting I might just throw it out!

My first week here I ate yogurt & knock-off brand cheerios for breakfast. Lunch was usually a piece of flat bread, with spinach leaves and eggplant hummus (recommended by my housemate because it's got the best fat-to-protein ratio...). A couple of days I ate cottage cheese and tomatoes, and also got some boxed soup I could nuke by the cup.

Now that it's *much* chillier here in the mornings, I've been microwaving oatmeal: a half cup of rolled (not instant!) oats, one cup of water, a sprinkle of salt - I put that in for one minute, then I add half of a chopped-up apple and put it back in for another minute. Tasty AND warming!

For lunch or dinner I've been doing more boxed soup by the mugful, and I also got a bag of washed & chopped kale. I've been putting a bowlful in the microwave for a minute, then stirring in tahini, soy sauce, hot sauce, and a bit of olive oil - yum!

Yesterday I made some cous cous and started eating through the food that had been in my earthquake kit - yesterday and today I had half a tuna/green curry packet from Trader Joe's, and I still have a couple of packets of spiced chickpeas.

Yes, technically I still live in earthquake country (in fact many scientists expect a truly big one here at some point) but trust me - my housemate's stores would support us a LOT longer than the recommended three days.

So even though I'm not truly cooking, I'm doing fairly well on the nutrition front. I noticed my jeans felt a bit loose but then I remembered I'd been wearing them every day for ... a while. That's the benefit of working from home!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Settling in-ish

So, I'm here and settling in. I got a new mattress (omg rock hard..but I think we'll be happy together) and I'm being pretty productive working from home. I've started doing my new job duties and they're going to be engaging and challenging, so fingers crossed on the work front.

Socially I've been able to meet up with some friends, which has been lovely. Until today autumn has been amazingly gorgeous and I've enjoyed walking or biking around my current neighborhood just soaking it in.

I'm a bit discombobulated, for sure. Saturday night I had no plans, and if I were home in my own space I would have cooked or baked or watched a dvd and knitted; here I'm not really set up for those activities. So I played a bunch of online scrabble with a friend and read a bit. I've requested several more titles from the library so I'll have more options on my quiet evenings.

I definitely miss my coworkers - online interaction is not nearly the same - and I didn't expect that I'd miss having people to actually talk about my day to day work with. My housemate asks, and I can tell him a bit, but it's not the same. I just spent 6 years with people who live and breathe the same job I do, so of course I feel a bit adrift from that common experience!

None of this feels real yet, and I think it won't until I'm in my own digs. I'm still watching the market but have done some math and think I'll be better off if I can stay put in my rental until after the holidays. So unless the absolute perfect thing hits the market, I don't think I'll be making any abrupt moves just yet. Given the whirlwind of the last few months that is definitely for the best!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

So, that happened

Well, look at that! In some sort of bizarre folding of space and time, I now live in Portland instead of the Bay Area.

The move went pretty well, but yeah .. I had a lot of stuff. I ordered a 12-foot truck but was given a 16-footer instead. The movers said I probably wouldn't have fit in a smaller truck, though I DID wind up just tossing in some furniture I'd intended to get rid of, so there was some leeway they didn't know about. On the other end of the trip I'd booked a 5x10 storage unit, and man is that thing stuffed to the gills!

The actual trip was reasonably painless. A friend was driving my car, and I drove the truck (aren't I brave? well no, not really - the truck's cab was air conditioned, so I kinda screwed my friend! ...I did offer to trade later on but he declined). I'd estimated we'd be pulling out of my driveway at 3pm on move day (Thursday), and we would have been perfect except for when I obeyed my building manager's instructions and locked my keys in my apartment...but I forgot to free my car from the locked garage first! And we didn't realize it until we'd exited the building! Fortunately my friend got the mail carrier to let him into the building and I was able to track down one of the few people home on a weekday afternoon, and he opened the garage for me. Whew! So that only delayed our start by about 15 minutes.

The first day we drove as far as Redding (about four hours north), arriving around 8pm. Friday we had a leisurely morning, first in Redding hanging out with our host, and then about an hour north in the scenic town Dunsmuir. Our goal was Corvallis, and we arrived around 8:30pm. On Saturday we had another slow start to the day,  having breakfast with our host, and headed north around 11. We rolled into my storage unit just south of town at 12:45, and two friends met us there at 1.

Unloading the truck took just over an hour - I'm SO grateful to have had help! - and the unit is literally full to the ceiling. I could possibly extract things if I must, but hopefully I can just let it sit there until I am ready to move.

Then my friends came to my new digs and helped unload the last of my stuff, and we got beer.

I'm renting a room from a friend and it's taking a little time to get it organized - my clothes are unpacked, and the ingredients for a delicious drink a friend taught me, but otherwise I have boxes and last night I slept on a bedroll on the floor, since my host's air mattress was killing my back. Tomorrow, my new mattress arrives and I may never get up again!

Working from home is going pretty well, though I have to work out a better ergonomic situation. Settling into Portland doesn't feel at all real yet... I will write more about that later.