Thursday, April 3, 2008

Complicated

This week Partner and I are visiting our future small town, in part because I wanted to meet particular professors emeriti and visit a field research term in progress, but we also wanted to start our search for housing. I'm lucky that a friend of mine from a field project is now a visiting professor at this College, so we get to stay with her while doing business.

Yesterday we were home with her old but adorable cat when he had a stroke (he's ok now, but it was a frightening thing to watch!) I'm glad we could help by calling my friend at work and telling the vet what had happened, but it's sad to watch the final stages of his kitty life.

More directly related to life in general is our disappointment over the lack of available rental properties in our future home; we had planned to rent for a year, get to know the area, figure out what Partner would be doing, and then buy something in 2009. Our current lease ends at the end of May, and ideally we wanted find something available in early June. However, it looks like we won't find anything available until July or August, and although we might just be a bit early to find available properties, it also seems that renting here is a very hit-or-miss situation in general. We might be able to find something later, or we might not, particularly because I'm going to be fairly picky about where we live due to several bad-neighbor experiences that I've had over the past few years. Most incoming faculty buy houses, and there seems to be very little knowledge in general about how or where we might be able to find something to rent.

After driving around for a few days, we've started wondering whether we should try to buy something now. That wasn't in the plans, so it's stressing me out; I have no idea how home-buying works, or whether I'd be able to do it with any financial security. We'd be counting on my salary alone for the time being, and because part of my graduate fellowships aren't taxable, my income tax returns list me at a fairly low income bracket. I'm not sure how that would affect my chances of getting a loan. We can put down $10 k or so, but that would be at the expense of paying off my student loans and it wouldn't make up the suggested 20% down payment either.

We're talking to a local real estate broker tomorrow, and we'll see what she says. If we can find something we like, I might be willing to go for it, but I have no idea how difficult this might be!

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