Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Our house, in the middle of the street

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketNearly a year since we arrived, the whole Moving to New Zealand thing has been going pretty darned well, really -- Avril got a swell job just after we arrived, I got a fine job myself in my first week of looking, Peter is settled in and happy at daycare, we love the country and I can eat meat pies and fish and chips whenever I like -- all of it is done of course except for the final piece of the puzzle, a place to call our own. We've been relying on the amazingly grand hospitality of Avril's parents since we arrived, staying in an apartment built on the back of their house, but this was never meant to be more than a temporary fix in the expensive Auckland housing market.

And so we've begun the dreaded house hunt, for the very first time in our lives attempting to move from perpetual renters into bona fide property owners. It's pretty damned daunting, I must admit, and we've only just begun to dip our feet in the water by going to a few open houses and doing a lot of research. And I met with our banker today to get an idea what we can afford and freely admit I only understood about 40% of the conversation.

Pretty much everywhere we've lived the last decade – Lake Tahoe, Oregon, here – we've had the uncanny knack to move there just after the property market explodes in value. Auckland home prices have doubled in value several times over since the 1990s unfortunately, which severely limits our options. No sweeping sea views and matching guest house, in other words. But we're hopeful we can afford a decent townhouse or, fingers crossed, small standalone house, in one of Auckland's less ritzy suburbs but without a gang or crack dealer next door. We're making decent, if not spectacular money, and have next to no debt which is always good. And after getting shafted by our last landlords, we're well and truly sick of the renting thing. But there seems like a hell of a lot we don't know and the uncertainty of it all is creating one heaping helping of stress stew.

I imagine house-buying is like those other big things in life – marriage, having a kid, moving – in that it hopefully isn't quite as bad as you make it out to be in your head before doing it. Or maybe not. Is it worse?

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