Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tales from the Eco-House Hunting Files

(I am going to avoid the entire: sorry I've been away! bit... cuz I feel like it wastes an entire blog post- instead I'm going to jump right in!)

House hunting is stressful. I know everyone says that, kinda like everyone said wedding planning would be stressful, but I think I was hoping it would be EXCITING. There have been EXCITING moments, but for the most part it's been STRESSFUL.

I have practiced yoga once in the past three weeks :( I know. It's that bad.

Mostly, this isn't as straight forward because both Andrew and I are being a bit picky. Which, considering the moderate budget we have, I don't think we should feel guilty about. We *used* to sit back and make fun of all the house hunters people on HGTV that were ridiculously picky about the houses they viewed ("OMG this kitchen is a COMPLETE gut")...

And now we can no longer point fingers. We have become those people.

One reason that is making this more difficult is that we want to live in a more rural setting. We don't want to be able to see our neighbours. This means a commute into the city. Which means more gas spent (thank goodness my little jelly bean is uber fuel efficient) AND most likely a second car purchase. We were hoping, 7 years ago, that our next car purchase would be 100% electric. I don't know, we had these crazy ideas that by 2010 the world would be filled with frolicking, sunshine and lollipops, electric vehicles and charging stations. We must have been on crack.

Living urban and even a suburban life will suck away all the joy in our souls. Which we definitely do not want to happen. No joy sucking please.

So. Rural living it is. What has been interesting has been dealing with a SUPER suburban realtor. Trying to bring about a paradigm shift in his house hunting thinking has been a process. But we're getting better at communicating more clearly (and less tiptoeing) about what we want.

It's funny how most urban people are AFRAID of wells and septic systems. I had no idea the utter fear and general "nez en l'air" people had towards off the municipal-city systems. Having grown up on well water I can say that they are not scary, nor are they often filled with e-coli, nor are they a TON of extra work, and actually the water is processed and filtered (naturally!) very effectively. Well water tastes fabulous. No really. It does.

And no, you don't need to get your septic tank pumped every so often. The "poo" is often filtered naturally into the ground... just like any other fertilization system.

Ok, back to house hunting. Poo and water rant aside.

Beyond rural living, we also would prefer to not live in a cookie cutter house. I know... we are being difficult. But we don't plan on reselling any time soon. I really love houses that look like cottages (you know, vaulted ceilings, wood, that stuff) or older heritage style homes. BUT we don't have the budget or means to do a fixer upper.

So... you can understand now that we don't have a lot of options that jump out after those (weird) qualifications.  If we added our original hopes of environmental qualifications (geothermal, passive solar heating, eco finishes). Embarrassingly, there was actually ONE house that had a whole slew of eco finishes and aspects that we stumbled upon... but within a few days it sold.

If only we could afford to build our own home. (again, this doesn't scare me since this is the norm I grew up with, living rurally most people build their own homes). Le sigh, recent changes in mortgage rules makes it almost impossible for new home buyers to get a building mortgage.

Right now we are thinking the following things:
1. rural and privacy is key
2. no split level houses please (cookie cutter boxes)
3. no massive fixer uppers
4. large windows and something funky would be nice.
5. just like wedding planning and what I hear about pregnancies, everyone has an opinion about what is best for house hunting.

Hopefully the eco-aspects could be added later... right?


  1. I remember being the same way when I was house hunting. I wanted something close to the city, though - but I refused to live anywhere that had a homeowner's association covenant. As time was winding down, I had one day that I looked at 17 houses. (seriously). I ended up putting in offers quite a few times, which didn't pan out. But I was glad, in the end, when I walked into a house and was like "this is IT." And I owned it for six years before I had to move on for work reasons.

    You'll get there. The universe will send the perfect house when you're ready.

  2. Good luck on the house hunting. Like I said the other day Upper Sackville and Mount Uniacke are pretty good place to be rural without being long gone from society. Beaver Bank is good too (That's where I grew up!) But there is a much better commute from US/MU for sure.

  3. good luck! aren't there realtors you could work with who are more rural than suburban? i think it's the same here in the nyc tristate area, that the hunt for a small non-split-level house would be a hard enough search without trying to find a place that already has eco heating etc. also, feel lucky that you can afford to buy a home within commutable distance of your jobs. one of the reasons i haven't left the city yet is that most of the easily commutable towns are super suburban/not hip.

  4. I feel your house hunting pain. We went through it 2 years ago. We bought one of those damn cookie cutter homes in the end (built from scratch) because of our our picky choices worked out for us (it was the compromise that we agreed on). Near the river, close to a small village, plenty of green space but accessible by commuter train. I thought it be so fun to look at houses. And it was but it wasn't. And then we tried to work with the builder. They nearly had a hissy fit when I asked to install a grey water system (that is, after I explained what it was). And like you, I thought that when I sold Lucy the LoveBug, I would go electric, but alas... the world still hasn't popularized the electric car to the point of making it an affordable purchase. Next car! Good luck finding your perfect rural cottage! It'll come, it just might take time and a lot of patience.

  5. Ha oh man, sounds like it's definitely been a frustrating process but with such a big investment, it sounds like the right time to be pickier no? Still what an exciting venture this is and once the purchase is made, I'll look forward to reading all about it. Keep your head up! Sending some extra positivity and energy your way!

  6. Oh hunting can be so hard. But I know eventually you will come upon just the right place and yes, be able to add those eco features later! I don't blame you for wanting to live rurally. It does have the disadvantage of having to commute, but there are so many pluses that even it out!


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