Househunting: Perry considers changing his name (part 3)

Part 1

Part 2

We held out hope that this was just a test of patience.  We kept looking at other houses, all the while hoping and even expecting that the house we really wanted would eventually come back on the market if only we were patient and our attitude was good enough.

We looked at so many houses they all started to blend together in my mind.  I could no longer keep them straight or remember which ones had potential and which ones had already been ruled out.  I couldn’t sort the favorites in my head, or remember which living room went with the big backyard and covered deck.

I suspected Perry and a few other people would laugh at me, but I knew what I had to do.  I created a spreadsheet.  Each house was ranked and scored according to 10 different factors, with a total score on the far right.  Now I might not remember the features of each individual house, but I could see at a glance which ones presented the strongest possibilities for us.

I’m sure everyone’s criteria would be different, but ours were: house size in square feet (1 point for every 100 sq. ft. beginning at 2,000), lot size (1 point for every 2,000 sq. ft.), price (based on where it fell relative to our target price range),  proximity to work/church and other places we frequent (1-10), neighborhood safety  (1-10), curb/photo appeal  (1-10), open floorplan  (1-10), cul-de-sac (an extra 5 points), fix factor (how much paint/work did it need, if any? 1-10), and storage (5 points for a garage, 3 for lots of built-ins, 2 for each shed).  We also learned along the way that we were very partial to vaulted ceilings and hard floors in living/wet areas.  A neighborhood with a community pool was a definite plus.

Yes, I could have made it simpler, but I like math and I had fun with this.  I also found it very useful in sorting the possibilities.  It saved us a lot of time in driving by homes for sale if we could look at the overall score and decide that while a home might have one or two very appealing factors it just wasn’t what we were looking for.

Perry admitted that it was somewhat helpful, but that didn’t stop him from laughing at my expense.  “Well, now I know what it takes to get you to listen.  I’m going to change my name to Spreadsheet,” he told me.  “I think it will change our marriage.”

We continued to check home listings.  We were both quietly checking daily for our first love, but we went on with the search.  Maybe God was only testing us.  Maybe it would come back once we turned our attention away from it.
Eventually we narrowed the search to one enormous house.  Again, it wasn’t perfect, but it had the “wow!” factor, if you know what I mean.  It was just a couple of blocks from the first home we had fallen in love with, and it well was over 4,000 square feet!  This time the price was definitely higher than we had hoped for, but it was still technically within our range and the owners were very eager to sell. We knew they would negotiate.  I had some reservations about the utilities for a house this size, the kitchen was very small, and the roof would need to be replaced soon, but it had plenty of amazing features to offset the downsides.  Perry was in love.  The kids had seen it and were in love.  I was outnumbered and within a few days my resolve had weakened; I was willing to be carried along.  If God wanted me in a 4,000 square foot house, who was I to argue?

We decided to make an offer the following day after another round of showings.

Like a bad dream repeating itself, the realtor met us at our first stop with the same news as before: the house we now wanted, which had been on the market for  18 months, was under contract.

I went back to my spreadsheet and added the very first home we had looked at, the one that I thought felt small and choppy.  It scored surprisingly well, and I told Perry I was ready to reconsider it.  Part of my initial reaction against it was just that I had nothing to compare it to, and didn’t want to be hasty.  Another part was that 2,400 square feet just wasn’t as big as I thought.  Our vaulted ceiling and open floor plan really does make our small home feel spacious in a way that I never appreciated until I looked closely at other homes.  The house on E** Drive wasn’t so bad, and the price and location were right.  I was wrong to rule it out so quickly.

We asked for another showing and learned that E** Drive was under contract.

cont’d here: Househunting: a difficult choice (part 4)


  1. The speadsheet idea is great; we’ve done lists of “pros and cons” when house hunting, but a spreadsheet like you did would be ideal. Hopefully we won’t need to use it! We also moved from a beautiful home we built in the country to an older, larger, higher utilities, higher taxes, needs-work house in town for a lot of the same reasons you have (church family, location, community, etc.). The funny thing is, I didn’t think we needed all this room; we only had 2 girls still living at home…but the Lord had other plans, and here we are adopting a sibling group of 3, plus finishing two more bedrooms downstairs to hopefully adopt again!! We’ve never regretted our move, even though people thought we were crazy at the time.

    I think you and your family are going to love it!
    But hurry up and give us the ending before you go into labor!

  2. Seems like this sorta drama happens to those of us frugal slow-to-decide types

  3. It can take time and you shouldn’t rush it in my opinion. We were looking for a single story, less than 1000 sq feet, attached garage, good neighborhood, fenced back yard. When we thought all hope was lost, we found the perfect place. That was 6 years ago and we couldn’t be happier. I think your spreadsheet is a great idea! Follow your heart and the Good Lord will guide you…

  4. Enjoying this series. And you do know, don’t you, that once you’ve had the baby and are settled in your new home, you’re going to have to re-do the ‘virtual house tour’ series that the 4 Moms did? 😉

    • Gwyneth,
      I thought about that too. We’ll be happy to share a new tour once we’re settled. I’ve enjoyed the challenge of living in a small home; now I’m looking forward to the changes that come with extra space!

  5. Marybeth Taylor says:

    Very fun story to read. We are 10 days from due date with baby #4, living (and homeschooling) in under 900 sq ft in the Bay Area and don’t see a move in sight, despite my husband’s specialized job for a world-famous entertainment company! I guess the housing market is shaped by the the 2-income norm. We don’t mind a cozy space for our family- but it’s tricky to show hospitality, and isn’t SO comfortable for entertaining overnight (or even mealtime) guests. Jack and Jill bathroom, only 2 bedrooms, etc… In one sense it has been a source of pride that we can pull it off. In another, I’m beginning to admit that I would be thrilled if the Lord would provide a larger space for our biggish-and-growing family. This is an inspiring story!

    Kim, I’ve had a great time tracking along with your pregnancy. Enjoy these last few days. I’ll be checking out that Call the Midwife show online, per your recommendation. 🙂


    • Marybeth,
      I know how you feel! We have been reasonably comfortable in our little home if we are diligent not to accumulate too much stuff, but it makes overnight guests nearly impossible. While it was satisfying to know that we can be happy in very little space, we are SO looking forward to opening our home to others in a way that just hasn’t been practical here!

      • Marybeth Taylor says:

        I am sure you will find so much pleasure in the new level of hospitality you will be able to show to others. Sounds dreamy.

        Diligent about not accumulating stuff: crucial. In this regard I am no less than militant. Currently I am trying to think of how to gently ask my mom NOT to bring bags of toys and books and random goodies when she comes to help with the new baby. Every time she visits, bless her heart, she enters like Santa Claus with bags of gifts for everyone hanging all over her arms, and all I begin to feel my sanity crumble. Especially after all of the recent nesting/cleaning/decluttering I’ve been doing, that would just push me over the brink. 😉

  6. This is crazy! I can’t wait to find out how God worked it all out!

  7. Is is just me or do you have some negative Nellies reading your blog?
    We are about to start this process. I hope the selling of our house falls into place like yours did. That would be so wonderful!
    Can’t wait to see baby news AND house news! Congrats on both!

  8. Wow, this is dramatic. We just moved into our home a month ago after a 14 month search. I had a friend just move to a new state & her husband created a spreadsheet, but he used percentages.

  9. I have to wonder if maybe your supposed to stay where your at? When we were trying to move back to the Pacific Northwest to be closer to family we were thwarted at every attempt. We finally gave up and God has changed our lives in those past several years since then. We now don’t want to leave for any reason. Either you haven’t found the right house or its not time to move but this much drama’s makes me think maybe reevaluation is in order. When the time is right everything will just click into place without drama. Just me 2 cents worth.

  10. An obsevation about this post and a response to a comment ^^^ up there somewhere:

    Lest anyone lose the punch and genius of my joke…Kim wouldn’t even consider the first house we looked at (I loved it based on location and price), didn’t even want to think about it until….she created the spreadsheet and punched it into her grid and it rated higher than any other house on the spreadsheet. That’s when I told her I might change my name…. 😀

    maryjo is surprised to hear of us looking at larger houses. Well we have never had anything against a larger house, we have simply tried to make do with our small house as best we can. Through careful planning, research, and thinking outside the box I’ve been pleased with all the ingenious ways Kim has made our snug life more functional and comfortable. We stayed on the country property in the small house for so long for a variety of reasons including the proximity to family, and the elbow room the 5 acres afforded our kids. Now that we have decided to get closer to town we want to get the best house for our family that we can afford. This includes proximity to family and church family, as well as being close to work. I think you’ll see as the series progresses that we’ve achieved all of that.

  11. Now don’t you have this baby before you get to finish this story or we’ll really have to practice some patience!

  12. Oh my head!! I am eagerly following the saga, hoping that each installment will bring a happy ending. Not to be!! Can’t wait for more!

  13. HeatherHH says:

    We lived in an 1160 sq ft home up to having 5 children ages 8 and under with #6 on the way. Then we moved cross-country to be near family and obviously had to get a new house. I had always felt that big families didn’t need huge homes and really didn’t want to have one. Some of that was the practical aspect of caring for it; some was not desiring to live in extravagance; and the rest was a healthy dose of pride.

    When we went house hunting, we found something in our price range (limited by the fact we’d only pay cash), with 2 acres, 15 min from work, seemed a nice house on a lot of features we were looking for, and was better than anything else we looked at. But, it was 3200 sq ft, which was bigger than I wanted. In the end, it seemed silly to not take it because of my hangup about the square footage number, when it seemed very much like God had provided it. The foreclosure list price was really good, but we were able to get it for substantially less after only a few weeks on the market because we offered in cash and no inspection. After our offer was accepted, people started beating down the door interested. God’s hand was definitely in it.

    I know we could have managed with less, but doing so had become a point of pride with me. I learned to accept that God wanted to bless us in this way. We’ve now been here 2 years, and I am glad we bought it.

    Heather (mom to seven children ages 11 and under)

  14. I have been following your blog for years now and I have to say I was very surprised to hear you were entertaining a 4000 square foot house. Thats seems to go against everything you’ve ever written about your home. I do understand though because I have often wondered how you managed so many in such a small space but always felt thats what you prided yourself on. Looking forward to the rest of the story.

    • maryjo,
      Perry answered you, but I just want to reiterate what he said. We have nothing against big houses. We just don’t believe that they are necessary for a large family, and have done our best within our means. We moved out to this area to be near family and built what we could afford at the time, intending to add on as we were able. We never intended to have a family of 12 in this little house, but we were content when that was where God had us.
      Now we feel that He has opened the door for us to move to town and we’re doing our best to find a home that will suit our family and our goals of hospitality and fellowship. A bigger house certainly fits that need better, though it definitely doesn’t need to be 4,000 square feet!

  15. I know just how you feel. I used to think I needed to charge a fee for selling all the houses that we fell in live with. I may could have made a killing. 🙂 The Lord will drop just the right one in your lap, and it’s gonna be awesome.

  16. Wow. We went through 3 years of house-hunting till God allowed us to buy the one we are in now. We were in a rental at the time (which we had planned to only be in for 10 months, but ended up staying 3 yrs.). It was a constant battle the entire time, as we looked at many different properties and each one had its problems, or when we went to put an offer down it would be off the market. It’s rather funny to look back at it now. We went on so many property drives out in the country, and wasted hundreds of dollars in gas! We even went searching in another province to see if God was leading us there. But now we are in a great little town with so many of our friends close by, it’s wonderful! We just had to learn to be patient.
    God bless you on your search for a new home.

  17. It seems all your housing economy needed to get a boost was for you to start looking at homes! I eagerly await the happy ending of this saga! 🙂

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