May 30 2011

Our house-hunting toolkits


I have a little tote bag filled with some tools to help with our house-hunting:

  • Notebook solely for house info. I jot down notes on houses we’ve toured, sketch quick floor plans to remind me of what I’ve seen, store lists of our must-haves and would-likes, list pros & cons of what we’ve seen, etc. It’s helpful to have all of this info in one place, because details can easily be forgotten when you’ve seen a few houses.
  • A flashlight. Some houses are empty and the lighting might not be powerful enough to see aspects of the room. Also, I use it to get more detail on what’s going on under sinks (don’t want to see evidence of leaks or mildew!). I’ve used my light to get a closer look at what info is listed on the furnace for me to write down and look up later if I wanted. Lastly, I’ve pointed my flashlight into a house’s crawl space to peek at the situation down there. My shoes and clothing choices that day didn’t make it a good idea for me to actually get in the space, but I could see a fair amount just by peeking and shining my light.
  • A tape measure. Listed room dimensions on the sale sheet do not necessarily equal reality. We toured a house that had the kitchen, dining area and family room flow in one big space. The dimensions on the list sheet were much more than the dimensions we measured ourselves. It’s also handy to measure things like available countertop space. For example, some people see a kitchen with a large floor space and assume it’s a “big” kitchen. But if it’s poorly laid out and doesn’t actually have much counter space, that’s something to consider.
  • A camera. It’s helpful to take pictures if the online listing doesn’t show a particular detail or room. Plus, I can fire my flash in a dimly-lit room and the image can show a lot of detail that I might not see otherwise.

I have an online toolkit of sorts too, to help me evaluate listings:

  • I’ve been using our realtor’s MLS page to help search for a house meeting our criteria
  • GreatSchools helps me evaluate areas based on school system. Even if you don’t have school-aged children or will insist on private school or home school for them, it is important to consider the public school system for future resale considerations.
  • Crime info listed on the IndyGov site and the Marion County homicide map on the Indy Star site
  • A map of where registered offenders live
  • Info on City-Data to show general census data of areas, but also the message boards are helpful to get perspective on neighborhoods and towns.
  • Neighborhood Scout for general info on neighborhoods
  • And Google Maps to view a house’s proximity to other things and also the street view feature to get a better look at the house and neighbhorhood.

What else can I add to my online or physical toolkits?

May 27 2011

Hi! We’re here!


WOOSH it has been a crazy week.

We made it to Indianapolis safely and with minimal tears and problems. Our internet just got hooked up and it’s nice to be back in the online land.

Some miscellany:

– I bid on a hotel using Priceline (after clicking through from Ebates of course) and we paid $50 plus tax for a night in Columbus, Ohio. The hotel had an in-room fireplace and a full kitchen. It was pretty nice! Breakfast was included and we enjoyed make-your-own waffles and eggs & sausage and fruit and the sort. I am SO glad we didn’t try to make the whole drive after a long day of moving and cleaning and stuff.

– Our apartment lease is month-to-month for an extra $100 monthly. When we arrived to sign the lease, it wasn’t listed as such. It was a standard yearly lease. Um. The office assistant even said, “A lot of people just save time and sign now and read later.” Well. Really. How about I read the lease to make sure it is exactly what we agreed to on the phone?

– Indianapolis is so different from Pittsburgh. It’s easy to navigate, since the city is on a grid. I am still getting used to how flat and sprawling everything is.

– It has been amazing seeing family as often as we have! In a week’s time, we’ve seen my parents, Shane’s parents, my grandma, Shane’s aunt, and Shane’s brother and new sister-in-law … just in our apartment! We’ve also seen other family thanks to Shane’s brother’s wedding over the weekend. It’s nice living so close!

– Shane’s commute is 5-7 minutes long, depending on stoplights and if I drive him. If I drive him, he doesn’t have to park which saves an extra minute or two :). It took 7-10 minutes for him just to walk to the train stop in Pittsburgh. It is great seeing him in the morning and having him home so much earlier in the evenings. It feels like we have enough time to actually have a life!

– We toured 4 houses this week. One is decent, the other three were silly. The search continues.

Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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