December 26, 2011

Our Search for a New Home: A Little Background

We hope everyone has been enjoying the holidays. While winding down from the business surrounding Christmas, we're taking a slower day today to gear right back up for continuing the move into our new digs. Tim and I were able to coordinate taking the week off of our regular work schedules here at the end of the year in order to get everything straight and hopefully move the majority of our old house over to the new. If we're lucky, we might just be able to get a few things organized and into place somewhere along the way.

While we take a little downtime today to rest, recover, and plan for the week ahead, we thought we'd share more of the background behind our move to the Fan district — in case anyone was as surprised as we are to find ourselves moving so suddenly!

To make a long story short... 
We've been actively looking to move further into the city of Richmond for 2 years since I moved back home from living in Brooklyn for 3 1/2 years. We've had a unique situation in that Tim already owns the house we have been living in, I had been saving over time for a home in the future — those two circumstances paired with a down housing market put us in a good position to start looking for the house of our dreams in a much more realistic price range without any pressure to move from Tim's house if the right one took a while to come along.

Over the 2 years we've been looking, we've gotten a realistic idea of what's out there, what historic homes in Richmond have and don't have to offer — and we gained the ability to recognize a diamond in the rough when it comes along. Once we set foot in this home, we knew it was for us and didn't waste anytime proceeding to make an offer. Now a little over a month after walking into the open house showing, we're already making it our own.

Views from the front and back of our Fan home

To make a long story longer...
Tim has lived in the home we've been in for over 11 years and while he loved the location, always wanted to move into more of a city house. I've always loved the city and actually lived in this same fan neighborhood for about 5 years throughout high school and some college. Obviously, living in Brooklyn also helped grow my own budding affection for city living. One of the things Tim and I have always agreed on is our disdain for the suburbs (while ideal living for many, they're just not for us).

For years, even while we lived apart dating long distance, we've imagined and enjoyed talking about how one day we'd have a home in the city where Tim wouldn't have grass to mow, where we can actually walk or bike to restaurants & parks, and the majority of our challenges would be in figuring out how to garden and cultivate in a truly urban setting.

The only issue as we see it with a smaller backyard is in not having the large fenced in space for Basil to run freely. Luckily, he has taken to the new space really well, we've found a surprisingly large grassy partitioned street to walk him down (the famous Monument Avenue) and we are in the midst of uncovering the secret dog parks of the Fan. We've heard rumors twice now of a hidden dog park off of Strawberry Street where dog owners congregate with the pups.

Given this background, from the time I moved back to Richmond from New York and in with Tim, we've been looking at open houses on the weekends and watching what was coming up on the market online over the past two years. Funnily enough, though we both love the Fan district, neither of us thought that's where we ultimately wanted to be and were looking more closely at other historic Richmond neighborhoods including Woodland Heights, Jackson Ward, and Church Hill.  We were looking so much that some realtors would eventually recognize us as we walked in the door saying we are always doing the "open house circuit".

It just so happened that one Sunday while looking at open houses, we were lucky enough to have both of Tim's children with us (as they get older and with Stephanie in College, it's rarer and rarer that we see them both at the same time). On a whim, we went into a few open showings in the Fan — on the tail end of the trip we came upon this house. It was an almost immediate feeling of being in our home from the time we walked in.

We thought more about it that evening and the next day decided to call our agent to schedule another walk-through later in the week. Before our agent could call us back, Tim received an email from the selling agency that another offer had been placed on the house — so we had to act quickly to put it lightly. Everything has actually happened extremely fast. From the time we first looked at the house to the time we closed, barely 30 days had passed. We didn't want to share the news until we knew it was a 100% done deal since we've been on the losing end of an offer on a house before and know how home transactions can fall through at any step during the process. It's been a bit of a whirlwind to say the least. 

One of the best coincidences (maybe fate) about the new place we're in is the fact my 100 year old (still living and kicking) grandmother grew up on the same street right here in the fan. It's actually where she met my grandfather who also lived on this street a few houses away from her over 80 years ago. Tim and I are still trying to pinpoint the exact homes where my grandparents grew up, which we might have look into title records for, but are realizing that we may be as close as 1 block away from both the homes. Granny may have known the folks who used to live in our new home and may have even played inside this house with children living here.

All in all, we're thrilled to have finally found the home we've been dreaming about since we first started dating and are loving every minute of getting acquainted with the space between our new walls. Our goal is to have everything from our other house moved over to the new space by the end of January so we can focus on getting that house in shape to rent and this place in shape to begin the cosmetic and other work we hope to take on over time.  It's one of our biggest projects yet, but we're looking forward to sharing more as we embark on this new journey.


  1. So exciting! Glad you've found your new home :)

  2. Congratulations! We'll be thinking of you guys while we coordinate our own big move. Here's to exciting new homes!

  3. Thanks guys,

    Chris! Was beyond thrilled to hear of your news about moving to Philly but even more excited about the news of your little one on the way. That's gonna be one smart cookie. Looking forward to following along with you and Kelly!!!

  4. Congratulations! I love historic homes too... so much character and charm.

  5. Hey, I really enjoy your blog. One bit of advice, if I may?

    You don't have to go digging through titles to find out where your grandparents lived. Check out the Richmond city directories. The Virginia Historical Society (where I work, on the Boulevard) has some and you can easily look up your great-grandparents and your grandparents and find out where they lived and in some cases what they did for a living. We'd love to see you in the library some time.

    xx Katherine

  6. Congratulations! This is really awesome, it shows what patience and planning can do for you! Enjoy your new digs!

    My husband, James, and I rent a house out that we own in Raleigh and (fingers crossed) so far so good, and it is nice to keep the property.

  7. @Anonymous - awesome advice, we had no idea! We are just a couple blocks off the Boulevard, looking forward to making the visit!

    @Polestar - glad to hear things are working for you on the renting front. We are hoping we can make it work for us too so this is encouraging to hear.

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  9. 100 years and is still alive and kickin'? Wow! That's something to be proud of! Vintage houses have always fascinated me, and that's why. I'd also like to own a centennial house in the future.

  10. Avril - couldn't agree more. While it will take work to take care of, we are still at the stage where it's all worth it!

  11. Sounds like a very interesting adventure, it's always more exciting when you have a partner to enjoy the times with! May God Bless you and yours along the roads ahead! Peace!


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