March 15, 2011

And the hunt is on!

A'salaamu alaikum all ya'll! Yes, I know that's redundant but a) I think it's funny b) it's my blog :-P and c) the southern dialect is full of redundancies, double-negatives (which is actually a positive if my mathematical "book larning" serves me) and all sorts of other little literary gems. We can start a sentence with "And" or "But" and "ain't" is a bona-fide word in it's own right.

Hmmm somehow I got off-topic pretty quickly. Little sleep and an overactive mind equals choppy blog posts. Another little random tidbit: I just pulled a small, puffy-plastic heart sticker off the bottom of my foot. Nice. :-) Aaminah's little gifts that keep on giving. lol

OK soooooo back to our regularly scheduled topic. We are now actively house-hunting! Seems the MST (Muslim Standard Time) also applies to predominantly Muslim owned and frequented businesses. We found (alhamdulillah!) a reputable Shariah-compliant lender (Ijara Loans) and the brothers and sisters there are masha'Allah very nice. However, (and not very surprisingly) between us and them it's taken since November to finalize. Well to be fair after we started we discovered A would be getting a substantial raise (please say masha'Allah!) and had to re-work the loan documents.

Long story short we have our pre-approval letter in hand and are good to go. Actually one point I would like to make on Ijara's behalf is that they are able/willing to do something more in the line of what most 1st time homeowners do which is only pay 3-5% down. We found another company online which required 20% down. Alhamdulillah this is just not feasible for us, especially with the housing market here in Massachusetts.

Another point I would like to bring up. "Where I come from" you can get a niiiiiiice little (or not so little) home with a pretty good sized chunk of land for what we are paying here for well alot less (what we get) for a lot more (what we pay). Alhamdulillah for it all, it all comes out in the wash, so to speak, because I am aware my husband also gets paid more here for a comparable job than he would in Tennessee. Oh I miss home. :-( OK sorry, back on track.

Anyway, in the area where I would want to live in TN you can get this for $200,000 USD:

Almost 3,000 sq ft and an acre lot, beautifully redone inside, mature trees... $189,000
5 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, a huge beautiful outbuilding that has separated storage areas and is completely finished. The house is $65 per sq foot.

Now here in MA (specifically in the beautiful little town where we live now, Hudson, and where we cannot afford to live in the future as homeowners) this is what the same money will get you:

1,000 sqft (yes you read right) 1 acre (mostly wooded, was surprised at size of lot actually)
  3 tiny bedrooms, 1 bath (yikes!), NOT updated throughout, and get this, $180 per sq ft. Yes. You read that right.  Ay caramba!!!!

Now to get a comparable house in Hudson, here's what you'll be out:

5 br, 4 ba (??!!), and a nice plot of land.

Alright so this bad boy will set you back (ready?) $439,900. Yes. Almost half a mil. Subhanallah. It's $165 per sq ft. I hope you guys find this as interesting as I did plus to realize a little of why I am shocked by our housing search here. I HAD NO IDEA how much houses cost here, especially in our sweet little town. We simply cannot afford to live here. :-( So it's onto an outlying area, such as the big city of Worcester (over a million population. Great. lol)

One nice thing is that the style of older houses here are really architecturally interesting. Things like wooden built-ins (book nooks, small stained glass windows, carved wooden banisters), refinished wood floors, and sometimes stone on the outside at least in small areas. However there's alot of give and take. Either in a less-than-desirable neighborhood (not dangerous, but maybe off a busy area, or house needs work, etc.)

I found a nice house, updated inside (A has the skills but possibly not the time/desire to do renovations), with a yard almost half an acre and located inside the city of Worcester. Of course, we would prefer to live in the countryside but seems here in MA that's an expensive proposition. I hate that A will have a long commute (25 to 35 minutes) because he is on-call weekends and evenings. Sometimes a few weeks can go by without him being called but it's always a possibility.

Regardless, we have to have more room for our family of 6 so insha'allah khair. Here are a few photos of a house we are considering and will see on Thursday insha'Allah:

Almost half an acre, fenced. Alhamdulillah!
I am so happy the brick is a nice color. I don't like the dated "brick red" brick. :-)
Oh be still my beating heart! I love tile and always wanted a closed-top stove. :-) The oven is wall mounted which = great for me achy back.
I like open floor plans; we aren't "formal dining room" kinda people.
1 of 3 bathrooms. Yes, I said it. Finally 1 bathroom for guests. Yippee! And all the baths are updated alhamdulillah.
View from other side. I don't mind vinyl siding (we can't afford a stone house for sure!) and I like the little bit of brick accent as well as the color of the house.
Isn't that a welcoming little entrance way? I loooove front porches but there is a nice deck on the side. Guess that'll have to satisfy my southern roots.

The basement is fully finished and it's huge, 25' by 23' and also has a laundry room which is nice cause I have piles of laundry. Always. Which I really enjoy doing when I have the space. I can imagine having a table for folding and all hangers there as well as bins with everyone's name. Ahhhhhhh sweet laundry. :-)

We are also about 3/10s of a mile away from Coe's Pond and reservoir. It has a public beach so I guess there's swimming. We don't normally frequent places where others are basically naked (to avoid fitnah and impressing the wrong ideals on our children) but with 20 acres, it's more than just the waterfront. A nature preserve within walking distance. Happy girl here!!!!!

Named after the Coe brothers who owned the land. Interestingly, they were the inventors of the famous "monkey wrench". Hmmm New England ingenuity. :-)
Alright so I reallllly like this house so far. It's affordable and has the things I wanted but wasn't sure I would get. Such as updated bathrooms and kitchen (I cannot do nasty, old grout work and tile!), a lovely yard with fence, plenty of room @ 1731 sq ft, and there are TREES. I cannot live on a patch of land without trees. Mature, beautiful, hardwoods. Deciduous only need apply. ;-) I love to watch the changing seasons through the life cycle of trees and it's a guarantee of a beautiful day when I can hear the wind moving through graceful branches.

OK so I realize this is a loooong post and lots of info and photos. I really have come to view ya'll as a part of my extended family, my ummah for sure. :-) I derive as much fellowship and inspiration from my online sisters as I do from many of my IRL acquaintances and I am grateful to Allah for allowing me to expand my horizons in this way.

I'll keep ya'll updated as we go and maybe take my own pics from this house (as well as some others we'll see on Thursday insha'Allah). Please make dua that we are able to find a home and for us to be pleased with the provisions Allah bestows upon us, amin. :-)

Ma salaama....


Mona Z said...

Lol, I like your way of writing, it sounds so natural and takes us into your personality. InshaAllah you get the best place, Its exciting!

HijabiMommy said...

Masha'allah, that's wonderful! And that house is soooo adorable! I love house hunting! It's so exciting! May you find the perfect house for you and your family and may you have many, many happy memories there.

And I totally agree with you about the housing prices and how they differ across states. Houses where we live are much more expensive than back "home" and you get a lot less.

But anyway, best of luck on your house hunting!!

Aishah said...

I'll keep you in my duas sis, InshAllah it'll all turn out well for you.

I knew that you were in Mass, but I hadn't really thought how close you might be- my family lives in Revere. InshAllah maybe we can have a blogger meet-up when I get back to the states.

Umm Aaminah said...

Thanks Mona! I was afraid I just sounded manic. :-) My friend Lisa and I call it "Jack Blackin'" based on how absolutely insane and random he acts sometimes. :-) Oh and manic.

HijabiMommy, I think we were commenting on each other's blog at the same time. Dee-doo-dee-doo (supposed to be eerie music).

Aishah, that sounds like fun! Surely we have a few more in this area? I remember I got excited once bec I was buying something off eBay and saw the sister lived in the next town over. :-)

Muslim Convert said...

House prices are insane where we live in Canada, for $200,000 in the city you could probably buy a bachelor suite in a older apartment building, and even then finding that is rare. My husband and I would love to buy and always talk about how lucky Americans are, even the place that was almost half a million looked like a good deal to me :P. Enjoy the rest of your house hunting :)

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

MashaAllah, inshaAllah you get your dream home. Much love from Oman.

Um Zakarya said...

Assalamu Aleykum dear sis,

It seems I've missed this post SubhanALLAH!

Can't wait to see pictures of you you posing in your lovely kitchen INSHALLAH!!

May ALALH SWT make it easy for you and your family!Ameen.

Lot of love