Choosing a house

So… when we were looking at a house we had our nice “need, want, like” list handy. Ours was a little different to most.

First and foremost for us was the arrangement of the floors. Our ideal home would be all one floor but with our space requirements that’s unlikely. Because of that we do need a master bedroom, bathroom and kitchen all on the ground floor. This is a little odd in the USA as most places assume the master bedroom is upstairs if it’s a two story house… but for us, if Juliann is having a bad day, not having to navigate steps to get to the kitchen is essential… especially if I’m away at the time.

Second is the number of rooms. Apart from the usual we need a space for my office which requires a closed door in case I’m in loud meetings… and ideally this is far from the master bedroom. We need a space for Juliann to be able to make art which will be big enough to store her extensive supply collection and have decent light… but not be the living room as we still need to greet guests (I guess), and lastly we need a guest room for when her parents (or eventually my family) stay for a visit which will also be a library/storage room.

Lastly, we ideally wanted a place that had non-carpeted floors. This is really unlikely but because of J’s allergies it’s a really nice want.

There were other things that would have swayed us… a REALLY nice bathtub (not critical for most people but really fantastic for people with disabilities), floor to ceiling book storage (pointless for most people but MAN we would be swayed), extra large outdoor but screened in┬áspace (we had this at one of our rentals and it was awesome but it’s definitely a like).

In the end, we went for a place with a ground floor Master bed. Tiles throughout the living room and kitchen. Two more enclosed bedrooms (one will be my office), and an open room that overlooks the living room that is awesome for Juliann’s studio.

We did need to widen the studio and we still need to remove carpet but more on that later.

Also… Fish pond!


Money considerations

So here’s the deal. I arrived in the USA a little over 4 years ago. I was married to an American and had savings and job prospects so was in a decent position. Unfortunately when I first arrived here I had no credit rating. This is an issue for most people arriving in the US as until you have a decent credit rating, according to any sensible company that gives you a loan you are persona non grata.

Thankfully, I had one huge advantage. My American wife has had a bank account here for half of her life. Additionally her credit rating is awesome partially because she has had a credit card since before she was born. To explain that last bit, her mother has her as an authorized user on a card she’s had since well before J’s birth so it shows up in her credit report. How AWESOME is that!?

For advice on how to do this… seriously get a credit card and get into debt THEN PAY OFF THAT DEBT, and repeat this regularly over a long time. That’s pretty much it. Each time this happens it’ll ping to say “Hey, this guy knows how to spend truckloads of money… but eventually he pays it off. He’s the kind of guy we want to give more truckloads of money to!”. ┬áSeriously, that’s the key. Any debts you know you can get into AND OUT OF are things you should do if you need to the credit rating up.

So yes. It took four years of careful card management to ensure that our credit was slowly built up… an iPad on a credit plan here to check availability… a lease car to check we’re good for large credit approval…. but when we finally went to the bank a few months ago we actually had close to the top credit score (and yes, Juliann beat mine by a few dozen points but nothing crazy). The agent seemed surprised that the amount we wanted was so low (but you know, we’d like to sort of be able to pay it and all).

End result, we had the loan and all was happy in the world. The end. And the cat turned into a princess.