Hello Friend

We are Erin and Diana. We were quite content with urban, apartment living and never really considered home ownership. In fact, Erin had some interesting conspiracy-esque theories about how mortgages are a plague and one of the biggest lies perpetrated on the American people. That is, of course, next to the existence of aliens.

However, things changed, as they have a tendency to do, and we ended up buying a house in February of 2009 in the St. John’s neighborhood of Portland, Oregon. Reluctant, yet determined, we set off on a journey that has enriched our lives and changed us for the better, forever. With new found calluses, sore muscles and a much greater appreciation of the opportunities available to us, we are now Reluctant Homeowners and we’d like to share our stories with you.

The Backstory

After a collective 17 years of apartment living between the two of us, 13 of them in downtown Portland, we decided it was time to buy a house. It was a tough decision, and not one we expected to have to make according to our life plans at the time. We were intentionally car-less. We lived simply, content with renting in an older building just off downtown Portland’s beautiful North Park blocks. We walked everywhere or used public transit and participated in car sharing services. We were comfortable and happy, if not somewhat stagnant. Portland’s version of city living was at our doorstep. We loved it and owning a house was literally the farthest thing from our minds.

Our situation changed rather quickly. We received notice from our building management that the building was going to be renovated and would no longer allow leases beyond a month. We knew all to well what this meant having been forced out of our previous apartment due to condo conversion. Maintaining perspective on these first world problems, we considered our next move. One factor we took into account was the rash of rowdy neighbors we had at the time, resulting in multiple early morning confrontations. We were also feeling the space constraints of our studio apartment with the growth of Diana’s soft goods design side business and Erin’s growing focus on music. Luckily, we have a very good friend, who happens to be a Realtor, give us some very good advice and offer to help us navigate through the choppy waters of house hunting.

With our lease running out and our apartment building’s uncertain renovation schedule looming, our house hunt consisted of a single day jaunt across the more affordable neighborhoods in Portland. We put an offer down on the fourth of twelve houses we viewed that day, a cute little, move-in ready bungalow on a corner with just the right amount of yard, the perfect amount of interior space and nestled in a lovely part of St. Johns. Interest rates were at record lows, our inspection came out relatively clean (aside from a major sewer issue, which we negotiated around), our Realtor was savvy and the property owners were eager to sell. All these factors contributed to a relatively painless, and quick, home buying process.

We got lucky. Very Lucky. We do not deny this and we certainly do not take it for granted. We consider it our duty to make the most of what is in front of us. After a year or so of adventures in home ownership, we thought maybe we could help others in a similar situation who think to themselves, “Ok, we bought a house. Now what are we supposed to do?” Well friend, for better or for worse, here’s what we did.