illos,  The Hood

goodbye dreamhouse

Well, I let my dream house get away this morning. The owner called to offer me one last chance to rent it and I had to decline. I didn’t tell you about this because it was so secret and exciting I was afraid to bring it up on my blog for fear somebody who lives around here might read it and snatch up my dream house from me. But in the end Toby and I decided that we really couldn’t afford to be paying three times what we pay now in rent and so we let it go.

It’s tragic. This house is so perfect for us, I don’t think we’ll ever find one like it again.

I’ve walked by this old fifties beach bungalow for the last ten years and admired it. It has a unique triangular architecture and it is situated sideways on a full size lot where every other house is built to property line and busting at the seams with cement and stucco. It has courtyards on both sides and big windows from floor to ceiling to let all that garden light in. It has a breakfast nook and an upstairs loft. From the upstairs loft bedroom you can walk out onto a balcony that goes onto the roof and from there you can see just a little bit of the ocean. It has a two car garage with washer and dryer hook-ups. It has wood floors and in the baby’s room it has one of those closets that goes under the stairs so there’s a secret place to stash toys and hide out. It has a bell outside the kitchen patio screen door that you can ring when you want your children to come in for dinner. It has a back yard and a front yard and there’s a fig tree in both. There’s also a lemon tree and a peach tree and an orange tree and a funny fern tree with an orchid growing off the side of it. It has working sprinkler systems and on one of the hose faucets the handle is in the shape of a quail. It has built in dressers with lots of drawers and cupboards. It has a gas fireplace… I could go on and on.

This place was meant for me. It’s old. It’s quirky. It’s got a story at every turn. So why isn’t it for sale? I don’t know. But it’s not. The owner lives in San Diego and he probably pays his mortgage with the money we’d pay for rent.

I had quite a few conversations with the owner and he assured me that even though he couldn’t sell it to me, he wouldn’t tear it down and build condos like every other property owner is doing in this neighborhood. I think it would kill me if this house got torn down. I’d have to camp out in the big juniper tree in the front yard like Julia Butterfly and chain myself to it’s branches in protest. I shared with him my love of this house and he said in a few years IF he decides to put it up for sale, he’ll give me a ring.

I know we won’t be able to afford this house in a few years. It’ll probably be worth three million by then. But we can always dream. We thought about renting it for a few years but it just would be too hard to move out and leave behind something that felt so right. It would be like we were trading in our future for a short term vacation. It would also be hard to live in it and not make the repairs and investments that we would make if it was ours. We couldn’t put in track lighting in the kitchen or change out the electric stove for gas. We couldn’t re-landscape the wood chips on the front yard hillside into long grasses and native flowers… it would be like living a dream but knowing it wasn’t real, that you couldn’t keep it. In the end Toby and I decided we would be better off investing the money in something we could call our own. But it sure was hard to get to that point. I cried many tears over this house. It just felt like destiny it was so perfect.

But it wasn’t meant to be.

Part of me wonders if this is the devil’s secret plan to make me dissatisfied with my life. I have the most beautiful healthy baby girl who makes me so happy who I’ve wanted for years and years and years… Isn’t that enough? Do I have to have the perfect house too? When I put it in that perspective, I’m okay giving it up. I’m okay living in my pig sty apartment for another few years. Some dreams just weren’t meant to come true. And who knows, maybe the house we do buy someday will be even better.


  • BeachMama

    I feel for you. It is so hard to be so close to something you have been waiting for, only to have to let it go. That happened to us with an old stone house we wanted to buy. It was never for sale, then when we bought our first house, it went up for sale the summer after and sold in a day. You are so right though that it would be torture to rent it, knowing that you would have to leave it one day. Who knows, maybe the owner will change his mind this week and you can buy it, stranger things have happened.

  • Nila

    Renting is no fun, especially for someone as creative as you are. The right house will come along, and even if it’s not perfect, you’ll find a way to make it your own. If this house was meant to be yours, it will happen. Everything happens for a reason. I know that’s such a cliche, and not easy to swallow when you’re saying good bye to a dream, but it’s true.

  • Captain Mom

    I think it is the secret plan…of someone, the world, a devil! Because when we’re dissatisfied, and don’t appreciate what we do have, then we’re unhappy, grumbly people…no good to anybody, least of all, ourselves! Get satisfied, get happy, and watch the stress of “what I wish I had” melt away. At least, that’s what I chant to myself on a regular basis. Doesn’t always work, but sometimes, does just the trick. I try to tell the children too. It’s not getting what we want, it’s wanting what we’ve got. Easier said than done, huh.

  • Jessie

    Not renting what you can’t afford is smart. We moved into an apartment that we can “kind-of” afford last year, and while we’re not struggling, we’re also not where we need to be financially and it’s depressing. I love our apartment, but I’d rather have the money to buy a house sooner. It was a trade-off, but sometimes I think I made the wrong decision. It just doesn’t help that these decisions are so hard to make, and that once you make them you’re stuck with them for a while.

  • Julie

    Sorry to hear about your dream house! De-lurking to say that there is a prediction of the housing bubble bursting in CA, so maybe the price will go down and he will be ready to sell and you could afford it. Ya never know. But in the meantime I think it is good for you to let it go. Focus on what you can have and plan, plan, plan for getting a house you want.

  • Liane

    Wow…thanks for writing that out. I can identify somewhat. It seems like we’ve been renting forever, waiting to buy and the real estate market here is not nearly as bad as yours. But it’s so easy to gradually just get wrapped all up in dissatisfaction and see nothing good in life when I really have so much. Thanks!

  • Laura

    I had the dream house issue last spring! We decided to move to a house, did some shopping around and then one day we found the perfect house. enough rooms to have a playroom and a bedroom for our son.. both had murals already painted on the walls. The backyard was perfect, we even met the neighbors and pretty much decided we’d be taking that house. Come to find out that our debt was too bad to get it and we’re still stuck in this crappy 4th floor (no elevator) apartment. My son deserves better. I was so upset but in the end I’ve decided that God has a plan for all of us.. perhaps God didn’t let me get that house because he’s going to help us move to the USA to be near my family instead.. fingers crossed!

  • Punchbugpug

    Life is surely about trade offs. It WOULD be crazy to pay 3 times the rent…heck – why not try putting the extra money you would be paying into a savings account. You would certainly be surprised to see how much you could really save and prove to yourself if you could afford to make those kinds of payments. Everyone has the dream place out there – the one that got away! Way…..back in the early 80’s we could have bought a place on the ocean in Cape May, NJ…old, quirky, beaches, wonderful. The prices back then in the $40,000 to $75,000 range. We had just purchase our first home in upstate NY at $42,500, we just couldn’t bring ourselves to struggle with two homes..blah, blah, blah. Now those same houses are in the $750,000 to multi-million dollar range and the houses in upstate New York…well, now worth about $275,000! You just never know how things are going to go! I too did hear that the housing value boom is going to crash in the next 10 years, maybe we’ll get that place on the shore yet!!!! Keep dreaming, don’t forget to live!

  • gimmy

    I hear you. We were in the same predicament when I was pregnant, but decided to wait it out until we could buy our own place. Count yourself lucky that you have at least an extra bedroom. I was getting ready to turn my dining room into a nursery.

  • Photographer Lori

    You will find the perfect house for you…even better than you can imagine! That’s what happened to us. We couldn’t find a house, we looked forever, we found a few that were perfect, but someone beat us to it. We finally were about to give up when husband decided to look at this one, not expecting much. We didn’t think we wanted to live in this neighborhood. Turned out to be the best investment we could have made! We made an offer and got it….now, a few years later, things in the neighborhood have triple! And the downtown is being renovated (walking distance from our house) with tons of art galleries, resturaunts, a movie theater…’s now known as the Helms Art District! Soho in Los Angeles.

    You know what you might also want to do…we are also thinking about it too….buy a piece of land that you can eventually build your dream house on. Surprisingly enough, it’s not that expensive to build a house.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents. :) And I know how it sucks to lose a dream house.


  • Carrie

    Oh man! Now I want your dream house!

    It is really hard to be satisfied in a living space that is not up to snuff. For the first time in my life I am really content and not planning my next move. I have good things going on, of course, but we are also living in a space that we really like and I think that has a whole lot to do with it. I hope you guys are able to get into something better in the near future.

  • Jennifer

    Renting in SoCal is a nightmare, buying is terrifying. We’ve jumped from one rental to another and have yet to find a DREAM house. Yours sounded like a true dream. Sorry that you had to let it go :( We have finally found a house to rent that isn’t everything we’d like but it’s really close to my older daughter’s preschool and I finally have a washer and dryer. Honestly, it’s the kids that have made our not so perfect rental our dream house. I know we’re making all their childhood memories here. I understand the obsession of wanting at least a washer and dryer though. It’s all I talked about before we moved here. You’re welcome to come on over and use mine any time :P

  • maria

    Someday something will happen that will make you go – oh I’m so glad we couldn’t rent that house – you find a better one, you move, whatever… But, that doesn’t really help now. For what it’s worth – in Sept 2001 (yes that Sept) husband I settled on a home loan to double the size of our house – big stretch financially but we thought we needed the space… The next day we found out that #2 baby in my tummy had a life threatening very serious heart defect. Even as we were reeling w/that we knew we had to back out of the loan. In the midst of all the trauma – I kept pouting – I wanted my dream house – sick baby or not – how ridiculous is that… Fast forward – “sick” baby has triumphed and is a 4 1/2 yr old non-stop talker and t-ball player- and surprise surprise – a big brother. We’re all crammed into that tiny house – and I still have been known to grumble about my crappy kitchen.

    Some day;) And you know – it’s okay to grumble as long as that’s not how you spend most of your time!

  • Kristina

    Heartbreaking! It sounds amazing, but I think you’re definitely making the right choice to stick with what you can handle now and save up for something that you can call your own. I know how hard it is to let a great place go, though.