Thursday, July 20, 2006

Perched on the precipice

Whirling Betty is dizzy with decision. This one is pricey and life-altering. Most likely, it's fear that holds her back from jumping.

The child and she live in a small but pleasant enough house on a renowned public rose garden which is connected to very large sports fields, a recreation center, a library and miles of bike trails. It's not a bad place to raise a child, for sure. It's safe, and although there are no kids in the immediate vicinity, most of the child's schoolmates live within a 5 mile radius of the house.

But it's a suburb. Betty has a problem with that. Walking and biking are "in her blood"- that's how she was raised. She never even owned a car until moving to this city. The area Betty lives in is devoid of sidewalks, much to her horror. Although the area is well within the city's outerbelt and only about 9 miles from downtown, it behaves like a true suburb, where the car rules.

Until 5 years and 3 months ago, Betty and son used to live in the urban neighborhood bordering the north end of downtown, in a beautiful Victorian house and garden. People said Betty was crazy, since she was a single mother trying to raise a child in an urban area where street people rummaged through the trash dumpsters. In reality, that neighborhood was as safe as the one Betty fled to after listening to people's judgments. And it was far more interesting, even exciting and stimulating. And, significantly, Betty's car was at rest much of the time.

With home buyers rapidly recognizing how appealing and environmentally friendly that downtown neighborhood is, house and condo prices have skyrocketed. Betty is pretty much priced out of her beloved 'hood, except for one last Victorian house, in an ideal location a block from Betty's favorite city park and near all the other desirable destinations for groceries, restaurant meals, etc.

This particular house is underpriced because it lacks the amenities usually found in that desirable locale. There's only one bathroom and the laundry is still located in the dungeon. The house, with 1820 square feet, is no mansion.

Betty's realtor, a longtime friend, talked his carpenter into agreeing to put in new hardwood floors, a half bath, and a second floor laundry into the house Betty wants, if Betty buys it, for a staggeringly reasonable price. Still, Betty counted beans and decided the price of the house was $20,000 more than she could possibly afford. She told her realtor, and the realtor said that the seller would not bring down the price.

That was the end of that, until yesterday when the realtor phoned Betty to say he had finally talked the seller into lowering the price by $20,000, as long as Betty seals the deal right away.

Instead of rejoicing, Betty panics. When the realtor called, she was hoping he was going to say that someone else had bought the house so that she'd stop thinking about it. The move, even if it is the most positive one imaginable, is still a stressful upheaval of an already challenged life.

Alas, Betty remains indecisive, worrying about possibly feeling overextended financially in the new house. And she keeps glancing at the spectacular Anderson windows in the current house overlooking the rose garden. (The new house features old, barely budging windows which spew lead paint dust every time one dares to touch them.) And for the organizationally challenged like Betty, the ample storage space of her current house has suddenly taken on paramount importance. (Anyone who has ever seen a Victorian house knows that they don't feature much storage. Those Victorian people just didn't hoard the way we do now. Walmart didn't exist back then, for one thing.)

Then again, no house is perfect. The downtown neighborhood is the draw, more than the house itself. Betty frequently talks about moving back there, yet now that the opportunity, imperfect though it is, has presented itself, Betty balks. Is this just the expected fear associated with taking on such a huge financial commitment, maybe an early-onset buyer's remorse? Or has Betty just been full of hot air all along, talking up the urban lifestyle while having no real intention of ever walking the walk?

14 comments:

Priyamvada_K said...

Dear Betty,
Its a major decision - the move. You are attached to your current home, its natural. And it would be a cinch if the new house had the same features as the one you're in. But it doesn't.

For me sometimes it helps to take a sheet of paper, draw two columns, one for "current home" and one for "new home". Put down the advantages of each, with numbered "weights" for the importance you give each factor. Add these numbers up. Call this x.

Ditto for disadvantages of each. Sum up the weights, call this y.

Then x-y for each side will show which way the decision goes. If it still makes you uncomfortable, there maybe a factor you missed. Go back and do the math again, and see.

If finally by some nebulous factor you don't want to move - then your heart's not in it. That's fine. Sometimes what we think we want may not be what we actually want, and thats ok. Its like they say "Be careful what you ask for. You might get it".

Priya.

Sideways Chica said...

Why is it that when we get what we ask for it makes us crazy? I like Priya's idea. Find out if you have valid reasons for the panic. As for the price...it will probably only go up. This is good for you if you buy, and bad if you don't and then wish you had.

Good luck on your X-factors...I know they will add up in your favor. Remember, whichever path you take is the right road for that moment in time. Why? Because you took it. You can always change course later. Don't let fear (panic) keep you from what you want!

Ciao bella...hugs to you and the child, and please keep us posted.

Betty said...

Dear Priya,
I had not tried your technique, although I analyzed to no end. After reading your suggestion, I followed your advice. Because I'd been feeling negative about moving, I was surprised that the numbers came up in favor of moving. (Barely, though.) Just 2 hours ago I told the realtor I'd buy the house, and I'll be signing the papers tomorrow. Since making that commitment, I've felt awful, which leads me to believe I've made the wrong choice. But now I see that the numbers support my decision (barely). Thank you for your help.

Hugs,
Betty

Betty said...

Dear Teri,
Right now I have the feeling that wanting to move was some sort of avoidance attempt. If you're focused on moving, for a while at least you have an excuse not to address anything else.

As you see from my comment to Priya, I have just orally committed to buying the house. Why do I feel so awful if it's right? Am I simply overwhelmed by all the extra tasks I now face?

I'll be checking in if you have any more comments.

Thank you for caring!

Hugs,
Betty

Shankari said...

Hey Betty just be happy! Moving can be overwhelming, don't let it overwhelm you. Looking forward to the move...

Sideways Chica said...

Dear Betty...maybe the possibility of moving did keep you from doing things ... a type of avoidance. But...and it's a big "but," you must have needed an excuse...you must have known not to do them and chose "moving" as your justification. We justify all types of things...you will one day justify the move. You seem to need this move for your "core." Don't ever ignore the "I want what I want beacause I want it" feeling. Make the move chica...if you don't you'll always regret something you have no way of knowing if you should have regrets about. That sounds odd, but you will understand when you read my article next week. Door number one, door number two, or door number three...we never know where they will take us and we can spend years having regrets about a door we didn't open, even if we don't know where it would have led us.

Ciao bella...stay cool, calm and collected, with a little whirl thrown in for good measure.

Betty said...

Dear Shankari,
But "overwhelmed" is what I do best! Still, you're right, I don't have to let the possible move overwhelm me. It's a choice, really, isn't it? I do forget that.

Hugs,
Betty

Betty said...

Dear Teri,
Yes, you're on to something- it's a core thing. I don't want to end up with regrets over this. I'll definitely be eager to your your upcoming post. I do not know what's behind the door of the move, but as you said, it seems to be core-related, and opening it would be a good idea.

Thank you again for your valuable support! As it stands now, I told the realtor I'm not sure, and I need a nap.

Hugs,
Betty

Sideways Chica said...

Whatever you do today...will be the right choice. ;)

Ciao bella!

Betty said...

Thank you, Teri! I told the realtor I decided I'd have to sell my current house first due to the risk of buying first. Today I'm supposedly getting my house in order for selling. I can't tell if I really intend to go through with this or not. Crazy, huh!?

Priyamvada_K said...

Dear Betty,
Like Teri said, whatever choice you make will be the best. Trust your instincts on this - and remind yourself "Betty knows best".

Moves are hard to reverse - and the workload and emotion load can be overwhelming. To do all of that without a partner who can help or reassure, is harder. And as single moms we have a habit of second-guessing ourselves: am I doing the right thing? Is this the best for me and my child? Will I regret this one day? And on and on...Its not crazy, just natural.

Take care, and sleep on it.

Priya.

Betty said...

Dear Priya,
You're so right. I constantly second-guess myself, and that's why this decision has been impossible. Plus I am daunted at the prospect of doing it all myself, whether it's a mistake or not!

It's very consoling, though, to be understood. You, Teri and Shankari have helped me more than any of you can imagine, I'm sure.

Hugs and thanks,
Betty

garnet david said...

Since I already know aaaallll the details, I'll just say you've presented your complex situation well here. Detatchment has a way of making decisions harder. All the more reason to learn deciveness in life.

best wishes in whatever you decide.

G

Betty said...

Garnet, I find that it's hard to be both open-minded and decisive, but perhaps that's been a lifelong feature of my life, especially since my mother died. She had a way of nudging me into reasonable decisions without ever telling me what to do. It's been hard in this case to imagine what she's say, but I do know how she loved NYC and its blatant urbanism.

Thanks for all your help,
Betty