As we talk about and move towards buying a house, I find myself dwelling on the whole concept and the sheer magnitude of it. I mean, this is HUGE.
Sure, low interest rates mean there are lots of people looking and the idea of buying and flipping a house (i.e. not staying in it for long) is still alive and well, but it's a big deal. And it's so easy to be swayed by pretty hardwood or granite countertops or a soaker tub or any other high-end finish, and it's easy to look at a staged home and think it's perfect and fall in love with everything. We've done a bit of that, I have no trouble admitting, but we've also talked it out after seeing things and we're really good at playing devil's advocate with each other. And this is good because we're looking for a place we can be in for 5-10 years so that means discussing what the next 5-10 years could bring in our lives.
So not only are we looking at spending six figures on something; not only do we have to make sure our furniture will fit as well as the staging furniture; not only do we need to be sure we have what we need, as well as what we want; we also have to consider what our lives will be like in 10 years (and there's a very good chance that will include children). It's a bit mind-blowing.
Add in that houses stay on the market for, oh, about a week, and suddenly it's a lot of pressure. Since we own our condo we can wait until after we buy before we sell, so that's a bonus but we also have to act quickly on anything we like. That means lawyers and deposits and offer strategy - all in a matter of a few days.
We spent two months buying a car and it cost 1/20th of what we're planning (hoping) to spend on a house. Really, it's a purchase that's 20 times as expensive that we have to make 20 times as quickly. I've spent longer buying shoes.
I remember when I was planning to go to university, there was so much emphasis on making the right choice, not just of program but of school as well, because it was going to affect me FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. Truth is, I switched majors halfway through second year, I opted for a 3-year degree and I went to college two years after graduating to get the skills necessary to actually be employable. So while university was a big, expensive deal it was nowhere near as impactful as I was led to believe. It was worthwhile, don't get me wrong, and it influenced many other facets of my life, but it didn't lock me into anything for any significant period of time. (Though my eight months of third year felt like a small eternity.)
When we buy a house, we can't just switch to a different spot six months later. With all the closing costs associated with a house (and when it's a percentage and you're dealing with Toronto prices, those can climb quickly), we're not going to move again in two years, unless absolutely necessary. While we're not looking for the forever home, we're looking for middle-term. And it's a huge decision to make. And it's a little scary.
But it's also a ton of fun - though I do get carried away sometimes. One place we liked I kept staring at the pictures and started picking out paint colours. In reality the house was a big no, but if it had worked out, I knew what colour the dining room would be! This helps keep me sane and happy and excited about the whole process - because if I spend too much time dwelling on the magnitude of this purchase, this decision, my head just might explode.