Why I want a smaller house

I mentioned recently that I would tell you why I want a smaller house. Let me give you some background:

A little more than 6 years ago, Jeff and I decided we wanted to be homeowners. At the time we were living near Park and Woodlawn (Madison Park)  in a small 3-bedroom rental house in Charlotte. We loved that little house but we had lots of parties which meant lots of overnight guests with nowhere to sleep. I had people sleeping under my desk in my office, sometimes four people sharing our wraparound couch, etc.

So as we began house shopping, we decided we needed at least a 4-bedroom: 2 office spaces and 2 bedroom spaces, giving our guests a proper room for our after-parties. The more we shopped around the more we realized that the further south we looked, the more house we could get for our money. We ended up just south of Ballantyne, on the Union County line, in a huge house in The Reserve neighborhood – 4 bedrooms, a bonus room, a sunroom. This house allowed us to have not one, but two guest rooms.

Problem is, once we moved, we stopped having so many overnight guests. Maybe they didn’t want to drive so far? Maybe we were just entering a time in which people like to find their way home at the end of the night? I don’t know. But it’s rare that both guest rooms are occupied at the same time.

Also, we discovered that we might have more house for the money, but we’re no longer a $10 cab ride to Uptown. And with my newfound love of outdoor running (I was a treadmill runner when I lived in the old neighborhood), I’m realizing just how walkable my last place was – and I didn’t even know it! And the neighborhood we live in is awesome – truly. But it’s definitely catered to families. The Weddington area of Union County, where we live, is known for their good school systems. It’s 1 mile from my front door to Marvin Ridge High School/Middle School. Perfect location for someone raising a family – which we are not. In fact, if you told me that we were the only family in the entire neighborhood without kids, I’d believe you.

After we moved here, other neighborhoods moved in around us. Neighborhoods with huge mansions. Neighborhoods in which my house would fit inside their garage. Yay for property value increase! Our house is about 2,700 square feet, and Jeff and I joke that we are in the “trailer park section” of Marvin.

Okay, so put all these pieces together and it should be easy to see why we’re craving the city again. I want to be able to walk to my favorite bars and restaurants. I want to have the city as my neighborhood. Would I like to have a 2,700 square foot house in the heart of the city? Sure, but I don’t think that’s in our price range … and that’s okay. There’s a part of me that looks forward to not having so much space to clean. Of course, the irony is that when we move to a more “hip” part of town, we will probably have more overnight guests … though I hear sleeping under my desk isn’t so bad …

Now, I’m extremely impatient. Once I decide I want something, I want it now. Problem is, the housing market isn’t cooperating from the selling standpoint right now. So I will be patient. But  that hasn’t stopped me from looking around and thinking about what I want.

Originally I was sold on the Plaza-Midwood neighborhood of Charlotte, but my friend Susan keeps saying SouthEnd is the place to be. I didn’t get where she was coming from until last weekend when I drove around there and really looked again. And, I’m sold. I think the neighborhoods are equally good, but the light rail goes through SouthEnd so that puts it over the top.

I can’t wait to live in a place where I can walk out my front door and be at a coffeeshop in a few minutes. Or a restaurant to meet a friend for brunch. Or to be able to take the light rail to Uptown or hell, to run to Uptown. So, now you know why I want a smaller house.

I’ve never sold a house before. Those of you who have, what can I be doing between now and when the market turns around to get the house marketable? And what should I be looking for in a new place? I’m not opposed to anything – condo, townhouse, house, rental. In fact, an apartment or condo with a small living space but lots of amenities is really appealing to me at the moment.