We bought a house. It’s (sort of) a REAL house with power and closets and counter space and indoor bathrooms and neighbors, and I am (mostly) thrilled. I’m assuming some of you are surprised by this development. Before all the recent radio silence, I used this blog often to brag/blather about this little cabin that’s been our home for a decade now, but as much as I do still love this place, circumstances have changed and even in our most optimistic periods, we never thought we’d stay here forever. Maybe you’re disappointed that we’re not better advocates for “tiny house” off-grid living, but I would like to think that I’ve always been honest about what lifestyles we are and aren’t endorsing.
In the beginning, Henry bought this place and built the original section of the cabin as something of a temporary bachelor shack. The two of us lived in under 200 square feet for two years before adding on shortly before our first kid was born. We made further improvements, but back then, we decided to plan on building our “real” house on the same property when Levi turned five and Henry turned 30. Those milestones came andwent in 2012, and over the course of several discussions, we decided that we were still genuinely happy in the cabin, and we weren’t ready to undertake a major construction project. Right around that time, too, Henry was shooting the breeze with one of our crotchety older neighbors who lived in a cute house on about 15 acres of well tended land, and the neighbor turned to Henry and said, “Someday, I should sell you the ranch!” Henry came home that night and relayed the not-particularly-serious proposition. My jaw literally dropped, and though we’d never ever talked about living anywhere aside from the property we already owned, I told Henry to say yes. “Call him right now, and tell him we say yes, and we’re super serious.”
It turned out the the neighbor was pretty content at home–he remains there still–and there’s probably no way we could ever wrangle the funds to pay fair market value for the property, but once that seed of an idea was planted, we basically quit thinking we’d stay here on the hill forever. After we opened up to the possibility of eventually living somewhere else, it seemed absurd to consider building our “real” house at the end of these awful, steep gravel roads, without electricity, and in one of the most fire-prone areas of Benton County, and so the hunt was on for a new place.
For a year or more, our search for a new home was casual. We were still very comfortable in the cabin and weren’t feeling any pressure to change our situation. Last July, we looked semi-seriously at the first piece of property (in Burnt Woods), and then around October, we started actively looking for a new home and new home for our business. We made a list of our most essential criteria for a new place: a small, livable house (1,200-1,800 square feet), at least half an acre of flattish, unforested land, on or near a paved road, and within a specific geographic area (Philomath area, “downtown” Wren, or Blodgett). While at first we didn’t think those criteria were particularly limiting, we soon realized that in an extremely low-inventory real estate market in a smallish geographic area, we were basically chasing a unicorn. In about seven months, we only looked +/- 15 places, not all of which actually fit our criteria.
The process of house hunting was frustrating and depressing on all levels, but now that we’ve found a place, I’m just really excited to be moving forward, making plans for landscaping and gardens and business space and bike storage and all the rest. We now have two acres of blank slate-ish land and lots of dreams to fulfill.
I have a million other things to say about the house and the state of things, but I’m just going to leave you with a few photos of a day trip to Sweet Creek Falls (west of Eugene) and the dunes in Florence that the kids and I took with my brother’s family and a couple friends.
Hope your summer has been grand!