Three months ago, movers from Lakeside Transfer showed up and loaded the possessions we hadn’t yet moved (couch, bed, dressers, entertainment center, etc.), emptying out our apartment and filling our new townhouse. It was the day we’d been focused on since October 1, and it was a huge relief. The biggest question at the time was; how would we like living here?
After three months, novelty has (sort of) worn off, so it’s a good time to reflect. Keep in mind that with each facet, we are comparing where we are to where we were.
Location: Our two-minute drive to work from the apartment has become a ten-minute drive. With that being said, living a couple blocks from I-35 improves our access to all destinations to the west, south and southwest. Driving to my starting point on the Munger Trail this summer just got easier. Access to all kinds of hiking trails (Spirit Mountain, Superior Hiking Trail) likewise improved. Our house is outside the Duluth city limits which will help as ISD 709 fueled property taxes increase (remember the Red Plan?). Overall? Despite added fuel costs, this new location is much preferable to the old location.
Comfort: This comparison isn’t even close. No more upstairs neighbors coming home at 11 p.m. and thundering about. No more wafting of second hand cigarette smoke from downstairs neighbors. Going from 700 sq ft of living space to over 1,700 sq ft. Not banging into each other every time we’re both cramped into a too-small kitchen. No more fighting over bathroom access (going from one to 2 1/2 bathrooms). The comfort level has increased dramatically and it is most likely the biggest advantage in buying this house.
From a sound standpoint (other than the afore-mentioned advantage) it’s quieter here. No more I-35 noise. No more racing of engines up and down the old street, since we now live on a dead-end street!
Likewise, we no longer have to haul groceries outside across a parking lot (granted, the walk was only twenty yards, but it’s a very long twenty yards when it’s raining, snowing, or the temps are -10); now we walk from the garage directly into our kitchen.
About the garage; even without using the electric heater in the garage, the coldest temperature has been 42 degrees. We can pull in a snow-covered car and in a few hours, the snow has melted.
Finances: Of course, owning a home is nearly always going to be more expensive than living in an apartment. We knew this at the start. However, it’s turning out to be a smaller increase in expenses than we had budgeted. Heating costs are proving to be much lower than anticipated. Other expenses are within a few dollars of what we had expected.
Other factors: The stairs can be an inconvenience, considering the shape my knees are in. (On the other hand, if I would lose 10-20 pounds, the problem would be alleviated!). Since we’re spread out over a much larger area, moving about and getting ready to go to work in the morning takes a bit longer. Getting the driveway plowed (included in our monthly Association fees) takes longer; on the morning of our worst snow, they didn’t show up to plow our driveway until 10 a.m.)
Our view of the lake is now gone, and I consider this to be the biggest disadvantage to moving. We’ll miss that view in the summer month(s).
It will be warmer here (at times, much warmer) during the spring and summer. This is somewhat offset by it being slightly colder during the winter and having to deal with more snow. Overall, we prefer the climate away from Lake Superior.
Overall? We wanted to make this purchase. We haven’t been disappointed. There is a difference between returning to your apartment after a day’s work and returning to your home. You have to experience it to fully understand it.