Because life is a series of edits

Five Houses

In Calling, Family, Places on March 25, 2011 at 7:47 am

We've just returned from our house-hunting trip to Oklahoma City. All in all, it was a good adventure, though not without some bumps in the road (scheduled realtor bailing on us the night before because we weren't prepared to make an offer; van brakes and rotors needing replaced the day we were planning to hunt, thus requiring a rental car for the day, etc.). Still, for those who are interested, here's what we found:

THE VICTORIAN

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Aesthetically speaking, this was easily our favorite – we're Victorian kinds of people and suckers for a wrap-around porch. In addition, the white structure in back would make a perfect guest suite/study/studio. Unfortunately, all this would take a lot of work and money as several rooms need renovating just to move in and the guest suite/study/studio is nothing more than a couple of rooms with an uneven floor and rotting walls (there were also rumors of some foundation issues on the main house, which is never a good thing). Nice enough neighborhood, but potentially problematic. Cheap (for all the wrong reasons).

THE BRICK

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Geographically speaking, this one was the hands-down winner – two minutes from downtown across I-235, which is the main thoroughfare I'm going to be traveling for Veritas. The only problem is that the street looks like a meth lab waiting to happen as it's also three minutes from the state capitol, which is not one of the nicer areas in OKC. Still, the house has 5 beds, 3 baths, approximately 2,980 square feet, and also has a possible detached study/studio as part of the garage (though part of the brick wall has collapsed and the room is a landfill). Cheapest (presumably because of the neighborhood).

THE YELLOW

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Maybe it's the yellow paint, but this one just really seemed blah to me – nice enough, I suppose, and the street was okay (though it turns onto a pretty busy route), but this one looked better in pictures than in person. As with the other ones, we didn't get a chance to walk through it, but neither one of us really wanted to, which is never a good sign when you're thinking about living somewhere. Seemed overpriced.

THE BUNGALOW

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We came across this one while trying to find another one and, while it looked serene enough, it actually sits on a very busy avenue. It looks smaller here than it actually is, as this was another house with what looked like a studio apartment of some type above the separate garage in back. The flyer seemed to indicate that the house "needed some work" and could potentially be nice, but what we saw of the miniscule backyard and some cracks in the foundation of the front porch were not quite as encouraging. Still, reasonably priced.

THE BRADY BUNCH

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The only house we actually got to walk through, this one redeemed the whole house-hunting effort for us. Five bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, and more closet space than we've ever seen (apparently the initial owners were survivalists who hoarded food in preparation for the end of the world – seriously), this house fulfills just about every ideal we had written down except for the more suburban location (for more on that tension, read Megan's post). The owners (a neat Christian couple who actually owned and had read my book!) were listing the house for the exact price to the dollar that we're hoping to sell ours for in St. Louis. Most expensive, but seemingly the best value all around.

So, there you have it. Cast your vote for where the Dunhams might live in Oklahoma City. Voting ends when we make someone an offer they can't refuse…and they accept.

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  1. #5– hands down. “Shelves in a closet… happy thought indeed.” Elizabeth Bennett :D

  2. I LOVE the Victorian, buy as someone without construction experience I can understand why it seems daunting. The last one does sound great. You can never have too many closets.
    What is up with that realtor?!? How lame. Hope the looking goes well, afford the selling in ST. Louis.

  3. Loved the looks of the victorian, but wouldn’t want to take on a project, especially, since you’ve been there done that with your current one. Plus, you don’t have a ton of time to work with and those things always take longer (and more money) than expected.
    I’d say go for #5. Seems great to me!

  4. Unlike you, I love #3, at least in the photo. Maybe it’s the sunny yellow but it makes me happy. But with all the changes you are going to face, I don’t think buying a fixer-upper is wise at all. It will only bring marital tension and buyer’s remorse. And it would drain any extra $$ you hope to save. It’s one thing to make changes to a house over time as you desire (like our house – it was a mess but livable) and another to be forced to fix foundations, plumbing, roof, etc. So, duh, it seems like #5 is a no-brainer.
    They read your book?! Were you referred to them by Doug or was it completely unrelated?

  5. I should have clarified, Katie: yes, Doug gave us the lead because the couple had met him after reading our book beforehand and called him up since one of their sons was getting ready to go to OU. Still, it was pretty funny when Keith asked me for my last name and quickly put together that I was the other half of the writing pair. His comment: “And now I have the other half of the book right here in my house!” Good (or bad) for the ego, I suppose.

  6. Having just been through a real estate nightmare which included buying a home on a busy street, fixing up a home in a transitional area of town only for the neighborhood to tank, using every ounce of energy and extra income to fix up said house only to lose it all in the housing crisis, I can only say one thing – BE CAREFUL. :) With all the stress a move can have on a family, especially one to another state that removes existing community support systems – having a lot of housing stress can really take it over the top. I’m not an advocate for white flight AT ALL, but I do think there are seasons when our lives can’t absorb some of those risks. Maybe you guys are at the right season though. Anyway, blessings to you guys. Miss you!

  7. The Brady Bunch (closet) house does seem amazing. So neat to be able to help another Christian couple! :)
    So hard to evaluate a house when you can’t walk through it.

  8. Can I vote for two (in no particular order)?
    1. I like the meth lab….*ahem* I mean THE BRICK. After reading what you wrote about it, I am reminded of Desire Street Ministries in New Orleans as well as Tim Keller’s book, Generous Justice. The struggle is considering the safety of the children/family. It’s homey, though.
    2. I like the BRADY BUNCH house ’cause I’m a woman and I think your wife is cool. Closets are always a plus.
    That’s all.

  9. Of course the first one is gorgeous and sounds like a nightmare . . . I LOVE the yellow house with black shutters. It has been my dream to own a yellow house with black shutters and the bay window is just like frosting. If you can’t have yellow, the fifth house sounds like a touch of heaven, I must say.

  10. You guys have good taste! I like them all. But sounds like #5 is a no brainer.

  11. Like the brady bunch one too…but as far as “curb appeal” the meth-lab neighborhood brick home was my favorite. It just looked classic.

  12. I’d love to answer the philosophical question of ministry in needy neighborhoods vs. relative safety in nicer ones, but I’ve asked this question for years and am no closer to the answer. Sorry. However, here are a few practical thoughts: I’m no realtor, but I have just lived through years of children as teenagers, and it seems important to consider the configuration of the space inside. Are there places for their privacy? Yes, they’ll need some. Are their places for your privacy? Yes, you’ll need some- even if it’s a little room where the parents can confer away from listening ears, or a place where you can listen to your music and not hear theirs, or a sunny place to sit together to worry/stew/consult/pray about them. As to city location, where will their friends likely be? You can bet that you’ll be driving them back and forth to their friends’ houses. A lot.

  13. #5 gets our vote. We were wondering…what is the area to the right of the garage, where the window is? An office? A craft room?
    I like the practical thoughts in Ann’s post — certainly worth thinking about. From the looks of #5, the space would allow all of the activities addressed.
    I would think safety considerations would be uppermost in your thoughts, in making a location decision, realizing the stage your family is in. Ministry and witness can be ongoing wherever life takes you!

  14. Brady Bunch house – ‘nough said.

  15. My sister-in-law who reads this blog asked me to weigh in seeing as I live in OKC. Guess what? I know the family that owns the #5 house! How crazy is that? I live nearby, homeschool and have two girls. It is a great house and you would be close to so much in our city. I hope that you chose that one!

  16. Also, I don’t know what your budget is, but I know of another house with five bedrooms, a new kitchen, most everything is new because the house burned down and I think that pretty much everything was rebuilt. It is beautiful and in a nice neighborhood. There is even a park very nearby! The owner is a youth pastor and has done a beautiful job!

  17. I think you know, from discussing this with us, we think house #5 is a great “fit” for you all. Of course, safety comes into our minds, as a first priority. The girls would each have the individual space they are needing.
    A 12 mile drive is not that far away from your church. We drove into Tulsa for 20 years to attend church & 30+ years to work. Put in a CD and unwind.

  18. Good luck on your house hunting. We found the older parts of Oklahoma City nearer downtown were a little troubling because it seems like always just down the block is a problem of some sort.
    Anyways, welcome to Oklahoma.

  19. We have never had to look for and purchase a home, my husband is a pastor. We have moved four times in 26 years following God where He leads. I agree that we need to take into account stewardship of the resources he has given us, children, how much we pay for a home, etc. But in the end what is God saying? The God who grants salvation to sinners, leads us in our professions and protects our children no matter where we live, will also direct you in where He wants you to live. (Reader of WORLD and your wife’s blog)I personally love the brick.

  20. The Brady Bunch house looks like the hands-down winner in the comments. Welcome!

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