In this addition, I'll attempt to explain why we ended up with such houses, and our decision process on what is and was important to us in finding a place to live.
When we first started talking about what we wanted in a house, we were dreaming. This was a good step, because it put our 'ideals' out on the table. 'Ideally' we'd find a four-bedroom, 2.5 bath house on 2 acres in good shape and within 25 minutes of Lebanon, Carmel, and church, all within our price range. We came to an understanding together of what the highest goal was, though we didn't expect to find a house that met every one of our criteria. On to the next step.
After talking about the Ideal Home, we talked about minimums. What do we AT LEAST need in a house? This was a harder list to come up with- separating the "what do we need" from "what would be nice". Here's what we came up with:
3 BedroomsThe Needs list wasn't long. We really didn't want to rule out too much that we thought we might be able to live with- but if a house didn't meet one of these criteria, it would be ruled out completely. Next, we made a Wants list. These were things that would win the house bonus points on our list, during our decision process:
1 1/2 or ability to expand to 1 1/2 baths
At least one bath with traditional tub/shower combo
Minimum Sunny 1/2 Acre
1200 square feet
Covered parking for two and some storage
No neighborhood regulations against large gardens, boats, outbuildings, clotheslines
Less than a half-hour commute for Joanna
On the Northside of Indy
Something that needs no more than two months of improvements (that we can do, on weekends)
In our (firm) price range
4 bedroomsMany of these things are simple, but we viewed them as Bonuses- not totally necessary, but they'd be cool. As we talked we discovered we had negative-Wants, too. This list are things that would almost-but-not-quite rule a house out, because we really don't want them.
1-3 acres, part sunny, part mature trees
2000 square feet
2 car garage + small barn or shed
Fenced in area of yard
Can have livestock (chickens, sheep)
Noblesville or Hamilton Southeastern Schools
20 minutes from Grace
Not on highway or major road
2 to 3 bathrooms
Closets in all bedrooms
WELL within our price range
PoolThese lists were a great starting point. They were a result of much discussion. Writing it all down to help us see our priorities on paper was a great way to somewhat-objectively compare our options. Based on this list, and other discussions, we came up with a worksheet to take to each house, to remind us to look at all the aspects of needs, wants, and negatives while we were there. The items on the worksheet weren't necessarily positives or negatives- they just provided a place for us to write down our observations about each aspect while we were at the house, because we might not remember later. Here's the Excel file we came up with.
Commute through Fishers
In a subdivision
House too close to a major road (and not offset by big front yard)
Master upstairs and other bedrooms downstairs
There are other ways to go about this criteria-deciding thing. Matt M. provided us advice, suggesting discussing what you want the house to do for you. Do we want it to allow us to entertain? Allow kids to play outside safely? Allow for an office area? Allow for a workshop to build things? This line of thinking sparked some good discussions as well, and helped us shape our more-concrete criteria.
Obviously, the criteria I listed here are for us, specifically- where we are now in life, and where we expect to be in 5-10 years. Your list will look different, but the process could be the same. How have you/will you go about making big decisions, like where to live? What could we have done better?