This Search…

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It’s going to kill me.


Seriously.  House hunting in a new city is stressful.  Especially when you have grand dreams (2 bed, 2 bath, hardwood floors, an updated kitchen, good lighting for photography, a backyard, a walkable community)… and not a lot of money to spend.  Oh, and dogs.  Which eliminates a lot of places.  We might have to up our budget to get what we want?!  But I don’t want to – I hate being under financial strain.  Is it worth it to live where you want to?


We took a mid-morning break to grab a bite at Zada Jane’s, which was super cute.


I got the Veggie Soup, which had tons of different beans and veggies in it.  I was surprised that it was a little sweet instead of savory – kind of weird, but still good.


Then, we drove around several neighborhoods for a few hours and popped into several homes and duplexes.  I saw one I liked, but it’s a one bedroom and older, so there isn’t a lot of closet space.


We stopped for Lunch #2 at Bruegger’s along East Boulevard (where the Husband’s practice will be).  We definitely needed a break – and they had free Wi-Fi!  Wahhoo! 🙂


I got a bagel, hummus, and veggie sandwich:


OK… Back to the hunt.  We’re meeting a realtor at another spot in 5 minutes!


What are your ‘requirements’ for a place?  What are your ‘nice-to-haves’?



  • Freya @ Brit Chick Runs June 2, 2010, 1:33 pm

    My requirements would be open plan and modern, with a big beautiful kitchen and space for my dogs/cats! I think it’s worht upping budget a bit..but there’s a limit; there’s no point in living near great restaurants etc if you can never enjoy them!
    Good luck with it all 🙂

    • Carolyn @ lovinlosing June 2, 2010, 2:58 pm

      “There’s no point in living near great restaurants etc if you can never enjoy them!”

      Great point!!

  • Lauren (Clean Eats in the Dirty South) June 2, 2010, 1:40 pm

    I think it’s worth it if it’s a home you’re going to live in for a long time, and start a family in.
    It’s frustrating I’m sure, just keep searching! 🙂
    And I <3 Zada Janes!!!

  • Laura@FindingAHealthyBalance....after a 100+ Pound weight loss!!! June 2, 2010, 1:42 pm

    I had to pay A LOT more then I would have liked to get the place “we” wanted and even though it puts a strain on us financially around the 1st of ever month it is “totally” worth it as I found that paying a little extra was well worth getting what we really wanted in a home that we spend so much time in! Plus, eventually my income will increase (hopefully)………=O

    GOOD LUCK! You will find the right place, just keep looking! =)

  • Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg June 2, 2010, 1:43 pm

    I need a yard…a washer and dryer…and a dishwasher. I’ve lived without all three at one point or another, and it ain’t pretty.

    Good luck!!!!

  • krista June 2, 2010, 1:43 pm

    Depends on the situation and amount of course, but I think it’s smarter for people to sacrifice a little in order to save more for the future! That way you can get what you want in a few years and be financially stable…especially if there’s plans for a family too. =)

  • Jessica @ How Sweet June 2, 2010, 1:44 pm

    I don’t think it’s ever worth being house poor. I’d try to stick to your budget because it won’t be forever – soon enough you will have what you want!

  • Sarah for Real June 2, 2010, 1:45 pm

    I don’t know what your long term plans are, but at a budget of $1100 you are not far from an actual mortgage payment. I would consider living in a place that is less than dreamy for a couple of years and save up to BUY your dreamy place. My house is older and has small closets, so we don’t buy a bunch of crap to fill them with. We also have one bathroom, so we share. It’s actually kinda nice not to have a guest bedroom, because then we don’t end up hosting a lot of relatives 😉 We own this home and even though it’s small and older, we love it and it’s an investment toward our dreamy place.

    If you haven’t done it yet, prioritize. When it comes to real estate, somethings always got to give. So is it, “#1 Budget, #2 dog friendly, #3 good light” sort of thing, or does budget fall further down the list after backyard, good light, etc. Then you will know where to compromise on your wish list and where not to.

  • Bethany @ More Fruit Please June 2, 2010, 1:46 pm

    Oh my, house hunting is stressful. It’s almost impossible to find a place that meets all the criteria on the dream list, but just keep looking! And remember, you’re only renting so this won’t be permenant! I’ve been seeing so many bagel sandwiches on the blogosphere lately and I’m really craving one now!

  • Jenn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) June 2, 2010, 1:46 pm

    House hunting is soooo stressful! We moved several times in the past few years, and 2 of the times were 800+ miles apart.

    My must haves are: nice kitchen, appliances and a nice bathroom. Everything else is negotiable. 😀 We’re going to be buying our first house this year and it’s so hard to find what we want. I suggest if you don’t plan on being there for a long time, don’t break the bank for something that’s not permanent. 🙂


  • Kelly June 2, 2010, 1:47 pm

    Ugh, good luck, hang in there!

  • Debbie~ June 2, 2010, 1:47 pm

    Your posts are making me miss living in Charlotte. We lived there for about 3 years and loved every minute of it. It may be difficult to find just what you’re looking for within the city limits…have you looked in Mathews, Mint Hill or Harrisburg? It’s more rural…but more cost effective too…happy hunting!! 🙂

    • caitlin June 2, 2010, 5:21 pm

      we reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaally want to be in the city. i say that now, i might change my mind in 2 days.

  • Whitney @ Whitinspired June 2, 2010, 1:49 pm

    You learn when you buy your first house, you just have to compromise. You aren’t going to get everything you want. You’ll get close, but you won’t get everything. When you find something you really like and are willing to compromise, you’ll know! Until then, don’t stress! You’ll find something!

  • ActiveEggplant June 2, 2010, 1:49 pm

    I’d love to have a 3 bedroom/2 bath with a big yard someday. But for now me & hubby are just fine in our 2 bedroom 1 bath luckily with a big yard for our pup Dottie. Gets kinda crowded a times, but well worth it – like Jessica @How Sweet, being house poor is no fun at all! We ALMOST made that mistake a couple years ago and started house hunting – we could have squeezed ourselves dry financially and gotten into a dreamy 3/2 place with a big yard, but then we realized we wouldn’t be able to get ANYTHING for a long time – not even go out to eat occasionally!
    All in all, glad we made the decision to stick with our cozy little place. We can upgrade to a bigger place after we have kids!

  • Kacy June 2, 2010, 1:52 pm

    I pay more than I wanted to to live where I’m at now and I think it’s worth it. I feel so at home and comfortable, which is important. But hopefully you’ll find something you live within your budget! Too bad you couldn’t go on House Hunters, lol!

  • Becca June 2, 2010, 1:54 pm

    My husband and I were determined not to be house poor so we built a super small house (845 sq ft with an unfinished basement – we will finish later). It’s small and I love it. Plus, we still get to do fun things!

  • Shellybean June 2, 2010, 1:54 pm

    Well, the next place I live will hopefully be the place I start having kids- so my requirement is a weird one- no dangerous stairs getting in and out of the house. The stairs in front of my current apartment are really slippery and I’ve actually fallen down them several times. I can’t bear the idea of that happening when I’m pregnant or carrying a baby. Also, I don’t mind walking my dogs, but they pull like crazy and that makes the stair situation worse.
    Other requirements would be a reliable climate control system, not in a suburb, good water pressure, dishwasher, no carpets (HATE THEM), allows pets, roomy closets and pantry.
    It would be nice to have 2 bathrooms (I do now and am a big fan of not sharing a bathroom), gas stove and oven, bigger kitchen, a porch, a small yard, a walkable neighborhood and a shorter commute to and from work.

  • Evan Thomas June 2, 2010, 1:55 pm

    I love that one of your requirements is good lighting for photography. One of my fears of getting a new dorm room is that it will be a closet with no windows. I need light!

  • Juli D. June 2, 2010, 1:55 pm

    Have you considered an apartment/renting instead of buying? Think about renting for a year – until you get your H’s business off the ground and can see what your income will be and to get to know the city a bit more to find a spot you really like. My biggest peice of advice would be don’t rush it or buy something unless you are 100% sure of your purchase.

    • caitlin June 2, 2010, 5:21 pm

      i am renting 🙂

      • Juli D. June 2, 2010, 5:29 pm

        Ha, I must have missed that. In that case, stop worrying so much! You’re not purchasing forever and can always move! 🙂 Maybe even rank what you want in order of importance to help you decide if one place has something another doesn’t. Keep your head up because your home is out there somewhere!

  • Devon June 2, 2010, 1:55 pm

    I miss Bruegger’s like WHOA. I used to go there all the time in college because there was one on my way to campus. Their everything bagels are the best!

  • Rachel @ Suburban Yogini June 2, 2010, 1:55 pm

    When we moved to Cambridge from London last year I had a whole heap of requirements. In the end I let them all go except the need for the place to accept cats (my kits are my children, this is actually my only non-negotiable point) and the price (we moved from London to free up cash, no point going overboard on the rent then).

    When I let all of the other “must haves” go we found the perfect place and it’s not somewhere I would ever have dreamed of living. See if you can let go a little bit and notice what comes up 🙂

  • Olivia @ Blissful Runner June 2, 2010, 1:56 pm

    My requirements all stem from things that I don’t have in my current home that unfortuately didn’t occure to be BEFORE I bought the place 1) It can’t be on an emergency route (aka ambulances and cop cars screaming at 3am is a no-go); 2) a well-lit basement with ceilings high enough for our home gym equipment; 3) Storage and counterspace in the kithen; 4) Private backyard (high fences and trees to block view of neighbors). Bonuses include: trees from which to hang a hammock and close to shops and restaurants. Big dream = waterfront!

  • samantha June 2, 2010, 1:57 pm

    i’m grappling with moving, too. for me, upping my budget is ok as long as the more expensive place cuts down on other things – for example, a new place i’m looking at is more expensive, but i’ll be able to walk to work/the bars, so i’ll save a good portion of money on transportation.

  • Franziska ( June 2, 2010, 1:57 pm

    I am definately a homebody and love to cook, have space, a yard, etc, etc. My husband and I have always made our home a priority so we are willing to spend a bit more but there is always a limit and you need to really think about what you can comfortably afford and what you can live with if the perfect house presents itself. We bought a house almost 6 years ago now and we looked at over 40 houses before we found the one – in our price range and with everthing we wanted, great yard, room to grow etc. Keep up the search – it is so worth having a wonderful home 🙂

  • kalli@fitandfortysomething June 2, 2010, 1:59 pm

    oh that is so tough! I know how important it is to have a nice place but sometimes it is worth saving some money too…..

  • Estela @ Weekly Bite June 2, 2010, 1:59 pm

    My number one requirement is good location! If you’ve got a house in a good location… it will sell. Next is “good bones” … if the house has good bones, then we can fix it up! Which i love doing 🙂

  • McKella June 2, 2010, 2:00 pm

    I think spending a little more is worth it. I still live in a cruddy apartment, but we’re saving for a house and when we start looking, I’d like something with room for a little garden, safe places to walk, and lots of light because I get winter blues. An updated kitchen would be nice, but I’d probably go for a fixer-upper to cut costs and redo it the way I want it. My husband’s been helping our friend redo his kitchen and it looks beautiful! They didn’t spend a lot of money either, so hopefully an affordable dream kitchen is possible!

  • rachael June 2, 2010, 2:00 pm

    If it was me and I was renting I wouldn’t up my budget to get my ideal place we could move when the lease was up. Maybe just pick your top 2 must haves? Good luck!

  • BethT June 2, 2010, 2:01 pm

    I feel your pain. We had to days to househunt in SF, where rentals can be gone within an hour of being posted on Craigslist. Talk about stress! Don’t live beyond your means, but also consider upping your rent a little bit IF it means you get most of what you want. And if all else fails, you can always move in a year or so after you get to know the area better.

  • KatieTX June 2, 2010, 2:02 pm

    If you are renting I would say settle for a year or two without something so nice and save up to buy a house!! I hate throwing away money to rent!! Luckily here in TX you get so much for your money. I hope to buy a house within the next 2 years. 2000 sq ft, 3 bed, 2bath, large open space with a nice yard. Here you can get that for under $200K, pretty amazing. good luck with your search!

  • Heather (Heather's Dish) June 2, 2010, 2:04 pm

    house-hunting is so hard! our requirements when we were moving to colorado were a place close to the highways we knew we would use, 2 bed 2 bath, a backyard, and newer/in a newer neighborhood. we also had a limit of $1000 a month in rent…and we can pretty close to meeting all of the requirements. the thing is we didn’t see the place until the day we moved in…YIKES!

  • Sarah June 2, 2010, 2:05 pm

    Maybe it depends on how you live. We stuck to a budget and went without fun stuff in our early years. Sometimes I’d complain about how much it sucked to be an adult and have to make responsible decisions…but a few years later we are pretty stable financially and I’m not the type who can live month-to-month and not get stressed. Some people are; I found out that I am definitely not. Anyway, at a point when some other people have strains on their marriage due to finances, are facing foreclosures, and are taking second jobs, we’re in a different place and I’m happy about it. Because of our early scrimping, we’ve been able to travel, go out to eat regularly, and are able to explore some hobbies and interests.

    Sometimes we wish we’d done something more “fun” when we were younger…lived right downtown or picked up and moved to a more exciting place. But overall we know this was the right path for us because financial strain is one thing we can’t deal with!

    • caitlin June 2, 2010, 5:22 pm

      i agree, it ruins marriages and that’s a primary reason that we don’t want to go there!

  • Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter June 2, 2010, 2:05 pm

    I need space to move and a big kitchen! It has to look pretty, otherwise I will be driven absolutely insane

  • Sarah June 2, 2010, 2:06 pm

    hope you guys find something! i just moved memorial day weekend into an apartment with my two good friends and even though i am so excited to live with them i gave up some things to save over $200 a month in rent (chicago is freaking expensive)! i think the biggest thing for me is we don’t have laundry in unit:/…it is coin operated and in the basement of the building…boo. o well guess i will have to adjust!

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) June 2, 2010, 2:06 pm

    It’s hard for me to say now since work provides housing for us. But when I was searching for just me when I got my first job I absolutely had to have laundry capabilities. My schedule was jam packed and I wanted to be able to do my laundry without having to go somewhere. And I wanted 2 bedrooms so I could have an office to work in (I was a teacher). Everything else was negotiable. But I only planned on living in the area for a few years so I was flexible.

  • Jenna June 2, 2010, 2:07 pm

    Oh lady, I feel your pain! We are starting our search for our next place, too. You always have such great mental pictures of what you are hoping to get for what you are paying, but rarely do they ever FULLY meet your expectations. I think it is all about compromise. We are currently jotting down pros and cons.

  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday June 2, 2010, 2:08 pm

    It might take a while but you’ll find something you can compromise on. Good luck!

  • Camille June 2, 2010, 2:10 pm

    Ugh, house hunting is the worst!
    I am moving in September and I have finally just realized that no apartment will be perfect for how much we want to spend. Plus, we can’t go look at them (1000 miles away!), so it is a giant leap of faith!

  • megan June 2, 2010, 2:11 pm

    I’d say it’s definitely worth it to sacrifice on what you want for a little while to save up for the future. When you’re looking for something more permanent you’ll be glad you have the extra money saved.

  • Erin June 2, 2010, 2:11 pm

    House hunting, even for just renting, is really stressful. I think you really have to decide what your priorities are. For me, when I was looking in January, it was location and would accept my dogs and cat. We ended up with a much older house without a super updated kitchen or bathrooms but it really suits our needs and we actually love it! The location totally makes up for it and my dad helped us fence in the yard with some inexpensive materials for the dogs so it works for us. It’s a funky old house but is actually really great.
    It is probably going to be really hard to get everything you want in Charlotte (I’ve house hunted there) on a budget – I don’t want to be pessimistic but I just know the city well. the cute neighborhoods that are walkable tend to be expensive.
    I agree with picking your absolute must haves and be open-minded. Sometimes the stuff that looks great totally isn’t and others surprise you!

  • jenny in new york June 2, 2010, 2:15 pm

    A must is..enough living space to not be on top of my roommates, walking distance from a local subway stop, and…cheap rent!

    Big bedroom, two bathrooms, elevator, doorman, yard space, etc are nice to have, but not necessary.

    NYC livin is expensive!

  • Anna June 2, 2010, 2:17 pm

    Where is your husband’s practice going to be on East? I work there too, in the pediatric office in the condo building right at the corner or East & Kennilworth. Good luck house hunting! I love that area.

  • Michele June 2, 2010, 2:18 pm

    Requirements: for apartments, in-unit washer/dryer, quiet neighbors, pets allowed, patio, gated parking lot, and good location (SAFETY, close to work, gym, and places to run/walk outdoors)

    Like To Have: utilities included, cable included (yeah, got this one), pool, fitness center

  • Lindsay J June 2, 2010, 2:19 pm

    House Hunting is very stressful. It’s good you know what you want. Stick with what you know will make you happy. In the long run it’s very worth it. I like all your requirements. A good walking community is key for me too. I was not much of a walker before we bought our house, but when I saw the neighborhood I knew I would be bike riding all over it. Now I take daily runs/walks because it is so peaceful and beautiful around the house. Just like you love visiting your in-laws beacause of their running trails.
    Keep your chin up. You’ll find a grand place that you’ll love. May be more expensive than desired, but you can always talk about negotiating. Good luck!

  • Amy June 2, 2010, 2:19 pm

    I’m fairly flexible with a lot of things, but I must have a washer/dryer and central air. I live in AZ, so no central air is a major deal breaker.

    When we moved into our current house, we insisted on having a pool, and I don’t regret it one bit!

    Good luck!

  • Allie June 2, 2010, 2:19 pm

    you don’t even want to know what my rent is in a city for a studio. it’s murderous. but, i had certain musts, and the first was location. location makes my life a million times easier and happier. i could get a bigger place and save money living outside the city, but at the end of the day, i love my location and i am so glad i didn’t settle otherwise.

  • Mary June 2, 2010, 2:20 pm

    I think its worth it if you know you’re going to be spending a while there you know? It takes a few months for finances to settle out anyway when you first move… you might find that it wont be as bad as you think it might be?

  • Kristina @goodnweird June 2, 2010, 2:21 pm

    Good luck on your search! It’s always difficult finding a place that meets requirements and allows dogs. My last few apartments have been newer and I don’t know if I can go back to renting an older place.

  • Jes June 2, 2010, 2:24 pm

    My boyfriend and I (yes, we live in sin… ooops) LOVE where we live… I wouldnt say we are financially strained, we just watch what we spend on the little stuff, because it adds up QUICK! We are 23 and 24 years old living in a $160,000 house. It’s not so much the house, it’s the location (RIVER = SKIING, BOATING, WATER GOODNESS). This is our forever house though, and it might be tough on us now, but we know we want to be here forever so it’s worth it!

  • Whit June 2, 2010, 2:24 pm

    Good luck. the thing about charlotte that stinks is that it’s such a driving city. walkability is hard to find. but dilworth and noda are the best in terms of that! and plaza midwood is cool too!

    since the hubs practice is in dilworth that sounds like the best for you guys [and I am sure you already knew that!]

  • Erin June 2, 2010, 2:25 pm

    I just moved into a new apartment this weekend. It’s definitely not my “dream” place but it’s only for a year and has large windows and hardwood floors, both of which I really wanted.

  • Krystina June 2, 2010, 2:28 pm

    Holy hell that bagel sandwich looks amazing. Good luck on your continued search, you’ll find something lovely!

  • Janelle June 2, 2010, 2:31 pm

    I firmly believe that in the right home, the “chi” flows and you find the creative energy to do more – and thus earn more. If you plan to stay there for a while then the $$ is totally worth it. A more temporary home means temporary sacrifices.

    • caitlin June 2, 2010, 5:23 pm

      haha i like the way you think.

  • Emily June 2, 2010, 2:31 pm

    I spy Caribou Coffee 🙂
    i’m sure you’ll find the right house!

  • Lisa June 2, 2010, 2:31 pm

    I moved from Seattle to Portland (twice) and there is nothing more stressful than having to apartment hunt during 1 weekend.

    My “must haves” are big closets, good heat/AC, and big windows. The winters here can be very dark and gloomy.

  • Dynamics June 2, 2010, 2:33 pm

    wow, you new community looks awesome. I have to have a yard big enough for a garden and room for the dog to play a bit. Security is important. I would have to feel save being home alone. Hang in there. You will find something.

  • Stephanie June 2, 2010, 2:35 pm

    i’m having major house shopping envy right now. i absolutely love living in NYC, but you don’t even want to know the disgusting amount of money I spend on a studio apartment. needless to say, my standards have lowered and my list of “musts” is much smaller than I used to dream of. most new yorkers i know that live in studios are just happy to have a full size appliance! i currently have a mini fridge….sigh.

  • Therese June 2, 2010, 2:35 pm

    My husband and I recently moved from Texas to Kansas City and we decided to get an apartment until we knew the area better. We’d rather save money now and BUY a house in a few years. Even though it’d be so nice to have a rental house and yard right now, I’m very happy with our decision. Moving is stressful enough (mentally and financially) without the added financial stress of paying out the wazoo for a house you don’t even own.

  • anne June 2, 2010, 2:35 pm

    I’d say stick to your budget. You can always upgrade later. Especially if you’ve put money aside in the meantime…

  • Elise June 2, 2010, 2:35 pm

    oy. house hunting does not equal fun. i’m undergoing the same stress this weekend in northern california. best of luck.

    and you have bruegger’s in the south?! absolutely fabulous. one up for the south.

  • kristina June 2, 2010, 2:43 pm

    i understand completely what you are going through!! my advice is to NOT get into a position where you and your husband are house poor!! yes, we all want to live in “the perfect” house which may cost an arm and a leg, but if you don’t have any money left over for other expenses, it’s just not worth it. best of luck to you!

  • Heather Rose June 2, 2010, 2:46 pm

    When I moved from IL to AZ I just rented an apartment “blindly” – never saw it besides the pics online until I arrived at the complex with my UHaul, yikes! Luckily it worked out great.

    My only real must have is good closet and storage space. I hate having to cram everthing into tight spaces, I need to spread out.

    Good luck with the search!

  • samantha June 2, 2010, 2:47 pm

    I had this problem recently when looking for a home in a different city. I thought I was going to have to break down and spend way more than I had intended. I found something on the last day of my search. It’s not everything I wanted, but it has wood floors (which I love), and a yard for the dogs, and is in an area that I like. I think it was worth it to give up a few things that I really wanted to stick close to my budget. I hate being stressed over money. It makes me a grumpy, not much fun girl.

  • Ally June 2, 2010, 2:49 pm

    You’ll find a place! Keep your chin up! I don’t have much advice because we got pretty lucky in finding our place, but, I know it can be a strain, especially if you’re moving to a totally new area. Fingers crossed for you!

  • Miranda @ Mirandasjeans June 2, 2010, 3:01 pm

    For our first house I had a big list. 3bdrm, 2btrm unfinished bsmt, and a double sink were in that list. But now for our second house I think the house would be based more on the bones of the house and the property it sits on. My husband and I have done a lot fo home renovations ourselves in the last 2 years, so I feel that if we wanted to we could make the house our own as long as the bones were good (i.e. detatched brick house).

  • Amber K @ sparkpeople June 2, 2010, 3:03 pm

    My husband and I have been looking at houses in our area for awhile now. We know we need at least a 2 bed, 2 bath, but other than that I don’t really think we’re that picky. I just want the neighborhood to be safe (which will be a bit difficult around here) and cheap enough to not kill us financially!

  • Samantha June 2, 2010, 3:07 pm

    Prioritize finding the right neighborhood over finding the perfect floorplan. No use having a perfect floorplan if you’re not uba happy when you walk out the front door. Especially for someone like you.

  • foodandfarm June 2, 2010, 3:07 pm

    What about Kath and Matt’s place??? 🙂

    • caitlin June 2, 2010, 5:24 pm

      i actually looked into buying it…. lol

  • Sandra June 2, 2010, 3:10 pm

    Where else in your lives could you save money? It is more important to me to live where I want (be happy where you spend most of your time!) and feel good…you can cut out some other things to save the money that you won’t miss cause you don’t do them/use them as often.

  • Crystal June 2, 2010, 3:11 pm

    Man I have to say that I don’t miss the house hunting process. We didn’t really have any must have’s besides a big kitchen- and let me tell you, we didn’t end up with one, not exactly anyway. We looked at 30-40 something houses in the course of 2 months, and there were certainly houses that we liked and once that were in “better” areas but just didn’t have it you know? We ended up with a house in a town that we weren’t so thrilled about (but we have a nice neighborhood so who cares what the address reads right?) and a house that was a bit smaller than we had originally wanted.. However- the taxes are cheaper, the house has 2 fireplaces, a nice deck, all hardwoods- and character coming out the ying-yang! From the moment I stepped foot in the front door I knew this was my house- and it took us 6 months to get it because it was a short sale! In the end there are always things that aren’t going to be exactly what you think you want.. but there will be other things that make it totally worth it. I really believe that being happy or content with your home is a state of mind. I know that I love my house- I can pay extra on the mortgage each month and still have money to save and to “fix up” the place.. its just right for me! Good luck and have fun with it 🙂

  • Katherine June 2, 2010, 3:11 pm

    must haves: good for my cat! Safe area.

    want to haves: laundry in building, walkable community, free parking, lots of sunlight, real kitched (ie no mini fridges or stovetop onlys)

    Fantasy haves: hardwood floor, dishwasher, updated kitched, washer and dryer in unit, tons of closet space, small building.

    can you tell I’ve always rented in Boston and LA where the prices are high and your lucky to get anything on the list? I hope waiting will just make my dream place all the more sweet!

  • Gavi @ GaviGetsGoing! June 2, 2010, 3:11 pm

    Good luck on your hunt! It really can be frustrating, I know. My must-haves for a place are: excellent lighting, big kitchen, good closet space, and good water pressure. Our current landlord thought I was crazy for asking him to turn on the shower during our tour, but I have long hair and pressure is important! Good luck!! 🙂

  • Gavi @ GaviGetsGoing! June 2, 2010, 3:12 pm

    Oh, and #1 most important: feeling like you can’t wait to come home at the end of the day!!

  • Krista June 2, 2010, 3:14 pm

    I know what you mean about the whole…spend more get what you like/save money not have it all…I ended up splurging a little for my current place but I’m glad I did. AND if you like where you are, you’re less likely to move after a year or however long your lease is so you will save some $$ by not having to deal with that 🙂 good luck in your search!! Good kitchen appliances and toilets are a must for me!

  • Jessica June 2, 2010, 3:19 pm

    the most important thing to me is being in a place where I feel SAFE AND COMFORTABLE!! I would much rather live in a 700 sq. ft tiny place (in a safe area) and pay more a month than live in a 1500sq. place in a shady neighborhood(even if it is the deal of a century!)

    Safety is most important on my list!

    I hope you all find something soon. 🙂

  • Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope June 2, 2010, 3:23 pm

    When I graduated from college and began the search for my “perfect” apartment, I knew it had to have a full bathtub (not just the shower..i love my baths), a washer/drier in the unit (sick and tired of dealing with coins!), and safety! I got all three (gated community).
    I’m a minimalist:)

  • Layla June 2, 2010, 3:25 pm

    Sounds like you can’t afford the kind of place you want. Prioritize your can’t-live-withouts (which should be a much smaller list than you imagine) and take a place in your budget. I noticed your Twitter saying you wish you had just $400 more to spend- I take it your realtor has been showing you places in the $1500 range when you budget is $1100? One tip that will make this week much less painful: REFUSE TO ALLOW YOUR REALTOR TO SHOW YOU *ANY* PLACE EVEN ONE DOLLAR ABOVE YOUR BUDGET! Mine did that, and it made the search agonizing (copious amounts of tears were involved). When I finally put my foot down and said I couldn’t spend more than my original budget limit, he brought me to a great place in my range and it worked out fine. Stop letting the realtor try to upsell you!!!

    • caitlin June 2, 2010, 5:25 pm

      i agree with this… my husband kept driving me through million dollar mansion streets and i was like WHY WHY WHY ARE YOU MAKING ME HOUSE JEALOUS. take me to the slums! lol

  • Amanda (modernation) June 2, 2010, 3:30 pm

    House hunting is so stressful – especially in a new city. Luckily, when we moved to Sacramento we got to rent a house from my aunt so we had one less thing to worry about. My must haves have changed since moving to Northern California and getting a dog. Now I must have a yard, at least 1.5 baths and at least 2 bedrooms.

  • Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman June 2, 2010, 3:30 pm

    Ugh, that does not sound like fun. The worst is when you see a place out of your budget. I’d rather not see them–then i don’t know what I’m missing. I’m strict with a budget, though. That way I can have spending money, which I know I’ll want when I’m in a gorgeous house I can barely afford.

  • Heather @ Side of Sneakers June 2, 2010, 3:33 pm

    Oh my gosh, house hunting can be SO stressful. I say be picky in the beginning- hold out for what you want. But then if you find it’s not realistic, really look at your list of must haves and see what you wouldn’t mind sparing. I’m one to favor giving something up before going too high in rent- worrying about money is one of my biggest stressors. I’d say my top must-have is location, since it dictates your day to day life. Anything else you can deal with or come up with a creative solution. Good luck on your hunt!

  • Crystal June 2, 2010, 3:37 pm

    We live in the Midwest so an attached 2 car garage was a must for me, especially since we knew we’d be having kids soon. 3+ bedrooms b/c we knew we were having at least 3 kids, 2 bathrooms, at least 1/4 acre lot, in a neighborhood, close to DH’s work, and under 150k. Somehow we managed to get all that, plus close to 4 parks, library and Target and a huge family room for 130k. I love Iowa!

  • Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run] June 2, 2010, 3:38 pm

    Good luck! Something will come your way. House hunting seems similar to job hunting – patience patience patience : )

  • emptynutjar June 2, 2010, 3:39 pm

    i’m in a bad life spot for a while now. So basement apartments or shared are my reality. If I can get some heat and a cheap cheap price, its my thing…i doubt i will ever be out of debt in order to have anything really neat. but a clean safe apartment one day will be great 🙂

  • MLT June 2, 2010, 3:39 pm

    Oh, that does sound stressful. Not just buying a house, but buying one in a new city AND it sounds like you’re on a very tight schedule (and tight budget). Would it be possible to move to charlotte, rent a small apartment near your husband’s office, get settled in with the new job/new town/explore neighborhoods, and then house hunt at your leisure?

    I’ve never owned a home but I’ve lived in alot of apartments and one my biggest priorities is QUIET. I’ve always lived in cities and thick walls are such a luxury. At my last place there was a couple that had sex like clock work every morning (LOUDLY); a musician who played his base guitar at 1am, and a girl upstairs who seemingly couldn’t walk around without doing it in high heels (on wood). Quiet is wonderful. 🙂

    I wouldn’t go over your budget- wouldn’t it be nice to have money to buy new curtains, and enjoy your new home? But that’s just my 2 cents. Good luck!!

  • Tami June 2, 2010, 3:41 pm

    when we were buying our house, we had to go above our budget and it all worked out. it’s hard to give advice like this….

  • Amber from Girl with the Red Hair June 2, 2010, 3:42 pm

    I recently moved and had a lot of expectations for my new place and had to compromise quite a bit. I wanted to be within walking distance to grocery stores/work. I found on within walking distance to grocery but not work.

    I had a certain price range that I wanted and only wanted to live in only TWO different areas in my city, I managed to find one in the area I wanted.

    I wanted laundry, I found one where I SHARE laundry with the ppl above me (I’m in a basement suite).

    I wanted a run-able neighbourhood (the one I lived in before was too HILLY) and I found one!

    I wanted one that allowed pets (I have a cat and wanted to get a dog) I found one that allows CATS.

    In order to get MOST of what I wanted I had to compromise having a bathtub – my tiny place only has a stand-up shower BUT I do have a huge kitchen 🙂

    Anyways, Good Luck with your house hunt!!!! Remember, since you’re only renting if you find one that meets MOST of your requirements you can always be on the look out for something better once you move there!!

    • Amber from Girl with the Red Hair June 2, 2010, 3:44 pm

      One more thing: In my opinion, LOCATION makes a way bigger difference then the size of your place! I am living in a WAY BETTER location than my old place but I gave up a lot of space. But in the end it was totally worth it 🙂 Good luck!!

  • Jessica June 2, 2010, 3:44 pm

    I think another commenter said this, but if you really want walkability, noda, dilworth, plaza midwood, and some places close to uptown are the best places for that, and from what I hear can be somewhat expensive. So, really it’s up to you and your husband if you either want to sacrifice some things (ie space, modern, etc), sacrifice location (less walkability), or spend more money. I don’t think that $1100 is that unreasonable in Charlotte, it all depends on what you guys want to do.

  • Ashley June 2, 2010, 3:46 pm

    My FAVORITE park to run at in Charlotte is riiight down the street from that Brueggers. There is a nice loop within the park and great neighborhood streets surrounding with tons to look at. I made a great 4 mile loop that I miss running on! =) Glad you liked Zada!

  • gina (fitnessista) June 2, 2010, 4:01 pm

    when we moved to valdizzy, we ended up getting a place (our current home) for $400 more per month than we’d planned on spending, and we haven’t regretted it once. we just had to adjust our budget a little (and realized how much money we were wasting) and it has been sooooo worth it.
    fingers crossed for ya!

  • Helen June 2, 2010, 4:02 pm

    In the flat where we are now, we are paying £75 more than we wanted. That’s because it was an ideal location and a 2 bed flat. I would say don’t go too far over your budget but maybe a little to get what you want. (I assume you’re renting)
    My requirements are: a parking space, at lease 2 bed, a garden (I so miss that now), a quiet neighbourhood and a safe area.
    Hope you don’t go crazy!

  • Effie June 2, 2010, 4:08 pm

    Good luck finding something you want. Charlotte is a great and fun city. Check out the Epicenter downtown, tons of bars I enjoy “Howling at the Moon” the best.

  • LadyLara June 2, 2010, 4:10 pm

    My musts are location, open floor plan, and washer/dryer (not easy to find in my area!).

  • sandy June 2, 2010, 4:18 pm

    IF YOU THINK YOU CAN MANAGE THE EXTRA MONEY, DO IT! The only thing they cannot make more of is land–purchasing a home, is a LONG term investment. If you pick in the right up and coming neighborhood, you may want to spend a little more up front, in order to have a higher return on your long term investment. Dont rent, you would just be throwing your money away.

    • caitlin June 2, 2010, 5:26 pm

      i have to rent 🙁 we don’t have the $$ to buy. we’re not that mature yet.

      • sandy June 2, 2010, 6:38 pm

        You could try using your parents as non-occupying co-mortgagors (they could buy it, you could rent it from them and they could get the write off as an investment property, for the taxes, insurance, interest etc. (sorry, I dont mean to be nosy, but I couldnt afford a home either, and had to get really creative with my lender. Just a thought.)

  • Lauren @ Health on the Run June 2, 2010, 4:29 pm

    Good luck with the search!! I’ve never house hunted before, but finding a good apartment is stressful enough — I can only imagine!! I would say location is the most important thing, and I’d definitely sacrifice some amenities for a great location. Mostly because buying a house is such an investment that having a place in an ideal location could definitely help you (someday) when it’s time to sell. PLUS, you can always do some work on it to fix it up the way you like.

  • Catherine June 2, 2010, 4:43 pm

    My requirements are enough closet space and a decent kitchen… although I’d looove a HUGE kitchen with first rate burners, oven, stove, etc. 😉

  • Erin @ A Girl & Her Mutt June 2, 2010, 4:47 pm

    I have to have a place that accepts dogs, has a decent kitchen, parking (big city living!), and wood floors. OH! And a washer and dryer. 🙂

  • Morgan @ Healthy Happy Place June 2, 2010, 5:02 pm

    we plan to sell our home in the next year or 2. we currently have a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom fully renovated house. but I need more space! For the next one, we want 4 bedrooms 2.5 baths, 2 stories and a basement.

  • Lisa June 2, 2010, 5:04 pm

    Do you need a relator to rent?
    Weird….In canada you only use a realator if you’re buying or selling.
    Renting you just find from the newspaper or that type of thing. The paper work is between you and the landlord.

    • caitlin June 2, 2010, 5:26 pm

      no you dont 🙂

  • Heather June 2, 2010, 5:27 pm

    must haves:
    back covered patio
    2 bathrooms
    garbage disposal

    nice to have:
    wood floors
    walk in closet
    dining room
    screend porch
    big master bedroom/bathroom

  • Christena June 2, 2010, 5:29 pm

    Are you talking renting or buying? If you are only renting now, I would say definitely find something affordable — make financial sacrifices when you are ready to make a more permanent decision. Rent for awhile and save like crazy so that you can afford what you really want in the future.

  • Laura June 2, 2010, 5:41 pm

    I love Zada Jane’s! You should also try Nova’s Bakery if you end up back on central. It is down the street from Zada Janes off the corner of Pecan and Central. ALSO try Thomas street tavern great local bar with fun outside activities, as well as The penguin…very interesting place, not great healthy choices, but does have veg. options! try the fried pickles!

  • Rebecca @ How the Cookie's Crumble June 2, 2010, 5:50 pm

    Sometimes it’s worth uping your budget for what you want – but it depends on what it is and how much you are getting for how much more. I think back to my college days and how each time I moved I upgraded. First to having a dishwasher, next to central air, then to washer/dryer. Now I could never imagine living without those things – or the tiny closets I use to have. But if it’s something that I really want in a place, like an awesome kitchen, then I think it’s worth spending the extra money! 🙂

  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) June 2, 2010, 5:53 pm

    Argh house hunting can be terrible! We actually decided to build a new house which has been great because we could choose exactly how we want it to be!!!

  • Hayley @ Breath of Fire June 2, 2010, 6:16 pm

    Finding a place is such a process. For me it’s just college apartments, so I’m not even looking for anything nice or at all long-term, and it’s still hard. Keep at it!

  • Clare June 2, 2010, 6:24 pm

    Caitlin! You’re moving to the wrong town. Move here to Boulder, CO instead! Mecca of healthy lifestyle people (home to TONS of tri-athletes) and amazing, organic food. Just ran the Bolder Boulder 10K and thought of you this weekend.

  • Elizabeth June 2, 2010, 6:40 pm

    Have you looked online at They have tons of customizable search options (in your case, renting, area, etc.). I have serious house envy right now (we’re not in a place to buy) and I torture myself by looking at pretty houses. 🙂

  • VCK June 2, 2010, 6:54 pm

    We’re in the same situation right now, and I am a person who needs financial stability more than all the amenities. And really, home is what you make it. Our little apartment isn’t ideal, but I share it with someone I love and we’ve made it our home. Decorations and precious keepsakes such as photos that follow you wherever you go take it from “a place to live” to “home.”

  • Nicole June 2, 2010, 6:55 pm

    I have pretty much the same requirements as you but we’ve come to the decision that we’re going to have to give up on a few things in order to keep the budget down. Which means, if I want hardwood floors, open floor plan, yard, washer/dryer/dishwasher, 2-3 bedrooms and at least 2 bathrooms, etc., we will have to move farther away from all of the bars, restaurants, walkable things, etc. Sucks but I don’t want to be a slave to my house for the rest of my life, and if we go over budget, we won’t be able to enjoy time doing other things.
    Real estate agents always try to say “remember, your income will always go up” but after getting laid off (twice) we both know how important it is to be able to afford to live off of one income. Just my opinion. Good luck!!

  • Megan @ The Oatmeal Diaries June 2, 2010, 7:58 pm

    Zada Jane’s is the best!! Glad you are getting some good eats in the QC 🙂

  • Jen June 2, 2010, 7:59 pm

    It is TOTALLY worth it to spend more to love where you live. When our roommate moved out, my fiance and I weren’t sure if we wanted to pay her share of the rent to stay in the neighborhood and apartment that we love. But we did, and even ended up signing the lease for another year!

  • Alycia @ Fit n Fresh June 2, 2010, 8:06 pm

    Aww good luck with the house hunt! I’m jealous of your new city – and definitely live where YOU want. (:

  • Mary June 2, 2010, 8:10 pm

    My boyfriend just moved to an apartment in Uptown CLT (but I live in Raleigh), and I’ve had such fun getting to know the city…hope you do, too! Dilworth is perfect, you might want to check out Elizabeth as well (downside: less fun bars/restaurants in walking distance, but there are a few). My friend has a really cute house on E. 8th street… 2br, small yard…maybe you could find something in that area that is somewhat reasonable? Good luck!

  • faith June 2, 2010, 8:53 pm

    you were right by caribou..i work at the one in chapel hill, but that’s where i put all the operation “boutiful” post it’s up 🙂

    good luck with the house hunt!! if you’re ever in chapel hill let me know!!

  • Lauren June 2, 2010, 9:21 pm

    Caitlin, I HIGHLY recommend Financial Peace University through Dave Ramsey. My husband and I have always been pretty much on the same page about finances, but this has made us even more so, and has so encouraged and motivated us to “live like no one else so that later we can LIVE like no one else” (one of the mottos of the program). We live in a tiny house(I’m talking smaller than apartment), but it’s adorable and my husband fixed it up and we aren’t “just getting by” each month. Another big thing is budgeting before the month begins-telling every dollar where to go, instead of wondering where your money went. It’s a challenge and takes awhile to figure out, but so worth it. I’m getting so into it, and I never thought I would be!

  • Kelli June 2, 2010, 9:40 pm

    House hunting is SO stressful!!! Sometimes you need to spend a little more than you thought you would in order to get what you want. But sitting down and really figuring out if there are other places in your budget you can cut helps. For example, I am giving up pretty much all Whole Foods shopping in order to live in the house I want!! Sometimes we have to sacrfice! GOOD LUCK!!! You will find a place you love!!

  • hemp jogger June 2, 2010, 9:48 pm

    it wouldve rocked if you guys couldve been on house hunters, or for rent, or property virgins, or my first place (all HGTV!)…maybe a tad less stressful w/ fame and cameras?! 😉

    must have: washer and dryer, dishwasher, lots of windows/sunlight.
    likes/dreams: balcony, open-plan, large ass closets.

  • Donna June 2, 2010, 9:51 pm

    Did you talk with Kath about the best neighborhoods? Would she recommend her realtor?

  • Vaala June 2, 2010, 9:58 pm

    I’ve lived in some absolutely shocking flats (and had some absolutely shocking flatmates but at least you don’t have to worry about that!). Ever since my first flat I realised there are some things I have to have: windows that actually open(!), a lounge (it had a hallway…), sunlight, and some bench space in the kitchen. I couldn’t even begin to list my nice-to-haves though! Good luck with the house hunting.

  • Amanda June 2, 2010, 10:18 pm

    Eek good luck! Honestly we had a list of must haves this year (2 bedroom, dishwasher, balcony, animal friendly, 2nd floor) and we are paying a bunch more to be happy and have some space to spread out. Unfortunately we didn’t get location – which is pretty important! Personally, I think it’s a toss up to what your #1 priority is and how much weight that carries!

  • Jolene ( June 2, 2010, 11:46 pm

    We bought a house with 2 bedrooms and 1 bath, and then finished the basement where we put in another bedroom and another full bath. A big kitchen is a MUST, along with a dining area for my beautiful table. Big windows are important too, and a good location! I would renovate a house before I would up my budget too much.

  • Di June 3, 2010, 7:55 am

    I had a couple of needs when I bought my townhouse. I *needed* 2 bedrooms and at least 1.5 baths. I *needed* a townhouse as opposed to a garden style condo (but if I really absolutely had to get garden style, it had to be significantly bigger than my last apartment).

    My recommendation is not to give up on the bedroom/bathroom requirements. Everything else (pets being allowed, aside) seems negotiable. I ended up having to up my price limit, but it all worked out in the end…turns out I could afford more than I thought!

    Good luck!

  • JavaChick June 3, 2010, 8:47 am

    I felt stressed out and nauseous the entire time we were buying our house. It’s a big deal! We chose our house because of the location and the fact that it had lots of windows/good natural light (my requirements) and it was only a couple of years old with an unfinished basement (Husband’s requirements). It also has 3 bedrooms (smallish) and only one bathroom, but had the necessary…ah…hookups? for a half bath in the basement, which we have since added. It also had a wood stove, which was a perk for us.

    I will tell you this, I did not love my house when we bought it, but we got a really good deal it it was a great location. We’ve been there for 8 years now. I still love the location. We’ve done quite a bit of work in the basement and I have a really nice workout space down there. I still love having a wood stove. It’s home and I am content there. I don’t regret that we bought it. But I still don’t love the house, if that makes sense.

  • AllieNic (Frisky Lemon) June 3, 2010, 9:19 am

    I rent in the Boston area and I’ve move about once a year since arriving here four years ago…Finally found a place this past year that I LOVE, but before that, it was tough.
    Must-haves= Hardwood floors, not-gross bathroom, lots of light, puppies allowed walking distance to public transportation…
    Nice-to-haves= some kind of porch, back yard (!), gas stove…lots of counter space…

    Good luck in the search!

  • Brittany (A Healthy Slice of Life) June 3, 2010, 9:49 am

    Are yall looking in any neighborhood in particular? Dilworth? Chantilly? I wish you luck! I’m having fun seeing your pictures from all the local restaurants 🙂

    • caitlin June 3, 2010, 10:20 am

      we’re searching elizabeth, dilsworth, and myers park 🙂

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