“When Did You Decide to Buy a House?”

My intern and I tucked into our food during a late lunch off-site. My intern was telling me about her apartment hunt. Then she asked, “When did you decide to buy a house?”


“Wow, that recently?”


When I was in grad school, Atlanta’s market started to take off. It was a buying frenzy. In my grad-school cohort, people were snapping up houses. One student got a house based on her husband’s (small) graduate student stipend. One of my fellow students got a house with no money down when she didn’t have a job…or a signed contract. (I wonder where those people are now, since Atlanta’s market is so terrible.)

When the market crashed and first-time buyer credit appeared, people told me we should buy a house. Never mind that Good Man and I were living off of my income. When I argued that we couldn’t afford to save for a down payment on my income, they responded with “buy a condo!”


In October, during our morning walks, Good Man and I started talking about buying a house.

I was still claiming that we’d eventually go back to Korea, even though I knew in my heart that it wasn’t going to happen. The reality is that our life here is better. As a teacher, my job is easier in Korea. But Good Man’s work life would be so…Korean. As a couple, our standard of living would decrease dramatically.

Also, Good Man wants to become a citizen. Unfortunately, Korea doesn’t do dual-citizenship. If we returned to Korea, we would be in Weird Visa Land. Also, as a citizen, a whole lot of currently unavailable jobs in this area will become available to Good Man.

We talked for weeks. Were we only wanting a house because it was expected? Were we sure we wanted to tie ourselves down? Were we just buying into the expectation that a couple in their thirties should own a house?

Finally, we decided that we really did want a house.

A condo was out from the very beginning. No way in hell.

We briefly considered a townhome, but the presence of an HOA (and their fees), along with a lack of a decent yard, and shared walls negated any price benefits. No.

A detached, single-family home it is!

We started saving a down payment. I started looking at homes online to get an idea of what we wanted in a house and what we could afford