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Our Dream House . . . Just Out of Reach, or Not?

If you’ve read the blog for awhile, you know Hubby & I have this dream of living on a lake (Lake Superior is my first choice).  Our plan was to wait until I’m done my PhD (I hope to submit this August), then wrap up house projects during the fall, sell the townhouse early next spring and move.  But we weren’t sure where, exactly.  Lake Superior living would mean moving back to our hometown, which has benefits and drawbacks.  Until now, we’ve moved where I’ve gone to school.  It seems scary and exciting to think that we could move anywhere next because Hubby’s job has flexibility like that.  So do we want to move anywhere . . . or back home?

To help decide (and to totally distract me throughout the week), Captain Distracto keeps tabs on Lake Superior homes for sale and emails me listings.  Until now we’ve done our best Goldilocks impressions: too small, too big, too expensive, too far.  But Hubs found a house so perfect, it’s making me go all crazy-eyed.  I actually suggested buying it now, living off ramen noodles if we have to, carrying two mortgages until we’re done in Ottawa and then selling the townhouse and moving. 

The house: good price, fabulous location, lakefront (on Lake Superior), 1400 square feet, two bedrooms and two bathrooms, two car garage and cart port, work shop (hello painting studio!), guest house with its own (extra) bathroom, sauna, a dreamy open layout with spacious living area and sunny kitchen.  It is a bit dated even though it’s only 13 years old, but it has SO much potential.  Imagine it with all white walls and trim, bright artwork, painted kitchen cabinets, updated tile and counters . . .

The back, facing the lake.
The view.  My word, the view.  Rainbows not included.
Guest house with its own bathroom.
Two car garage with so much spray painting room!
The living room is huge with a fireplace, million dollar view, and great hardwood floors.  Just hand me some paint!
Love this dining room!  But I’m already dreaming of a new light fixture.
A kitchen I can finally paint!  I am thinking pale turquoise cupboards with white counters and grey tile floor.

I know when we’re ready to move, we won’t find something as perfect (or affordable) and I’ll be disappointed.  Before when we looked at homes, I was willing to make ridiculous concessions (“axe the guest bedroom!” “who needs an office!” “kitchens are overrated, we can live without one!”) because I knew to buy a lakefront property we’d have to make sacrifices.  But this home has everything we want and need and more, so I don’t think I’ll be able to be so chill about sacrifices from now on.  Everyone think good thoughts so no one else buys this and it’s available when we’re ready . . .



  1. Nataliya
    May 22, 2013 / 12:49 pm

    Hi there, I'm new to your blog, but I would have to say BUY IT and buy it now. If this is your dream home, carry two mortgages if you have to. The property is gorgeous and the sacrifices will be well worth it.

  2. Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
    May 22, 2013 / 1:04 pm

    This is the kind of comment I want hear, lol. Isn't it dreamy?? I'm surprised it hasn't been scooped up. We keep flip flopping between buying or waiting. We're meeting with our mortgage rep soon to see if we even qualify and that might make the decision for us!

  3. wellfedfred
    May 22, 2013 / 1:23 pm

    I don't know what mortgage rates are like in your area, but down here they're so temptingly low….

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 22, 2013 / 3:44 pm

      I looked at our bank's website and they have so many different kinds and some are lower than our current mortgage but some are slightly higher.

  4. midcentuymadam
    May 22, 2013 / 1:53 pm

    I'd love to see that house after you put your sweet diy skills to work on in. I hope you qualify because I see a whole new blog coming. It is really beautiful. I can see you and hubs sitting in front of a roaring fire. Keep us posted!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 22, 2013 / 3:44 pm

      I have the makeover all planned out already. I'm trying to stay focused on work and not just shop online for light fixtures all day!

  5. louize
    May 22, 2013 / 2:13 pm

    can't you buy it and rent it until you are ready to move to cover costs? It looks gorgeous!I keep thinking of all your "preparing our house to resell" posts as I am looking to buy something in Brussels right now, and you should see the adverts, people don't even make the bed, do the washing up, or clear up before putting the photos up, you can barely see the apartments, let alone feel seduced by them here, it is so depressing!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 22, 2013 / 3:46 pm

      I'm so nervous of renting because neighbors rented and had to re-do the floors when the tenants left (they just trashed them). I have also seen some terrible photos for properties for sale – no tidying, a total mess!! I wonder if these places sell? Maybe sometimes the demand is so great, it can look like a mess. This house was messy when we bought it (actually greasy) so there are people that are desperate enough, lol.

  6. Dana@Mid2Mod
    May 22, 2013 / 2:27 pm

    I agree with Nataliya. If it's perfect in every way and you can swing two mortgages for a short time, I say go for it. You're so close to finishing up with school…and I'm sure the townhouse could be sold quickly, just as it is now, because you've done a tremendous amount of work on it already. You might have to live on ramen and get a cheap apartment if it sold right away, but you'd have your dream house, so the sacrifice would be worth it.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 22, 2013 / 3:48 pm

      I keep telling myself the sacrifice would be worth it! My parents are going to check it out and we have an appointment with the bank. It's just all happening at the busiest time for us all. And it's so inconvenient with it being 1500km away and Hubs and I both have conferences at the end of this month – it's like the changing of the guards in the townhouse with one arriving as the other leaves!! I worry that even if we decide to go for it, someone else will swoop in.

  7. White Cabana
    May 22, 2013 / 2:37 pm

    Go for it! I'm in the same position as you (nearing the end of my PhD, not sure what to do with my life, where to settle, etc.). If you already know you want the lake house, the community, etc., then go for it. You can go to Ottawa every so often to meet wit your supervisor/defend and there's so much that is done online/with Skype now. Could that work for you? I just read these articles in UA: – kind of like a reality check, helps put things in perspective? Oh jeez, I don't know. It's all easier said than done. -Jordana

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 22, 2013 / 3:49 pm

      Those articles are great, thanks!! Isn't this a crazy time? I'm so close to being done but I also feel so far from being done. I still have SO much writing and editing to do. Yikes.

    • White Cabana
      May 24, 2013 / 9:08 am

      I hear ya! And it is such a busy time with conference season. Life transitions are tricky no matter how you look at it. So many decisions to make! Congrats on your writing. Feels great to be "nearing the end" though, doesn't it? Even though there's still much work to be done! Happy writing…err..and editing! J

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 24, 2013 / 12:49 pm

      It feels good, but scary. I'm also perpetually behind! I'm only nearer to the end because of the deadline my supervisor and I set up, not because I'm almost done the work . . . yikes! I'm wrapping up chapter three of four this week. I still have revisions on Two and Three, all of Four to write and a brief intro and conclusion. Why do all the conferences have to be at the same time??? Good luck wrapping up your work (not that you need it). I hope things go smoothly for you!!! 🙂

  8. Jeanette @ This Dusty House
    May 22, 2013 / 2:47 pm

    How much longer are you in Ottawa for? How much could you get in rent for that house? See where I'm going with this? It's possible that the house could pay for itself. If you can handle the down payment and you know that that's where you want to be in a year or two or even five, buy the place and rent it out until you're ready to move in!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 22, 2013 / 3:50 pm

      Renting scares me. But I so the idea of already having our next step settled. That's worth it's weight in gold when it comes to piece of mind.

  9. erica | wicked bride
    May 22, 2013 / 3:19 pm

    Agree with everyone: buy now. Since you want to fix this house up, you could always rent it out while you finish up your PhD and are waiting for the townhouse to sell. If renters damage anything – well, you're going to replace/paint/chuck it anyways, right? When we were house hunting, Mike and I found our dream house – it was a contemporary (impossible to find in New England since it's almost all Colonials) and it was smack in the middle of the woods on a private road. Had everything we wanted and more. We waited one night (mere 12 hours) to put an offer in, and it sold the next morning before the ink was even dry on our paperwork. I know we've now ended up in a good spot, but I still think of that house and what could've been…

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 22, 2013 / 3:53 pm

      You're freaking me out!! What if this sells?? I phoned my Mom a few minutes ago and am making her check it out with my Dad right away. I'm 1500 km away so there's not much I can do. If it passes their inspection, I need to find a time to fly there and look myself. But first, an appointment with the bank. But Hubs and I can only find a time to meet together next week. I am getting so anxious.

    • erica | wicked bride
      May 22, 2013 / 5:07 pm

      I didn't mean to freak you out! Just take one thing at a time, and breathe. The first step is really just making sure it's still available – otherwise you'll have torn your hair out for nothing, know what I mean? My rule: Don't freak out until there's something to freak out over. (Although I break it sometimes… oops).

  10. Anonymous
    May 22, 2013 / 7:11 pm

    i say: buy it, and then rent it as is until you're ready to move – that would help with two mortgages!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 23, 2013 / 11:25 am

      The more "buy it"s I hear, the more I want it, lol.

  11. Dana@Mid2Mod
    May 22, 2013 / 8:03 pm

    I had to laugh when I saw that you have already planned the entire kitchen renovation in your head, down to the paint and tile color. My daughter tells me I always obsess waaaaay too far in advance. Now I can tell her I'm not the only one. (To tell you the truth, I think she doesn't obsess enough! I had my new apartment completely decorated a week after I moved in. She doesn't even have half her pictures hung. The problem with my big reveal has been getting them to move faster on the landscaping. If it had just been me, I would have had it done weeks ago.)

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 23, 2013 / 11:29 am

      You and I are so alike!! I hate things sitting in a half-finished state. Un-hung picture drive me nuts!! I will ask for Hubby's help at 10pm to hang a picture, because I just can't wait until morning. Planning in advance helped out place get done quicker, but I wish I had thought (even) longer about some decisions. So our next place I want as much lead time as possible, which means I've been pinning ideas for about a year, lol, for different kinds of places . . . I am ready!!I am so excited to see your reveal!! Tell her it's killing me 😉

  12. Ashley@AttemptsAtDomestication
    May 23, 2013 / 1:29 am

    I hope it is still available for you guys! It's a gorgeous house!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 23, 2013 / 11:25 am

      Thanks for the positive thinking!!

  13. Storypiece
    May 23, 2013 / 5:44 am

    Oh my goodness… I hate to add to the temptation, but I really hope that you can get it. It has SO much potential! It would be fun to see you guys renovate it from the very beginning. Eek!! Good luck.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 23, 2013 / 11:26 am

      I'm so excited to find a house to renovate/decorate all over again. And to find a place where I can go a little bolder!! I think any house we buy, given the location, will be a little dated. Thunder Bay isn't too fancy-pants so I think renovating is in our future no matter what. The only down side is that that isn't always reflected in the price, because to some Thunder Bay folk a dated house can look awesome!

  14. Stephanie, Sandpaper and Glue
    May 23, 2013 / 1:53 pm

    LOVE LOVE LOVE that house. it's super charming.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 23, 2013 / 3:42 pm

      It's so cute, right? Such a perfect size!

  15. Amy
    May 23, 2013 / 3:56 pm

    Oh my goodness. This is a dream house. I am crossing my fingers no one else snags it. But we'd miss you in Ottawa!!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 23, 2013 / 7:16 pm

      Thanks for the positive thoughts :)We + Ottawa was always temporary, even though it's a beautiful city.

  16. Clare
    May 23, 2013 / 5:23 pm

    That house is so perfect. The guest house is what pushed me over the edge. Hopefully it'll wait for you.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 23, 2013 / 7:17 pm

      Isn't it sweet? I love guests, but I also love them a little bit away from us, lol.

  17. Lets just build a house!
    May 24, 2013 / 2:15 am

    i can totes see you in this house!! get it!! 🙂

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 24, 2013 / 12:50 pm

      Awww, thanks! It does seem right for us, somehow. I can picture us here right away, just like I did with our current house. There's work to do to modernize it, but some other properties we looked at have TOO much work and I hated every single room (ornate cabinetry, dated tile galore, paneled walls and ceilings, the works). This has just the right amount of projects, and enough time leftover to enjoy lake life!

    • Lets just build a house!
      May 27, 2013 / 6:40 pm

      that's true you have to enjoy the lake life too!

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