I looked at three houses last night, ranging from $54,900 to $94,500 in asking price. Remarkably, those two prices were for the two houses across the street from each other. I'd say that's the biggest advantage to looking for a house in an old neighborhood: every house is different.
The cheapest house is probably the most tempting, in fact. It has no basement. This is a disadvantage in all ways except one: it means the washer/dryer is on the first (and only) floor. In the garage, to be exact. OK, I'd rather have a laundry room, (or laundry closet) but it beats trekking to the basement to wash my clothes. Especially since I'm sure Lut would have the same mildew-allergy reaction to a basement in a house that he does to the laundry basement in our apartment complex. So I'd still be dragging his clothes up and down from the wash. Plus I'd be doing it lots more often, since I couldn't do six to eight loads at once any more.
In theory, I suppose that if I buy a house I can move the washer/dryer where I want. But in practice, I'm not sure how costly doing so will be. And I'd rather avoid doing major remodeling, and I'm betting the necessary plumbing for washing machines qualifies it as "major remodeling".
None of the houses had a dishwasher. The cheapest house didn't even have a stove.. (Apparently the last tenants had run off with it.) But, OK, I can have a dishwasher installed; that's not as big a deal as the washer/dryer thing. Same for buying a new stove.
The big disadvantages to the cheap house were:
a) It's tiny, especially the kitchen. Squeezing in a dishwasher would be a challenge. Heck, I'm not sure there's room for a full-size stove. (At least it'd be a gas stove, woo.)
b) It's in sad shape. Needs a new garage door (they've got vinyl or something taped over the bottom half of it). There are blinds in all the rooms, most of them held in place not by installation, but by sitting on top of long screws. The owner's already replaced the hot water heater and the furnace, so at least I don't have that to worry about. I'd need to put the litter box in the garage, which would mean installing a cat flap on the door from the house to the garage.
Most of these are cosmetic: OK, if I own the house, I can install proper blinds. It's not that big a deal. But I noticed cracks in the concrete of the front stoop, so I'm betting there's some significant risk of serious, non-cosmetic problems with the place. Like that it's sliding off the hill that it's on, for example.
And, moreover, I'm not in love.
I want to be in love. This is too much money to spend on something I'm not enthusiastic about.
I don't know if I'm going to find a place I'm in love with. I want a house that's close to my job, and all the ones I've seen are old. If they have a basement (and I think most of them will), the washer/dryer will be in the basement. And I don't want to trek around an unfinished basement doing laundry. I'm not wild about using a finished basement for it, either, for that matter. I want the machines on the same floor with my clothes and my bedroom. This is a common design in new construction, and has been for the last, oh, ten-fifteen years, I'd say. But in 50+ year-old houses, it'll be a rare duck.
Anyway, I gave the realtor a couple more addresses last night, and after we left, I saw two others for sale in the neighborhood. So I'll take another look. Maybe there's hope.
And there's always Whispering Lakes on Saturday. Maybe I'll be in love with that.