A few months ago when I shared my video on living debt free, I talked about how home ownership was a goal of mine for 2021. Funny enough, back in March, our home buying plans centered around getting a place in Kenya. We spent the first few months of the year touring apartments and houses in Nairobi and visited one particular construction three times. We were pretty convinced that would be our next home and started trying to figure out how to make it work financially.
But then I got a postdoc opportunity at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. When we started looking at housing options, we saw a glaring difference between rent and mortgage prices in South Bend. Apartments near campus were around $1400/month for two bedrooms while 3 and 4 bedroom houses were selling for under $200,000. So after running the numbers, we decided to take advantage of the current low mortgage interest rates and buy a house in Indiana.
Now you might be wondering “but I never saw you post about a trip to Indiana”. And my friend, you’re correct! We bought a house that we’ve never seen before in real life, from a whole different country. Due to the pandemic it isn’t as uncommon anymore to buy homes sight unseen, but it was still a pretty stressful experience. Luckily we found a great real estate agent who did walk throughs of several homes on Facetime to give us a better look into what we were potentially buying. The market was insane and bids were coming in $50k over asking price, but God had favor on us because the house we decided to pursue aggressively belonged to a young Black, Christian family (which I knew because of their faith, hope, love shower curtain and some doctorate level research/sleuthing). They couldn’t turn down our offer letter complete with our family Christmas photo!
A couple of people have asked if this means that the move to the US is permanent, and it does not. We bought a house as a financial investment that we could live in for the duration of my postdoc. There is no world in which I plan to live in South Bend, Indiana for the duration of our 30-year mortgage, lol. No shade to South Bend, I haven’t even been there yet! Once the two years are up, we’ll either rent it out or sell it, depending on the market and what makes most financial sense.
But the concept of home is incredibly important to me, so I will be investing a lot of time, money, and energy into making it as warm and comforting as a home for us even though it’s not our “forever home.” My resident wannabe interior designer neurons are ON FIRE and I have so many DIY, decor, and reno ideas and partnerships in the works for the home — I feel like I might just evolve into an interior design blogger because that’s pretty much the only thing I wanna talk about now. I’ve already made decor mock ups for all the main rooms of the house (living room, primary bedroom, toddler room, and office) purely based on the listing photos and dimensions the real estate agent gave us. Sis is eager! Here’s an overall moodboard for the living area, but you can get a sneak peek into all my design plans by following me over on Pinterest since I’m aggressively pinning to my Home Decor board!
We’ll be keeping an apartment in Kenya, and that alone is wild because when Jonathan and I first started dating I remember making an off-handed comment about how we’d have to live a bi-continental lifestyle to make it work. And here we are, soon to be bi-continental living!
I’m still pretty darn scared about whether this move was the right decision and whether I’ll be a good fit for academic life (especially since I’ve been an independent scholar & solo entrepreneur for so long), but if there’s one thing that I know will give me comfort, peace, and a sense of security during this next chapter, it’s our house! Can’t wait to share it with y’all — after I see it myself, of course!