Back in the early summer of 2012, my husband and I were living together in a little, perfect apartment in West San Jose. We were not yet married; in fact, we hadn’t been a couple for more than five or six months. He was finalizing a divorce and I was recovering from my own previous long-term relationship. I now know the truth behind the old chestnut, “You will just know when it’s right.”
Peter is ten years older than I am. He’s much better at “adulting” than I am too. He had an established career, two adult children, a house in Cupertino that was almost paid off, and a 23-year marriage that he was ending. As per the grossly outdated and arbitrary family laws of the State of California, it was costing him a great deal. They decided to sell the house and divide the proceeds, which may have been the most painful decision he made during the entire divorce business. He was so proud of that house because he purchased it with money he earned and saved – both of his parents were alive, so there was no inheritance or gift bestowed. I watched leaving that house on a court for the last time actually, physically cause him to crumple.
Luckily, Cupertino is a very desirable city and the house on a court, in one of the best school districts in the nation, after paying everyone off, he split just over $1M with his ex-wife. The bad news is, this is the San Francisco Bay Area and $500K doesn’t get you much of anything.
So here we are, in the summer of 2012, in my 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment with the vintage charm: weird little built ins, the cabinets in the kitchen island had doors on both sides, and all the glorious light from large windows – he was sitting at the bar and I was in the kitchen. We were drinking wine. The tiny jade plant I picked up at IKEA barely six months prior, when I had to replace every stick of furniture I owned, was happy in his little pot next to Peter. I promised him then and there, that I would do whatever I could do to get him back in a house he loved as much as the one in Cupertino.
I had zero experience with home ownership. I had grown up living in rentals and never had enough financial stability to purchase one myself. Clearly, we needed to be strategic about how we were going to reach our goal.
A few days later, Peter tells me that he is drawn to two cities: Campbell and Mountain View. He says he wants to check out Campbell because he’s inexplicably drawn to it. Mountain View is all about the zip code. I quickly come up with a bunch of listings with open houses in both cities and we spend our weekends looking at homes for sale.
On a lark, we visit a new townhouse development in Mountain View.
Next time, I’ll tell you all about going to the sales office and visiting the model homes of a new development.