Why does it feel like we have been we have been house hunting for months now?!
…but at the same time, it feels like it JUST begun?

It is probably because we THOUGHT we were ready.
Then we got DENIED three times
in 3 weeks!!

Now… that we finally got over these 3 speed bumps.
It is time to tour some homes!
? ? ? ? ?

Let’s recap our budget, because we need a reminder
to keep searching for that magic lamp or that pot of gold!
It is somewhere nearby, right?!
? ?


$400,000 – $425,000


What can we get really get in Southern California for $400K – $425K?!

We have come to terms that with our budget, we will not be purchasing a single family home. Our options are apartments, condos, and manufactured (mobile) homes.

Here are our current options
we are touring this weekend with Open Listings:



2 bedrooms
1.5 bathrooms
980 sq ft
HOA: $320 per month
– – – – – –
Distance from the Beach: 15 miles
School Grade: A





2 bedrooms
2 bathrooms
1,100 sq ft
HOA: $400 per month
– – – – – –
Distance from the Beach: 18 miles
School Grade: A+




2 bedrooms
2 bathrooms
1,700 sq ft.
HOA: $300 per month
– – – – – –
Distance from the Beach: 20 miles
School Grade: A+


It was pretty tough to let go of the idea that our first purchase would not be a single family home.
The thing that REALLY SURPRISED us was how high HOA (homeowners association) fees were around here!
We saw some as low as $300 per month to as high as $900 per month.

Then for some odd reason…
We thought it would be “funny”
to compare what we could get in my fiancé’s hometown in Minnesota.


Oh boy,
it was not funny.


The truth is…
It was painful for me to see how much property,
land, sq footage, and more you can get elsewhere!




4 bedrooms
3 bathrooms
2,439 sqft




5 bedrooms
5 bathrooms
4,000 sq. ft.

BIG difference, right?!



But then, my fiancé reminded me of the bitter long cold winters, our careers truly thrive in California, and all the other factors that made us decide that California is home.

I think that the grass is greener elsewhere (anywhere, but California), because I was born and raised here and have not really lived elsewhere. So, I haven’t truly experienced what its like to live somewhere else, where there are seasons, where there are no beaches, no mountains, etc.


You may or may not be reading this post and think the California real estate market is outrageous, but in the end, what matters most is where our family feels the most at home and sees a future for us.


Things can change.
Locations can change.
Our perspectives can change.
But here and now,

We are putting down
our family roots
in Southern California.


Stay tuned to see which house we will pick!


PS: Are you planning to purchase a home in California, Washington, or Texas?!
? ? ?
If so, check out Open Listings!

They have been SO HELPFUL, especially for us first time homebuyers
AND buyers will receive up to 50% of the realtor’s commission fees!
aka. money for your closing costs!



[[ NOTE ]]
I debated about whether I should document this journey of buying a home,
but after two weeks in this process…I felt that it was something to share.
Mainly because, I WAS CLUELESS and am still learning a lot!
As “happy” as I am to be taking this next step, there is a lot that goes into this process! I hope sharing this journey will help you in your home buying process or provide some perspective. Or maybe, just pure entertainment for you. Whatever tickles your fancy.

*  *  *  *  *  *

This post is in partnership with Open Listings. All opinions expressed are my own.
I only recommend services and products that I truly believe in.

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  1. Good luck with the house hunting! It’s a long road, it took us FOREVER to find our perfect home, and yes HOA fees kill us! We ended up finding a neighborhood in an older neighborhood with no HOA fees! Also living in Southern California, it’s hard to find that perfect house with the perfect price. But you got this! Woo hoo. Looking forward to see what you get!

  2. I have seen some of the home search and home remodel shows on tv and noticed just how high land and real estate prices are in places like California! Wow! I hope you find the perfect place to call home. Home is where the heart is!

  3. Wow what a difference! We live on the New Jersey/Pennsylvania border and the difference in prices is outrageous but our family is all in New Jersey so we decided to stay in Jersey. Good luck on your search! I can’t wait to see what you pick.

  4. Realistically, the cost of living in Cali vs Minnesota balances out, but they is a big comparison! We found a great single family home here in Georgia with no hoas, that was a biggie for us!