What I Want to Drive

This is currently the object of my lust:

Alright, it isn’t so much the object of my lust as the vehicle I am now looking closely at as possibly being our next automobile purchase. The above is a picture of a 2009 Subaru Forester, and it is what I would like my wife to be driving right now.

However, she is driving a 2005 Ford Freestar instead. While the Freestar has served us well, we are now at a different spot in our lives than we were when we picked up our van. Truth be told, the van has been invaluable as we will have moved five times since we purchased it. The ability to put down the rear seat and have just a cargo area has proven to be invaluable during those moves. There are two weaknesses that currently remain.

One is fuel economy. At 22 mpg on the highway, it is a far way from the 32 mpg that we were able to attain with our 2002 Ford Focus we originally had at the beginning of our marriage (and even farther away from the 40 mpg I can get with my 1996 Toyota Corolla … still running strong). The Forester would afford us 27 mpg on the highway, which is huge when we fully expect to travel back and forth between Milwaukee and New Ulm often.

The second weakness is one of winter driving. With another child on the way (July!), next winter we will have two kids and my wife taking care of them. The van is not the best vehicle for winter driving, being FWD and rather large and bulky, and the AWD that the Forester has would help in that regard. It would go a long way in giving me a quieter mind during the winter months knowing that my wife has a decent winter vehicle to drive in.

Besides those two, the thing just looks good! It’s not overly ornate and has a minimal amount of fuss about it (which I like).

This is a long-term goal for me as I need to do a lot more research and wait for the right vehicle to present itself (along with working with the bank again). As such, hopefully we will have a new vehicle come October 2011, two years into our Great Van Experiment.


Advice to Home Buyers

If I was going to give any advice to home buyers, it would be to spend the extra time and money and get an inspection done. There are a number of reasons, but here are the main ones:

  • gives you confidence in the house you are purchasing
  • can uncover some things you might not have been aware of

In our case it did both! We could not have been happier with both the inspector and how the inspection went. We knew going in that the house was going to need some general work and maintenance (part of buying a 100 year-old house), but we also uncovered old wiring in the attic that needs to be taken care of. Because we spent the money we are getting that done and will be safer for it.

I think that is the definition of a win-win scenario.


Housing Update

Probably time for me to update everyone on our housing situation once again. As many already know, we have been looking for a house and working with the bank to get financing at the same time. Our student loans were the blocking point for the financing for a while even though we had found a house both my wife and I liked and wanted to put an offer in on.

Well, last Friday we received notification that we had been approved for a mortgage. Sadly, it was for less than we were hoping (see above comment about student loans) but we decided to go ahead and put in an offer anyway just to see what would happen and because we wanted to move things ahead and quickly as possible.

We have had a wonderful realtor working with us through the buying process and she was able to get us in today (Saturday) to walk us through the offer process and get our first offer in. It was a 2 1/2 hour process mainly because I can’t stop talking when working with people (I need to apologize to my coworkers again for that), but we put in our offer right before 5pm on Saturday.

Lo and behold, we found out that our offer was accepted later that night! To say that we are excited would be a gross understatement. We both are still in a state of shock, but we could not be happier at the moment. The whole process has been great so far, with both our mortgage officer and realtor willing to work with us through any road blocks or issues we might come up against.

Now we just forge ahead with all of the stuff that needs to get done before closing in a little over a month. We are quietly hoping that we will be able to move that closing date closer to the beginning of February, but that will be contingent on how quickly we can get things done on our end and if we can work that out with the seller. All of that aside, we are on our way to owning our first place and once again having a home of our own!

I’ll make sure to toss up a picture in the future once we are farther along in the process. Until then: does anyone have a snowblower for sale?


The Car Conundrum

So our family currently owns two vehicles from (alright, we own one and the bank currently lets us use the other): a 2005 Ford Freestar and a 1996 Toyota Corolla. You can guess which vehicle is mine, it won’t take you long.

With the move coming up I’ve been debating whether keeping two vehicles is both needed and/or beneficial. Milwaukee has a bus system which can pretty much get you anywhere, but I have no experience actually riding it to and from work. Couple that with the fact that we are not going to know where we are going to be living for the mid-term and I really can’t make a decision as to what to do at this moment.

Part of me would really like to ditch the second vehicle (the Corolla which is very dear to me) and just swing it with one vehicle and riding the bus. Only having to pay for maintenance, insurance, gas, etc. on one automobile sounds like sweet music to my ears. It is a minimalistic approach to living that is appealing to me at the moment.

However, losing the second vehicle also limits us in many ways. If the van needs work, we will not have a second vehicle around to use. If I work late, I’ll still have to take the bus, I’ll be limited by the schedule the bus has (which can lengthen the commute considerably) and we also lose an asset we actually own.

So it becomes a conflict for me. Right now no decision will be made. I am driving the Corolla (complete with two cans of freon added as of tonight) to Milwaukee where I will use it to get around for the short term. I will be taking stock of the amount of money we are going to be sinking into it over the next month or so and then compare that to a month-long bus pass along with time constraints of the ride to see if it might be a better fit for us to just go with one automobile.

This could also be remedied by having teleportation devices.