Family Home improvement

Home sweet home

Two years ago, I was relocating my family to Charleston. My new job was starting just about the same time school was starting, so this was a perfect time for everything to just magically fall into place and all of us start anew together.

Turns out, the Charleston housing market doesn’t believe in short-term magic. We made several trips down looking for places to live. Because we had not sold our house, we were just going to lease for the first year.

We looked at a few places with our Realtor, and at one point we were pretty sure we found the right place. It wasn’t ideal, but it would work. For one thing, it was on some water, and my son saw an alligator, so as far as he was concerned, it was perfect.

And then that fell through. Plan B. Nope, taken. Plan C. Taken. Look online and see a listing about seven seconds old. Taken.

And school was approaching. We had decided on the schools we wanted the kids to go to, as I can drive to work from anywhere. Unfortunately, the school district doesn’t accept “We promise to move here just as soon as we find a home” as an address. Some friends of ours who have a second home here said we could use theirs as a stop-gap, which was incredibly generous and kind, and at least made my wife and me slightly less insane for the short term. It also thankfully ruled out my plan, which was just to camp under the Ravenel Bridge.

Shortly before school started, still not having a permanent residence, our Realtor called. “I made an executive decision and got you a house to rent. I hope you like it.”

She had been to enough places with us to know what we needed in a home. We trusted her.

After the first year in the house, we started looking at houses to buy. We again went to our Realtor and starting talking about various houses we found online. And pretty much every house in our neck of the woods, when it goes on the market, immediately gets 8 bajillion offers on it. So we upped the lease for another year.

As the second year of the lease neared expiration, we began talks with the homeowner. And by “we” I mean my wife, because, let’s be honest here, she’s the brains of this operation. It’s why I turned over bill duties to her some 20 years ago, as apparently you are supposed to pay them EVERY month. Who knew? (She knew.)

Turned out the homeowner was getting tired of having a second home and would be willing to sell the house to us. The house would never see the light of day on the open market thereby avoiding 8 bajillion competing offers for the house we had occupied for two years.

We decided to ask the kids what they thought of buying the house we were in. It’s a pretty darn good houses in a great location with wonderful neighbors. Turns out, opinions on such matters are as fluid as the teen hormones flowing through their bless-their-heart bodies. Their opinions ranged depending on the time of day, the weather, astrological signs, etc. But the end of the day, however, they both agreed that not having to box up all of their belongings and move again pretty much trumped anything else.

A few weeks later and with virtually zero effort, and — boom — we were sitting at closing. OK, there was a lot of effort. My wife did all of the heavy lifting, as she often does, because she is good at this type of thing. My main tasks involved driving paperwork to the mortgage company and signing things. Again, not the brains.

There are some things I will miss about leasing a home. Mainly, the next time something breaks, I have to fix it. But I am looking forward to making this house our home and putting some touches on it that we have held off on for the last couple of years because, well, it wasn’t ours. We’ll make it our true home in due time. Everything, it seems, is falling into place. It just takes magic about two years to happen here apparently.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Charleston. You can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.


Leave a Reply