Day 5 – We Are Buying a House in Idaho

After three rainy days on our Washington-Idaho house hunting adventure, I was convinced it wasn’t going to happen.  Many houses and properties checked off a few of the boxes on our wish list, but I need a house that will satisfy the majority of my housing desires and Shawn’s land requirements.  Sunday the sun came out and the first house we visited gave me that “this is the one feeling”.

  • Beautiful views of farms and forest
  • 18+ acres of pasture and timber
  • Big windows
  • Deck
  • Attached garage
  • Workshop
  • Updated kitchen and baths
  • Daylight basement
  • Room for guests

Today we made an offer, and after a bit of back and forth, it was just accepted.  Come Spring we will be retiring and moving to Worley, Idaho.  Here are a few pictures of our soon to be home.

Day 4 – House Hunting in Idaho

While we finished up day 3 of house hunting with a couple potentials, I wasn’t getting that excited feeling. Today we headed south of Coeur d’Alene to look at 3 properties. The first two were in Worley, population 257. A quick 20-minute drive from CDA and we were in a valley of gently rolling fields surrounded by ridges covered in pine.

House #1 – 14995 W Frost Road, Worley, ID

The front of the 18-acre property is covered in long grass with a few trees and the drive gently slopes up to a house with huge windows and a deck overlooking the valley. The main floor of the house has a nice open floor plan with the kitchen, living and dining room facing the floor-to-ceiling windows. The master bedroom and bath are on the main floor too with doors leading to the deck. There is a daylight walkout basement with a sitting room, bathroom, and 3 more rooms. Unlike many of the house we’ve looked at, this one has a two-car attached garage. I would think that living in a place with snow you’d definitely want an attached garage. This property also has a large workshop. The back half of the property is covered with trees. We hiked through the trees while Tony pointed out various signs of turkeys, geese, deer, and elk. This property is well stocked with protein for the long winter.

House #2 – 5187 W Sunny Slopes, Worley, ID

Another house in the rolling hills backing up to the forest.  This property is 40 acres.  The house is newer and very well kept with a master suite on each end of the house separated by a large kitchen and family room.  The large shop/garage was even equipped with a bathroom.  While there was absolutely nothing wrong with this house, it lacked personality.

House #3 – 48323 S Highway 3, St. Maries, ID

The winding drive up to this house pretty much ruled it out before we even saw it, but once we got here we had to take a look.  This log home has tons of personality.  The owner came out to greet us and said they were on their way out but his wife had injured her foot and was moving a bit slowly.  We felt guilty for disturbing them and told him to stay, but he was using our arrival as an excuse to take the Mercedes into town for pizza.  Along two sides of the house, there is an enclosed porch used as a greenhouse and laundry line.  Inside the kitchen and baths have been updated with granite counters.  Looking into the huge cold storage area, you can tell these people are set to survive a long winter.  With wood on the walls, floor, and ceiling, the house is very dark.  The garage/shop building has a small apartment above that is surprisingly light and airy compared to the house.  They have a nice garden and orchard, and as we drove up two white-tailed deer were looking for fallen apples.  This would make a great vacation home, but I can’t see myself living in a log cabin.

After four days in two states with two realtors looking at 17 properties, I think we may have found the one that we are willing to call home.  Stay tuned…

Day 3 – House Hunting in Idaho

We drove from Spokane to Coeur d’Alene this morning and entered Idaho for the first time in both our lives.  Right away we both thought Idaho was prettier than Washington.  We met our Idaho realtor Tony and his wife Alicia and headed out to look at five properties today.  Tony asked how it went in Washington and I replied we saw 9 properties: 1 maybe, 6 no’s and 2 hell no’s. The day was looking promising for Tony.

House #1 – 16830 W Nelson Loop Road, Rathdrum, ID

The house wasn’t terrible, but the land is mostly hills and valleys.  There is little flat land for growing and it is only 10 acres.  We decided to move on pretty quickly.

House #2 – 8247 E Black Bear Road, Athol, ID

First off the town Athol sounds like you’re saying asshole with a bad lisp.  This house was the opposite of the first house – flat land and a house with high-end finishes.  Unfortunately, the house has a terrible layout.  A lot of wasted space in the entryway and not enough space at the back of the house to put a sofa to enjoy the lovely windows.  Once again, we moved on pretty quickly.

House #3 – 3916 Peterson Road, Priest River, ID

On the way to this house, Tony drove us by the house that was our first pick in Idaho based on the Zillow listing.  Tony nixed it because of the neighbors (ramshackle trailer homes…one flying a confederate flag) and because the house was too rundown inside (unlike the photos).

Walking into house #3 we were welcomed by soft music, fall scented candles, and Thanksgiving decorations.  This lady knows how to stage a house.  The kitchen and family room have big windows looking out on the 30 acres of farmland.  It is in a valley with farmland and mountains all around.  The two bedrooms downstairs are smaller but nice and share a bathroom between.  There is a spiral staircase up to a peaked roof nook.  There is a large newer outbuilding on the property.  This house and land have potential.

House #4 – 2760 Kootenai Road, Sandpoint, ID

While this house lacked the staging of the previous house and could have benefited from a scented candle to mask the smell of dogs, the layout of the house is good, and it has a fully finished basement.  This property is also flat, but it the back corner is treed.  It also has a huge red barn.  The proximity to the town of Sandpoint is also a plus for this house.  We had lunch in Sandpoint, and there seems to be a lot going on year round with festivals, farmers’ markets, and concerts.

House #5 – 398 Starlight Road, Naples, ID

This house is the furthest north that we looked, and it gets more snow than the other homes.  The road up to the house still had a good covering of snow and was a bit slippery.  As far as layout, this was my favorite house (I assume the owners will be taking their prized stuffed animals and heads with them).  It has great views off the back deck of a valley below, but we were concerned about the road leading to the house and the distance from a town and airport.

All in all, a good day with a couple of potentials.  We have three more properties to look at tomorrow before we head back to California on Monday.

We had a great fresh seafood dinner at Anthony’s in Coeur d’Alene.  We didn’t have a reservation, so we ended up sitting at the bar looking into the kitchen which was much more entertaining than sitting in a booth.  I had salmon over lemon risotto with edamame and Shawn had crab fettuccini Alfredo.  The waiter suggested the house Chardonnay to accompany our dishes and it was a good choice.  Too full to even look at the dessert menu.

Tony and Alicia were a lot of fun to spend the day with and they were excellent Idaho tour guides.  They assured us that Idahoans don’t hate everyone from California and that Idaho isn’t full of skinheads (just the one guy with the Confederate flag).

Day 2 – House Hunting in Washington

Today we ventured north of Spokane to Colville, Chewelah, Deer Park and Chattaroy to look at five properties.  It was definitely more scenic as there were more trees.  Temps were in the 37-44 range and there was still snow on the ground for the first few houses.

House #1 – 738 Applegate Road, Colville, WA

This house was better than anything we had seen the day before.  It had a nice updated kitchen and open floor plan and four outbuildings: a shop decked out with heating and wired for sound, a 2-car garage, another huge shop that would fit multiple RVs and toys, and a barn.  The 30-acre property had a nice mix of trees and suitable farmland for Shawn’s planting desires.  The major drawback was no cell service.  We want to be remote, but still connected!

House #2 – 2660 Burnt Valley Road, Chewelah, WA

When we arrived at this house the owners were there and it started out a bit awkward but turned out to be quite informative.  The 80-year old gentleman was quite spry and took us on a tour of the 30 acres up and down hills and through the snow.  The house needed a lot of work and wasn’t quite what we were looking for but it was fun to traipse around the property…until I saw the bear tracks.

House #3 – 4935 W Casberg Burroughs Road, Deer Park, WA

I wasn’t feeling good about this house as we drove up, and touring the house didn’t improve my impression.  The house had a crazy layout including the laundry room looking down on the living room…seriously, it only had half walls like a loft and you could see it from below.  Spent about 5 minutes here and didn’t even take pictures before moving on.

House #4 – 36104 N Milan Elk Road, Chattaroy, WA

This was a beautifully maintained 20-acre parcel with 2 houses.  The main house was an A-frame built by the owner in the 70’s.  He was 80 and decided it was time to sell so he could spend more time traveling and with his girlfriend.  The house definitely needed updating but it had great windows and views.  There was also a cute little log cabin where grandma used to live (she probably died there too).  While it was a very pretty property, it wasn’t quite what we are looking for.

House #5 – 37010 N Rabe Road, Chattaroy, WA

I was a bit skeptical on this one after looking at it on Zillow and it was even worse than pictured.  When it said it had a few updates, it meant they replaced the closet doors in the master with sliding barn doors a la Chip & Joanna Gaines and put a new sink in the bathroom.  The rest of this house and land was very run down.  We were out of there in 5 minutes.

The first house was the most promising, but we aren’t in love with it.  Tomorrow we are off to Idaho to meet our realtor Tony and check out 10 more properties.

For dinner in Spokane, we came across a charcuterie a few blocks from our hotel.  It was a great find and we ended up sitting next to the chef’s parents who were there to celebrate their 31st anniversary.  We started with cocktails and a fresh beet salad with bacon and local creamy blue cheese.  I had a bowl of chicken and black bean soup and Shawn had one of the best steaks I’ve ever tasted.  We finished with ice cream topped with dried condensed milk crumbles.  Salty and sweet, you can’t go wrong.

Day 1 – House Hunting in Washington

We are in search of the perfect home for retirement and have decided to look in eastern Washington and northern Idaho.  We’re looking for some land, about 20 acres, with a combination of timber and flat land for a bit of farming. I’d like a house with views of this lovely land and a nice kitchen.  Should be simple, right?

We flew into Spokane this morning and met up with our Washington realtor Chris.  We have spent months on Zillow looking for just the right place and we sent Chris a list of our favorites.  Unfortunately, our number one pick is no longer on the market, but we did visit four houses today.  It’s funny we have been dogging the pictures people post on Zillow thinking they could do better.  After today, I thought “damn, those pictures made the house look at lot better than it really is.”  Of course, most of the photos were taken in the spring when everything is green and lush.  Today it is raining, foggy and there is an inch or two of snow on the dried up tundra.

House 1 – 15611 S Madison, Valleyford, WA

A big old house on 30 acres of rolling farmland with a ramshackle red barn.  The house was really dark inside but it had potential.  Unfortunately, its price is at the top of our budget and does not allow us to bring that potential to life.  It had a cistern in the basement which is something I’ve never seen before.  There was also an atrium that ran up through the middle of the house where Shawn said we could grow fig trees and pot.

House 2 – 324 W Gibbs, Spokane, WA

This was a tri-level house on 32 acres.  The parcel was long and skinny.  For the same price as house #1, it seemed like the better deal but still too expensive for the work that I would want done.  You know it’s bad when your first thought is “we could remove that wall.”

House #3 – 47793 E Hampton, Edwall, WA

This house looked so darn cute on Zillow and for the most part it was, but it also had some real issues.  For example, there was a beautifully remodeled bathroom on the first floor, but the master bedroom was around the corner through the kitchen and living room, and the closet was 8 inches deep.  Upstairs there were 2 bedrooms, but only a half bath.  It had a great kitchen, but the rest of the house just didn’t flow.  Across the street, it had the most picturesque classic red barn, but there was very little usable farmland.

House #4 – 20407 W Indiana Lane, Medical Lake, WA

First off, Medical Lake is a weird name for a town.  This house was hecka cute (do I have to quit saying hecka if I leave California?) on Zillow but kinda odd in person.  There was a Murphy bed in the living room.  The world’s skinniest spiral staircase led up the master which had so many nooks and crannies that there would be no place for a California King size bed, but maybe two twins.  It had some nice looking farmland according to Shawn.

So bottom line, no dream house on day one.  Tomorrow we are going northeast of Spokane where there are more trees.  Hopefully one of the six houses we are seeing will be more inspiring.

The receptionist at our hotel recommended a good Italian restaurant for dinner.  Europa is a quaint,  family-owned restaurant.  I had chicken Gorgonzola fettuccini and Shawn had manicotti with creamy pesto sauce and lasagne.  For dessert, carrot cake and pumpkin roulade cake both with cream cheese frosting.  I would definitely go back for date night.