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.