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My title doesn’t make a lot of sense because I left Chicago in the summer of 2013.  The goodbye is actually in reference to the condo I owned from 2009 until about a week ago!  That’s right, I recently sold my first home.  But I should back up a bit before I get into that…

I didn’t have a lot of reason to discuss my junior one bedroom (studio) condominium here on Drama Happens but it’s been a huge part of my life for years.  I lived there from 2009 to 2012 and since then I’ve been renting it out.

I can’t even explain how cool yet bizarre the experience was for me to buy my own place at the age of 26 as a single woman, and how different an experience it was from buying a home with The Scottish while pregnant in Minnesota in 2014.  I was working as a nanny and had plans to move to a new apartment soon when I was talking with my boss at the time who said, “Why don’t you buy instead?”  I remember staring at her exclaiming, “You know how much I make!”  Granted I made a great living as a nanny but I didn’t think I was anywhere near being able to buy versus renting.

It turned out that a little help from Obama’s first time home-buyer credit, the guidance of my boss and friend, and my family’s support from a far was all I needed.  Oh, and a good realtor. My agent took me out looking at condos at least 4 different Saturdays for about 8 hours at a time.  We combed the city until we finally found something in budget, safe, in a good location, and with loads of potential.

When I first moved in, my condo looked cramped and outdated.

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But it didn’t stay that way for long!  I put in a good amount of time and money to transform it into what it looks like today.

These are the professional shots from the listing so they include my former tenant’s items but they also show off all the improvements I made to the unit when I first moved in, new flooring, new cabinets, new vanity and toilet in the bathroom, wall removal, etc.

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The selling process was quite a bit different.  Since I live in Minnesota and my condo is in Chicago, I never even met my realtor in person this time!  And for a few weeks there was a lot of phone calls, emailing, and signing papers and sending them back, as well as just waiting to hear news and updates from my realtor and lawyer.

I will say i was incredibly lucky that my house was under contract in less than a week after the listing went on the market!  i was shocked but relieved.  I never thought it would happen so fast and I had only just decided to sell a few weeks prior.  Overall, everything went really smoothly but it was still a stressful process.  When the day of the closing finally arrived, it felt like a weight was being lifted.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED living in my condo, I loved the freedom, the coziness of it, the location, and the experiences it led me to (hello Scottish!) but I knew it was time to move on.  Being a landlord takes up a lot of time.  And a lot of balancing of money and funds.  Between taxes, condo insurance, assessment price hikes, maintenance, cleaning, and the loss of rent in between tenants it was difficult to make a substantial profit renting it out.  Plus, our life is here now.  It just made sense.

It’s impossible to share everything I’ve learned over the years from this experience but I’m going to try.

I learned that buying a house on my own was one of the most empowering things I’ve ever done.

I learned that home renovations will ALWAYS cost more than you budget for and they’re always a headache.  But they’re also worth it.

I learned that dealing with condo associations and their BS rules and regulations is the worst part of owning a condo.

I learned that it doesn’t matter what your degree is in, what your occupation is, or how much you know about real estate, if you surround yourself with smart people, if you listen to good advice, and if you work hard, you can do whatever you set your mind to.

The process of buying, owning, renting, and then selling was exhilarating and crazy and amazing and I’m so grateful for the entire experience.

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6 Responses to “Goodbye Sweet Home Chicago”

  1. Rachel

    Bittersweet, certainly. I always am surprised to find out new ways our paths have mirrored each other’s. I bought my first townhouse at the same age as you, and we are currently renting that out while we live in the fixer-upper my husband had (since it’s not yet in rentable or sellable condition). I am sure saying the final goodbye was tinged with a little sadness, but that is a remarkable sale speed and the place looked wonderful after your renovations!

    Reply
    • Stephanie

      Oh wow, that is similar! We are kindred spirits. 🙂 Yea, definitely a bittersweet moment but when it’s the right time to sell, it feels really good! Thank you!

      Reply
  2. Margy

    That’s awesome! Living in San Francisco means that I’ll be a renter for life, unless I move, win the lottery or an unknown wealthy uncle wills me $$. (I’m leaning towards moving). Congrats on selling your condo… I imagine it’s a huge relief!

    Reply
  3. Kelly G

    Congratulations! I’m sure you are so relieved! We just signed a purchase agreement on an offer on our townhouse, finally! It was only on the market for a month but that seemed like it was forever! We close in Jan. You made a lot of nice updates, I’m sure the new owner will love it!

    Reply

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