We Bought a Boise House – and it’s Groovy!

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Okay so technically, we've lived in our Boise house for almost ten months. Yeah. This is how on top of life we are right now. But it's one of the things people ask most about, so we figured it's time to share some details – as the dreaded California transplants that we are.

The bench Boise

It's a lot to dig into and recall, frankly. Shortly after my sister died, I decided to buy some property next to a lake on the outskirts of Boise. It was totally on a whim, a hail Mary attempt to run away from any and every painful reminder of her. I decided that I would drive my RV to the banks of our waters and sit there, contemplating life for a full summer while we figured out what was next.

And so I did. And so we did. We loved the area so much that we decided to sell our San Diego house (more on that soon) and go all-in on a Boise house in the rural farms surrounding the city. The 3-acre property has nothing on it but a run-down old gas station, and is permitted for two homes. We planned to break ground as soon as possible, with Nate's parents taking the second slot shortly after that.

And then the shutdown happened. We have friends in Europe who warned us that this thing was coming our way, and as much as we kept trying to act like our country was immune, come February we could see the writing on the wall. “I cannot wind up sheltering-in-place in an RV,” I remember telling Nate. On February 13th, I searched for a small Boise house in the city within a tiny budget and a tiny region that I deemed the perfect balance of soon-to-be-trendy and currently-undiscovered. Nothing popped up. The next morning, I hit the refresh button and a place abruptly popped up.

1000 square feet. Three bedrooms. One bathroom. Taking best and final bids for 24 hours only.

Boise House for Sale: But What's the Catch?

What in the heck!? I called our real estate agent, and on Valentine's Day we dragged the family over for a tour. The boys ran straight outside – past the wrap-around kitchen and living room layout and the sweet white fireplace – to the huge backyard, where they played for over an hour. We hopped up and down on the creaky 1960 wood flooring and crinkled our noses uncomfortably at the peeling-up linoleum in the bathroom.

Boise backyard

Yes, there was obvious water damage in this Boise house. Yes, there were some mold issues. And bricks falling off, paneling coming apart, paint peeling down old cabinets in hunter green sheets. But I felt something I hadn't felt in awhile. I felt the sun streaming in through the windows (one large sliding door in the living room, one small high window in the bedroom and two each in the office and master). I felt home.

We put a ridiculously-high bid in and wrote a way-sappy letter. We were told that there were over twenty bids on this place, with ours supposedly not the highest but winning nonetheless. We waited for the inspector sign-off on the Boise house, which came – with expected caveats. We worked with our trusted lenders in the area and we were shockingly IN within two weeks.

1960 house with original flooring

I've never experienced anything like the unprecedented urgency with which we shuffled paperwork in and out and on to the officials who needed to sign off on it. We have friends who started feeling that creepy, ominous vibe and tried to buy homes right around the same time. In every instance, there were typical delays and bank issues, market shortages and last-minute cancellations.

One bathroom for household

As for us? We closed on our Boise house just in time to chuck our most-prized possessions into the place – and immediately take off on yet another road trip to photograph a KOA on the Oregon coast. Things were getting really weird leading up to this. I was feeling iffy about going and almost called it off.

On our way back from that trip, as we were going through Bend to meet with another client, the shutdown “happened.” I can't fully describe how it came to be, because we'd been mostly offline, as we usually are when we're shooting clients. We dedicate our time and energy to capturing the region we're in.

1960 home with fireplace between kitchen

Messages starting popping up on my phone from friends and family, urging us to get home ASAP. We swung into a Costco to “get supplies.” Apparently, everyone else had the same idea. I'll never forget the feeling that settled in my bones as I sat in the car with the kids, watching Nate join a growing mass of people attempting to enter the store.

Lines were formed towards the front door – and ignored. Sirens went off loudly. People got aggressive. Cars honked. Nate returned, unsuccessful in his quest for rice (we didn't yet know that toilet paper would be the golden ticket of this time period). I had him drop me at a Whole Foods across the parking lot, where I proceeded to awkwardly dodge eye contact from a more-calm crew who looked at me with a sort of irritated bewilderment as I swept beans, quinoa and peroxide into my hand-held basket.

1960 kitchen and living room

We made it back just in time to receive bulk orders at our Boise house. In an admittedly paranoid state (it runs in my blood, apart from the situation) I had ordered ALL THE THINGS before we hit the road.

Our new neighbor at the Boise house approached our driveway, side-eyeing Nate and our military trailer and pondered aloud, “Are y'all preppers?”

“Oh THIS!?! Um, no,” we offered lamely, slinging heavy bags of cornmeal and pinto beans over our shoulders.

1960 tiny kitchen

As bizarre as that time was, I felt a massive sense of relief walking into that 1960-built Boise house. First of all, I was entirely familiar with the wacky world of home renovations.

RV life was much newer to me and as much as I loved it (still do) it did not feel like a comfortable, soft spot to land during a global emergency. Particularly in the dead of a northwest winter, I craved the familiarity of a cozy couch, a roaring fire, tasty baked goods being made en-masse in a semi-normal-capacity oven…and a big-ass TV.

1960 single-level house

Not gonna lie, I missed those things in the nine months that we were RV full-timers.

We still haven't figured out exactly what the rush was and why the listing for our Boise house was so strange. The realtor said they seemed to have some urgent bills, possibly medical, some pending family emergency that they needed to get out and get dealt with as soon as possible. I think about that family sometimes, and I hold them in my prayers.

Hallway washer and dryer

I also enjoy the HECK out of the home they left behind. Yeah, the toilet has overflowed seven times, we've had to rewire half the place, and I've since ripped up the old brown shag carpet that irritated my sinuses to the point that I sneezed nonstop for the first few weeks in the place. But for now, it's home. We're slowly renovating the whole place true to its midcentury modern design roots and I am absolutely smitten with its progress.

It's been an incredible distraction during this time, and I've really enjoyed having a washer and dryer in the hallway. I thought it was an odd choice at first, but that whole concept is GENIUS. It makes it easier than EVER to do the million kajillion loads of laundry that the kids miraculously produce while we're all sitting around doing nothing at home.

Got any questions about buying a Boise house?

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