Driving home this evening, Birch and I didn't quite feel the regular sense of relief and wonder as we left busy suburbia, passed the beautiful ocean, the farmland, the hawks flying overhead, the barn. We pulled up our drive and just sat for a moment or two looking at our home without saying a word. The kids slept in the back without realizing a thing. Birch touched his hand to my knee.
"I just feel a bit unenchanted. Deflated." I said.
We got word today that our rent will be raised two hundred dollars a month starting in August due to unexpectedly large electricity bills (three houses, including ours, share the bill which the farm owners pay). This was a blow. They also "hinted" that the upkeep of our place was subpar and that was also a part of the rent increase... we aren't so sure what that means but it was another blow as we know we haven't done much good for the look of the place since moving in but we were waiting until Birch had more time to dedicate to upkeep once this summer hit and he'd have shorter hours at work (thankfully, he has a job over the summer months this year despite summer school being cancelled). So while I in no way begrudge the owners for needing to raise the rent, it will be a struggle we weren't expecting.
That being said, we're sucking it up, doing an electricity audit in our house, adjusting our budget yet again, and committing to a few hours of manual labor in the yard each day. Who knows, maybe this is the push we need to get our garden going, snazz up the decks, move the coop, build a new fence for the chickens and another one in front, install rain gutters and rain barrels, and power wash the decks. Oh, and paint the wind barrier on the front deck as well as enclosing it. I'll try to make it fun by showing our progress. Months of preparation and seeking of inspiration will slowly start to pay off.
All of this has proved to us yet again, however, that we really want to buy a place of our own. In this economic climate, people keep questioning whether to rent or buy, scared of foreclosure, property taxes, house maintenance, etc. When it comes right down to it, though I fear those same possibilities and inevitable payments, I want the decisions I make for my home to be mine and mine alone to make. (Well, including my family, obviously.) I want to be able to paint without asking permission first, to plant a garden however I like, build whatever additions/remodels I can afford and see fit. Though I absolutely adore our life here, we're still renting, and we were just reminded of that today.
Tomorrow will be better. If not, there's always homemade hazelnut chocolate ice cream waiting for me in the freezer.
Stay tuned for home improvement updates. I can't possibly postpone them any longer! Time to get to work!
What do you do when faced with an unexpected expense? What other expense is usually the first to go?