wedding wednesday no. 17 // the great gainesville house hunt

How was everyone’s weekend? I just so happened to be in Florida visiting my future home of Gainesville, Florida for the very first time! No big deal. :)

Andrew and I, along with both of our cute mamas, made the trip with one mission in mind: house hunting! It was a whirlwind of a weekend, and today I thought I’d recap it for you!

Y’all were also sweet enough to send in questions regarding the trip, so stay tuned for the end of the post for a little Q&A. Feel free to leave any other questions in the comments!

First, a little bit of background if this is your first time here. This summer, my fiancé and I are moving to Gainesville, FL after our wedding for his residency. You can read more about it here!

One of the things we both have been praying about is finding a home for this season. So this past weekend, we set off in hopes of finding one!

I arrived with both of our moms on Thursday afternoon. Andrew, on the other hand, had a night shift on Thursday, so he flew in to join us Friday night. First objective? Lunch at Bojangles. (I’m obsessed, what can I say?!) We spent the rest of the day driving around and getting acclimated with the city before two and a half full days of house hunting!

Let’s just say, it was quite the experience. Jumping into y’alls questions will give you a pretty good picture of what it was like!

“I think I missed this, but why are you moving? I can’t imagine because of how close you are to your family.”

I actually wrote a big, long post about this here! In a nutshell, I’m moving to Gainesville, FL for my soon-to-be-husband’s residency. His program will last three years, so we know we’ll be there for at least that long! There are many more details in this post, if you’re curious.

“Why did you take your moms house hunting with y’all?”

There were a few different reasons why we decided to bring our moms along.

First off, Andrew and I are both first time home buyers! So we wanted all of the wisdom and counsel we could get. Since our moms have both been through this process quite a few times, and since Andrew and I were doing this in one weekend and in a city we’ve spent little to no time in, we wanted their experience, perspective, and thoughts.

Secondly, both of our moms have great taste. We initially weren’t sure if Andrew would be able to make the trip because of his work schedule, and so we loved the idea of his mom “filling in” for him if he couldn’t make it.

And finally, neither of our moms had been ever to Gainesville! Since it will be our future home, we wanted them to see and experience the city as well.

It ended up being the best decision. Not only was it helpful to have their insight, but it turned into a fun and incredibly rare opportunity to spend a lot of time together. Our moms turned out to be thick as thieves!

“First time visiting?”

For me, yes! Andrew had “technically” been last spring, but only for 24 hours for an interview. So it really felt like we were both seeing the town for the first time.

“What surprised you most about your future hometown?”

Oh gosh, y’all. So much! I went in expecting it to feel like a pretty small college town, especially since I’ll be moving from a big city. So needless to say, I was surprised that it felt much bigger than I anticipated! There are so many different, distinct areas to Gainesville and each has a different personality and vibe. I absolutely loved the feel!

I also was shocked at how delicious the food we ate was! I’ll confess, one of the things I’m most sad about leaving behind in Dallas is the food scene. Haha! But each restaurant we visited was so yummy, which definitely got me excited. Our realtor told us there’s pretty much only one restaurant of each cuisine you’d ever want in Gainesville, but they’re each really good. We definitely found this to be true!

“What were the favorite restaurants you visited?”

One thing we did on this trip? Eat. Here’s the yummiest places we chow’d down!

  • Francesca’s // Genuinely one of the best Italian meals I’ve ever had! The homemade bread they brought out before our meal was legit incredible. I ate three of the rolls, y’all. And then fried calamari and the yummiest spaghetti ever!
  • 43rd Street Deli // Talk about a greasy spoon! We wound up here for lunch at the recommendation of our realtor, and were all in a food coma for the rest of the day.
  • Liquid Ginger // I’ll be the first to confess that I’m a huge sushi snob. I swear, once you have the Cesar Roll at Oishii in Dallas you never go back! But I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious this spot was. We all loved our rolls! It was definitely popular and had a nice ambiance to it as well.
  • Daily Green // We headed to this spot for Sunday brunch. I was immediately reminded of Austin, TX pulling up to it! The vibe is super hipster and organic, and the food is amazing.

“Did you see any of the UF campus or walk around campus much? I’m a recent UF grad and I’m curious!”

Not as much as we would have liked! But my mom and I did go on a walk down Museum Road both mornings and loved it. So many beautiful trees!

Our hotel (we stayed at the Hilton) was near campus, so we did get to drive by it a few times. There was one stretch of gorgeous red brick buildings that I fell in love with. Definitely can’t wait to explore campus more! Andrew and I are also so excited to experience football games at the Swamp.

“How’s the weather compared to Texas?”

Um… INCREDIBLE. It was a balmy 65-75 degrees the entire weekend. Granted, it was mid-February and therefore not nearly as hot and humid as I’ve heard it gets, but we were so pleasantly surprised! Needless to say, the drizzly 30 degree welcome back to Dallas was a big let down. :)

It was also fun to see how much the weather can change in a day. We’d have an hour of sunshine, an hour of clouds, 30 minutes of showers, then back to sunshine. And I thought Texas weather was fickle!

“Best travel outfits?”

I did a post on my travel favorites here! For this trip, I lived in these shoes. Absolutely adorable, and so comfortable for walking around in all day! I highly, highly recommend.

“For you, what’s the most exciting part about the Gainesville move?”

There’s so much I’m excited about, but the most exciting part in my opinion? Living with Andrew! Especially now that we’ve actually been to Gainesvile… I feel like I can picture our life there so much more realistically! I can’t stop daydreaming about moving in, decorating, befriending neighbors, starting traditions and beginning our marriage in a new town, in a new home, with new friends and new experiences.

“What are you most looking forward to about your new town?”

This is a tough one and maybe a little random… but I love how different Gainesville feels from Texas! Since it’s landlocked, I wasn’t prepared for how gorgeous I’d think the town is. But y’all… everything is so green, there are palm trees all over the place and gorgeous old trees covered in Spanish moss everywhere you turn. It’s so lush and has so much charm.

I’m also so excited for all the “new!” Finding a new church, a new grocery store, new favorite restaurants and meeting so many new people. Everyone we met was genuinely so nice. Gainesville definitely has a friendly, hospitable feel!

“What are you most looking forward to about having a blank slate in a new city?”

Honestly, I am so excited for the chance to make hospitality one of my biggest priorities!

When I moved back to Dallas after graduating from the University of Texas, I hit the ground running in terms of work. Since I love this job so much, I poured everything I had into it. I’d work 24/7 and did a really bad job of prioritizing time for friends, inviting people into my apartment, etc. That “work work work” pace of life just turned into a habit, and I look back on my time in Dallas and wish I had done a far better job of inviting people into my “home” and making them feel welcome. I didn’t do a good job of establishing a healthy work life balance.

I am so thankful that I get a second chance with this move to Gainesville! I really want me and Andrew’s home to be one people feel warm, cozy and welcomed in. I’m already thinking through practical ways to host and bring others in, and it makes me so excited!

“Did you find a good church to attend in Gainesville?”

Not yet! We were so wiped out Sunday morning that we didn’t end up visiting a church like we’d hoped. But we’ve heard of so many recommendations (mainly from y’all!) and can’t wait to start visiting churches right after we move!

Now that we’ve covered more general Gainesville-related questions, let’s move into the specifics of the house hunt, shall we? Starting with the most frequently asked question…

“Did y’all find a house?!”

Drumroll, please…

YES! Oh y’all, it feels surreal typing that out! We made an offer on Sunday evening and were under contract by Monday night. We’re going to keep things under wraps until we (hopefully) close, but I have a feeling y’all are going to love it and I can’t wait to share more!

This is Andrew and I in the Gainesville airport about to head home after making an offer on the house we fell in love with! I think it will forever be one of my favorite pics because of that memory. We were completely exhausted, relieved and unbelievably excited all at once!

“Are you going to show us the house?!”

Ahhh, I’m dying to! But we’re going to wait until we close to share. There’s still so much that can happen before closing, so we want to be realistic and not assume anything. But the second we close, you bet y’all will be the first to know! Let’s just say I’ve been on Pinterest nonstop and am already dreaming of how I’ll decorate!

“What kind of house did you look for? Old/new/traditional/modern?”

Honestly, whatever we could afford! :) Since this is our first home purchase, neither of us were too picky about the exterior. As long as it felt happy and had lots of great light, Andrew and I would be fine!

Now, in terms of our preference, Andrew and I both love the more traditional, all-American look. Luckily, that style is everywhere in Gainesville!

“How did you decide on a budget?”

Quite a few factors went into this, but it started by calculating what we could realistically afford in regards to a down payment, mortgage, HOA fees, property taxes, and more. Andrew did an amazing job of really looking into each of these and factoring those into the decision. (He’s an excel wiz, and I’m grateful!)

Once we had that number, we factored in a few different hypothetical situations that would affect our income, and then landed on a number that allowed us to continue affording the home should those situations take place.

Finally, we researched the Gainesville market, talked through what we were each looking for in a home, and discussed our plan for it when we move out of Gainesville.

Obviously, this is an extremely simplified version of the process we went through, but it gives you a general idea!

“If you bought a home, how did you financially prepare for it?”

Saved. A. Lot!

Regardless of whatever monthly mortgage payment you can afford, it really begins with what you can make as a down payment. Andrew and I wanted to keep our interest rate as low as possible, and so we factored that into our budgeting decision. I have been saving pretty heavily for the past few years out of a “I know I should do this” mindset, not even thinking about a future downpayment. Needless to say, I am so thankful I made that decision early on!

Secondly, Andrew and I have individually kept a close eye on our credit scores. Keeping those high was hugely helpful in securing a loan!

“How did you decide on how big of a house you wanted?”

My wishlist regarding the home size: a room that could function as my office and a guest room for friends and family! Those things considered, we decided a home with at least three bedrooms would be a good fit for us.

It turns out that the standard room sizes in Gainesville were smaller than we are used to in Texas, which factored into our decision. We also quickly realized that the layout of the home was more important to us than simply the square footage. A home could be 1,000 square feet larger than another, but if that space was “waisted” or laid out in a weird way, it wasn’t worth it.

“How did you decide where you wanted to live? Commute time, other stuff in the area, etc.”

The second Andrew matched to the University of Florida in Gainesville, we started researching the town! Let me tell you, it’s so difficult to accurately “understand” neighborhoods and areas of a city without ever being there, but we sure tried!

The most important factor for us? A pretty, safe neighborhood that I would feel comfortable working from day-in and day-out. Secondly, the commute. While Andrew wasn’t as concerned with it, I didn’t want him to have to drive more than 20 minutes each way. That turned out to be a non-issue, as most of the areas we looked at were an equal distance away from the hospital.

By far the most important and helpful resource in figuring out where we wanted to live? Our amazing realtor, Jordane Spitze! We communicated all of these priorities to her, and she did a fabulous job of pin-pointing and showing us homes in neighborhoods that met those needs perfectly.

We ended up loving Longleaf, Haile Plantation and Tioga… just like many of you recommended! :)

“Will you buy an old or a new house?”

Andrew and I didn’t really have a preference in this regard, and we looked at both! I can’t wait to share what we landed on with y’all.

“What were you looking for in a house?”

Since I work from home, I was looking for a great “work space” as well as home! So it was almost like searching for two different – yet still the same – things.

First off, I wanted to be in an incredibly safe area that I felt completely comfortable in when Andrew is gone. Secondly, I wanted office space that would allow me to compartmentalize my work from our normal, everyday life. And finally, I wanted lots of natural light!

In terms of one or two story, old or new build, style, etc, I didn’t really have a strong preference. Affordability, along with the factors I mentioned above, were my main priorities.

“How did you go about balancing you and Andrew’s desires for the house?”

Ooooh, good question! To start with, a lot of talking. Andrew did an amazing job of making sure we were on the same page in terms of expectations/desires/etc from the get-go.

He really wanted a home that made for a great financial decision and investment. I really wanted a home I felt safe and happy working from. Luckily, we work really well together as a team, and so the other’s priority also became our own as we started preliminary searching. (I was on Zillow 24/7!)

Before actually arriving in Gainesville, there were a couple moments when I’d send Andrew a home on Zillow and he would have to talk me down regarding budgeting (haha, oops!) and a couple moments I felt the need to re-communicate my desires for the home, but once we actually started house hunting in person this past weekend we quickly realized we were on the exact same page.

That made the game-time decision an easy and clear one! And I am so thankful for that.

“We’re moving there in May: any advice when looking for neighborhoods?”

Yes! I initially wanted to be centrally-located in Gainesville, but quickly realized that I loved the feel of the neighborhoods a few minutes outside of the center of town more than being smack in the middle of things.

I recommend checking out Longleaf, Haile Plantation and the Town of Tioga if you’re looking for more of a family-oriented, neighborhood feel. Above all, consult a realtor you trust! (Let me take this moment to once again recommend ours, Jordane Spitze!)

“Recommendations on how to best plan a quick house/rental search in a new/unknown city?”

My first piece of advice would be to find a great realtor you really click with! If possible, ask for recommendations.

Like I’ve mentioned above, finding our realtor Jordane turned out to be the biggest blessing. I told her the weekend we’d be coming in to Gainesville and she was kind enough to set it aside to spend with us! She compiled a large list of homes that met our criteria to show us over the weekend and made a point to always be pointing out where we were to give us a feel for the city.

Now that we are in the closing process, it is a huge weight off of our shoulders to know she is “on the ground” supervising everything while we are states away.

I also recommend getting pre-qualified for a mortgage so that you can make an offer on the spot if you need to!

Finally, create a Zillow account so you can get a sense for different areas, price ranges, etc. While nothing is better than seeing the city in person, this helped to give us a feel for what we were getting into!

“How are y’all feeling? I just did this exact same thing this summer and I’m in Gainesville!”

Let me just say, this past weekend was a huge rollercoaster of emotions. Walking into it, I had a really calm attitude and perspective. I knew the Lord was going to provide in His perfect timing, I was confident in and completely trusted our realtor, and I was so excited to finally see the town I’d be living in for the next three years!

You know that saying “easier said than done?” Hahaha. *Sheepishly raises hand.* The first day of house hunting was eye-opening and exciting. So many cute houses! So many cute neighborhoods! How fun!

The second day was a bit more stressful. The Gainesville real estate market is currently really hot, and homes we would be interested in one day would go under contract the very next! I quickly realized we were going to have to move fast, which isn’t the pressure you want to be under when making such a huge decision.

By Sunday, I was completely overwhelmed. I think the realization that we were leaving that evening (or so we thought… thank you, flight cancellations) and didn’t know the next time we’d be back really hit me. I like to just make a decision and run with it. Andrew is much more methodical and less impulsive. (Thank goodness!) So the process of deciding on a game plan given factors like the hot market was a big undertaking.

Once we made that game plan, submitted our offer, and began our journey home, there was still so much up in the air. Would our offer even be considered? Would we get a house? Would we have to come back again or even buy site-unseen? So many thoughts were whirling through my head, and for being a usually laid-back person, I was pretty wound up. I just had to keep praying non-stop to keep calm!

But once we got under contract, as you’d expect, the whole mood shifted! We really got a house! And not just any house, but one we’re absolutely in love with! There are still so many things that can happen before closing, so we’re doing our best to keep our hands open and not make any assumptions, but we are absolutely giddy, y’all. It doesn’t feel real!

So there you have it friends… a big, long recap of our whirlwind house hunting weekend in Gainesville, Florida! As crazy and exhausting as it was, I’m so thankful for every moment of it. Those memories are ones I’ll cherish for years!

I’m also so thankful for how the Lord provided and lead us throughout the entire thing. It made Matthew 7: 9-11 come alive in a new way to me!

And I know by this point I probably sound like a broken record, but I am so grateful that I get to share this season with you! It feels like I get to process everything with a huge group of best friends, and that is such a gift. So thank you for caring and reading and being interested! It really means the world.

Gainesville, I think I’m going to like you!

Love from Texas,

Kate

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8 Comments

  1. Mariah said:

    Ah! This makes me so happy for you! I am so glad things are working out for you and Andrew. I love following your love story and seeing how the Lord is working in your life.

    http://moosmusing.com

    Published 2.20.19 · Reply
  2. Kelly said:

    ah! How FUN! I’ve been browsing the market in Tennessee for YEARS and hearing your tips is def something I take to heart and need to know. So thank you for sharing! I can’t WAIT to see what the Lord provides you all. So. Much. Fun!!!!!

    Published 2.20.19 · Reply
  3. Meredith said:

    So excited to hear how much y’all loved Gainesville! My family is in Haile, but my husband and I are currently in Chicago for his residency and, needless to say, I know the roller coaster of emotions all too well. Trust in the Lord because it DOES work out! Our solo visit pre-move was one year ago this weekend and it is crazy to think how far things have come. It is going to be a BIG year for you all! 💜

    Published 2.20.19 · Reply
  4. Clarissa Nicole said:

    I love getting to watch y’all go through this process! I LOVED house hunting, so I’m still a frequent Trulia browser even though we’ve been in our starter home for over a year now (Baton Rouge here). So sweet that y’all brought your mamas as well; thats sure to be a special memory for all of you <3

    Published 2.20.19 · Reply
  5. Katherine said:

    So excited for you all and a little jealous. I lived in Gainesville until age 10 and then again for college. It is one of my favorite cities and I would love to live there again. I look forward to hearing where you will be living. I love Haile Plantation and 43rd Street Deli!

    Published 2.20.19 · Reply
  6. Caroline said:

    Welcome to Gainesville! Jordan helped sell our last home and we now live near Tioga. I grew up here if you have any questions!

    Published 2.21.19 · Reply
  7. Amaura said:

    Dying for updates!

    Published 3.16.19 · Reply