i'd initially fallen in love with a magnificent mid-century modern bi-level (or quad-level, depending on where you're from) deep in the woods in concord, but having only seen pictures of the living room, dining room and yard, i went to the brokers' office (well, a branch - i think the listing agent is actually based out of concord) in cambridge to ask if, before i got my daydream hopes up too high, there were any pictures available of the kitchen, bathrooms or bedrooms. i found out that it didn't matter because not only did the house have a septic tank that'd failed inspection and wasn't up to code and would need to be replaced (hello, expensive and pain in the god damn ass), but even that didn't matter because it'd sold. in the meantime though, i sat down with the agent and we began chatting. i told her all what i was looking for and the like, and before i knew it, she was handing me paperwork with contact info for mortgage agents and the like.
the thing is, and i told her (the agent) as much, if i'm buying a house, i'ma be very specific in my wants, those being: single-family, mid-century modern, walking distance to transportation. not even thinking about my price range, that automatically means i'm in the suburbs somewhere, because what i'm looking for, specifically the mid-century modern bit, simply does not exist in the immediate boston area. i told her that, if nothing is available right now, that's fine - i'm in no hurry to get out of my apartment, so i'll take my time and see what's what, and i'm not going to settle for something i don't actually want.
i got to thinking. i love cambridge. i adore my neighborhood, and much as i may romanticize the rural ideal, i am in school fulltime in dorchester. i work downtown. i can't have an hour commuter rail ride each way every single day. and if there's something going on socially, i want to be able to just get there, not have to worry about train schedules and then take however much longer to actually get there and, if i'm done once the trains stop running, worry about a huge amount of money spent on a cab ride home. so i amended: condo. again i'm being specific because i have the luxury of time: cambridgeport or riverside (the latter of which seems to elicit raised eyebrows - for those familiar with the boston area, it's the section of cambridge between central square and harvard square, on the river side of mass ave) only unless the place is mindbogglingly amazing, it's gotta be rough, funky, have that DIY feel with odd windows and rough-hewn beams and the like, and i know these places do exist because i've seen them, so it's really just a matter of waiting for something to come on the market.
i've spoken to a mortgage broker, and have begun assembling the sundry requisite papers to send off for my pre-approval. talking to the broker though, despite the trusts, the fact remains that i make less than $40k a year, and i very well may not be able to be approved for more than $200k. which, even with a considerable downpayment, is still not enough for a two-bedroom (right, that's the other condition) condo in cambridgeport or riverside.
so i got to thinking some more. it's been a while since i'd last, so i'd like to do something nice for myself. and if i get turned down for a mortgage or offered less than would actually be useful, i may well get LASIK.
which is a better investment?
buying a condo