Buying a home can be a scary milestone, especially when you’re somewhat new to town. For Kim and Scott Vargo, buying a house was less about investing and more about putting down roots. After packing up all of their belongings into a moving van in 2006, the Vargos were ready to make a change and headed from Cincinnati, OH, to Chicago, IL. Fast-forward a year (and one yearlong lease), and the husband-and-wife duo jumped headfirst into homeownership, purchasing a 675-square-foot condo in an adorable, yellow brick building.
The self-described DIYers remodeled and renovated every inch of their new home, which they documented in their popular and aptly named home decor blog, Yellow Brick Home. Today, the couple have moved on from the condo in the yellow brick building. They’re just a few blocks away in a new home where they’ve put their DIY talents to work once again. Here, Kim explains why buying a Chicago home was the best decision for them and why they’ve never regretted it.
What was your first home-buying experience like?
The first home that Scott and I purchased together was a small, two-bedroom condo in our favorite Chicago neighborhood, Logan Square. It was right around the corner from the apartment we were renting at the time, and it was everything we were looking for in a starter home: compact size, space for a home office, and no yardwork to maintain! It was our little gem in the big city. The experience was relatively easy; the only downfall was that it was right before the real estate bubble burst in 2008 (and we were on the wrong side of the bubble!). Getting the loan and moving forward was no problem, but I feel fortunate that despite the loan we were approved for, we still purchased a home at a price point below our means. As a result, we were able to spend the next several years making it our own.
Why did you decide to buy a home as opposed to renting one?
We rented in Chicago, IL, for one year before we knew we wanted to stick around for a good while. At the time, home prices in our neighborhood were still very, very reasonable, and a good gut check told us that the time was right. After renting, we lived in the Logan Square condo for almost seven years before moving on to a much larger house down the street, our current home! It’s a fixer-upper, and we couldn’t be happier to put our stamp on this space, something that we may have been limited with in a rental.
Why do you think it was a great decision for you and your family to buy a home, regardless of some of the challenges you may have faced along the way?
We knew we wanted to stay in Chicago for the long haul. Knock on wood, but with our neighborhood being such a desirable area in the city, we look at these properties as investments in our future! Although renovating a home has had its challenges — and that would be an understatement! — we take so much pride in knowing that this is our forever home.
What would you say to someone who is considering becoming a first-time homeowner?
I don’t always think purchasing a home is a great decision for everyone. Living in Chicago, we have a lot of friends who rent apartments that fit their lifestyle, but we have just as many who have bought a home they love. For us, we wanted to buy a home to put down roots. Being a homeowner is a huge privilege, and with that comes a lot of responsibility. At the same time, we’re able to make our own rules, so to speak, and rather than pay down someone else’s mortgage, we chose to make an investment in us. All that said, when we became first-time homeowners, it was a day we celebrated and still talk about!
What are some things you absolutely love about being a homeowner?
The best part of owning our home is making it our own. From painting walls to moving walls to every other change we’ve made along the way (and there have been a lot!), it’s been so rewarding to know that we’re creating a space we love. My heart swells thinking about the memories we’ve already made and the ones to come.