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  • Vanessa: Hi.

  • I'm Vanessa from SpeakEnglishWithVanessa.com.

  • Dan: I'm “Dan the Man.”

  • Vanessa: I'm here with my husband, Dan, in our backyard.

  • We're here today to have just a natural, casual conversation about big life changes.

  • What are some big life changes that have happened recently for us?

  • Dan: Well, in our lives, we just bought a new house.

  • Vanessa: Our first house ever.

  • Dan: Yes.

  • Moved in recently.

  • That's a very big change in your life.

  • Vanessa: Yep, and we're having a new baby.

  • Yay!

  • We're going to be talking about all of these things.

  • What it's like to rent in the U.S., packing up, moving, hiring movers, moving into a new

  • house, what it's like to find a house or buy a house and what it's like to do all of those

  • things while growing a new human.

  • Dan: Oh, boy.

  • Vanessa: I hope that you'll learn some good vocabulary.

  • I'm going to try to write as many useful expressions as I can down here.

  • We're just going to say whatever comes up along the way.

  • Are you ready?

  • Dan: I'm ready.

  • Vanessa: Before we bought this house, where were we living?

  • Dan: We rented before we bought a house.

  • Vanessa: Yeah.

  • What was that rental process like?

  • Because for a lot of people, if you own a house, you have to also sell the house before

  • you can buy a house, but we didn't own a house first.

  • We were just renting.

  • What was that like?

  • Dan: Yeah.

  • I don't know what it's like in your country, but in America, most people rent before they

  • buy.

  • The first thing you usually do is you fill out a rental application.

  • You're searching online for different properties.

  • I'm sure some places don't have a rental application, but that probably means that they're a little

  • bit sketchy.

  • Vanessa: Shady.

  • Dan: Shady, dirty.

  • Vanessa: Yeah.

  • The more official it is, the better, because that means they're probably actually going

  • to maintain your apartment or going to have good communication with the people who live

  • in their rental properties.

  • Yeah.

  • You probably would expect to fill out some kind of rental application.

  • That's what we did.

  • Dan: Right.

  • Then you'll sign a lease.

  • This is how long you're going to rent a property.

  • Usually it's a 12-month, so it's for a year.

  • Sometimes it's six months.

  • In our particular situation, it started out for a year.

  • Vanessa: Yeah.

  • We had a yearly lease first.

  • Dan: Then it was month to month, meaning that we just paid month by month and we could leave

  • whenever we wanted, as long as we gave them I think one month's notice.

  • Vanessa: Sure, sure.

  • That was really convenient for us.

  • We knew we wanted to stay in that apartment for at least a year, but after the first year,

  • we could leave whenever we wanted.

  • I think it was good for us because we could be flexible, but also there was some unpredictability

  • with this because the owner of the property could also raise our rent any month.

  • There was no yearly contract at that point, so he could raise our rent, he could tell

  • us to leave within 30 days.

  • It was a little bit unstable.

  • Dan: Yeah.

  • Usually, renting is a little more unpredictable.

  • You never know if the price is going to go up or you'll get kicked out for some reason,

  • but on the other hand, the landlord did pay for certain maintenance activities, like when

  • our fan broke or when some water got behind our wall in the bathroom.

  • Now that we own a house, we have to fix that stuff all by ourselves.

  • Vanessa: Yep.

  • We have to pay for it now.

  • We had rented at that same apartment for about four and a half years.

  • When we decided, "Okay, we want to buy a house," what was that buying process like?

  • Dan: What was the buying process like?

  • Vanessa: Yeah.

  • When we decided, "Okay, I think we want to buy," what happened next?

  • Dan: The first thing you have to do is make sure you have enough money because it takes

  • a lot of money upfront to buy a house.

  • You have to be able to put down what they call a down payment.

  • For a long time, we couldn't afford a down payment.

  • Vanessa: Yeah.

  • A down payment is usually 20% of the price of the house, which is a lot of money.

  • If you buy a house in the U.S., it's usually $150,000 up to anything.

  • Half a million dollars, if you have a lot of money.

  • Even 20% of $200,000, that's $40,000 that you have to have in cash to hand over, plus

  • there's some other expenses, like when you buy a house, there's other expenses that you

  • have to pay for.

  • You need a big chunk of money when you're thinking, "Okay.

  • Am I ready to buy a house?"

  • Dan: It's a long process and it's gotten more difficult in the U.S. because all the prices,

  • especially in places younger people want to live, have gone way up compared to when our

  • parents were younger.

  • We bought our first house way later than our parents did.

  • It was much more affordable back in the day, back in our parents' day.

  • I'm sure there's a lot of factors to that, but it's a little bit depressing sometimes.

  • Vanessa: Yeah.

  • It's really hard for younger people nowadays in the U.S. to be able to afford a house because

  • it has changed a lot.

  • When we thought, "Okay.

  • We wanted to buy a house in the U.S.," you pretty much ... 98% of the time, you need

  • to have a realtor.

  • What did our realtor do for us?

  • Dan: The realtor just steps you through the process.

  • They do a lot of the legwork.

  • We call it legwork.

  • I remember thinking, "You know, we could probably buy a house ourselves-"

  • Vanessa: Without a realtor.

  • We don't need help.

  • Dan: Yeah.

  • I'm sure you could, but the realtor probably called, maybe 10 phone calls every single

  • day, just for us.

  • Just talking to people about when to set up these meetings, when to get somebody to inspect

  • your house, where ... What's the timing for the contract?

  • There's all kinds of little details that they work through, and they get a really big cut.

  • A slice of the price that you pay.

  • That's how they get paid, by commission.

  • Vanessa: They get paid by commission, depending on the price of the house that you buy.

  • For us, I don't know if it's the same for other states, but in North Carolina where

  • we live, the realtor ... We paid her nothing.

  • We never paid her anything, but the seller of this house, the previous owners, they paid

  • six percent.

  • They paid three percent to our realtor and they paid three percent to their own realtor.

  • So they have to foot the bill for that, which means they had to pay for it.

  • As the buyer, pretty good deal for us.

  • We don't have to pay at all, but someday when we sell this house, we'll have to pay for

  • our realtor and their realtor.

  • She was so helpful.

  • Yeah.

  • Maybe if this was our fifth house that we bought, maybe we could do some of that ourselves,

  • but it's the first time we've ever done this.

  • We have no idea what we're doing.

  • It was really helpful because she was an amazing person.

  • Dan: Very helpful.

  • Vanessa: All right.

  • We found this house that we really liked and we got the A-OK that we are the ones who are

  • going to get it, which is excellent, because there were a couple bids on the house.

  • Dan: We got into a bidding war.

  • Vanessa: Yeah.

  • This doesn't happen all the time, but it means that five people, including us, wanted to

  • buy this house.

  • Only one family can win.

  • Our realtor helped us a lot to either offer the right amount of money or also, we wrote

  • cards to the sellers.

  • We sent them pictures.

  • We did everything.

  • Dan: We were a little unusual.

  • I don't think that's very typical.

  • Vanessa: Well, we won, so it helped.

  • Dan: It did.

  • Vanessa: But we did a lot of work to try to get this house because a lot of other people

  • also wanted it.

  • Once that was settled, we had to pack and go through that process of moving all our

  • stuff from our apartment into this house.

  • What was the first thing we had to do when we decided to pack up our stuff?

  • Dan: To get ready.

  • Well, you have to purchase boxes or we actually asked grocery stores to give us some extra

  • boxes.

  • Then a few weeks ahead of time, before the movers come, then you want to start really

  • packing your stuff.

  • Breaking down your house.

  • Vanessa: Yeah.

  • Dan: We started I guess with toys and books and stuff.

  • Vanessa: Yeah.

  • Stuff that just wasn't essential for day-to-day life.

  • We tried to pack up all that stuff.

  • I feel like before we even did any of that, we went through all of our closets and got

  • rid of stuff that we didn't want because- Dan: Yeah.

  • The first step is getting rid of stuff.

  • Vanessa: Yeah.

  • We didn't want to pack up our stuff and then unpack it at our new house and say, "We don't

  • actually want this or need this."

  • We wanted to only pack the essential stuff, which took a lot of time and effort, but it's

  • worth it.

  • It's always nice to get rid of stuff.

  • That's how I feel.

  • We decided to pack up our stuff.

  • I went to some grocery stores.

  • I went to some ABC Stores.

  • That's liquor, alcohol stores.

  • Dan: Yeah.

  • The state has to sell you alcohol, at least in North Carolina.

  • It's different in other states.

  • Vanessa: The boxes for vodka are really heavy-duty and it's good for ... Because they're glass

  • bottles.

  • So it's good for packing.

  • They're not too big, so you can put lots of books in them or heavy stuff and it's not

  • too heavy.

  • Dan: Yeah.

  • People were really confused as we carried boxes of vodka around.

  • Vanessa: Yeah.

  • Dan: There wasn't really vodka in it.

  • Vanessa: It was just our stuff.

  • It's pretty common in the U.S.

  • If you don't want to buy boxes, you can just go to grocery stores and say, "Can I have

  • your extra boxes?" or go to a liquor store and ask for their extra boxes.

  • It's totally normal.

  • We got boxes.

  • We got rid of our stuff.

  • We packed it up about a week before we moved.

  • You mentioned movers.

  • Dan: Yeah.

  • You could move everything by yourself.

  • You could rent a truck.

  • My dad likes to do this.

  • He likes to do everything by himself.

  • He's a DIY kind of person.

  • Do-it-yourself.

  • He rented a truck and carried everything in the house.

  • We didn't want to deal with that, so we hired some movers.

  • Vanessa: Yeah.

  • Dan: The company was called Two Men and a Truck.

  • Vanessa: Yeah.

  • There was two men and a truck.

  • They carried our couches, our heavy bookshelves, our kitchen tables-

  • Dan: They had trouble parking.

  • Vanessa: Yeah.

  • Let's talk about that.

  • Dan: They had to walk a really long ways because we live kind of in a downtown area, or at

  • least we used to.

  • There was not very much parking.

  • They brought too big of a truck.

  • They got there and they were like, "Hey, we can't park this anywhere."

  • So they had to park really far away and carry all our stuff.

  • Vanessa: Yeah.

  • They said it was the furthest they've ever had to walk for a moving experience.

  • Dan: Yeah.

  • It wasn't very pleasant for them.

  • Vanessa: We lived on the second floor, so they had to go down the second floor stairs,

  • then down the apartment stairs and then pretty much halfway down the street to even put our

  • couch in the moving truck.

  • It was kind of a disaster.

  • I'm glad we didn't have to do that, and because I was newly pregnant and we have Theo, who's

  • our two-year-old.

  • We didn't want to carry our couches by ourselves.

  • I personally think it is very worth the price.

  • Dan: Yeah, especially looking at the guys who carried our couch and stuff.

  • They were really big.

  • Vanessa: They're the professionals.

  • Dan: You can tell from me, I'm not going to be able to carry these things.

  • Vanessa: Yeah.

  • They had some funny banter, when I was listening to them talk.

  • They were joking like, "Oh, I can carry this couch all by myself.

  • Can you do it?

  • Oh, I can carry this bookshelf by myself."

  • They were just playing together.

  • Dan: Competition was steep.

  • Vanessa: Yep.

  • It's just a funny thing to watch.

  • The day that we moved, the movers came and we'd already signed the papers for the house.

  • The house was ours.