Blogging Buddies, Boilers, & Brothers

Say what you will about Janesville — and I’ve said plenty, mostly unflattering (“Chainsville,” anyone?) — this city of 65,000ish half an hour from Fort Atkinson does boast one pretty big draw: cheap gas.

We’re not talking two or three cents cheaper, either. Gas prices in Janesville are always dramatically lower than anywhere else in the Madison area. By a solid 30-40 cents a gallon. Case in point: currently, a gallon of gas in Janesville is $2.99. In Fort, we are paying $3.39. And it’s not like Janesville is littered with Big Willy’s Discount Fuel & Smokes stations; they’re the same Kwik Trips and Casey’s we frequent.

Curious why there’s such a large discrepancy, I asked Dr. Google. He advised me that Janesville’s proximity to gas distribution pipelines near the Wisconsin-Illinois border results in cheaper fuel costs. Janesville is 17 miles from the IL border, but that’s a mere 20 miles closer than we are. Which means the price of gas drops two cents every mile you get closer to Illinois. Then again, by that logic, Madison gas stations should be charging $3.75/gallon…yet the cost there is exactly the same as here.

Something isn’t adding up. Not that I’m complaining too much; since I work in Janesville, it’s easy enough for me to fill up there and save a few bucks.

Now that we’re in the market for a house, every little bit adds up, you know?

Hey, in case you hadn’t heard, we’re officially in the market for a house now.

I mean, I guess we have been, ever since Tara landed her new jobs. But today, we actually signed a contract with a realtor and saw our first showing. Justin’s his name, and get this — it’s yet another instance of blogging shaping my life. Years ago, I met Jess through WordPress. She was this cool chick who lived in an exotic land of cheese, beer, and badgers. Then, she and her hubby Joe wandered through Rapid City in 2019, and we met in person. Fast-forward to this past August, the very day I got my job offer from TobacCo and Tara and I submitted letters of resignation to our prospective employers. Jess and Joe were back in town, so we got together for drinks and to share the good news that we’d soon be fellow Sconnies.

Two things we learned that day: Jess was actually born right here in Fort Atkinson, and her brother’s a realtor in Madison. Seemed as good a place to start as any, so I reached out to him last weekend, and voila! He’s now our agent. Nice to finally get those wheels in motion (though, this being traditionally the slowest time of the year for real estate, and interest rates not exactly buyer- or seller-friendly, those wheels ain’t exactly rolling down the highway just yet).

And the house we looked at today? While it checked a lot of boxes, it also had its share of issues. Tell me there’s a house that doesn’t have both pluses and minuses and I’ll call you a fat-faced liar. We’d had our eye on it when it first hit the market 39 days ago, but it wasn’t until the owners dropped the price $20K yesterday that we leapt.

  • Pros: Great location, good-sized yard with garden beds, fireplaces in the living room/basement, three-season porch, beautiful parquet floors and hardwood, large garage with built-in storage.
  • Cons: Janky electrical work, non-GFC outlets upstairs, possible water damage in a few areas, 24-year-old A/C unit that will need replacing soon, potentially hazardous dryer vent. Plus, it’s big. 4 BR, 2.5 BA, 2,665 sq. ft. That’s a lot more home than we need for just the two of us (though certainly not a deal-breaker).

The house also has a boiler instead of a furnace, which itself has pros and cons. Boilers are more energy-efficient, produce radiant heat, and are great for allergy sufferers (like Tara). On the other hand, they’re more expensive to replace/repair, and the separate ductwork for the A/C unit (with a single ceiling-mounted vent in each room) probably won’t provide sufficient cooling.

So, it’s 99% likely we won’t pursue this one. There’s no need to jump at the first house we see; even with limited inventory, we’re both sure at some point that perfect home will pop up on our radar. And Justin will help us land it.

Either way, these are exciting times!

48 thoughts on “Blogging Buddies, Boilers, & Brothers

  1. Very exciting! I think it’s a great time – soon to be even better – to be in the market. The high interest rates are bringing down the prices and, when the interest rates fall – and they will – you can refinance. Take your time (something that you couldn’t do even a few months ago) and find the house that ticks off a majority of your boxes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. House hunting is fun! We bought the second house we looked at in Rapid City, so I really didn’t get to experience it all that much last time. Then again, that’s the ideal plan, right? It’s not a process you really want to draw out.


  2. I think it helps to have a trustworthy realtor working alongside you. Makes the process easier for sure. That house is vaguely reminiscent of the Rapid City one I think, but I think you’re right that the cons may outweigh some of the good aspects- like the basement with fireplace and room for all those DVDS and lava lamps

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Looking at houses is so fun, and it’s amazing when you find The One. We go to open houses as a family just for the joy of exploring houses and yards. I know it’s a little silly, that’s how we do.
    Cool you knew someone who knew someone who was a realtor. Having a connection helps.
    Crazy about gas. And you don’t want to know what it costs out here. Let’s just say, when we were on our vacay, we were excited to see it for only $4.59.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You go to open houses just for fun? Ha. I love that! Have you ever been tempted to put your house up for sale after falling in love with one of these properties you’re looking at?

      West coast gas prices. Ugh. It was great moving to Rapid City because of the cheaper gas, and Wisconsin is cheaper still. That AND cheese? What took us so long??

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Never have we been to an open house that tempted me to move in, fortunately. That would complicate my life. Plus, you know I love my neighbors. We’ve got a sweet gig going on where we are. Still fun to look, though.

        I’m happy you’re happy. 🙂 I think you should send me some of that cheese for Christmas. And I don’t mean cheesy puns.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. YAY! Exciting times. While the old AC unit is definitely a downside, don’t discount your double systems. I too have a boiler for heating and an attic air unit with one ceiling vent in each room. It actually does a fantastic job keeping up with the cooling, because it was specced for the size of my house, and because cold air naturally sinks. But, my house is also significantly smaller than that one, so that may be a factor. But overall I’m satisfied with my setup.

    Gas in RI is about $3.65 in RI, but cross the border into MA and it’s around $3.25 at the BJs. You better believe I got a membership just for the gas prices!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good to know about the double systems! One of our concerns was the fact that the ductwork from the A/C ran straight up the back of the house from the condenser to the attic. That doesn’t seem very efficient and you’d probably lose a lot of cool air that way.

      How do you like your boiler otherwise?


      1. Oh, and my parents have a furnace. When I’m visiting them, I feel like their heat kicks on way more often than mine does. It’s also louder than my boiler.


  5. I am always interested in hearing about housing searches, especially when other parts of the country are involved. Looking for homes can be a very cool experience. We took a long time finding the one we are in now, but it was well worth the wait. Patience can definitely pay off. I always thought of it as a numbers advantage – the more homes I get to see, the better my chance of finding one that checks off the most boxes. Excited for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree…it’s always fun to follow along with others who are in the process of buying a home. Here’s hoping that a fellow blogger or two will strike out in search of a new home soon. I could use the entertainment!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s always so good to have a trusted personal connection when you’re looking for specialists or services. I don’t know if realtors have as less than glowing a rep in the US as in the UK, but if so, that one’s got to be gold from my perspective. Enjoy the house hunting, once you find the one you want, that’s when the pain often starts in my experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Our last realtor was pretty cool, too. We’d run into him around town, dressed in his superhero costume. Let’s just say he was a real character.

      I’m hoping Tara’s extensive mortgage and home inspection experience will help lessen any pain like that down the road.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. If you’re under no time constraints, house hunting is fun. Take all the time you can and see everything. You’ll know your perfect home when you see it.
    Have to say I’m jealous of your gas prices, even the high ones. We’re still close to $4.00 here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Obviously we’d like to find a house ASAP, but there’s no ticking clock or anything like that. We have another three months on our lease, and then we can go month-to-month after.

      Be thankful you aren’t on the west coast, at least. Apparently their gas is closer to $5.00 a gallon.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Talk of house hunting reminds me of how I don’t want to be doing that. The one you’re thinking about looks beautiful. The two of us live in 2,800 sq. ft. which is close to your 2,665 sq. ft. size. The upside is we don’t get in each other’s way! The down size is you have to heat/cool all of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. That is a pretty house, except for the flat top hedge! Lol! Yeah, the mechanical type concerns scare me, too. I can handle ugly decor (and I’m fine with our popcorn ceiling in the family room) but big ticket items right away is a concern.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh, that is exciting. Years ago, I would have said always go for the smaller house–the savings of heat and electricity are very real. But that was before the pandemic, when husband and son and I were all crammed into less than 1200 square feet. At least we had big patio and yard (for LA) that we could mostly use year-round, though. Given that you’re probably stuck inside a good chunk of the year in Wisconsin and you work from home, just make sure you have an office. With doors. That no one needs to walk through on the way to the kitchen or backyard. This will be super important when you are both working from home or retired.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. By the way, we live close enough to the Wisconsin border to go up there for gas on occasion. It is still cheaper than here.

    So I followed the link to Jess’ blog and I’m pretty sure I’m in love with her. Is she still blogging? 

    I’m happy for you and Tara. I cannot wait to hear all about your house hunting adventures.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We all love Jess, lol. Unfortunately, she pretty much gave up her blog a couple of years ago, as I’m sure you noticed. Ahh, well. We can always hang out with her in person now…La Crosse is less than three hours away!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. The gas prices in your area are substantially lower than here, but if I drove up there to fill up, it might defeat the purpose.

    The house, on the outside, looks lovely. But I suppose, like humans, it’s the inside that counts! I love that your realtor was found through blogging; how amazing is that?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How much is gas in your neck of the woods these days?

      We did decide to pass on the house, though honestly, it wouldn’t have taken much for us to consider going for it. We really were on the fence for the most part.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think I just paid $3.99 for premium last week. Mind you that is about a dollar lower than it was a month ago; the government gave us a break for a bit because of the hurricane.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Since I left the Golden State I’ve lived in a few different states, and I have friends and relatives who live in a couple more. It’s always interesting to me how the costs, or really the business practices, differ between them. When my daughter lived in IL but worked in MO, and sometimes vice versa, she made sure to get her gas in MO, if I recall correctly, because it was so much cheaper there. I’m guessing that was due to higher taxes in the blue state of IL.


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