Here’s Your Chance to Give Rose Some Advice: The City or the Country?

For months, I’ve been looking to buy a house – somewhere. It’s my hope to stay in the area (Hampton Roads) but get far away from Norfolk. I’ve been looking in Zuni, Windsor, Suffolk, Smithfield and areas nearby.

Thus far, I’ve not found anything that sent me.

Ever since Wayne’s suicide, I’ve consoled myself by saying that now – at the age of 57 – I can finally buy the place that I always dreamt of: A 2-3 acre “farmette” with a modest house in a beautiful place. As mentioned in a prior blog, I spent several weeks living on a 100+ acre peanut farm in Zuni, and it was too beautiful for words.

No matter how low I felt, sitting out in that field and watching the magnificent hawks make lazy circles in that sky was THE THING that made me so very happy. It filled my heart with so much joy. Listening to the wind whistling through the trees always made me smile. The sound of the train whistle in the distance took me to another happy place in memory. It was all so lovely.

It is the wide-open spaces and their intrinsic beauty that seems to feed my soul and nourish my spirit.

Beauty is what I crave the most.

So what’s the problem? I wonder how realistic this is. I’m a 57-year-old woman with occasional joint and back pain (minor at this point), and yet I want to live on a couple acres?

And then yesterday, I visited an open house and found this beauty. It’s on a 1/2 acre lot, but in a thoroughly modern subdivision from the early 1930s/40s. The house was custom-built by a doctor in 1948, and has been meticulously maintained by its current owner, who’s now moving out of Portsmouth. He’s as compulsive as me when it comes to house maintenance. That’s important.

And there’s this: I don’t plan to live alone again. If my current roommate goes bye-bye, I’ll rent a room to someone, because of financial considerations and also because I like the companionship. This house lends itself well to that potential. It has four bedrooms and four bathrooms (3.5 bathrooms to be precise.)

The mechanical systems are new, high-quality and well-done. Someone has put a lot of first-class materials into this home, and yet they’ve preserved the quality vintage aspects.

This house sends me. It fills my heart with great joy. And yet, it’s a small suburban lot. And yet, it has a view of the Elizabeth River. And yet, the neighbors are really close at hand. And yet, the back yard is an oasis. And yet the taxes are high. And yet, I spend most of my time inside, and the inside is so beautiful.

The pros and cons are endless.

I’d be grateful for opinions. I’m tired and worn out and frustrated and overwhelmed.

And the sad fact is, I have never bought a house by myself. This would be my first home purchase as a single woman.

Thanks in advance for thoughtful comments.



To begin with, theres the bathroom. All original. Be still my heart. I love a pretty bathroom.

To begin with, there's the bathroom. All original. Be still my heart. I love a pretty bathroom.



The floor-to-ceiling window in the living room does send me. Wow.


A den, replete with stone fireplace, is also very 1950s and very beautiful.

A den, replete with stone fireplace, is also vintage and lovely.


The large sunporch, which looks out toward the Elizabeth River, also took my breath away. Im a sap for a sunporch.

The large sunporch, which looks out toward the Elizabeth River, also took my breath away. I'm a sap for a sunporch.


The backyard is an oasis as well.

The backyard is an oasis as well.


Long view of the exterior.

Long view of the exterior.


Everything about this house is truly beautiful.

Everything about this house is truly beautiful.


To see the full listing, click here.


Please leave a comment below! Thanks so much!



  1. Wendy Henderson

    My advice:
    You truly love that house. My philosophy is that if you put in an offer and it is accepted, then it was meant to be.

    If you put in an offer and someone else beats you to it, or if the offer is denied, then it was not meant to be. Either way you’ll have no regrets. Regrets can be a heavy burden.

    To quote your words: “It is the wide-open spaces and their intrinsic beauty that seems to feed my soul and nourish my spirit. Beauty is what I crave the most”

    Why not travel a little? Your travel theme can be to recapture those magical feelings in new places. Build glorious new memories.

    All the best – and thank you for the joy that you continue to give all of us.

  2. Troy Tripamer

    It looks beautiful and as you said it has been well maintained. It looks like it has had its electrical system updated to three wire (three pronged plugs).

    I would find this a very great improvement over the older system.

    It seems awfully large for just one person even with a roommate but at least the outdoors is not that large as to overburden you with grass and bush upkeep. It seems more reasonable than a larger size acreage.

    If the neighborhood safe? This would be a big point in my thinking and does the house have an alarm system which I would find very important for you or for anyone for that matter.

    I love the living room and sun parlor and the backyard looks so inviting.

  3. Rivka Strom

    Get it. If you like the companionship, I suppose a separate entry is not necessary but it would drive me crazy.

  4. John Dawson

    Hi Rosemary,

    You were very kind and patient answering my emails a couple of years ago about whether or not my son’s little bungalow in Baltimore was a kit home.

    As you advised me, it was a pattern home chosen from a book probably carried by one of local lumber yards.

    In regard to your current situation of choosing a new place to live I would definitely recommend buying the house in your post.

    Having a water view, a sunroom, a brick exterior, and being well maintained would appear to make this house a good choice.

    The size of the home looks like it there would ample room to have a roommate and since it was built in 1948 that should eliminate the issue of dealing with knob and tube wiring as my son encountered with his home that was built in 1928.

    I am five years ahead of you on life’s road and although I feel great (my brain still thinks I’m 30), I am beginning to come to terms with what I can and should not do physically in regard to yard work and other projects around the house.

    I can still do pretty much anything I want to do, but I have to be more thoughtful about how I am going to accomplish a project.

    Like you, I would love to own a “farmette”, but just keeping up with my quarter acre yard and my two story colonial style home keeps me quite busy.

    Even though I live in a subdivision, my community’s close proximity to a river means I have regular visits from hawks, bald eagles, ospreys, and great blue herons. I also have several foxes that I often spot as they walk through my yard.

    This house looks like a “keeper”. Get a thorough inspection and go for it!

  5. r young

    It is not something that would appeal to me; but I can say this:

    I think your heart is wanting to tell you something. Listen to your heart and go for it.

    You rarely have regrets when you do what your heart tells you to do.

  6. Cynthia Ward

    The bigger issue here is, does Horsie like it?

    Rose’s Reply:

    You crack me up. That made me laugh out loud – literally!


  7. Pam Jenkins

    You can ask me, Rosemary. I am a realtor in Norfolk Long and Foster (which covers the entire area who are looking in) and with two snaps, can find you the right realtor for you – DON’T TRY AND GO IT ALONE.

    If the sellers are represented, unrepresented buyers are catnip.

    Let me get you a good realtor, it costs you nothing (sellers pay the commission) and will save you quite a few bucks.

    Besides, I love your blog and catalogue houses – and your book 🙂

  8. Jan

    I love it! The photo of the blue bathroom sealed the deal.

    You have been looking at houses and you know the kind of properties that are out there on the market as you have seen some real “duds” that were a waste of time.

    This one looks like it has a lot of positives that will work for you at this time in your life.

    Go with your gut feeling, write a contract and order a home inspection.

    I’ll keep the address in mind so I know where to send a housewarming gift!

  9. Rhonda LaPointe Frazier

    From my own experience (and this is before I even looked at the pictures): I have a house in Eureka, CA. It’s a small town, but it’s the only town in the Redwoods region.

    You can go to the excellent coffee shop, it has museums, I’m a 4 minute drive to the nearest beach. This was my vacation home at the time. It’s rented out now because I moved to Connecticut. When I moved east, I wanted at least an acre, after the tiny lots in CA.

    I also wanted goats and chickens, until a friend pointed out that she has to go out twice a day in frigid New England winter weather.

    From the very start I was overwhelmed by the yard maintenance. Almost immediately, I missed my pleasant little yard.

    And even though I love the cows next door and fantastic sunsets over their farm, for the most part, the neighbors are way over there.

    Nobody talks to anyone else. It’s a different feel than being in town, from walking down the street and knowing your neighbors. Personally, having had both experiences, I’d choose the city. You can still plant a vegetable garden.

    And be a part of society (because you crave love, and surely they’ll love you when they get to know you).

    On top of all that, the number one rule of thumb when buying a house is that if you walk in and it lights a spark in you, and you immediately start picturing where you’ll put your furniture, and you’re giddy as a school girl over it, then it’s the ONE!

  10. Dale Wolicki

    What a boring house! There are no repairs needed!

    You can actually see the house from street without having to cut a path through the overgrown landscaping.

    The porch isn’t falling off and the bricks are not cracked. The floors are not covered in Oscar the Grouch green shag carpet or hideous greasy yellow linoleum. There is no bicentennial print or moldy flock wallpaper to be found in any room.

    The fireplaces do not exhibit any evidence of raccoon cohabitation or possibility of accidental death by carbon monoxide poisoning.

    The light fixtures are not outdated or oversized or ugly. The plaster is secured to the ceilings without the assistance of painters’ tape or contact paper.

    Winters will be very boring if the mechanical and electrical systems were updated.

    What fun is to have a Christmas tree without having to calculate the point at which the electrical load of the lights will blow the fuse?

    There should be plastic duct taped over the windows on at least one half of the windows of the house. The kitchen appliances appear to have been manufactured within this very century.

    Does the kitchen sink gurgle like a U-boat snorkel when the washer runs? The sun porch screens should have rusted out long ago. The sun porch itself should have rotted out years ago.

    Can a two car garage actually stand upon its own without 2×6’s propping it up? Which of the neighbors are crazy?

    There is no opportunity here to injure yourself so you can brag to others, “Oh yes eleven stitches, silly me I fell off the roof of my house this weekend tuck pointing my chimney”. How will you maintain a high credit score when you no longer have to set foot in Homes Depot or Lowes?

    Do you really want to be entertaining all your friends and family for the holidays now that you actually have not only a functional kitchen but a dining room that has an actual dining table and not a table saw?

    Idle hands are the devil’s workshop! [Proverbs 16: 27-29 TLB]

  11. Vera

    Rosemary, it’s a beautiful house and garden and I love the patio room!

    I would grab it up! I totally get your also wanting the 2-3 acres/farm, but for practicality, the house might be the better choice.

    Then you could rent a place when you need to watch the hawks for a week here and there (air bnb, or home away are great sites).

    I used to think I wanted a cabin in the woods, a place to meditate, relax, get away from it all, etc.

    We rented one for a few days, and I found myself bored within days. it’s great for a while, but full time, too much. Whatever you do, I wish you the best. (((hugs))

  12. Debbie

    Buy it! Is there an organization, class, or someone who can advise you? Maybe a bank or realtor would know of something. We just had Money Smart Week classes here, and sometimes you can find information like that in this program. A local library might be a place to go to.

    Rose’s Reply:

    Hi Debbie,
    It’s not the money, it’s the decision between here (the city) and there (the bucolic countryside). I’ve consulted with three buddies, all of whom are architectects and/or architectural historians and they’ve been very helpful.

    I’m still ruminating. 🙂

  13. Rosemary Firek Bakhtiari

    I know that house! It’s a beauty. Think long and deep. Follow your heart. At the most unlikely moment the answer will come to you.

    I agree with Wendy. Put in an offer. If it is meant to be, it will happen.

    I often dream of a a little “she”-shed on a lot off the grid! I am surrounded by technology on my job and when I go home, I want nothing to do with “connection”.

    I envy your time on the peanut farm!

    As I get older, I want to go smaller. Why heat and cool a huge house with only 2 people in it? Up keep and utility bills would worry me.

    Could I maintain the yard, the house according to my OCD standards. As you can tell I am a very anxious person.

    I get nervous for you just thinking about the decision you have to make.

  14. Debi

    Go for it! It’s a beautiful house with a wonderful yard with river views.

    Having a tiny farm would be cool for a bit, but at some point it would become more than you need/want/can care for.

  15. Kimberly

    I used to think I wanted to live where there are more cows than people.

    Now that I am older, about your age, I think I would want to have neighbors. Just in case you would need help, they are close by.

    This house sounds like it has the best of both worlds with the river and a smaller lot to maintain.

    You can always take a bike ride to the country if you want to hear the birds and the wind in the trees.

  16. Christine Curtis

    No two people are the same, but if it helps, I’ll share my experience…

    At the age of 37, I purchased my 14 acre ex-farm, complete with old fashioned barn, Morton building, and a garage with a dirt floor.

    My sad little 1937 bungalow had been tragically transformed into a 1970s ranch. Friends asked me if I had lost my mind.

    But, in the country, there are few middle-sized, welll-maintained older homes on the market. There are only plenty of McMansions and run down small houses.

    Every year, I have invested in a major improvement… new roof, new HVAC, replaced cheap vinyl windows with ones to replicate the original double-hungs, pulled off the 1970s siding and put on clapboard siding, etc.

    I also learned to DYI my own plumbing, deck, tilework, and mower repair.

    I have chickens, and yes, I don’t enjoy putting Carharts over my dress clothes to go feed them and gather eggs on a dark, cold, windy Nebraska morning before I go to work.

    But, the hens give me a spark of joy, so I do it anyway.

    So, my advice is to ask yourself whether you enjoy mowing, mower maintenance, weeding, shoveling manure, and the other physical activities related to maintaining a farm.

    Are you okay with being your own version of animal control when you find a snake in your basement or a groundhog trapped in your window well?

    Do you need a grocery store or restaurant within 10 minutes of your house? Are you willing to learn and do minor handyman work?

    Can you afford to buy and maintain the mowers, snowblower, chainsaw, and other equipment you’ll need?

    If you want that lifestyle and all that work, buy a farmette now before you get too old to do the work. I love it. If that lifestyle sounds overwhelming, snatch up that lovely house.

  17. Gemma

    The one thing that I don’t like about the house are the corner windows.

    You’re in hurricane territory, and corner windows are highly discouraged. Otherwise, I can see what would make you like the house. I like it, too.