I’ve been house hunting for a little over a year now. I didn’t realize how many houses exist in this world that are not accessible. You don’t think about those things until you need something like that for yourself and then you discover just how unaware the world actually is. Before MS, I was one of those unaware people, so I get it. I never thought about a door width or counter height.
One of the first things I look for is a wide entryway at the front door. I don’t want a door that opens into a hallway or a stairwell. An upstairs is just wasted space for me anyway, but it could come in handy for a caregiver to live in. I need enough room to be able to turn around in my wheelchair so my preference is for it to open into a large entryway or a room.
I then check out the main living area flooring. Is it carpeted? I prefer a hard surface over carpet because for one, carpet gets stained easily from the wheels of my wheelchair when I am coming in from a rainy day. And two, it is harder to maneuver a wheelchair on carpet. My preference if for the entire living, hallway and master bedroom to be a hard surface flooring.
I then look at the kitchen. Can my wheelchair move around easily without running into the cabinets or refrigerator? Are there enough lower cabinets for me to keep the things I need access to? Is there enough counter space for me to prepare my meals and are they at a good height for me as I’m sitting in my chair?
Next I check out the hallway. Older homes have much narrower hallways making turning into a room off the hallway nearly impossible. I need it to be wide enough so I’m not going to run into anything as I turn. If I have enough room to easily turn into and out of a room, I’m good.
Then I check out the master bathroom. Can I get my chair in there? You’d be surprised how many homes have narrow bathroom doorways that make it impossible for someone in a wheelchair to use. Am I able to turn around or will I have to back out the same way I came in? Is there a stand alone shower and preferably zero-entry so there’s no need to step up into it, I can just transfer to a shower wheelchair and wheel myself in?
Those are my must haves. Everything else is icing on the cake. Things like low windows, easy to reach outlets and light switches, door levers instead of door knobs (it makes it so much easier to open a door), unobstructed access to the mailbox, and a covered outside patio so I can enjoy a beautiful day while sitting in the shade.
Like I said, I’ve been looking for a long time, and house after house didn’t make the cut. Either the price was way too high or the home needed too many modifications. But I think I’ve finally found the house for me. Now I just need to put in an offer before someone else beats me to it and see if the homeowner will sell it for the price I want.
One of the hardest things being disabled and wanting to purchase a home is the worry over whether you will be able to be approved for a home loan when you are no longer working and your only income is your SSDI. (In the United States, that’s the Social Security Disability Income. I’m not sure how other countries manage those things.)
I was actually surprised in my searching for lenders that there are more options available than I realized for low income buyers. Yesterday, I went to the bank and was approved…so miracles do happen! I walked away, or I should say wheeled away, with a pre-qualification letter for the amount needed to buy the house I found.
I have a few days to look over the contract my realtor sent me and sign on the dotted line. Once my signature goes down, it’s a done deal and the ball will start to roll. It’s kind of an exciting yet scary time. I’m hoping my offer is accepted by the seller without a counter offer and that things will close quickly. And I’m working hard to come up with the down-payment, believing that even with that miracles can happen.
I can’t wait to move in and stay put. No more stress over moving and no more worrying about what I’m going to do if my progression gets worse. I will have a place all my own to make work for me, and room for a caregiver to come live in the future. I’m always looking ahead to the what if’s of tomorrow but trying to stay in the moment of today.
Don’t give up on your dream. Keep pursuing it and believing. I’m believing with you!