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  • Writer's pictureLauren

We Bought an Old Victorian House

In early 2020, I changed jobs and joined my husband in the fully remote working world. We lived in a 3-bedroom house in Pinellas County, and we used those 3 bedrooms as follows: master, spare bedroom, and office. Unfortunately, our second and third bedrooms were both too small to house both a workspace and a guest space, so we had two options: have no guest space at all or start looking for a new place to live.

Other than two offices and a guest space, what would we want in a different home? On days we were both at home, we would immediately want to get out of the house at 5:00. This would usually mean going out to eat, for a walk, or for a bike ride. We had originally loved the location of our home, with equal commutes to downtown St. Pete and Tampa. Now working from home, the location didn’t have the allure it once did. Often, we would end up on the busy road near our house during rush hour. We added other criteria to our wish list: walkability and access to bike trails.

What if we were able to buy a primary residence that had a rental unit (or two) on the property? We would be able to kill two birds with one stone: move into a new place that worked for us and and bring in rental income to help pay the mortgage. If we could offset that a bit, we would reach our financial goal of retiring more quickly.

We focused on location first, knowing we could look for a larger place with a rental option once we found a town with walkability and bike trails. We mostly considered small towns in our county with cute downtowns and bike trails: Safety Harbor, Dunedin, and Tarpon Springs. None of these towns were as ideal for a commute as our current neighborhood, but they were all within 45 minutes of Tampa International Airport, which we would need for work and personal trips. We biked, walked, and went out multiple times in each town.

Eventually, we fell in love with Tarpon Springs. The Pinellas trail runs right through it, which is a 46-mile paved bike trail. It has a tourist destination in the Sponge Docks, including a handful of restaurants on the water. It has two beaches and many waterways. Tarpon Springs boats a quaint, separate downtown area too. For these reasons, we starting thinking we could offer vacation rentals and become ambassadors of this gem of a town.

We started looking at homes in February, and there was one that stuck out and matched our criteria: it was walking distance to entertainment, had easy access to the Pinellas trail, had enough room for two offices and a guest space, and rental income potential with two cottages in the back. Valentine’s weekend we booked two nights at the Tarpon Inn, so we could make sure we truly liked the area.

We looked at the property on Sunday. It was being run as a Bed & Breakfast. The main home (built in 1901) was a 3/2.5, with the second bedroom being large enough for a full office and full guest space. It had two small cottages in the back and a place to hook up a trailer. It had so much character and I knew I wanted it immediately!

My husband was a good sport for the next four months, through inspections, price negotiations, and more than a few surprises. Finally, on June 8, 2020, we closed on our little 1901 house (see picture below). We can't wait to have guests join us, but we have work to do first. More to come on that!

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