II bought my condo in 2013, for $89,000.

Even in the economic turmoil of the time, that was dirt-cheap for the area. And yet... It had been on the market for two years without any serious interest. Mostly due to the abysmal shape it was in. Linoleum floors that were caked in grime, torn-up carpet with God only knows what lurking underneath. Stained, streaky walls, a mostly non-functioning bathroom, missing kitchen appliances.... This place had a lot wrong with it.

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But it wasn’t all bad.

There were two things about this hole-in-the-wall that caught me eye.

First, was the location. Just a few miles out from Seattle, situated in one of the most beautiful water-front cities in the state, Kirkland was perfect. It was slowly moving towards the progressive tech capitol that it’s become today, but at the time Kirkland was a a perfect blend of small town vibes and metropolitan city life. There was a fair amount of history, and plenty to do even for a (soon to be) broke kid like me. Kirkland had a culture that I liked, minimal traffic, and absolutely breathtaking scenery. The different neighborhoods were distinct and the people were by-and-large quite friendly. Add in nice restaurants and tons of events in the nicer months, and I never wanted to leave.

Second.... Was the price. I wanted in, and this way the only place I could afford without moving either deep into the boonies, or one of the major city centers; Seattle, Tacoma, Everett or Renton. Neither option was appealing at the time.

So I bought the damn place. $74,000 that I’d made as a personal trainer (a crazy story I haven’t shared here, another time perhaps), and a $9,000 loan from my best friend’s grandma, that I ended up paying off with 3 months of 40h/week labor at her farm. I’d tried going to the bank first, but no one wanted to give a loan to an 18 y.o. Kid with zero credit history, no co-signers, and a spotty at best work history.

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I was the proud owner of a condo that my friends were scared to spend the night in. It was that bad inside. Myself, hardly knowing a hammer from a nail, decided to fix things up on my own. Mostly because I was broke. At this point I’d quit personal training months back, and hadn’t found anything to replace it with. Panic was starting to set in, as unlike today jobs were hard to come by. I did projects at home to distract myself.

First was replacing the cracked and stained toilet. Then the tub surround. Than all the plumbing under the sink. I had a functioning—albeit ugly—bathroom.

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Next up was dealing with the floors. I tore everything up in the hallways, living room, dining room and kitchen. That carpet pad was the nastiest thing I’d seen in my life. CarryingIthe last bundle to the trash was the first time I really stopped to think that my condo could actually be a respectable place to live.

I ended up buying the absolute cheapest vinyl flooring I could find at home depot, to the tune of $0.24/sq. Ft. Add to that a thin under-layer, and I did the flooring for a grand total of... $300. It was exhausting work, as I was using a $5 hand saw to make every cut. All told I think it took me ten days, but after those ten days, the place was transformed. I decided to splurge, and bought some trim to finish off the floors and window casings.

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At this point I had started working front-desk at a gym, and with a small income decided to add paint to the mix. Again, I didn’t know a satin from an eggshell at the time and I definitely made poor choices in my paint selection. But it was at least white, and looked a hell of a lot better than the old dingy off-yellow. I must have spent a week cleaning the walls prior to putting on the first coat...

Well, a few months later I got fired from the gym along with 9 other employees, after a recording showed us throwing after-hour pool parties. I never did get caught for taking naps in the massive dryer, and all-in-all I considered the job to be a huge net-positive.

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Before I even had time to consider my next move, an old teacher contacted me asking if I’d like to wash windows. I had just turned 19, and Mr. Peterson would end up greatly shaping the next five years of my life with that offer.

Anyways, I had an appraisal done and it made me think back. Thought I’d share. If you’re curious, the $89,000 crackhome I bought 6 years ago has quadrupled in value.

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With all the time, effort, and yes—even love—that I’ve put into this place... I think the sentimental value has gone up even more.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a garbage disposal to fix, and a bathroom fan to replace.