After spending three decades moving around the country while working in K-12 education, Jeanine Molock found herself back in her hometown, New York City, in 2015.

Dr. Molock had returned to care for her ailing mother, who was shortly thereafter diagnosed with lung cancer. She took a job as an institutional research manager at LaGuardia Community College in Queens and looked for a place to buy. But she grew frustrated at how expensive the city had become, and wasn’t sure that she would be able to own a home again as a single woman.

“When I returned to New York and lived in Harlem, it was not the city I left,” Dr. Molock, 57, said. “The areas where I grew up and frequented were no longer affordable.”

In November of 2022, after a stint at the CUNY School of Professional Studies, she got a new job at Bryn Mawr College, outside of Philadelphia and turned over caregiving responsibilities to her brother. It was an ideal landing spot: One of her two sons, Kyle, and his wife had settled into a town a few miles from campus.

[Did you buy a home in the past year? We want to hear from you. Email:]

Dr. Molock rented an apartment in Malvern, Pa., for a few months to get acquainted with the area, and then started her home search last summer, as her lease was about to end. For all her planning, though, she still faced the challenges of the real estate calendar. As her search extended into August, she was competing with families scrambling to buy homes in places with superior school districts, like Lower Merion Township, where she was focusing her search.

She worked with Derek Ryan, a real estate agent with Keller Williams, who had helped her son find his home. “Jeanine is really savvy and really smart,” Mr. Ryan said. “She pays attention to details, she’s diligent, and that helps with this sort of search.”

With a budget of around $500,000, Dr. Molock prioritized neighborhoods that were close to work and to her son and his family, as well as resale value based on school districts. As for a wish list, hers was familiar to anyone who has longed for an escape from the city: more space, more green, more parking.

Among her options:

Find out what happened next by answering these two questions:

This post was originally published on this site