Monday, February 20, 2006

Househunting or How to Become Totally Dejected in an Afternoon

Well...we've finally come to a decision. We need a bigger house. We've known this for a while (like 2 days after we bought this one) but we've put it off for a long time because we didn't want to compromise on neighborhoods. You know...sell your house, take the money and buy a bigger house either in the 'burbs and have a loooong commute or move to a bigger house in a crappier neighborhood and hope it gets better. I want another option, please, like winning the HGTV Dream Home. I enter like 300 times every year but, as you can see, the Gods of Desirable Housing have snubbed me repeatedly.

I don't know what the housing markets are like elsewhere but let's just say that I live in a state where you can hardly afford homeowners insurance because of hurricanes. Bearing this in mind, why, oh why, have houses nearly tripled in price here in the last four years? You'd think we were in California but we're not. Pay scales here still suck and most jobs in this state are in the service sector, not technology or entertainment. That said, we don't deserve to pay such high prices here. *stamping foot indignantly*

We went and looked at a few things today and I was horrified to see what $300,000 will buy you within the city limits. That is our ceiling. We can afford a little more but we don't want to be "house poor" and we also know that as insurance and taxes continue to skyrocket here, so will our mortgage so we have drawn a line and if we are not completely disgusted by what other offerings our realtor has for us, we will stick to it.

House #1 was new construction in a bungalow style and very big and pretty but the neighborhood, while not totally ghetto, was clearly one that had not made the transition into gentrification yet. Yes, gentrification is a dirty word and I'm not supposed to like it but I do. I like when ugly, run-down neighborhoods get turned around and thus revitalize the urban core. The people who sell their houses do so by choice. Their taxes are capped at 3% so they will are never priced out of their own homes. If they choose to cash out and sell it to someone who will fix it up and take good care of it, then I have no problem with it. Unfortunately, we can't afford any of those beautiful, already long-gentrified (and safe) neighborhoods lined with grandfather oaks and stately old homes with front porches and Victorian gingerbread. But I digress...

All the other houses we looked at were in the same area and while there might be one or two renovated and well-kept homes, there would be several more that had cars on blocks and screen doors retaining hordes of barking dogs or children in nothing but diapers (no offense but the Walmart-baby look bugs me A LOT). This is a far cry from the neighborhood I live in right now. While the homes are smaller (1200 sf on the average) most are immaculately kept and the area is safe and in the best school district in the entire county (and it's a big county).

My chief complaint about my neighborhood is that a lot of homes have been bought by investors and are now being rented. This includes the house next door to me, which until recently, was inhabited by a family with a daughter the same age as mine. HOW SWEET IS THAT?????? We had a built-in playmate for her and a mommy friend for me. But the house sold and now we have these two single guys living there. Grown men in their early thirties that you would think had a fucking clue about how NOT to piss off your neighbors. But no, they don't. These asswipes — ADULT asswipes, have the kind of speakers in their cars that make your windows rattle. Apparently, they have these kind of speakers in the house, too. I have gone over there SO many times asking as nicely as I can through gritted teeth that they please turn down the bass and to please not pull in or out of their driveway, which is obscenely close to my bedroom, with their bass bumpin' out. While I appreciate their love of bass, the feeling it vibrating the interior of my nose on the other side of the house, does not generate much in the way of tolerance or good will. They always apologize and then try to get away from me as quickly as possible, which really weirds me out. I am THAT menacing? I've nicknamed one of them "Ears" because his ears look like a cross between Dumbo's and Dopey the dwarf's. I walked up on Ears the other day when he was outside and I guess I'm pretty stealth because he jumped about a foot when he saw But really, what is the deal with grown men driving around bassing the whole world with their stereos? Is that some kind of new mating ritual or something? 'Cause if it is, I'm NEVER getting a divorce. I'll stay married to this one if that's what is out there. Losers. Yick...

So anyway, I don't know what to do but we hate having shitty renter neighbors and a small house and we also hate commuting. We hate living in the small house in the nice 'hood but we refuse to go the "278 barking dogs and babies-in-diapers" neighborhood to get a house we actually like. Where's the middle ground? I'm actually really kind of depressed about our options. And we can't add on because we have laws about cutting down grandfather oaks here and we'd have to do that in order to expand this house. I love trees, too, but God... We're completely fucked.

I've begged my husband to take me out here to someplace progressive and interesting where maybe we'd be able to afford a house in a decent neighborhood. I'm not sure a place like that exists but I'm willing to look for it. He's resisted a lot until recently. He's been making noises about someday moving to Oregon as he has friends out there that are very happy. I'd go there. Any Oregonians out there want to clue me in on what I just agreed to???


  • "....children in nothing but diapers (no offense but the Walmart-baby..." Too funny! Finding a new house/neighborhood is never easy. In fact it downright sucks no matter where you go. You'll always have some version of those freaky neighbors like those renters.

    By Blogger creative-Type Dad (Tony), at 2/20/2006 11:04:00 PM  

  • No, no, no! Don't say that, Ralicon!

    *putting hands over ears*

    LA LA LA LA LA LA I can't hear you!

    By Blogger IzzyMom, at 2/20/2006 11:10:00 PM  

  • We will have the same issues when we move out of this place. We are those "renters" you speak of - but, we are the good kind (or at least I think we are).

    The housing market does not cater to one or 1.5 income households, that's for sure, and I'm not sure where or how to compromise.

    Oregon sounds fabulous.

    By Anonymous Kristen, at 2/20/2006 11:19:00 PM  

  • Kristen:
    We were always good renters, too. When we first moved here, the guy renting the house was a convicted sex offender. Nice, huh? They got him out and we had good renters for a while, and now these peenwads...

    By Blogger IzzyMom, at 2/20/2006 11:29:00 PM  

  • I got SO lucky when we bought our house. At first it was pretty much us and old people. But then it changed and it is pretty much all young couples and kids. I must say I have the best neighbors around. We are all buddies. Just be sure not to settle for less than what you want and/or deserve :)

    By Anonymous Rhonda, at 2/21/2006 09:07:00 AM  

  • The BASS, The Basssssss.....

    I call them the "Insert Town NameHere" Posse, rolling strong.

    We have neightbors whom I call the "WHOOOOOOO'ers" You know the ones. It's one am and all of a sudden "WHOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!"

    We're moving to Canada.So I got no advice.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 2/21/2006 10:09:00 AM  

  • Dawn: So you know what I mean, then? It's maddening. Hope you fare better in Canada!

    Rhonda: Thanks for the advice. You're right. And it sounds like you have a GREAT neighborhood. You're so lucky!!!

    By Blogger IzzyMom, at 2/21/2006 10:53:00 AM  

  • I like that - peenwads.

    By Anonymous Kristen, at 2/21/2006 12:04:00 PM  

  • Hey! Move to Wisconsin! The house across the stree from me is on the market for only $94,000. It's HUGE, with hardwood floors, two stories, a deck, two car garage, full basement, gorgeous old trees, and LOW property taxes. Bargain basement low.

    You can get a house for dirt cheap here, man. It sorta offsets the "Yeah, but it's WISCONSIN" part.

    By Blogger Jess Riley, at 2/21/2006 12:43:00 PM  

  • Jess:

    That's what I'm talkin' about. Sign me up! Just out of curiosity, are you close to a major city? Or does that kind of fabulously affordable housing occur only out in the sticks?

    By Blogger IzzyMom, at 2/21/2006 01:09:00 PM  

  • Oh you silly people in other states, complaining about $300,000.

    Check this:

    A 900 square foot newish condo on a busy street, no yard, nada....Only $597,000. It is about a mile from my house.

    I imagine I could pick up a house like mine (1945, no insulation, about 600 square feet, little yard, in a neighborhood where gunfire is pretty common) for only $550,000 or so.


    By Blogger SUEB0B, at 2/21/2006 01:51:00 PM  

  • Yeah, we have places like that, too, but I'm not even looking in those areas. That would be far too But a house that's $300,000 here cost about $100,000 a couple years ago, which is total insanity. Unfortunately, incomes have not kept up so middle class people like us are almost priced out of our own city.

    California is even more insane. When I watch shows on HGTV, I'm floored at what people pay for homes there.

    By Blogger IzzyMom, at 2/21/2006 02:29:00 PM  

  • Izzy, Oregon can be pretty expensive too (the Portland area at least). Kyle grew up there, and my in-laws still live there. Must love rain.

    Ditto Jess re Wisconsin. Friends of ours back in NY moved there and found an absolutely gorgeous old home in one of those long-gentrified neighborhoods.

    School system is my determining factor. And mature trees. And an established neighborhood.

    By Blogger mothergoosemouse, at 2/22/2006 01:26:00 PM  

  • Mother G: Thanks for the heads-up. I don't love rain all that Wisconsin is sounding better and better. I agree, schools, trees and est. neighborhood are all very important factors.

    By Blogger IzzyMom, at 2/23/2006 11:10:00 AM  

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