Monday, January 28, 2008
Day 211's suburban nightmare
The house hunt was officially on this weekend. I've been apprehensive about this since the beginning, knowing that the odds were good we were going to come up short in terms of our dream home. Okay, it's our first house, I can deal with short. I can deal with Clinique-green bath tiles and ripping out some ugly flooring. I even welcome the chance to paint some walls and trim.
What I'm not sure I can deal with is suburbia. In the interest of getting "more house for the money," we compromised our original plan and extended our search further out of town. Not that much further, but still further than I ever, ever wanted to go (Vestavia Hills, for you past and present Birminghamians). And then we kind of struck gold. 1959 suburban rancher gold.
Most of the house is great. It has a big yard (that's even relatively flat -- remember the Hills part?) It's a 3-bedroom, 2-bath house, which is a great size for resale, and exactly what we were hoping for. The hardwood floors in all of the rooms look fantastic, and all of the walls are nice, neutral colors that we would happily live with until time and budget allowed a change. The public school system is excellent. The water heater and the H-VAC are all new, and the roof's in great shape -- at least as far as we can tell. There is the small matter of the seriously outdated and inefficient kitchen, the truly heinous kitchen floor (peeling linoleum tiles meant to look like parkay wood) and the pink and blue toilets. But, as aforementioned, we're not afraid of a little renovation challenge. Wes has been around the construction industry his entire life, and my family owns a home-building business. What we can't do ourselves we'll have no trouble finding a good contractor for. We even started dreaming up kitchen options on some graph paper last night.
So what's the problem, you ask?
I'm not sure if I can even put it into words. The neighborhood is just lacking a little something -- an element of charm that starts with good, classic taste and adds adds a few decades of life. I've always envisioned my 30-year-old self jogging around a quaint little neighborhood full of eclectic architecture, huge, mature tress, and then stopping for a cool beverage at the local corner store. Now, the neighborhood in question is totally jog-able, which was high on my priority list. And it's not bad to look at. It's not exactly picturesque, but it does seem to be on the upswing, as far as updating the exteriors go. And it's safe, which isn't always the case in the more charming, but affordable, Birmingham areas.
I really cherished the time I spent off-campus in Auburn. I shared a drafty old house with four others girls, and it was awesome. We could walk to class, to eat dinner, to shop downtown, to get ice cream, to buy books, to go to the bars, -- to do basically anything you'd want or need to do. I guess I just so desire that kind of lifestyle again. I'm not even completely convinced that we can get all of that in Birmigham, but this house, as wise an investment as it may be, just seems so, so far from that dream.
In my head I know that we at least need to make an offer on this house. It's basically an offer we just shouldn't pass up. I even know that I would come to love and enjoy the house. And though we'll be paying out our lease until June, the market is just too prime to not take advantage of right now. Ahhh decisions, decisions ...
Thanks, Ron Chapple, for the lovely image.