Sunday, April 13, 2008

Torn between two worlds

This is the view from the front stoop of my current house. The house is located on a huge park which includes one of the world's largest rose gardens. Just a stone's throw from the house are woods and a ravine with a stream. I have enjoyed the plant and animal life that came with this house, no question.

But here's the price I pay: a neighborhood which does not suit me at all. (I admit to elongating this photo to exaggerate the significance of the street, to serve the almighty car.) Although located just 6 or 7 miles from downtown, it is undeniably a suburb. (Note the annoying lack of sidewalks!) For some reason, whirlingbetty seems to have been born with a strong aversion to suburbs. This particular suburb is especially unsuitable in that it is populated with mostly elderly people. The housing here was built in the 50's and 60's, and the current residents bought their houses then. Whirlingbetty landed unwittingly in a retirement community. There are no playmates for The Child, or for Betty.

Additionally, my current house is isolated. During the serious snowstorm a few weeks ago, the city shut down and I was left to shovel myself out, alone. It was a lonely couple of days, with not a person in sight. The only neighboring house is vacant 7 months of the year due to snowbird migration. Also, a few days ago there was a police helicopter circling above for a long time during the night, shining its spotlight onto my property. Eventually a police car pulled up outside of my house, and I was told that they were searching for criminals who had taken off on foot into the park outside of my house. I did not sleep that night.

This is the venerable Victorian I'm considering buying in the downtown neighborhood which I've always been so fond of. This location is "extremely urban", as my friend Garnet observed. The price I'm offering on this house, if I proceed, is much lower than the asking price. The sellers, who apparently inherited the house, just might be eager to unload it, to settle the estate. Things might go my way; they might not.

That's The Child peeking in the back door of the Venerable Victorian. He doesn't know what to think. I've never lived in a large house like this one; he certainly hasn't. He loves this neighborhood, thanks to having whirlingbetty for a mother, and his school is a few blocks away. When asked whether he wants to move here, he replied, "I don't care where I live as long as I have Play Station 3."

This is a scene from the urban neighborhood. Even at night it's lit up and populated. Not everyone likes that; I do. I am not really torn. You've heard the story of the Country Mouse and the City Mouse, right? Well, I'm both City Mouse and Country Mouse, for sure. But my most satisfying living experiences have been in the more urban settings, amidst the bright lights, the hustle and bustle, and the constant flow of energy.

If I need a nature fix, well, here's the park, right behind the Venerable Victorian. This is my favorite park anywhere, with its alive energy contained in a charming setting of trees, flowers and a lake.


Loving Annie said...

I am a suburbs woman, so I would love love love love your current neighborhood, with the wide street and tons of big green yards and the gorgeous rose park...

But if you love th hustle and bustle and brightness of the urban area - and child is good with it - and there IS a park nearby, I say GO FOR IT !

It's what you have wanted for so long.

As far as being bigger than what you've known previously, enjoy the space to make your new nest !

A brick house look so good and solid. I bet you can do FABULOUS things decorating it. Crown moldings, baseboard, window casing, two-tone paint, and...
Lucky you !!

Loving Annie

Kacey said...

Do you have any cooler heads with whom to consult? You need to sit down and be brutally honest with the pros and cons and see which side of the scales come out with the best for you. I know where your heart is --- how is your head?

Betty said...

Dear Annie,

I've always craved a large house. This could be my chance! I know there's a strong likelihood that it won't work out, because I am not willing to pay the asking price.

Even though there is a park nearby, there won't be any chipmunks, and probably no hummingbirds, and there won't be woodpeckers tapping on my gutters for peanuts.

That's why I'm OK if it doesn't work out.


Betty said...

Dear Kacey,

It's a guessing game right now to figure out if this is a good idea....even the expenses are unknown until the inspection happens, and at that point I can back out. And I have to be in contract to get an inspection!

It's not obvious whether this is a good idea or not. My realtor thinks it isn't! He thinks I should be sensible and stay put, yet he does agree that if I really want the expensive urban life, this is a rare opportunity. It's priced below market value.

I've been so busy with work that I haven't really talked to anyone about it except my realtor, and my friend Garnet who is tired of hearing me rant and rave about living downtown!

This is when I really miss my mother. She would have flown here and helped me decide.


Patti said...

Betty I am crossing my fingers, toes, eyes that they accept your offer. I am a City Girl too. How I got stuck down here in the rural south I do not know LOL

Betty said...

Dear Patti,

I am so glad to hear that you're a city girl. I seem to crave validation or something. Today I'm supposed to be doing certain things to prepare for making my offer and I'm not doing them. Fear.


Big Dave T said...

This would be a tough one for me. Anytime I lived close enough to the hustle and bustle of downtown, I was bothered by the noise and crime. But that was an apartment complex. A home in a gentrified urban setting sounds mighty tempting, and with a Coney Island nearby, well that could be the deciding factor for me.

We live in a suburban neighborhood now and I enjoy the relative quiet, the parks and library nearby, and the ease with which I can get around on my bike.

I say go with your heart. Life's too short to do otherwise.

Laurie said...

I really like places where I can
walk to where I want to go. Where
I live now you can't. Go for the
It looks like you can walk to just
about anyplace. That saves money
on gas.

What ever you decide I just hope
you're happy.


simply me said...

Betty -The house is beautiful and I know you've been longing for this for so long. I hope it works out for you no matter what.Living in town has so many benefits and I can understand how it must feel isolated for you.

The park near the victorian is lovely and it sounds like the whole thing will fit your eager heart.

Good luck.....

Betty said...

Dear Simply Me,

It's so good to see you again- I have missed reading your blog, but I know you'll get back to it when the time is right.

Your comment makes it sound as if I'm doing the right thing! This sort of financial commitment is scary, though.


WaterLearner said...

Oh Betty,

I love your neighbourhood! It reminds me of the days I spent in a small quiet in Germany called Eddersheim! I miss those days!

Thanks for the beautiful pictures!

Betty said...

Dear Waterlearner,

Yes, I definitely prefer the more European type cities, where you can live without a car. I bet I would love your town in Germany!


Lynilu said...

I agree to be where your heart is. And hummingbirds will come almost anywhere that they can find nectar, so by a feeder or two and attract them to your doorstep!!

Betty said...

Dear Lynilu,

I still have that headache! As a result, I don't feel like dealing with the house thing. At a time like this, it's hard to be single. I also ran in to some snags- it turns out that I'm not allowed to take early withdrawals on the retirement accounts I was planning to break into. So right now, I'm just overwhelmed and disgusted.


Priyamvada_K said...

Dear Betty,
I have read a similar blog from you before, and I will say again what I said before, and also present a new idea:

What I said before: List out pros of each place, adding weights to each pro depending on how important that is on a scale of 1-10. Sum the pros - call this PROSUM. Do the same for cons, and add up the weights. Calculate PROSUM - CONSUM for each home, and see which nets higher. Base your decision on that.

The new idea: If housing market is not-so-hot right now in your area, rent out your current home. Then rent one in this urban neighborhood, and see if you like living there. If you do like living there, then when market turns around, sell your old home and buy one in urban neighborhood. If you don't like living there, you can always go back to your current home - and not buy anything urban. This way you're hedging your bets....and "dating" the neighborhood while defering "marriage plans" so to speak.

Think about it.


Betty said...

Dera Priya,

I had a good laugh over your "dating" idea, and it's because I have said to myself many times that houses are like men to me. Strange, eh?!

And right now I will sit down and do your pro and con list. I have written lists, but not exactly this way.

You're seeing my pattern- it's getting old, isn't it?

It's great to hear from you again!


Lynilu said...

Awww, I'm sorry to hear that, Betty, both about the headache and the house/retirement account thing. It IS hard to be single when facing obstacles like these. I was feeling pretty bleak when I was buying this house a year ago, as one obstacle after another just kept popping up. No one to walk the path with you, to share some of the burden. Stinks, doesn't it?

But hang in there. I know it is hard to see it now, but there will be a time when you look back and say, "Whew, I'm glad I didn't buy that house," or "I'm so glad I stuck it out and got my house." One day it will probably make sense, even though I understand that it isn't easy right now.

The headache ... could it be, ahem, tension induced???

Priyamvada_K said...

Dear Betty,
Glad to see I made you laugh. I am in the market for a house and once commented to my realtor that finding the right house is like finding the right man. She laughed too :)

To me it's not strange at all. Its subconsciously based on traditional roles. A man is supposed to provide protection and an emotional/financial shelter. A house provides protection and shelter too.

Just as when a man is being considered for marriage, one has to look for man + his family + his baggage from the past, in the same way for a house it is house + neighborhood + cost of repairs. House or man, if not compatible with one's goals, one won't feel at peace.

Don't worry about patterns etc. Major decisions are hard to make, and I have agonized over things too. From past experience I have found that for a decision to be comfortable, one's mind + heart +gut has to be in alignment.

So take it slow, and whatever it is, I'm sure you'll make the right decision for you and your son.


Mary Ann (Moanna) said...

I've always wanted a big ole house with a wrap-around porch so I understand where you're coming from. I hope it works out for you, that a few months from now everything will have fallen into place.

Betty said...

Dear Lynilu,

You seem to have confidence that I'll make the right decision! I like your thought that someday I'll be looking back, relieved to have made the right decision, whatever that is. Now that's optimism!

And you could be on to something about the headache....

I'm just shocked that it's so hard to gain early access to my own retirement money! I'm willing to pay the outrageous tax and penalty, and they still won't let me have it! How ridiculous!


Betty said...

Dear Priya,

I really love your insights into the parallels between finding a man and finding a house! I wish you the very best of luck in your search- for the house, I mean. As for myself, I must say that I hope I have better judgement with houses than with men!


Betty said...

Dear Mary Ann,

You have reminded me that this particular house has one of my longtime dreams- a front porch of any kind, never mind wrap-around! And this house even has a back porch. I hadn't even thought about this, but almost all of the houses I've looked at have lacked porches, as does my current house.


SweetAnnee said...

Oh I love it!!
I hope you buy it
so we can see more
and see how lovely you make it!!

hugs from an old home lover, Deena

Nancy said...

A puzzlement indeed!

I'd probably pick the big city house (and maybe regret it later) ... nothing is permanent. If you don't like it, move back in a couple years to a quieter 'hood.

LOL, not a big help here, eh?

Betty said...

Dear Nancy,

Hah! You're reminding me of the advice I used to give to people who were freaked out about buying a house- I'd say: "It's just a house. It can be sold. It's not a lifetime commitment."

Thanks for that reminder!


Anonymous said...