This isn’t really the sort of thing that I expected to post here, but it is relevant in that it affects my progress and activity in most other matters. For instance, many if the pieces I would like to photograph for inclusion this site are in storage, as well as most of my photography stuff
Our old place was 2200 square feet, not including the basement that served as my photography studio and and attic that housed an archive of photos spanning four generations. I also had a 1500 square foot workshop. Since May, we’ve been in a 700 square foot apartment.
So. I find myself with enough time to start this online thing, but I can’t really do it the way I’d like. Such is life.
I must say that the search for the next house takes a fair amount of time and energy. Fortunately, the internet has streamlined a lot of it.
When we bought our first house, the process of house hunting involved clipping little text only ads from an actual paper newspaper, taping them to a page in a spiral notebook, and driving around with a paper map unfolded across our kness. We had the high-tech advantage of supplementing out hand-written observations with Polaroid instant photos.
Now, I get instant alerts of homes matching my criteria via email and text. I review the specs and photos, and do a virtual drive-by and flyover from the comfort of my computer . If I’m interested, I add a line to an Evernote note, including a link to the real estate website listing page, and another to a Google map page, which syncs to my phone. On the road, I click the map link on my phone, and get voice directions to the house. Another click brings up the listing for a quick review, and I then dictate my observations. As I work through the list, my observations are synced to my computer at home as text for later reference.
At some point in the future, this process will undoubtedly become even easier, although I can’t imagine how. I’m not even sure it would be a good thing. I never thought to ask my parents or grandparents how they went about this very ordinary activity. I wish I had.
It also reminds me of a realization I had upon buying my first house. The biggest transaction we commonly make, both financially and emotionally is based on being in the house for a fifteen minute initial visit, maybe a second visit (or maybe not), then accompanying the home inspector on his tour, and lastly, the final walk-through before closing. An hour, tops, to make that decision. I spend longer than that picking out a pair of ear buds. It’s a flawed system.
Apartment living, for the time being at least, is sort of a good thing. I do like the freedom from grass, leave and snow removal. I know some people like this type of chore; I think it’s some kind of diluted throwback to agrarian times. Living in the apartment is causing me to rethink my attitude toward collecting and owning stuff. As much as I enjoyed the security of having a well stocked closet, pantry or parts cabinet immediately at hand, I find I’m enjoying having less to maintain, clean, organize. Once we’ve settled in to a new place, I expect I’ll learn which philosophy I truly hold to.
When we moved out, we decided to rent for a month or two or three while we leisurely tracked down our ideal next house. Next week will mark the one-year anniversary of closing on the old house.
This dilation of our expected schedule is due to a number of factors. To begin with, by the time we really figured out where we wanted to settle, and then learned that local market, the prime real estate ‘season’ had largely slipped past. Curiously, the next spring found a listless market; relatively few properties became available, and even fewer that interested us. That, of course, points to another reason we haven’t found our dream home: we can’t agree on what that would be. It’s hard to come to a consensus with my wife when I can’t even agree with myself on what constitutes ‘ideal’. In retrospect, there have been a few properties that would have been good for us, all of which are off the market now. I’m sure more will appear, including the one meant for us. I just hope we recognize it when we see it.
Update- After looking at over ten million different properties, more or less, we’ve found something that that ticks off 51% of the checkboxes on our ‘must have’ list. Despite a bumpy negotiation process, we have a tentative closing date- the day before Thanksgiving. We’ll see what happens…
Update- We’re in. After a year and a half of living in our modest, manageable apartment, we’ve closed on our new home. One of our initial goals was to ‘downsize’. We’ve gone from 2200 square feet of living space to 3200, three buildings now instead of two, and at least double the area of parking and driveway space to plow. The usable shop shop, however is smaller. Previously, I had roughly 1500 square feet spread over two stories, whereas I now have about 1200 on a single level. I think we nailed the downsizing thing. It occurs to me that this will be the 14th address I’ll have called home.
One side-effect of this change is that progress on this website need to be a lower priority. Whereas I had been adding content steadily, if slowly, I now need to spend my discretionary time making repairs and generally moving in, and turning the workshop space into a proper, usable workshop. The cold weather timing of things is generally unhelpful, but we’ll make the best of it. I’m looking forward to creating a new generation of things, and documenting the process on these pages. Pictures of the new place to follow.