House hunting is not for sissies

Galen and I have moved 4 times in last 10 years.  This move will be our fifth.  And for anyone at the Evergreen Users Conference who has already heard a part of this saga, apologies in advance for the deja vu.  I’ll try to be funnier.

We have moved from Chicago to Anchorage to Tallahasse to Chicago to Gainesville and now, to Atlanta.  We keep saying this is an adventure.  Well, one classic definition of adventure usually involves something horrible and nasty happening to someone else, either long ago, far away, or both.  But it is an adventure.  The bad parts always make a great story–later.  Sometimes much, much later.

When you move to or from Alaska, you move by weight, not by volume.  I know it sounds like a bag of potato chips, but it’s true.  This is how I know we have nearly two tons of books, and we really need to get rid of some.  This is also how we decided, firmly and forever, that we hire movers to pack us.  Leaving Chicago, the first time out, we had a third floor walk up apartment.  Those movers earned their pay, getting all those books down those stairs.  The apartment was great, but getting stuff in and out was painful.

Anchorage was fantastic, but we learned a couple of lessons about living spaces that we’ve retained.  We really need a bath and a half if we can afford them.  And we learned not to share living space if we can afford not to.  The house was a two-flat, where the owner had split the house himself.  We lived on the main floor, and he and his wife lived below us.  They ran their dogs in the backyard.  The dogs served as an early warning system for the moose who used to come up from the creek, so we knew when to look out back to see the moose.  Very cool.  What was not cool was that we could hear their marriage break up.  Not doing that again.  When we moved out, we found boxes in the garage that we hadn’t unpacked from Chicago.  We mostly threw that stuff out, except for the huge jar of coins–that we went to dinner on.  We figured that if we hadn’t needed it in two and a half years, we didn’t.  We also learned that it’s a bad idea for us to have storage we can’t see.  We forget about it, and then it has babies or something.

When we moved from Anchorage to Tallahassee, we flew out of Anchorage with the cats, our suitcases, and nothing else.  We sold our car on the way out of Alaska because it cost 6 car payments to ship, and it just wasn’t worth it.  We hadn’t made a trip down to find a place, because there just wasn’t time.  Our stuff was six weeks behind us.  We stayed at a pet-friendly hotel, bought a car, and found a house to rent.  Then we camped out in our new house and waited for our stuff to arrive.  And waited.  And waited.  After a while, we got to like the minimalist lifestyle and were kind of hoping that the stuff would get permanently lost.

The second time around in Chicago we rented a coachhouse.  If you are not familiar with older city architorture, a coachhouse is what you get if you convert the garage into rental property.  So we had a little house behind the house.  What we didn’t have was a washer and dryer.  We shared with the house, which was a three-flat.  Four households sharing one washer and dryer does not happiness make.  So we’re not doing that again either.  But we love Chicago and miss the city.  Any chance to go back and visit is a good one.

In Gainesville we have a huge barn of a house.  We have more space than we need, because we rented the house to hold the books, and we still haven’t unpacked the end of the alphabet.  In, again, two point five years.

I spent a day and a half with an agent going around the northeast Atlanta suburbs searching for a 3 plus bedroom house with at least 1.5 baths that would willingly take us plus four cats.  The cats are usually the deal-breaker.  People don’t mind renting to two adults, even with two cats, but any number past two cats makes some landlords think we’ve lost our minds.  Which is possible, but that ship has already sailed.

House hunting is hard work, even if you are just renting.  I was dragged all over the place.  Half the houses that appeared to be available, were already under contract.  People didn’t call back.  Some looked okay in the picture, but were not okay in the “flesh”.  And it takes time, time, time.  Every place that didn’t pan out, I kept thinking “why isn’t this process more efficient”, but there’s no substitute for looking for yourself.  And, Murphy’s Law is in full force.  The house we made an offer on is the first one I looked at.  But I wouldn’t have known it was the best if I hadn’t seen second best, not to mention tenth best, which had the driveway leading up to Hades, and mustard yellow kitchen cabinets.

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