January 13th, 2010

little blue dog


2010 is shaping up to be a year of changes. In addition to getting married this summer, Nic and I will be moving across town in early spring.

We'll be moving into the townhouse on Mt. Tabor that she occupied before joining me in the purple hizz. It's owned now by her folks, who live in SoCal, and who haven't been successful in selling it.

Several reasons. First, more efficient. For all its charm, the hizz is an old, drafty house that has a comparatively high upkeep cost, for example in terms of maintaining the garden and required renovation on the house, and I'm wearying of the demands it places on my time and wallet. It also costs a bit to heat. The Tabor house is new, energy efficient construction. It's a duplex structure that takes up most of a standard 50x100 lot, so there is a lot less ground to maintain - and the retired lady who owns the adjacent space loves gardening, so keeps it really pretty.

Second, safer neighborhood. I've never felt that mine is particularly dangerous, but the crime rate is certainly higher. This is of particular importance to Nic's folks, and to Nicole. It'll probably be quieter, too ... Nic says she rarely heard a peep from the neighbor, whereas our current neighborhood is a little noisy.

Third, a lot more room. We're not expecting, or really thinking about it while Nic is in school, but room to stretch out would be nice. The Tabor house is a townhouse plan with three bedrooms, each with a bathroom, a bigger kitchen, and a garage, in addition to a front room and an additional small room in the basement. We'll turn one spare into a study/guest bedroom, like we have now, and the other into a TV room.

Fourth, better financial sense. We approached Nic's folks with the idea of purchasing the Tabor house from them, and putting the purple hizz up for sale. Not a great idea in this market, but the house across the street from me sold almost as soon as it was put up, so who knows. I could float two mortgage payments for awhile if necessary.

However, when we discussed this, they surprised us by suggesting an entirely different arrangement: leasing the Tabor house, at least until Nic finishes school, at a price that would make selling the purple hizz unnecessary. In fact, because her folks have found rental properties to be pretty lucrative, they explained that the point of this arrangement would be so we could keep the hizz as a rental property. This would also offer us the freedom to move again in a couple years if we decided that, for example, we wanted a yard again. They're also assuring us that we should think of it as our home, rather than a rental, in terms of painting, installing cabinets, changing light fixtures, etc.

Realistically speaking, I'm skeptical about renting the hizz. I've never done it before, and I have a lot of research to do about what's necessary to make a rental property profitable. But I'm excited to see how and if it works out.

We're going to miss a lot about it. It's a block away from the city's prettiest public rose garden. Lots of great restaurants nearby. A 5-minute walk to a bus line, two neat coffee shops, decent pho, and a beer bar. Easy access to a bunch of lengthy bike routes. And when the yard is in full bloom, it's pretty incredible to see.

All that remains is settling the final details in a lease agreement, but otherwise it's a done deal. We'll move in late March. The Tabor house is vacant, so we can prep beforehand, in terms of planning how we're going to lay out the rooms, painting, gradually moving smaller and stored stuff over, etc. Post-move, I'd like to do a little more work on the hizz before putting it on the rental market - patching and painting some walls, a bit more trim. Nic is skeptical about this use of my time, but I feel strongly about it for some reason. Sentimental, most likely. I'm still in love with that house, and I figure that just a bit more work would enhance its appeal for renters (or future buyers).

Interesting times!