Apr 29, 2005

Househunting Days 2 and 3

That's Greg, my realtor. More househunting. We saw all kinds of crazy houses that day. This particular house was pretty much a wreck and was going to be rehabbed. But the price was 369,000.

After looking in Graduate Hospital, Art Museum, South Philly, Bella Vista and West philadelphia I started to narrow it down to the places I would feel most comfortable in the short term. I decided that I didnt want to be in another "gentrifying" neighborhood because I don't like the idea of being in a "have" and "have not" situation. Its too uncomfortable for me. So that pretty much knocked out Gray's Ferry area altogether as well as fishtown, which is frankly, too far and too racist for my taste.

Poor Mike - all this time he was at home, burning up the phone lines with me and doing research from afar. Every night I sent him photos and debriefed what I had seen. The hardest part was trying to explain what I had seen each night.

Apr 28, 2005

more househunting blues...

Last night I had a family dinner in South Philly where I met my cousin's new baby Lucy. She is so adorable. And Yum! I am going to be 50 pounds heavier after this week! I have been running around and eating so much!!!

So I think the thing that got me after looking at places in West Philly yesterday was a mixture of the disapointment over the one house I had thought I would really like on
Osage Avenue and being so tired from thinking about it all. And then I clocked it from the house on 45th to the South Street Bridge and it was longer than I had thought, so then I started doubting everything. I still like and consider the university mews place my top choice. I just need to satisfy my "what-ifs" (Actually more Mike's what ifs) about Bella Vista and Graduate Hospital I guess, before I am ready to commit myself.

So then today I went to look at a bunch of things -but today was kind of disappointing again. Here is the summary that I sent to Mike. Two places, the one at 2322 Bainbridge, and the one across the street from David and Robin’s house (13th Street) were the only two contenders...

  • 2322 Bainbridge (I think that’s the address) is small, and feels small. The bedrooms upstairs are teeny, and there looks to be some deferred maintenance.Its overpriced in my opinion but it is on a nice block which I am sure will become much nicer over time. Would I feel comfortable living there, yes I think so. But I don’t know how much walking I would do by myself into town at night. There is a deck but it is in rickety shape, and there are tons of cracks in the ceiling everywhere. For a place to grow into, its not. We’d fit in now, and be cramped later. The neighborhood right there is okay, but it is clearly block-by-block right now and there is hardly anything right there in terms of cleaners, cafes,etc…you would have to walk into the south street and Rittenhouse area for that stuff.
  • S. 13th street was HUGE in comparison to the one on Bainbridge. This is right at 13th & Reed. The old mafia club (Club noche) at the corner is apparently being taken down and that site is being turned into houses that are listed at 699,000. there are coffee shops and new restaurants and its close to Passyunk. Its three large floors and the basement. Modest sized cement patio in the back. These people had 5 kids, so its like as big as Mike's mom and dad’s house. The block is everything we would ever want. There are cafes, a ball park, trees, it’s a really really good block. The house itself is South Philly/ South Jersey. Wallpaper everywhere. Hollow core doors. But nothing gross, it has all been meticulously cared for. The kitchen is amazing, really nice, really open on the first floor, all new stainless steel appliances, wood floors. Its big big big. The place is carpeted for the most part with this horrible teal green (teal) colored carpet, which is new but there are wood floors underneath, although I don’t know what kind of shape they are in. The guy showed us around, he has obviously been vigilant and taken really good care of the place. It would be a house for us to live in and fix up for the next 20 years. We would love that neighborhood, because it feels like where we grew up. The downsides: Wallpaper, distance from CC, the enormous size. This would be a fixer upper for us, because just getting the wallpaper off the walls would be a huge job, then you would want to remove paneling, rip out carpets, refinish floors. The carpets would have to go right away. Another downside, there are two bathrooms, both next to eachother on the same floor (2nd floor), which is kind of weird. The third floor could be made into a mother-in-law apartment or something. There are water and gas lines that run up there so you could put in a bathroom up there eventually. The whole third floor is paneling – the guy said, we hate this paneling, but we started at the ground floor, and we never got up this high.” There’s a roof deck potential, which would have an amazing view – you could put in a door in at the window at the bottom of floor 3 stairs up and walk out to the top of the 2nd floor roof. It would be an amazing skyline. Greg thinks we should offer less than asking price if we want it b/c the 3rd floor isn’t finished. The current asking price is 329,000. This is a block that people at the hair solon were oohing over the location and saying, “everyone from society hill is moving down there, it’s a GREAT block”. In my opinion its like being in brooklyn in terms of distance. I would probably never walk to center city, but I would never have trouble getting a cab there either. I have no doubt that it would be a very good long term investment. I just don’t know if I want that large a house, that large a project.

Everything else was gross. So at the moment, I am feeling like we could do any of the following or nothing, and I would be fine with it:

  • Make an offer on the higher priced Osage house #4425 (like offer 365,000 and see if they will bite at all) since it is the nicest one of all of them and I think the resale could be better.
  • Make an offer on the #1 University Mews property that has the better kitchen (offer 329,500 or full price)
  • Make an offer on #24 University Mews (maybe offer 319,000 since we would have to redo kitchen, bathroom and some flooring and because it is only 2 bedrooms instead of 3), but has a nicer backyard, more private space…
  • Make an offer on the 13th street house and then pay someone to rip out the carpets and take off all the wallpaper before we move in.

Overall I feel like the 4425 house on Osage (the one that was just reduced to 395,000) and the house on 13th street are the same distance, and would both be the best investments for the long run.

Apr 26, 2005

Going househunting in Philadelphia...

So I decided to head up to Philadelphia to go househunting while Mike worked on his final papers. My dad came along for some of the touring and I saw so many houses that week. Some really cool, but structurally not-so-sound modernist homes in West Philadelphia were at the top of my list, but Mike encouraged me to branch out to other parts of the city and so I went-a-hunting....

Apr 25, 2005

Househunting Day 1

Dad checking out a modernist home in West Philadelphia. These were very cool but in bad condition and highly priced for the amount of work we would have had to do. But very cool layouts inside.

Apr 17, 2005

Our latest scheme

Well, I sent my parents out in Philadelphia to take a look at some properties on Saturday just to get a feel for the real estate market in philadelphia.

Then we did quite an analysis of “the state of things” after hearing from them about the properties they saw. We ran the numbers and basically decided to store our stuff for the summer, take the trip across country trying to live very cheaply and then Mike will start his job in August. I will probably go with him for the first 6 months -- We are going to do his first 6 months in the job together in DC, and then we will both move to Philly in Jan/Feb and Mike will commute the four days a week for the rest of that year. That will give me an opportunity to work for PRD and whoever else as a consultant for six months or so while I am in DC and then possibly either cultivate a place for myself at PRD or find a job somewhere else for the 2006 year when I will be back in Philadelphia.

So given that, I would like to buy a home in Philadelphia soon so we are going to start looking in earnest.

Apr 15, 2005

So today, Mike still hasn't decided, but he has it ranked like this

1. EPA job

2. Federal transit Administration job with the DOT (hydrogen fuel cells and bus rapid transit project)

3. Dept of Transportation office of the Undersecretary (policy job)

And now he just got two more offers from NOAA. I mean it must feel great to get all of these offers, but I am going nuts. I hate indecision!

Selling the house in Charlottesville

So we sold our little house here in Charlottesville to our friends Jill & Jeff. I was very sad on the day we signed the papers, I guess because I am kind of sad to see this part of our lives end, but also because I just love this house, and I poured my heart into it to get it to be so great. But I am also excited to move on into the next part of our lives - Mike's fellowship is going to be a fantastic adventure for him and the opportunity to be back in Philadelphia is making me smile.

Apr 14, 2005

Closing on the old house

We signed our closing papers today -- they go to settlement tomorrow -- so its almost official that we've sold it. It feels weird especially with not knowing what comes next, but I am at least glad we were able to do something constructive to make a little extra cash while we were here.

Okay I have got to get cleaning. Walk through is tomorrow and this house is a disaster zone.

Tough Decisions...

So after days and weeks of angst, last night I told Mike he had to make a decision (about the PMF options) by 9 p.m. and since I knew he would instantly regret it, he could change it again at 9 in the morning if he wanted, but then he was stuck with the decision. He chose EPA, and he seems to be sticking with it. So now we just wait for the offer letter, which could take up to 45 days. So we'll see what happens.

As for the move, we have been talking more and more about commuting so that we can be back in Philadelphia sooner versus later. I think I was excited about moving to DC and out of Charlottesville when I just wanted to get out of the “country” and into the urban environment. But after looking for places and talking to people, DC is more and more obviously not somewhere I want to be or settle. Plus, I am really sad about leaving the house – I feel like I am in mourning about it. I cried all afternoon yesterday. Partly because this house was what I got out of the whole move to Charlottesville – it was my thing. Now its gone and things are completely up in the air and I feel like I am standing on a pile of loose rocks.

I hate the idea of being apart 4 days a week but we would have done it anyway if I was still working at UVA Hospital, and it would be much harder from Charlottesville given that there is no regular train service (it comes through once a day only and its inconsistent). I still don’t like it, but I do like the idea that we could rent something in Philadelphia until we find a house to buy and I can get back to having my own life and career a bit sooner. Plus if we do that it will only be for about a year and then he can rotate into the Philadelphia EPA office for the last 6 months of his fellowship and then look for work in the area. So we'll see. That's this week's idea. Molly inspired me to think creatively and I realized that we could spend the same amount of money on renting a place in Philly and a room in DC (300/month) and I would be a lot happier because I could "get started" on my life again. Of course, I have no idea what I want to do but I could figure it out better if I were somewhere I knew I was staying for a while.


Apr 13, 2005

The House is almost sold...and we have no idea what we are goign to do!

Mike is having a tough time sorting out his options right now. I don’t know what he is going to do. He has had several offers from the Department of Transportation and the EPA, and the NOAA. He is still waiting to hear from the SBA.
He is at school all day today which is good because having home while he is doing this is preventing me from getting anything done. He has been talking my ear off about these decisions, which I'm not used to at all, so Last night we took some big poster paper and put it on the wall and categorized some things:

  • Present vision of self,
  • Future vision of self,
  • values/needs for a workplace and
  • skills he hopes to acquire to get to the future vision.

I think it helped for him to see his brain dumped out and put on the wall and in some ways he was able to put it all on pause and get a good night's sleep because he didn’t have to try to remember all the difference factors and thoughts and concerns.

Okay I have to get off the computer and get some stuff done. The house is a mess and final walk through is on Friday morning. We sign the papers tomorrow afternoon. I cant believe the house wont be ours after Friday.

Apr 9, 2005

Neighborhood Clean Up Day

I organized this big neighborhood clean up day today, so that had me running around like crazy but the good news is, lots of people took advantage of the free mulch I got from the city, and the collection spot for old sticks and tree trimmings, and we were able to clean up our major road in our section of town. It was a lot of work, but it was a gorgeous day here, and it was fun to see our friends and neighbors pitching in. It made us sad that we are leaving. Tonight Jen and Matt are coming over to do a bonfire and grill some vegetables in the yard. Its just too nice a day not to be outside!

Apr 4, 2005

Mike meets his niece!

We got a call on April 2, 2005 that Maggie, our new niece, had finally been born. We rushed to WIlliamsburg, Va to see her and her parents (who frankly seemed to be in a bit of shock!). Maggie is adorable. We can't wait to teach her wonderful things and take her on fun adventures!


welcome to our family blog.
we'll be using this as a sort of online journal over the next year as we embark on several adventures and learn all kinds of new things!

Apr 1, 2005

Easter weekend

Mom, Dad and Patrick came down for a rainy Easter Weekend in Charlottesville. So we went to the Jefferson Soaks for the day and relaxed in the warm springs.