small townhouse kitchen, double sink, wood floors

Welcome Home, a pie cooling in the window..

“It’s that time of year again”, my mother joked in her latest e-mail to me.
She was planning to send a belated Christmas package, and wanted to double-check to ensure we were still living in the same place.

Every spring, our lease expires, and the grand hunt for a new home begins… Why move every year? It could be that gypsy roaming runs in my blood, or possibly it’s another manifestation of my commitment phobia… most likely, it’s a lethal mixture of two-parts procrastination (which both of us suffer from) and one-part discontent (Joe’s impossibly high standards). We always seem to settle upon a place mere days before our lease ends, in a panicked compromise, after spending weeks condemning every townhouse and apartment in town.
Granted, last years’ selections were abysmal… except for that one cute townhouse which unfortunately was located beside a popular bar. As soon as we arrived, Joe scratched it off the potential list… I twisted his arm to “check out the inside”, since the realtor was already waiting for us.

standing in doorway, watching neighbors

Silently passing judgement upon our new neighbors.

Last spring, we signed the lease for our current residence one week before our deadline; it’s been a total nightmare living here… from the questionable neighbors (how many are there? 10? 20?) who apparently run a 24/7 laundry business in the basement, and occasionally throw pieces of furniture out the window during domestic fights… to the landlord himself, who is suffering from financial troubles, and is attempting to sell this dilapidated piece of property. It has lovely turn-of-the-century charm, but is in need of costly renovations – he’ll sell it to you for $250,000 😉

Living and Dining rooms of townhouse

The living room, and a glimpse beyond.

We’ve already had our water and gas shut-off on two separate occasions, (which were supposed to be covered according to our lease), due to the landlord’s inability to pay his bills; in the water instance, his credit card was declined, as we discovered when we contacted the city’s water dept. We paid his $65.00 past due balance with a $35.00 reconnection fee (after repeated attempts to contact him were unsuccessful).
Oh, did we mention we share our water supply with the 35 neighbors next door and their laundry business?

So what will we miss exactly when we move? The cats enjoy these wide windowsills to nap in. I’ll miss the french doors, the built-in glass hutch, and….. I guess…. Nope, that’s about it.

townhouse kitchen with wood floors

Our sunny little kitchen

However, I didn’t intend to write a blog chronicling the trials and tribulations we’ve faced while living on busy Franklin street. In fact, I’m excited to announce that we settled upon a new townhouse, after viewing three promising locations. This recession has really opened up the market, and there were some beautiful choices this year. It was a tough decision, as I fell in love with two distinctly different houses. If only this were reality TV, and the home audience could decide for us!

In the end, we had to keep our primary goals in mind. At the top of my list was a private, fenced yard for the children to safely play. “Private”, meaning: we aren’t required to share our yard with anyone else (i.e. the cocaine peddling, ex-convicts next door) 😛
In addition to the fenced yard, we wanted at least 3 bedrooms (with a special space for my art studio), either an attic or basement, and very importantly – a quiet neighborhood. No more incessant traffic.
No more drunken fights on the sidewalk. No more teenagers armed with guns being chased by cops. No more recently released criminals knocking on my door, enquiring whether I’ve received any of their mail.

small, fenced townhouse backyard with tree

Our own fenced yard, with a tree!

The second home we toured was large and modern, but lacked character and unfortunately was situated on an extremely busy road near Halfway Blvd. and Valley Mall. It also had a shared yard, no fence, and a large banking institution occupying the next lot. For me, that hinted at rushed, mid-day traffic…
I went crazy over the 3rd house we saw, at first. The interior was gorgeous, spacious, almost opulent – loaded with architectural details, a full basement, converted attic (spare room), brand new kitchen, and central AC – however, the outdoor space was sadly lacking. Not only did the yard not have a fence, and was also located on a busy road (blocks from City Hospital), but the entire land was steeply graded. There wasn’t a place flat enough for toddlers to easily play, let alone install a swing-set we’d promised them.

We were worried that we wouldn’t find our perfect place, and were beginning this year’s hunt with reserved attitudes. Last year was a huge disappointment … buying armfuls of newspapers and scouring Craig’s list for weeks, and not finding a single place that excited us. We braced ourselves for another lengthy search.

covered back porch, wood paneling, closet

Our covered back porch, with its storage

Ironically, the first place we saw… a modest townhouse sporting a retro 60’s feel, with wood paneling, actually fit ALL the requirements we were looking for. Nestled in a small subdivision, in a quiet neighborhood, the only traffic encountered on Bethlehem Court are your neighbors. The backyard is fenced, the rooms are average size, the master has a large walk-in closet… in fact, storage abounds in this place. There are closets everywhere, including a storage room built into the covered porch.
Even the cheesy wood paneling, accented in the livingroom and porch, are reminiscent of my childhood home on Foxhill Lane, in Bowie; a Colonial Levitt-built home from the 1960’s.

I felt a sense of peace and belonging here, and although we eventually would like a detached house with more acreage (for even greater privacy)… I knew we could be happy here for some time. The owner is even willing to offer a “rent to own” option, with help financing, in case we reeeeally like this place. LOL I hope this will be our last move for a while. 🙂

As a testament to my commitment, on the day we signed our lease, I purchased $40 worth of bulbs to plant in my planned garden. Now we need to stick around to watch them grow!

Neighborhood of older townhomes

Our new neighbors

I’ve included a few images from our initial investigation of the house. The entire album of new townhouse pictures can be browsed here on Flickr. 🙂