A Renter’s Hunt for Home

By on 30 August, 2017 in Lynne Schneider, Real Estate with 1 Comment

My house hunt began when I realized that my rental unit was actually a True Friendship Litmus Test. With its one-butt-kitchen and lone bathroom, houseguests waited in line for a snack and/or the loo. Even when no guests were there, I still had to handle the stress of murmuring “Excuse me,” hundreds or perhaps thousands of times to get from couch to fridge. Only after midnight could I sit like a monarch in my tiled throne room. Or boldly go where no man was getting ice for a glass of water.

In short, I needed a new place to live. But I had no idea what sort of place would solve my stress issues. Maybe a yurt in a field (with off-street parking, of course), or a nook in a Tiny House Community (AKA a Trailer Park). Out of the grinding little woe of one bathroom, I made a TO-HAVE LIST:

  1. I want and/or need at least five bathrooms. Way more than marble kitchen countertops or a barn-door entry to the den, loo availability impacts future happiness. If I had one for homeboys, one for homegirls, one each for guest boys and girls, and one for the cat (the last can really be a half-bath because she doesn’t much like the shower), the litmus test for guests I wish were my friends could end.
  1. I need at least five bedrooms and/or ample camping space out back. When the parade of guests become friends, I will need more permanent space for them than a lumpy couch-surfers’ sectional with a cat-fur blanket. I once tried an inflatable bed. A non-starter. It felt like a (lumpy) table top, though users sleep on air.
  1. I have kitchen needs. This is hard for me to admit. I had practiced need-free living for oh so long, soothing my unfulfilled, nay unconfessed, desires with a bubble bath (for dishes).

During that nightly dish wash ritual, I bucked myself up and salved my Luddite ego:

“You’re such a maverick, so Bohemian, so very robust, hardy, resilient,…!” The thesaurus is chock with useful adjectives. But “pruny” was the way every list and my hands always ended up.

Once I admitted to myself that a dishwasher would be a boon, the barn door of my subconscious swung open and, to follow the metaphor, the livestock of my desires stampeded out. Suddenly, I wanted radical, unprecedented things … like warm milk! In the One-Butt Kitchen, a microwave was a flagrant waste of space. But in a larger space, I reasoned, I could save a veritable fortune in coffee shoppe costs if I could quickly heat up my own moo juice!

And that was only the beginning of my wild desires.

Then came the lust for an ice cream maker, a rice maker, a lime green KitchenAid, a veritable armory of Le Creuset pots… and of course, I needed a Gorenje fridge-freezer like those I saw on The Great British Bake-Off (2014 season). In lime green. Ombre.

Luckily, a moment of Zen gobsmacked me – I saw that all my kitchen yens were the chimerae of desire, plainly a metaphor for Impossible Perfect Human Love like (of course) only the mythic mother of my childhood fantasies could offer. I also saw that my desires will never end …until I get a Star Trek replicator.

Until Amazon Prime can send a delivery drone with my replicator, I will attempt to accept reality (well, more or less), and dovetail my desires with my budget.

To start my Real Quest, I shopped online. My daughter proposed a Home Hunting app like Tindr: swipe left for the one-bathroom joint, right for the one with a big deck, etc. But as with meeting real people, eventually I had to get myself out the door. I started with just one house, the most likely candidate of all that I saw on the web.

The place offered so much – a vintage home, eat-in kitchen, two bathrooms, big bedrooms. Good natural light, big yard. But there was a wee “issue” that the owners had created in the house.

“Issues” seem to be a regular feature of older houses. Owners like to “improve” or “remodel” and their decisions are not always what the buyer would have chosen – a modern addition on the back of a century-old house, a hot tub tiled into the family room – but in terms of taking on what former owners left behind, the first house I saw presented a special problem.

The owner had painted angels on the walls. Not cute little cherubim, she had attempted seraphim. Majestic creatures, they spread their wings across the dining room and kept watch over the house from archways and bookcases. They seemed to look down upon us with the compassionate gaze of some happier precinct of heaven.

I presumed any new owners would call the painters immediately, but I imagined that if I lived in that house I would regret spreading featureless eggshell over those mild eyes. Besides, even under new paint, I’d know the house angels were still there, still watching over us behind the veil of paint.

I could imagine erasing a lot the “home improvements” that I’ve found in my journey to Home, but those angels? I mean, they were there first.

As it happened, a buyer snapped up the place and I was spared that particular choice and the unusual pain that might come with it.

I carried on my Home Quest, but here is My Brief Conclusion from the Start of My Search for Home:

No house is perfect, but there is plenty of great and varied housing stock for sale in Montgomery. Patient and persistent buyers will be able to find that unique house they can make into their home.

Lynne Schneider earned a doctorate in the frozen north, after which a miracle occurred: Alabama State University offered her a faculty position and she happily relocated to Montgomery where she teaches literature and writing, and where lovely people play tennis all year long!

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  1. Absolutely, positively delightful!

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