Homeward Bound

30 Jul

Well that didn’t take too long, did it?

Just a little more than a month into my Great Big Buying Real Estate Adventure and I’m already frustrated and getting tired of the whole thing. And it’s not some Gemini, easily-distracted, novelty-is-over thing. It’s that after a few weeks of going to open houses, and two weeks of one of my brokers flaking out on me, and attending a disappointing first-time home buyer seminar, and just the general unappealing inventory of apartments I’ve seen, the prospect of buying a condo seems less exciting to me than it did a few weeks back. Alright, maybe that’s not entirely true. I do still sorta enjoy going from apartment to apartment on Sundays, seeing other people’s places, and soaking in the whole “real estate porn” aspect of it all. But when all you see are nice places that are too small, or big places that aren’t very nice, well, it gets a bit tiresome.

The way I see it, and I know this isn’t a unique P.O.V., is if I’m going to buy a place — make the investment, put down roots, call a place “mine,” etc. — then I figure I should, at the very least, upgrade from what I have now. And I have a pretty nice place now. Sure, it’s lacking in kitchen counter space, but it’s got plenty of sunlight, a ton of closet space, a built-in air conditioning unit, a super location, and enough living space that I never really get stir crazy hanging out here. So you can see why I’ve stayed for five and a half years. Places I’ve seen so far, a handful have had nice kitchens (something I want), but were basement units or were too small. Others were spacious, but really old. (One I saw on Sunday had, among other undesirable features, an a/c unit from the 50s, and what looked like formica cabinets in the kitchen. I like the prospect of a fixer-upper, but that was a little much.) Basically, each week I feel like I’m just seeing more of the same.

And the first-time home buyer seminar that I attended last week didn’t really help me to focus my search. Sure, I learned some stuff, but I didn’t love the sales pitchiness of it all. And I haven’t appreciated that one of the brokers I’ve been working with has now, for two weeks straight, told me he was going to show me apartments and then couldn’t get access to a single one. I thought people were desperate to sell? And then there’s the whole thing, as reported in yesterday’s Boston Globe, where apparently, it’s becoming a landlord’s market again and higher rents are becoming the norm (as is the case in my own building). Makes me increasingly want to own rather than continue to rent.

So these are just some of the reasons I find myself drawn to places like this one in Watertown. Do I want to live way out there? Not really. Do I want to get to work by taking a bus to a bus, or a bus to the commuter rail to the subway? Not at all. Do I want an almost-complete lifestyle change? No. Heck, I don’t even like that side of the river. But do I want a nicer apartment? Yes. And can I see myself being happy there? Yes, I think so. Would living in a place like this mature me a little? Possibly. Can I grow into it? Yes. And most importantly, can I afford this? Probably. So it sort of worries me that I am as drawn to these apartments as I am, seeing how I really do want to live in an area like Coolidge Corner where there are places to walk and people to see and things to do. I’m an edge-of-the-city kind of guy; I need to be close to where the action is. But looking for an apartment will change your thinking sometimes, I guess, and to get what you want, you have to make choices. Argh.

So, I keep looking and hoping that I’ll find something with a desirable location that has what I want. I’m in no rush, despite the rent increase, and I don’t want to settle. Hell, it takes me weeks sometimes just to buy a shirt or a pair of pants.

And that’s the state of the search. Knowing me, this will all change a week or two from now. Or maybe it won’t. Either way, it’s a process, an adventure, and a project. Stay tuned.

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