As much as I like my one-bedroom over-priced vacation rental furnished apartment with spotty internet no signal on the television and the occasional homeless wandering along outside the window; a key step towards my long term Alaskan plans is finding a place to call my own. Part of my relocation package I got to move here is contingent on me closing on a house sometime in the next 11 months – and it’s too sweet of a relocation package to want even think about renting for any period of time. So I am not wasting time at all and am on full search for a home.
I can tell you that finding a place to live here is not that bad – except for two things from my previous home buying experience making it difficult to swallow something up here:
1) The prices for homes in Anchorage are at least three times higher than they are in Wichita. My house in Wichita will sell for right around $80k, and a house in that sort of location, that sort of condition, and that size up here would go for well over $250k ($350k if I had a garage … or one you could put a car in & not fear that it will crash down on top of it).
2) I never was completely happy with what seemed like too quick of a decision I made the last time. I should have looked around more, I should have felt out the location, and I should have looked behind the drywall in the basement.
As I go on a house hunting search here, I find my desires are changing day by day. When I came up here for an interview, I looked at homes and set a price limit well below what I am setting now. The stuff I was looking at originally was … well … meth labs … no honestly! When I got here two weeks ago, my price was higher, but now I was looking at small apartments who think their cool so they call themselves condos. A house in my price range were more like shacks with the occasional mowed lawn (emphasis on ‘occasional’).
Enter a decent realtor. I am using a brother / sister firm call The Harrington Group; who have fed me listings since the day BP made me an offer. They’ve let me make my own decisions, but over a couple months I can tell in their tone of voice to me when they think I need to wake up and smell the meth lab. For example: I walked in with a listing this past weekend and said “this looked perfect, right in my price range, nice lot, great location” and Lief Harrington says politely “it’s been on the market for a while” – but while I thought that was a good thing (cause I can ask a lower price), he made it sound like a bad thing. Well, he took me out there, we walked in the door, saw the dog that has been staying there (& peeing there) … and days later I still smelt like that dog.
What is nice is that Anchorage is a great blend of big and small cities. It has a lot of things to do (hockey teams, malls, movie theatres, enough coffee shops that people from Seattle feel at least comfortable here); but it’s physically not that big of a city. There is, at the most, three miles of interstate type roads here … but you can get anywhere within 15 minutes from anywhere else, and most of the time you can get anywhere in 10 minutes … though rumor has it, that’s not so true during the winter. Regardless, the locations I would like to live in range from “that’s okay” to “oh, that would be good there”.
I bet this search will continue for a few more weeks at least. I have some hopefuls. I checked out a house on Cache Street the other day (yeah … I can smell the geocaching addiction comparisons already); saw a great townhouse duplex in a hilly area right in a nice part of town, and am running back and forth from near the airport to near downtown to near the mountains. The other day, a co-worker brought a house to my attention. It was right in a good price range for me and the tax assessment suggests I can bring it down to where I want to spend. It’s huge – 3 bed, 2.5 bath 1800 sqft – with a monster size garage. The part of town is good enough, not great, but good enough for the investment. There are only two minor catches … one, there is a financing limitation on it which would make the fees greater and more painful (and will likely be the bigger problem than the second to me) … and second, there was a murder / suicide there last November. While it’s officially a condo, and its more of a townhouse set-up … we have dubbed it “The Murder House”. You can see me moving into already, can’t ya?