I’ve lived in my temporary housing for a quarter of the time I’m allotted, so I am starting to sneak into the period where I need to get serious about something far less temporary. Specifically, executing the ‘Habitation Master Plan’, or finding a place to live … which more directly means that it is the ever changing and ever tentative plan to find a place I can live. Since this is my third major move in the last four years, you would think I have a more solid plan than that, but if you think that way … you don’t know me very well, right?
Besides, this move is full of tougher challenges and harsher realities.
In general, my master plan follows two steps:
1) Find a rental to live in for awhile until such time I figure out where I really want to live, and find a house I really want to live in
2) Buy that house
The real intention of the master plan is that it opens up options for me. So many times, when you go looking for a house to buy, it isn’t as much about finding that ‘perfect house’, it’s about finding that ‘house that is as perfect as it gets at the time I am looking‘. For instance, when I was in Boston, the condo I ended up getting was the best on the market at that time – not my favorite place, but I was so time bound with getting out of my current residence that when issues came up during inspection, I couldn’t back out of the offer unless I was going to literally be homeless for two months. There are always tons of great places in any area you want to look, you just have to commit to being patient until it comes along. Thus … renting first gives me the time to look.
So … Step One is the priority, find a place to live. But I tell you what, it sucks. It sucks a lot.
Don’t get me wrong, there are nice places to live, it’s just that I threw three criteria that severely limit the options.
First — I want to live near where I work. Specifically, I don’t want to commute more than 30 minutes one way. That cuts me off to a lot of areas. Basically, that leaves me looking at: Pasadena, Not very far to the East of Pasadena (Temple City, Monrovia, maybe Azusa), a little farther to the west of Pasadena (La Cañada, La Cresenta), Glendale, or Burbank. My hotel is currently in Burbank, which is a top contender for me – but then again Pasadena is a pretty cool place. There are good options throughout these areas, if it weren’t for the other criteria.
Second — I want to live with Auggie the Doggie. That sounds like a “erm … DUH”; but it’s not that simple. If I get a rental, it has to be a rental that is “Pet Friendly”, which on any apartment sight that button is easy to find. The problem is the sliding scale of what it means to be “Pet Friendly”. For starters — it turns out “Pet Friendly” can mean, Cats Only. It can also mean, Small Dogs under Auggie Size only. The worst though is that many rental properties enforce breed restrictions. Auggie is a Stafforshire Terrier, which by many people are considered to be an ‘aggressive’ or ‘dangerous’ breed. I went off on this a couple of years ago in one of the cutest blogs I have ever done (How Could You Pass A Law Against This Face?). The guts of it is that many people have a prejudice against specific dog breeds; not because they are aggressive, but because they are perceived to be more aggressive than other (and sometimes notoriously aggressive) breeds. The thinking is that these breeds are dangerous to other dogs or humans, regardless of their training. While there has been good effort the last few years to keep breed specific laws off the books, private businesses – like rental management groups – can still have their own restrictions. As a result, I am finding about half of the rental properties who say they are “pet friendly” are more aligned with the “pet friendly, but only to those pets we don’t carry a prejudice against”. Even those that wouldn’t say no to a face like Auggie’s falls under the third tough criteria.
Third — I have to afford living there. This may ultimately be my downfall. Rentals around here are expensive. Like … holy cow expensive. I’m not looking for a grand housing choice here folks, I just prefer to have a place where the pup can be stupid and I can hang a TV on the wall. But a rental property smaller than my Boston condo rents at nearly one-and-a-half times what my mortgage was. I am not kidding you – the last time I rented an apartment was in Milwaukee in 2000, and that rent was 12% of my high limit I am putting on my search.
The search may get better next week as we pass through the first of the month. I worry I will get to a point where I say ‘beggers can’t be choosers’ and stick myself with someplace I don’t like much.
But if that happens, well, it just means I have to stick with the Master Plan … and start looking for a forever home.
I’ll try to sneak in another blog before the end of the year, but if I get lazy … as we know we do …
Happy New Year everyone.