I may be living in a rental house and rebuilding my own house, but I’m already looking ahead to the day I find a house to start fresh. Once or twice a week I receive “Property Matches” to view from my realtors. We had set up my preferences back in April and their computer generates an e-mail each time a new listing or reduced price becomes available. Before the fire, I only had time to go on two house hunting expeditions. I saw about ten houses then, enough to give me some ideas of how to proceed in the next month or so, once my house is ready to sell again.
When I moved back to Austin in the summer of 2004, I thought it would be my last move. I haven’t had the same address for more than five years my whole life and I was determined to break that record. The house I bought was quite a bit larger than my California one, but then everything’s bigger in Texas, right? The bedrooms were bigger and there was an upstairs loft that just screamed teenager territory. The yard was huge and it had a large gazebo, screened in and with electricity. Buying it, I had visions of slumber parties upstairs, family dinners in the dining room with the bay window, and eating outside in the gazebo, protected from the bugs. All of those visions became realities, and it served us well for seven years. Then the inevitable happened: the kids grew up!
I began thinking about a new home when my son was a senior and my daughter a junior in high school. I could see the future and it was an empty nest. That didn’t depress me, at least not too much, but it did make me view my house from a new perspective. Did I really need four bedrooms, a loft, and a large yard? How much does one person need? One person whose two kids will be visiting but not living at home? When I bought the house, a big yard had appealed to me; I had ambitions of vegetable gardening and fruit trees – a self-sufficiency paradise. That kind of undertaking is hard to do when you’re single, though, unless you can afford some help. I eventually realized I couldn’t manage that and work full time and do all the other things I wanted to do. It’s also hot, real hot, for at least a third of the year. I began to think about a new place to live.
Returning from another visit to my sister in New York City, I first longed to join her. I’d love to live close to all those great museums and theaters, and I love the idea that a car is a choice, not a necessity. I may still get there in the future, but after riding the highs and lows of my son’s depression over the last year or so, I know that I need to stay in Austin for now. He still needs me whether or not he admits it. I do not, however, want to live in the suburbs. I want to be closer to the cultural life and fun events that the city offers, so I first began looking at neighborhoods closer in to the city, neighborhoods where I had lived during my many student years. Unfortunately, those neighborhoods have become much more fashionable since then and are out of my price range. Instead, I‘ve begun looking at areas that were suburbs decades ago but now considered just outside the city center as well as some upcoming areas on the “wrong side of the highway.” I don’t know where I’ll end up or when I’ll get there, but when my present gets me down, I try to look ahead as much as I can.