Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Neighborhood Hunt

This last weekend we went to Birmingham to start the house-hunting process. It was a much needed break from this crazy life, where we've both been going non-stop for weeks now. I've been so over-extended that I didn't have anything left in me, was just completely worn out. But the break was fantastic and it was wonderful to get away and recharge.

The purpose of the trip was to just scope out neighborhoods and get a little more acquainted with the city and area. We won't be going until June so there's really no point in looking at houses now, but we did want to know what the different areas were like and which would be the best fit for us. We met with a realtor first, who gave us some great suggestions based on what our needs were. She also gave us a huge stack of housing listings to go check out in different neighborhoods. We spent most of Saturday driving up and down the majority of the streets in Birmingham. I don't know what people did before Google Maps. The front seat of our car was like NASA, between the Blackberry, Google Maps, the laptop, and all the real estate listings. Had I put some effort into it, we probably could have operated the space station from the front seat of the Nissan.

There are really a diversity of neighborhoods in Birmingham, from old/established, near downtown, in the hills, new developments, country, etc. Like anywhere, the farther out from the city, the more house for the money. We liked some parts of Homewood and Hoover, which are both on the southside. We'll just have to see what becomes available in the spring when we get a little more serious about looking for the actual house.

Driving around Birmingham was different at first. When I came to Greenville, I immediately felt at home, like I'd been on a trip of thousands of miles and had finally found my destination. That's exactly what it was like for me. Birmingham did not feel like that at first, more like just visitors. But as the weekend went on, I realized that I hadn't thought about Greenville at all, hadn't really wondered about my friends (sorry guys) or the hospital. I didn't feel that turning knot in my gut that I get when I'm in a place I'm not supposed to be. I don't know if it's just because we're well-versed in the moving process now (this is move #8 since we've been married, city #4), so it's not a big deal anymore, or just because it's something new and exciting, or if it's actually going to be a good fit. By the end of the trip, I really wanted to stay and was not looking forward to driving back to South Carolina.

It was also a huge bonus to let Jason see the nice side of Birmingham. All he has really ever seen has been along I-20 through downtown, which did not excite him about moving there. He's been slowly warming to the idea of the move, a virtual Crock-Pot of enthusiasm. Getting more acquainted with things this weekend helped a lot.

I noticed this weekend how we tend to stick with what is familiar. As we were driving through neighborhoods, we both started to warm up in the areas that were very similar to what we are in now, a newer development, lots of trees, private cul-de-sacs. Much less comfortable in older areas near downtown, despite the older homes that have been redesigned and renovated. Is this something inherent in us? Are we destined to be comfortable in only one type of living situation? I can answer that...one of us is. :-) Common sense dictates that more house for less money is the obvious choice, but where does convenience come into play? We are not "live in the city" kind of people. But are we only not that way because we've never done it? I don't know.

I am a slave to the need to investigate all options involved in a decision. This is problematic with decisions with a multitude of options, like buying a car, getting a job, moving, choosing a hairstyle, etc. You get the idea. I feel like I have to look at absolutely everything, every option, in painful detail, and then choose the best one. Should we try something new, for the sheer fact that we've never done it? Even if we'd be completely happy with the status quo? What value is there in trying new things, if the old things are great? Does this just waste efforts and energy and resources, all in the name of variety? I have thought that variety was important, but now that I am old and set in my ways, maybe not. Maybe sticking with what works is better. It's only inconvenient later if we end up hating something new.

Either way, it's not life or death. (It keeps things in perspective to relate it to whether a choice will end someone's life.) We actually came to the conclusion that renting is probably going to be a better option for us to start off, since we know things will be changing in 3 years again. It's helpful that this is not a decision to be made now. It needs much more investigation first. I mean, come on...I haven't even made my 3-ring-"Move-Planning" binder with coordinating tabbed dividers and corresponding checklists yet. We're not animals, for goodness sake.

1 comment:

  1. I really believe that people end up where they are supposed to be...even if it was never in the initial plans:) You are smart in looking early. We approached Winston with a 3 month old and a weekend to find a house. Not an ideal situation, but again, we are happy with the neighborhood (which is similar to Greenville, but a ton closer to the medical center!). I am glad to hear that you are rejuvenated...a break is a necessity from time to time (I am taking one this weekend!). Miss you lots, LOVE the blog (I am glad someone else is addicted!)