Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Why I Haven't Posted Much Lately

I'm moving to a small town.


Technically I've known this for a year and a half, but there's something about house-hunting that makes it seem real.

I'm moving to a place where people on the sidewalks smile and nod instead of averting their eyes politely, the way I'm used to. I'm moving to a place where you can choose two houses to tour and discover that one of them is across the street from your husband's boss and the other is owned by his secretary's cousin. I'm moving to a place where the new subdivision, backing onto farmland on the outskirts of town, is a five-minute drive from the downtown core.

I'm excited about it. I think.

I am also rendered nearly postless by the visions of floor plans dancing in my head. It's not the essays I'm marking or even the head cold I'm fighting that's keeping me to a few meagre posts per week - it's the uncontrollable urge to write about things like hardwood floors and ceramic tile. If I were going to write a post, I don't think I could help asking questions like, if YOU were buying a house, would you pick the 150-year-old Victorian mansion with a postage stamp for a back yard or the brand-new two-storey with ensuite bathroom and a games room in the basement? And if you happened to be looking at floor plans, would you want a living room AND a family room, or just a "Great Room"? And which is better - a big eat-in kitchen or a formal dining room? A house that's well within budget but a bit too cramped or one that we can stay in until the kids go to college? A practical side-split with no scope for the imagination or a century home with no air conditioning?

This is what the inside of my head looks like right now, only buzzing buzzing buzzing. Read the above paragraph three times fast, in the middle of the night when you're supposed to be sleeping, and you'll know what it's like to be me.

75 comments:

Veronica Mitchell said...

Good luck with your move. I remember how crazy-making it is.

We live in a 115-yr-old house with character and expensive repairs. Even with its flaws, it is the perfect house for us. I am deeply grateful that we chose this one instead of a something with a more burdensome mortgage.

Luisa Perkins said...

Oh, I DO know what it's like to be you in this particular case. When we moved from Manhattan to the Hudson Highlands, the voices in my head sounded just like yours.

My votes: Stay in budget. Air conditioning. Big eat-in kitchen. (Can you do all three at once?)

Maddy said...

Ah that it explains it then.

For my money, the only thing I really wanted was one of those American kitchens that looks over [sort of open plan] into the family room.

Of course it's the only thing that I didn't get.
Cheers


This is my calling card or link"Whittereronautism"until blogger comments get themselves sorted out.

Blog Antagonist said...

I. Am. So. Envious.

I would go with the old one. Hands down. Good luck with your move. And I, for one, do not mind posts about hardwood floors and ceramic tile.

Mary Joan Koch said...

Poor you. Best of luck. I remember how crazy-making the move from Manhattan to Maine and the move from Maine to Long Island both were.

What would I choose? I wouldn't want a postage stamp backyard so I would want the new house, which will be much less work. I would prefer a great room and an eat-in kitchen. I would always pick the house with air conditioning. I would also stay within budget.

I bet all of my preferences are mutually incompatible.

Victoria said...

Oh - is it wrong that I'm slightly jealous? I love looking at homes and real estate. It's a sick hobby of mine.

Of course, your dilemmas aren't a hobby. I'd pick a house you can stay in, but stay in budget. Yes to AC. Yes to big kitchen.

Best of luck. I hope to move back to a town like that some day.

Anonymous said...

Our realtor said at closing, "you'll be so happy in this house" to which I replied, "we're happy anyway, with or without the house". Like laboring during delivery (the excitement lies in the next 21 plus years, not the labor) and planning an exciting wedding (the excitement is in the fulfilling marriage, not the wedding itself) a house is just that, a house. Like life, not perfect, but yours just the same. Stay calm if you can. New beginnings are fun!

Beck said...

You're moving to my town then, I take it?
WE live - like Veronica - in a century house with deep flaws and a cheap mortgage. It's our dream house!

kgirl said...

I thought you already lved in a small town. *wink*

big, huge congratulations, and no matter which house you end up in, how very exciting! and please, blog your upcoming adventure!

(but i'd go with the century home)

Suz said...

I see houses in my sleep even when I'm not moving. Good luck in finding something that works well for you and your family!

Mrs. Chicky said...

Much luck to you!

Personally, I always go for the dining room and the yard. But that's just me.

Mouse said...

How familiar this all is! The head of special ed services lives one block over from us. Our painter lives in the same block as two houses Trillian saw in her first visit.

I actually meant to put in a recent post that Springfield has fewer than 10 traffic lights.

I could also write endlessly about floor plans and everything we thought about--and I would think it is the most interesting topic. So write whatever you need to.

Jenifer said...

Hmmn. The 150 year old Victorian has no yard or air conditioning...an ensuite in another - my dream! As for the Great Room concept most people I know at the end of the day would have preferred a separate living and family room....unless of course the basement is finished so that becomes the family room.

For all the pluses of the newer houses there is something about a century home that beckons so.

Good luck with your house hunting. And wink...I kinda thought your city was pretty small already...how small are we talking for this new town?

Lawyer Mama said...

Ooh, how fun!

Personally, I'd go with the Victorian.

Mad Hatter said...

I read that first paragraph and hoped for the briefest of moments that you were moving to Sleepy Town even though I know exactly where you are moving to. Sigh.

Becky said...

I heard that you were moving... good luck with all the decisions! I'm sure you and hubby will make all the right choices... in the meantime, feel free to toss the questions our way!

Sue said...

I'm obsessed with real estate, so house hunting posts make me clap my hands with glee.

Unsolicited opinion: Unless you entertain a lot, I think a formal dining room is a total waste of space.

painted maypole said...

oooh... house hunting.

buy the house you love. you know which one it is.

Niksmom said...

Ooh, such an exciting and frustrating time! Funny, pre-Nik we would have gone with the older house and done lots of work on it. Now, we'd go for whichever one has enough space to accommodate tons of play space and equipment, needs the least amount of work, and would give us a feeling of long-term roots. I'd got for the new house...but I'm not going to be lving there...so what do I know? LOL Good Luck!

Marian said...

Besides the lack of sleep, what fun!

Adding to the din in your head:
Kids grow, making yards smaller and smaller. Outdoor space is important.
-- woman with itty, bitty postage stamp city yard, and four kids, 3 of them male

bubandpie said...

Kgirl, Jenifer - You guys think you're funny. The new small town is the real deal - pop. 6000. It's only a half-hour's drive from the Much Larger City where I currently reside, though, and 20 min. from a Top Tourist Destination in the other direction (you think you guys can figure it out from there?).

Sue - I think that counts as a totally solicited opinion (unless you take seriously my whole "IF I were going to write a post about it this is what I WOULD ask" shtick).

b*babbler said...

Heh... You and are I existing in the same space right now (although, after living in a century home for the last four years and renovating it) we will be choosing a new model home.

Way to go! Should be tonnes of fun. Before and after the packing that is.

Aliki2006 said...

Wow.

I know what you mean--that was us, about a year and some months ago. I can't wait to hear more about it!

alejna said...

Oh, what tough decisions. It's a dream of mine to someday live in a beautiful antique house, chock full of character and unexpected nooks. We considered going with an old house when we bought, but I was planning to go to grad school, and we didn't think we'd have the time to invest in the upkeep of some of the older houses we looked at. We ended up going with someting moderately recent, but that still has a bit of character.

So, in your shoes, I'd probably want the older, and go with the newer for reasons of practicality.

We also went with a house that had a more manageable mortgage, a decision we've been very happy about. In our case, this meant moving to a town further away from the big city. In fact, it meant going rural rather than suburban. But we have lots and lots of trees and room in the yard.

Oh, and our little town has only one traffic light. Two if you count one that's on the border with another town.

Kyla said...

Good luck! Sounds exciting and maddening.

Julie said...

House hunting can really take over all your good thoughts!
Best of luck on the adventure.
Julie

Catherine said...

Ooooh, I grew up in small towns. Population 1000 was really pushing it.

Good luck with your choices, and getting some sleep...

catherine

Mayberry said...

It's like you're moving to Mayberry! I was in your shoes almost exactly four years ago.

You're going to love it.

Janet said...

Living in a decrepit old house, I never had to make those decisions. But many of my good friends have. It's fun! (I think).

Enjoy.

Mommy Bits said...

Good luck with the move. Its such an exciting, yet scary time.

I'm sure everything will work out!

PS... I am a sucker for older homes... just sayin'.

Karen said...

Aell, congratulations and I'm sorry - try a glass of wine and get some sleep. I always dream of rearranging furniture when on the cusp of a move and of wall colors. It's a problem.

flutter said...

small towns are wonderful, I loved every moment (except for the car getting broken into) of living in one.

Cyndi said...

Wow! How exciting! That picture looks just beautiful. Like something from a post card.

JCK said...

Moving...exciting change and scary, too. All of those choices are hard to make. The only definite is to get more than 1 bathroom. :) We'll be here. Post when you can and have a great move. It sounds delicious.

mamakie said...

Small town living is wonderful. We moved out of the big city into small town BC three years ago and wouldn't turn back. It's great to get a big city fix now and again, but always wonderful to come back to the comforts of small town living.

Good luck with the house hunting and move!

Julie Pippert said...

GL with it all!

And talk it up about tile and floor plans. You might be surprised how many DIYers and househunters crawl out of the woodwork. :)

Julie
Using My Words

Jennifer said...

I LOVED living in a small town. I miss it so, so much.

Stay in budget. And without thinking of the houses you've seen, make a list of priorities. Number the priorities one through whatever. Use the list to evaluate houses. It's easy to go off the deep end when looking at houses to buy. All of a sudden your Feelings take over. The list should ground you.

nomotherearth said...

I watch a lot of HGTV so I think about this stuff a lot eventhough we can't afford to move yet.

The best advice I've gleaned from these shows are:

-You shop with your heart, but you must buy with your head.
-No house is going to be 100% perfect, so figure out what your "deal-breakers" are and go from there.

V-Grrrl said...

When I was in America this summer, we had one week to buy a house. I'd been in contact with a realtor in advance, but still it was daunting to be forced to Make a Decision after only two days of looking at homes.

In the end, we were choosing between the big, new house that had EVERYTHING we wanted except a nice yard OR a 1970 brick ranch on 3/4 of an acre, professionally landscaped, backing up to a park. The ranch had beautiful hardwood floors; custom cabinets and tile in the kitchen; antiques turned into cabinets, stair rails, and mantels; a library with built-in bookcases and recessed lighting; and a huge deck. On the down side, it doesn't have a lot of storage, it only has a one car garage, the kitchen is small, and the house doesn't get a lot of natural light.

Still we went with the older house, reasoning that we could always find a "perfect" big suburban house somewhere, but finding a house in the city on a big wooded lot that backed up to the park was a one shot opportunity.

cinnamon gurl said...

Oh, I love this stuff! We live in a century home but I'm starting to see the pull of a newer home. The problem is I can't find a newer home in a neighbourhood within walking distance of the things we want to be within walking distance of.

Remember, though, you can always add air conditioning to a century home (as long as it has forced air heating). We did.

Now I'm starting to think I want a 1950s or 60s bungalow with a finished basement...

Seriously, I love posts on this stuff! Good luck!!!

bubandpie said...

Sin - There are two older homes available right now - big, expensive, over 100 years old, within walking distance of everything, but with no forced-air heating or A/C. If we build, we'd be backing onto farmland, within walking distance of a park, but a short drive to everything else.

erin k said...

Fun Fun. (I can say that, because we're done with moving...)

We moved from a village (pop. 300ish) to "Town" (pop. 6000) in May. And we left a Century old country Church converted into a house for a 1950's bungalow, and we couldn't be happier.

Don Mills Diva said...

Sounds exciting. Good luck with your move.

Leigh said...

We just moved into our first house in March of last year, so I feel your pain. The only advice I have for you is that I think life without air conditioning would not be worth living. But I live in Georgia, where you would probably die in the summer without it anyway.

Bon said...

i too am a sucker for an older home. we have one, though it's more prewar than Victorian, and it's got a yard and i do quite love it though it's cramped and cut up a bit, but the thing i can't really forgive it now that O is getting bigger is that it has neither basement nor attic. i vote for whatever you love best, with floorspace hidden somewhere where kids can run. because a yard is great but not on a snow day.

best of luck, B&P

Sarcasta-Mom said...

Way to go on the new house! I actually love old houses, and hope to own one when the day comes that my credit is once more within home-buying territory.lol.

Any one you choose, I'm sure you'll have a blast designing your new space and making it your home. Good luck!

Heather said...

I think the hardest thing for me if I were to move to a small town would be everyone knowing my business. Sounds funny coming from a blogger! I'd vote for the great room, eat-in kitchen sans formal dining room, big yard and game room, and one you can stay in until the kids go to college. Happy hunting!

Jen said...

I know I'm weird, but I live in a 100+ yo old house, with a postage stamp yard and no AC (and no plans to get it) with 3 boys. I like old. And when new breaks or is crappy it makes one very unhappy. When old breaks? Well, what did you expect?!

But, we live in a city (it just has neighborhoods that feel like towns) there're two playgrounds within two blocks, and a huge park down the street. So those are our yard. The first floor has a circle path you can run laps around if you are a child (or playing chase with one) and the stairs are always good for running too! If there's a basement, even kinda yucky, that can suffice for some indoor wheeled vehicle riding.

BUT, I know that I'm kinda out of the mainstream on my house tastes!

Patois said...

Finally, I can stop thinking you're from England 'cause of that whole London thing.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I don't mind posts about flooring and floor plans, either...

I currently live in a house with just two big rooms. One is a kitchen/family room, and the other is a living room/dining room. And in fact it's really one big room, because those two areas are separated by a 3/4 wall.

I love it right now because I can see the kids or at least hear them at any given moment; they can't get into mischief while I'm folding clothes, for example. I can see a day when it will be horrible, though, because it's not possible to escape each other. And I trip on kids' toys all day long!

Oh and it's only 10 years old which means everything works perfectly and it's easy to clean. Our previous house was 70 years old and was never clean, not even after I scrubbed it.

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing the "Top Tourist Destination" is Grand Bend? Or Niagara Falls?

Gwen said...

I so love looking at houses. Choosing and buying them? Not so much.

Good luck to you with all of it.

Emily said...

Big eat-in kitchen, hands down.

Kathryn said...

Ah. I can see why that is driving you crazy. I would be thinking about it nonstop too.
I love old houses. They have so much more charm and character. However, they are also harder to heat, harder to fix, have squeaky floors, and usually less space. Can you tell I live in an older home? ;)
My hubby and I always say that if we ever move we are getting a newer home. You can't a master bath, big closest, and a playroom in the basement. That sounds too good to be true.
And in my opinion, when there is a formal living room and a family room, the formal living room is never used. It is a dust collector. So I would opt for the great room.
I love eat in kitchens, but I always want a dining room too.
Is that picture of the small town you are moving too, or just some small town. It is charming!
Good luck!

Kathryn said...

I meant you cant BEAT a master bath. Beat.
Sorry.

cinnamon gurl said...

Oh dear, that IS a tough decision. I am such a sucker for big and old (and necessarily expensive). I know it's important to get a mortgage that you can manage, but when we were ready to move to TO we were going to have to stretch BIG time on a mortgage, and really, if you're going to stretch yourselves on anything financial, it's way better to do it on a house, rather than say a car or electronics or vacations, which never hold their value. Keep us posted!

Just checked out the wordless wednesday and ooh that window!

Carrien said...

If you were to ask me those questions I would respond "victorian mansion, great room, and eat in kitchen if it is truly big and won't feel cramped or cluttered." That of course is three different houses isn't it. But what fun, I like to house shop, haven't ever bought yet but we do look around from time to time.

Good luck.

Magpie said...

Good luck! Big eat-in kitchen. Old house.

Terri said...

Oooo, I love old houses! I'd go for that. We are house hunting, too, sort of. We think we found the perfect house and it's one we could stay in long term. It's not an old house but it was built out of reclaimed wood from a century old house. Close enough for me.

Christine said...

but it is a fun head buzzing, right?

good luck!

A Military Spouse said...

We just moved a couple of months ago and decided to focus on "space" as our children are quite young and, er, rambunctious. After salivating over the character-laden and mostly renovated 1940's homes in an older part of town, we ultimately went with a 1970's tri-level with most of its poor decorating choices already eradicated, unlike many other options in our price range.

I am in awe of how much I LOVE THIS HOUSE. We have never had this much space before, and what impresses me is how seamlessly we adapted to using the whole house -- even the "formal" living and dining rooms, which have become my toddler's "cars" room and my personal organzing space, respectively. They don't have to be used as they're labeled, after all.

I know I am going on and on, and you don't even "know" me, but I am also one who loves posts about house hunting and home decor. My husband and I love older homes, but we chose a "newer" (1970s) one for practicality, and we have no regrets. Of course, we know we are not here for the long haul, which is a big factor to take into consideration as well.

natalie said...

I'm clueless about home buying, but I can advise you that if you buy the Victorian, you need to start referring to the postage stamp as your "garden."

And I love the little town you're moving to, by the way. I know I'd love a house made out of the stone from that quarry.

Elizabeth said...

Why are you moving? Will you be within commuting distance of the University?

My opinion of 'great rooms'--they're only 'great' if you want to have the noise created in one area amplified into the other areas. So, if a TV is on, or children are playing in one area--that sound is heard (and amplified cuz of the high ceilings) in the other areas. In other words, I DON'T LIKE GREAT ROOMS.

Mimi said...

Dude! I'm sending you an email RIGHT NOW!

Christina said...

Oh, I'm longing to move back to a small town. As soon as I finish school, my husband has promised we can consider it. I want to move back to the town where I went to university.

And three years ago, I would have said to go with the big fancy new build. But having lived in a new build for three years now, I say go with the Victorian. There's little pride in a builder's work anymore, which leads to corners cut and lots of "good enough" that turn into big problems a few years later. Ugh.

Swistle said...

I would have said the Victorian, but then we rented an apartment in an old house like that and OH MY GOD the maintenance and the problems and the no closets and the no outlets and the walls that crumbled if you put a nail in! So now I say modern and put the character in it yourself.

Since I have five kids, I would want the living room AND family room, to have more "zones" for when they're older and want to have their friends over but we don't want to have to retire to our room to get out of their way. I might want that if I had two kids, too.

Dining room depends on location. If it feels like there's a natural flow into that room (like, would you sit there with a bowl of cereal, or would you stand at the counter instead because it feels weird to go into another room), then I'd want the dining room. Otherwise, the big eat-in. I don't think you can go wrong on this one, since both are good.

Practical over no-a/c: you can add the special to it yourself, but you can't do much about the awful, awful heat.

Julie @ Letter9 said...

I am so jealous. So so jealous. Anyway, my dad's advice (he's in acquisitions for a big real estate investment trust) has always been to buy slightly more than you can afford now because then you can stay longer... if you buy what you can afford right this second, his reasoning goes, it will be too small next week. : )

Pieces said...

Yes, just reading about it makes my head spin. Best of luck in your decision making. I'm confident you will make the one that is right for you. :-)

Sarcastic Mom (aka Lotus) said...

EXCITING!

These kinds of things are so often stressful, but they're spicy fun. Enjoy and good luck! :-)

Tina C. said...

As someone living in a 150 Federal row-house, i'd take the modern house with AC. this house we have now was fun when we had time and energy to work on it. Now it's just sitting here half-done, while we curse the puny backyard.

Tina C. said...

Sorry, meant to say, 150-year-old row-house.

Lisa b said...

I love real estate, except when I have to make the decisions. I'll be glad to live this through you.
Are you staying near London?
It sounds lovely and though I love older homes, I can see the appeal of a new build.
That said ,my house is circa 1920 and my friend's is a new build and we have had approximately the same number of problems - heat, leaks etc.
I think you know your house when you see it and fall in love.

kittenpie said...

Me,I always go with character over practicality. We have no a/c either, but might add some next year.

dawn224 said...

I totally wanted the Victorian when we moved this summer - but with the 8 week old (at the time) I had to pick the practical one. Sigh. The frickin heat isn't working downstairs, might as well have moved to the Vic.

KAL said...

I am so behind with my reading if I didn't even know you were moving. Well, so many choices between these two houses. Have you made any progress in your decision-making? I love all the character of an old home but having kids really makes me appreciate the comforts of a more modern home.

Happy new year!
:)