*Sunday 15th July*
I’m in the back of the car, sat next to a now slumbering Sam, as we charge back up the interstate towards Atlanta having been down to Florida for the weekend.
The move is most definitely on. Our house is under contract and Bill is supposed to start work at the Tampa office on the 27th August.
The “For Sale” sign went up in 1888’s front yard on a Friday afternoon and by the Sunday morning we were entertaining our first offer. We were pretty surprised as we’d been prepared to sit on the market for a few months before being able to sell and certainly weren’t expecting an offer to come in so quickly. Anyway, over the next few days more bids came in and a little bidding war was had. Of course, we took the highest offer, agreed to close at the end of July and got a sweet deal where we negotiated leasing back for a month so we can stay in the house after closing.
We’ve just been down to Tampa in a frantic attempt to find ourselves somewhere to live when we move.
This trip did not start out so well as sometime between 1am and 6:30am on Thursday morning somebody rifled through Bessie and stole my beloved digital camera from the glovebox (never normally leave anything of value in there but for some reason that’s where I’d stowed it while we were driving somewhere). Thankfully we hadn’t already packed the car up for the trip. I’m still angry and smarting from that one. With no sign of forced entry Bill admits that he thinks he may have left a door open when he went out to clean accumulated rubbish from car the night before. Typical that this happens the one night we don’t have the dogs at home because I took them to Rutledge that day. Quince is on holiday with Mary, and Genghis is in kennels nearby (he’s outstayed his welcome the time he initiated a peeing contest in her house). Not happy. Whoever took it didn’t just take my camera, he took away all the precious photo memories of Sam that I’m now missing out on until I can afford a new one. Bastard.
Leaving at seven, it took Bill eight hours to drive us down to Florida with me in the back pulling faces at Sam (he has a particular fascination with tongues at the moment and if you aren’t careful will suddenly thrust his little fingers into your mouth in a search for it) and feeding him Cheerios on demand. After a quick visit to Bill’s office we then headed over the bridge to St Petersburg to check out the neighbourhood we were looking at.
We’d been poring over information online and doing a lot of background research before we went down there and were pretty confident that we had narrowed our search down to a list of interesting houses in a decent area. Not so. We drove to see a couple of the houses we’d arranged to see the next day and very quickly started to panic as the area seemed quite rough and unkempt, and the lovely houses in the listings were, shabby, on tiny plots and looked very cramped. Also, we were never very far away from some very busy main roads, driving around there wasn’t fun and I worried about Sam being so close to that traffic. We both were very uneasy indeed and thinking we were making a big mistake. We just got the feeling that if we moved there we’d be really stretching ourselves financially and yet be downgrading from Braeburn Circle. We didn’t even see great potential for resale in that area. Back at the hotel we did not sleep well.
Oh, but we did take a tour of NE St Pete and ended up eating at a British pub called The Limey which sold mediocre bar food served with a sea of hungry mossies swarming beneath the table.
The next day we saw the mortgage lender as arranged and got pre-approved before heading back over the bridge to meet our realtor, Jamie. Discussing our concerns with her she agreed with our evaluation and immediately we threw all our viewing arrangements, dreams of having a swimming pool and being close to the beaches out of the window and started again pretty much from scratch.
We transferred Sam into her car and set off househunting in earnest.
The one house in that area we had decided we were still interested in seeing as it was priced so low as to still grab our curiosity and make us wonder whether that could be bought as an investment, done up, and sold for a profit was now pending sale.
Another house that was still on our list was further down in what is called the historic NE district. So we went down that way to check it out. Briefly we started feeling better as we wandered around seeing great potential for this house. It obviously needed a lot of work but was really interesting inside, had some great spaces, and a pretty amazing pool and deck outside. Sadly even this was short lived as Jamie had a hunch and called the seller’s realtor to find out that it was a preforeclosure house and would thus be a real pain in the arse to even contemplate. We were told that if we were to make an offer it would take 30-45 days for the bank to even get back to us and then it was likely to just be a no instead of opening a negotiation.
We then took a tour of some other houses in that area and were not too impressed with what we saw within our price range. Feeling rather distressed and frustrated we sojourned to Panera for a very late lunch where we reformulated our plan of attack and agreed to ditch the idea of St Pete entirely. Jamie pulled up some listings over in Tampa and we headed over there once we’d eaten.
In Riverside Heights/Seminole Heights, finally we began to see an area we felt more comfortable with. Both areas seemed to be show more pride of ownership and reminded us of more kempt East Atlanta living. Lots of one storey bungalows. Riverside especially seemed to be very quiet streets and with red brick paved roads it seemed unlikely to entertain any speeding traffic. As the river Hillsborough swings around and hugs the area there are lots of very expensive large houses hogging the riverfront and then the neighbourhood is bordered on the other side by a large cemetery and little park which apparently help to buffer any through traffic and craziness from elsewhere.
Late in the day we eventually viewed two houses in the Riverside area that we both liked. Neither house was totally wow or charmed us, but we were happy that they fitted a lot of our criteria, were a very good commute to work for Bill and Jamie agreed that that area is very desirable and a good prospect for resale in a few years.
After much debate we ruled out the house that Bill preferred because it was simply too small. We both really liked the details of arched doorways it had, and the kitchen was wonderful, but it was saying it was a three bedroom, two bathroom house when really it was just two bedrooms and a tiny extra room space that didn’t even have a door. I just didn’t think we could make that work and being able to sell it again easily worried me.
In the end we decided to put in an offer on a house with four bedrooms, three bathrooms that was built in 2003. It’s spacious, but has no charm. Has a tiny backyard, but does have a proper lawn for Sam to run around on. The kitchen wasn’t as nice, and I am very upset that I’m going to have to sell my beautiful gas cooker which I love so much, but I think it’s definitely the better investment. We went back several times during the day and night and had a good drive around the area. It was always reassuringly very quiet and we didn’t see anyone taking their lawnmower for a walk.
*at this point Sam woke up and needed Mum to feed him Cheerios and make silly faces at him until we got home.*