Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Be Safe and Practical or Take a Chance and be Adventurous?

The house sale is moving on in an orderly fashion. The home inspection has occurred, the warts fully exposed. Fortunately, no warts are too scary for the buyers. The P&S is in draft mode and should be finalized today.

Our attentions have turned to buying our next home. I've gone on two tours of multiple properties with my realtors (two women that work in a team). We've focused our search on the following:
  • condos, so a lot of the ongoing responsibilities for exterior and grounds maintenance is assumed by someone else
  • properties that will accommodate Skip's wheelchair, with no stairs outside or in (except to get down to a basement, which she won't need to do), wider doorways (desirable but not a must-have). This has eliminated a huge number of condos that have multiple living levels. In fact, just about every non-55+ condo in our preferred area has been eliminated due to disabled needs.
  • central Massachusetts, in and around Worcester. Property values are lower here than where we currently live, so we get more for our money. Also, it puts us closer to where my mom lives and the shops where I sell stuff.
  • Two bedroom homes so I have an office.
Having seen about 10 places in person, we've narrowed our search down to two places that are very different. We are having a helluva time trying to decide which one to go with.
  • Safe and Practical: This is a 1400 sq ft ranch-style attached condo in a 55+ community. Two bedrooms; the master is a bit larger than our current one, which I had hoped for. Two car garage, with 2 steps into the house from the garage, which can easily be replaced by a ramp. It's 9 years old, in impeccable condition. The bedrooms have wall to wall carpet that we'd replace with hardwood floors. The ramp and the flooring are the only mods I'd make. The community has a lot of green space, our unit is at the end of a long row of homes and would look out over lots of woods, has a deck on the back where Skip could look out at those woods and the critters living in them. Taking the dogs out would be a snap -- attach leashes and step out the front door. We met the husband of the couple that lives next door. He seems like a really nice guy. So what's wrong with it? Well, everyone in the community will be old! It's bringing out my ageist side. Also, the housing stock in the neighborhood is really beige and generic. Quite a change from our contemporary home.
  • Adventurous: this is a 1450 sq ft condo in a converted schoolhouse in Worcester. The schoolhouse was built in the 1890s and converted to condos about 6 years ago. The unit has a lot of WOW factor. Huge 4' x 7' windows, 11' high ceilings, some features leftover from the schoolhouse days including exposed brick and a chalkboard. The bedrooms are the same size or a little bit smaller than our current one. Taking the dogs out will be a bit of a hassle -- taking an elevator and then half a flight of steps (these are mini-dachshunds who don't do stairs) out the back to the designated dog spot. There's designated parking in the lot but no garage. The unit is set up beautifully if we ever wanted to hire live-in help. There are 9 colleges in Worcester, providing a great supply of young people needing a place to live and I could see it being relatively easy to trade housing for labor. The two bedrooms are at opposite ends of the space, a good 30 or 40 feet away. The master bedroom, bathroom and study are all separated from the main part of the unit by a huge old schoolroom door. The kitchen/dining room/living room space is an excellent size. Storage isn't the best in the place, so we'd buy some wooden armoire/cabinets for that. The schoolhouse is located right off the "restaurant row" of Worcester, with tons of options for eating and takeout. The neighborhood is well-maintained.
In re-reading my write-up, the 55+ condo sounds like a better option, but the schoolhouse condo still calls to me. Why? The space is beautiful. I like the lack of cookie-cutter sameness. It is definitely unique. I like city living. I was living in Boston when Skip and I met and we lived in Boston and a few surrounding cities until my parents made us an offer we couldn't refuse to move out to the suburbs to our current home, the house I grew up in. When visiting Boston for meals out or to attend theater or sporting events, we've often commented how we'd love to move back. To me, a city is more lively and is walkable. You don't need to get into your car for everything, even the simplest errand. I'm not sure we'll really have a more walkable setting in Worcester, but it's certainly more walkable than the 55+ community out in the exurbs. I just checked the walkability scores on Zillow. Our current home is an 11 - car dependent. The Worcester location is a 60 and the exurb is a 9.

We've decided to go back to our two favorites one more time tomorrow afternoon (well, honestly, Skip hasn't seen inside them, only done drivebys, so this'll be her first view of the interior). Following that, we're going to settle on one, even if it's by eenie-meenie-miny-mo, and make an offer. Either place will be a lovely next stop for the 2 humans and 2 dogs that comprise our immediate family.

Wish us luck tomorrow -- that we can happily settle on one or the other.


lightning36 said...

Wow -- sounds like fun! The good thing is that you have choices. Maybe the decision will be easier once Skip has a chance to see more of the condos.

Muffie said...

They both sound fantastic! I'm sure whatever you decide will be right for you. It will be an easier choice once Skip can let you know how well she'll manage in each. (I kind of like the schoolhouse, myself, but I'm sure that either will suit you well.) Good luck.

Cranky said...

Light - it is fun. but a bit stressful trying to figure out which place will be best for a couple of homebodies.

Muff - the schoolhouse has the inside track for me, too. It will be much easier for Skip after she's actually seen the two places rather than had to rely on my stories.

Achelois said...

You asked for luck Good Luck ever good luck with your decision. I want to say which one I would go for but daren't. So Good luck.

Webster said...

Schoolhouse sounds nice if only because it's the more colorful option. But it also sounds like it could be a PITA, the issue with taking the dogs out, the uncovered parking... but od course that's balanced with being close to restaurants and shops, etc.

Well, see how Skip likes these options.

I kinda think I would keep looking, but I don't know how much time your have.

BEST of luck to you.

kmilyun said...

I am kind of thinking along the lines that Webster is. Luck luck luck wishing etc going your way

Cranky said...

Thanks for the good wishes! Webster, you're definitely right that there are practical aspects to the 55+ condo.

I don't think we need to look further because either of these places would be great choices. It's just difficult to make the choice!

Have Myelin? said...

I can see the appeal of the schoolhouse one - but since I have a daschie, I know what a PITA it would be... especially if you have to get dressed before going down the elevator. The other place sounds like you could step outside in your robe?

Good luck!

Patrick said...

Did you say elevator? I know when we were visiting and visiting for care facilities an elevator was always a deal breaker. As when we moved from Maryland to Pennsylvania steps were a deal breaker. Our rule of thumb was simply suppose Patti had to get out by herself?

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick

Cranky said...

Sherry - you're right, it'd be more casual in the exurbs for those late night and early morning sojourns with those little PITAs!

Patrick - Skip and I talked about the safety concerns with an elevator in the building. She won't be able to get out of the condo without assistance, regardless of the one we choose. We'll have a panic pendant for her to wear to get emergency assistance in those rare occasions she's by herself. Fortunately, the back way out of the Worcester condo has a half staircase of 6 stairs, so it'll be much easier to manhandle her down that short flight than a full flight would require.