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.
- 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.
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.