Sunday, March 20, 2011

Time Machine (part 1)

[To avoid one, long, endless post of how we got to where we are today, I've broken the background up into several parts—Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.]

Scoob and I moved into our current dwelling on Dec. 21, 2002. My birthday, actually. So, happy birthday to me!

Prior to moving in together, Scoob and I had been dating long distance. He was in Sunnyvale, CA and I was in Sacramento, CA. It doesn't seem like a long distance, but 4-hours round-trip driving time for each date began to take its toll on both of us.

Scoob felt he was ready to buy a place and make a break from renting and so we started looking. We ended up with our condo. I remember being happy with the amount of natural light that flooded the living room when we looked at it.

And the location was great for our needs at the time. Scoob needed easy access to a bridge to get to work in Palo Alto,CA , and I needed access to a train to get to school in Davis, CA. This was our first house for both of us and the possibilities seemed endless, though we were both in agreement that this was not our "forever" house. We figured we'd probably be here for 5 years. Tops. (We're closing in on 9 years.)

Once I finished school (2004) and got a job, and Scoob began telecommuting, the location became less important to us and we began noticing several quality of life issues. A few of the biggies:
  • Our condo (1 of 156 in our development) is 950-sq. ft. with next to nothing for storage space and a lousy layout. We outgrew it quickly.
  • Despite all the natural light that I loved, we constantly keep the blinds closed for privacy because the condos are too close together. 
  • Lousy insulation. During the admittedly few very hot or cold spells we have, we either cook or freeze.
  • The ineffective Home Owners Association is extremely expensive ($240/month!), and despite all the rules about what residents can and cannot do, they don't bother to actually enforce the rules the matter. I really don't care if my neighbor wants a red front door, but I do care that they've converted their garage into living space (no-no) and are now parking 4 cars on the lot (we're allowed 2, and 1 must be parked in the garage).
  • The buildings act as an amplifier and any outside noise sounds like it is right in our house. An issue that's become increasingly irritating the last couple of years due to all the families that have had to downsize their homes, so units that should have 3 or 4 people living in them now have 5 to 7, and that means more noise.
These seem like such minor things to complain about in light of the hardships other people face on a daily basis. But listening to the neighbor run laundry at 2 a.m. every other night for the last 3 years and wearing headphones to block out the kids blowing on whistles outside just so we can relax in our home has gotten old really fast.

At any rate, we knew we wouldn't be living here permanently and we started seriously looking at moving about 4 years ago. I was being laid-off at work and we knew we wanted to escape the Bay Area, so it made sense to do those things at the same time and we started looking around Austin, TX, and Eugene, OR.

We saw a few places that were promising, but then I was offered a new and exciting job with the employer that had just laid me off. We decided to accept the job offer and stick it out for two years so I'd have the job experience to take with me.

Two years has come and gone, and while I still enjoy my job, we have got to leave the Bay Area. The cost of living is just too high here, and the frustrations of where we live have worn on both of us to the point that we're constantly annoyed and we're not very happy people any longer.

So, we were still eying Austin and Eugene when we visited friends in near Chapel Hill, NC, for Christmas 2009. At the end of our week there I realized I couldn't remember when I'd last felt so relaxed. And that was when we began also considering Chapel Hill for our new home.

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