Downtown Girl

Sometimes you try something on, see how it fits, and sometimes it fits well. Other times it doesn't. That's how I feel about our house.

Yes, it's our first home that we actually purchased. It's snug in the woods with seven other cluster homes; it's quiet, fairly easy to get to and peaceful. But since we moved there in 2005 I have missed the hustle & bustle of a more downtown location.

I haven't lived downtown since 2002, when Brad & I left downtown St. Paul for the burbs. At the time, it was "perfect timing." The apartment building was about to turn into condos, and our unit would have been about $260,000 + $10,000 for a single parking spot. Way too pricey! Not to mention the fact that after 9/11 living downtown lost it's appeal. I won't recap what happened that day and the days/weeks that followed, but it was a very uncomfortable place to be. We never thought St. Paul was a target, but there were some odd things that occurred that made us decide to leave.

We moved to Ohio about a year later and lived in the west burbs for awhile. The building was brand new, very modern, and because we were so close to shopping & restaurants we didn't feel too far removed from the action. In April 2005 we were driving to my parents, decided to take back roads and came across our current home. It looked cool & modern, and the price was right. We felt that if we were going to purchase a home, this would be a good investment.

Unfortunately things didn't fall into place as we had hoped. Both of us ended up getting other jobs that put us at least 45 minutes away - one way - from our home. Our basement flooded three times in the first three months we were there. The builder went bankrupt & left the eight homeowners to maintain three private streets & landscaping. We've had trees fall (some which we've had to pay for their removal), griping/arguing/immature neighbors, and we found out after the first year that they had us in the wrong school district, which greatly increased our taxes.

We've put in time & money to upgrade the house, as we quickly found out how cheap things really were. You get what you pay for! But we've put in crown molding, new doors, fresh coats of neutral yet colorful paint in each room, etc. We still need to change a few doors and redo the flooring on the first floor, but all in all it's a good house. Even though it's a tough housing market, we have no unrealistic expectations. We'll price it for a little more than what we paid, and hope to - at least in the end - break even, if not make a little profit.

We're not to the point where we're ready to sell (the house really needs to be perfect & it's not there yet), but we made the decision yesterday to rent a second place to call home. It's in downtown Cleveland; 5-6 blocks from where I work, and Brad can hop on a bus or train & go 10 miles to where he works. Much more convenient, brand new construction and we have a nice top floor (8th floor), corner unit. It's a one bedroom so it's a definite downsize. However, we at least have a plan - finish the house upgrades, keep enough furniture there to make it look lived in, rent some other furniture (like couches, beds, etc.) when we do put it on the market, and take the belongings we need/cherish the most with us to the apartment.

We looked at other places and this was the last on our list. But I must say, after we saw that last unit I couldn't have felt more at home. I realized that though it may sound immature, I miss being downtown. I miss being able to walk to work, walk to shopping, restaurants, etc. Yes, Cleveland isn't big enough where we can just take public transportation everywhere. But we can take the train one stop to the famous West Side Market. We're within walking distance of every sports stadium and most of the theatres and auditoriums. Just a block away is a cozy little alley with every type of restaurant, all with outdoor seating, and strings of lights are run from one building across the alley to the next. It's a piece of paradise and we'll soon be calling it home.

The biggest reason for moving was originally to be closer to work so I could eliminate 90+ minutes a day from my commute. I'm working unbelievable amounts of overtime and it's not going to stop until we're through a huge software conversion in October. So until then we were looking for a part-time place to call home. But then we found our new home & everything else in regards to plans and our current home fell into place.

I can't speak for Brad, but I know that ever since yesterday I feel a lot happier than I've been in a long time. I'm a city girl, and I'm happy that as of next week I'll be a city girl again. I can't wait to walk to work down cozy 6th Street and maybe even have the time to go home for lunch some days. I long for the day where Brad & I are able to eat a nice, homemade dinner before 6:30pm...maybe even before 6pm! And yes, even though I may have to go back to work afterwards, it's just a quick 5 minute drive (walking in Cleveland late at night by yourself is not recommended!). When it comes down to it, I'm not a person who should be living in a remote area or even a suburb. I often wonder if that speaks to an immaturity level on my part, but life is short and if this is where I'm happiest then that's my prerogative!

Even better yet, it's the first big step we've made towards "the transition." The transition out of Ohio to our final destination. Step one: Sell the house. And renting something in the short term while we do that, and then having it to stay in until "Step two" is really quite a perfect plan. It will be a little hectic & trying, but I'm hoping that when our lease expires in October we will be able to extend it and not be forced back into the home.

That being said, it's weird to think that this is the last week that we will be living in the house. A lot of things have happened since 2005, though most of them were not ones to cherish & remember in a positive light. Our luck really turned after we bought the house, and maybe...just maybe...it will turn to positive luck once we're out of there. Then again, people often say that you make your own luck without meaning to. I don't know if I entirely believe that, but if having a positive attitude & being happy with your surroundings are more likely to bring you good luck, then this upcoming year should be a really good one.

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