Sunday, March 24, 2013

The great house hunt of 2013...

Looking for a rental house is tough. It is hard work and can be completely depressing. After weeks of haunting Craigslist and asking friends if they know anyone with just the right rental, we did narrow it down to two properties. And from there we were stuck.  There was the beautiful adobe house which was small but in a stellar location close to downtown. It was completely remodeled with the most gorgeous kitchen I've ever seen in a rental including fabulous details like drawer pulls in the shape of spirals (yep, that was a big plus for me) and beautiful hardwood floors and a stone shower. The patio was attractive flagstone and I could imagine myself sitting out there chatting with a friend or reading a book. There were even stacked front-loader washer and dryer and a cedar-lined closet (okay, it was the only closet in the entire property and it would hardly hold our coats much less any clothes, but it was cedar lined!). When you're moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico, how can you pass up the house with real adobe walls, skylights, kiva fireplace, flagstone patios, rose bushes and plum tree, privacy fences, private parking, location on Old Santa Fe Trail (FOR GOODNESS SAKE!!!)? That is what I call adventure.

There was also the condo that was farther from the center of town, but was also incredibly lovely with tile floors, skylights, two bathrooms, a backyard, and in a housing area with extensive walking trails and a dog park. These are a big deal for me--the trails and dog park. I am a walker and to be able to walk out my front door and head into relatively wild territory for being within the city limits, is priceless. Both properties were only a few miles from my new studio and the hospital where I will be working. Neither had registered sex offenders living next door (as a last ditch effort we looked up addresses of sex offenders to see if that would help tip the scales one way or the other--unfortunately this was no help at all).

The journey to that point had been somewhat tedious. We turned down a lot of what we saw. There were the apartments that were crammed together and felt like a college dorm room (I'm too old for this, right? A pool doesn't make up for the kid on the bigwheel riding around the breezeway outside my door all day either, and come to think of it, that kid probably just peed in the pool). There was the place where the workmen were ripping out the disgusting carpet to reveal hardwood floor (yeah!), but there were still kitchen counters from 1970 and multiple roach and mouse traps clearly visible. There was the guesthouse that was a block from the hospital in a beautiful neighborhood which had a huge leak in the ceiling (right over the bed) and significant damage, discovered when it was shown to us. We turned those down.

And there were all the beautiful places that were big or in stellar locations but were way above our price range. We didn't look at those. Who needs the temptation.

In the end it came down to the beautiful remodeled adobe in historic downtown Santa Fe versus the large modern condo with the dog yard and walking paths. Both properties seemed to say, I am an adult and my life is something I need to be infinitely grateful for. That this was our choice is humbling.

The search did have some humorous moments.
Here was the absolute best Craigslist ad I saw. It was so good that I went to take photos of the property even though we didn't schedule a viewing (the house was about 30 feet from the busiest road in Santa Fe, and I don't have the temperament for it).
The rent was cheap (for Santa Fe) for a 1450 square foot house--$800. Here is the actual text from the ad:
Unfurnished, newly refurbished adobe cottage.... Two bedroom, one bath, large living room, full kitchen, utility room. No smoking. References and security screening required. $800 per month plus utilities. First and last month, security deposit, one year lease. 
Sounds great, right?  And then the last sentence explained the price:
"Cemetery gatekeeper requirements."

The house is on the grounds of Fairview Cemetery, Santa Fe's historic cemetery right on Cerrillos road. And you know, it turns out they didn't allow dogs. I suppose they didn't want the dog relieving itself on someone's grave. I guess I can understand that. (Though of course I don't think my dog would EVER do such a thing!)

When searching the internet for more information about the cemetery, the Wikipedia link revealed this:
In recent years Fairview Cemetery has become notorious for its prairie dog infestation, which causes human remains and coffin pieces to sometimes be visible on the grounds.
Perhaps that also explains the "no pets" policy. Dogs with a proclivity for digging would certainly go after the prairie dogs which could be unfortunate for the underground residents of the property. This whole cemetery thing doesn't really creep me out (perhaps due to long years of working in hospitals and nursing homes where the dead are something you do encounter), but I do understand that it might not be everyone's idea of the best job description.

Here is the house (to the right) from another angle:

And another:
Just remember, in life there are many adventures. And perhaps your calling is to be the gatekeeper at a historic cemetery in the oldest capital city in the United States. I suspect the job is taken by this time, but you could still ask. Since I already have two jobs, I didn't feel that adding "cemetery gatekeeper" to the list was necessary, though perhaps I shouldn't have dismissed it so readily. Wouldn't it look great on my resume?

There is a lot of waiting when you're looking for a place to live. We looked at a lot of properties through a property management agency and they schedule viewings quite strictly. During one waiting period, we went to get a car wash for Emily's Camry (which admittedly was VERY dirty due to the gravel roads we live on in Colorado). I get a lot of flack from my family and friends about all the bags of stuff I cart around, but because I had my knitting bag in the car, I had something to do in the 25 minutes it took to get the car vacuumed and washed.

Being able to stand and knit in the New Mexico sunshine on a Tuesday afternoon: Priceless.
And if you must know, we finally chose the condo. Perhaps not as imaginative, but much easier on the pocketbook.

6 comments:

  1. Congratulations! We loved living in downtown Santa Fe and the dog park was one of our favorite places. Met a lot of great people and dogs there. I traipsed those hills every day before heading over to James' studio, and found some wonderful tapestry inspirations there too. Enjoy your new home!

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  2. As much as I hate moving myself, this looks like a wonderful adventure! I'm so excited for your studio too.

    Also, glad you skipped the cemetary, that would creep me out....and the things the cat would drag into the house, ick.

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  3. Congratulations on finding your condo with hiking paths etc. So glad you passed up the cemetary job :) AND a studio!!! And a job at the hospital--keep it up friend. Very proud of you. Helen Hart

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  4. As a former tapestry weaver, now a rug weaver I look forward to meeting you! My husband and I just bought a house in Eldorado. We have to move from Florida now, can't wait.
    Connie Enzmann-Forneris
    Fiberdesigns.com

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  5. Congratulations on finally finding a new place! I must agree that $800 for a 1450 square foot house is a great deal indeed. Anyway, have you moved in there already? I wonder what it feels like to live somewhere near a cemetery. It must be creepily cool, right? Share your experiences too if you can.

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    1. Grin. Fortunately we are not living in the cemetery house but in a quiet condo far away from the headstones. :)

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