House Shopping Continued…

House shopping is an activity best suited for the childless. Or at least the babyless.
Its very difficult to do with one little monster who wants to explore/break everything in each stranger’s house we visit, while the other monster wants to eat right now, and she doesn’t care if the real estate agent is in the middle of his spiel.

We get a two hour window between dinner and Ben’s bed time to look at houses. We can stay out later than 8pm if we have to, but we’ll pay for it when Mr. Crankypants wakes up in the morning, so its not really a good idea.

Houses in the town we’re looking in seem to be drastically over-priced. We’re prepared to spend up to $235,000, but there’s property taxes to consider as well. So shopping at the top end of our budget, we’ve been disappointed by everything we’ve seen. All the houses in our price range would require some sort of compromise: small kitchen with no room for a dishwasher, unfinished basement that would make for a very cold home office, sketchy neighbourhood with unpleasant looking neighbours, 40 year-old decor in every single room of the house that would costs thousands to replace…

Its been discouraging to say the least. Earlier this week we got pretty excited about a townhouse (that alone is a compromise) but when we saw it, it was a bit of a downer. Its not bad… its just not what we’re hoping for. Oh ya, and we had to fire our first agent, because she didn’t seem interested in showing us any houses…

The thing is, we’re not going to be happy settling for something that doesn’t quite fit our needs. This is a minimum 5-year commitment. Its not like an apartment, where if you decide you don’t like it, you can move out in a year. A house is ours, and we need something that our whole family can live in comfortably — that doesn’t cost $280,000!!

We realise our requirements are high, but we’re also realising that this particular town might not be right for us either. We could get twice the house for our money in a smaller town… So we’ve got one more chunk of houses to look at, on Saturday — this time with babysitters arranged — and if nothing fits the bill, we’re going to expand our search to some neighbouring towns.

There’s also vehicles, vehicle insurance, banking and health care tasks pending. Its not going to be a very relaxing summer…

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I love this town!

I love how alive it is! There’s constantly something going on, but at the same time, it still doesn’t seem like a big city.

I love that there’s a Starbucks just a short walk from our place, and a hot dog vendor just outside its door.
I love that there’s a little family-run market the same distance in the other direction.

I love that we’re a stone’s throw from 3 major highways, but that there’s still grass and sidewalks on every little street.

I love the college students, full of hopes and dreams for the future. I love that they’re in debt up to their eyeballs, but still manage to find money for trendy clothes — worn in combination with bed head and droopy eye-lids from either last night’s party, or last night’s early-morning study session. I love that both obligations seem equally crucial to them right now, because they have so little else to worry about.

I love the college professor who jogs by our apartment every day, and how he says hello in his still-a-little-bit-British accent.

I love the feeling of academia, occasionally drowned-out by the 20 year old idiot driving by in his Civic with the bass pumped so loud it threatens to shake the $1500 rims off his $3000 car.

I love that everything we need is within a few blocks of our place, and that there are no shortage of people for Benjamin to say HI! to on our walks — and I love that we can walk! That I’ve parked my car for the summer, and probably won’t pull it out again until we move.

What a great town! Maybe I’m just in an abnormally good mood, because on my lunch hour today, I opened the door and had lunch with my family — instead of staring at my boring cubicle walls for an hour, or mall-walking alone in Albany. Maybe it’ll all look a lot different after a month here. But at the moment, I’m pretty happy with our temporary home.

And so completes Phase 2

As of Saturday afternoon, my whole family lives together under the same roof — for the first time in over a month!

Last week was a pretty tough one, as I worked in the otherwise empty apartment alone, with my family now only an hour away from me. Our friends Chad and Jen put me up for one of the nights in their beautiful new house, and I did the full commute on Friday. Saturday, with lots of help from Nicole’s family and my mom we loaded about a quarter of our belongings into a little trailer, a jeep, a van and my car, and met up in the tiny parking lot at our temporary apartment. My good friend John, who has helped us through as many moves as our own family, met us there and helped us move the big stuff in.

We’re intentionally living on the bare minimum, because we’re holding out hope that we’ll find a house of our own really soon. Ben had a bit of a hard time sleeping the first day, but by Sunday evening we had the place in pretty good shape, looking sort of like home, and he calmed down a lot. It didn’t really help us feel…safe, when he woke up on Saturday morning with one eye swollen shut and oozing. Fortunately it turned out to be just an allergic reaction, that didn’t affect him much at all. Its almost completely back to normal now.

So we’re here, we have a home, and we’re finally all together again. Things are going pretty much as planned! The next couple weeks will likely have us sticking pretty close to home base, but if you’re Ontario friends and family, and we haven’t seen you yet, we’d love it if you dropped by to visit!

Pictures of our temporary home are in the sidebar…

How was your monday?

6:30am – Get up, shower and pack or discard the remaining items I was living off of. The bedroom drapes, sheets and blankets, shower curtain, last set of dishes, my underwear… oh ya, and the TV and the XBox. I was living alone, and without Internet — I had to stay sane somehow.

10:30am – Movers arrive and begin loading up our possessions. As they finish each room, I go over it with a vacuum, then the steam cleaner.

1:00pm – Finish steam cleaning the last room, return apartment keys, get in line behind a little old lady at Price Chopper complaining about how she paid $3 more than she should have for her shrimp, finally return the steam cleaner, return the Fischer’s vacuum (thanks guys)

2:30pm – Hit the highway and drive furiously to catch up with the moving truck. As we were loading up, he invites me to cross the border with him and get my stuff cleared through customs all in the same day. This way we could get our stuff delivered this week, instead of some time in the next 1-3. I agree, and spend the next 4.5 hours chasing a transport truck through back roads and small towns across New York, on his “short cut” to an “easy border.”

7:00pm – Finally catch the truck at the “easy border” which is backed-up out my butt with Canadians returning from their long weekend trips… oh ya, forgot about the Canadian holiday. Got into customs to clear our stuff, where they told me I’d have to assign a dollar value to every single item we’d packed. This was a surprisingly depressing exercise, since as I went through the inventory, I realised the vast majority of our stuff was worth less than $25 (most of it less than $5)

8:30pm – On the 401 near Kingston, Ontario, suddenly realising why this was a short-cut for the truck driver. He lives in Whitby, which was barely 2 hours away. I, on the other hand, still had another 4 hours of driving, having crossed there. Not happy, but too exhausted to care much.

11:00pm – Changed into my pajamas at a Tim Horton’s rest stop. Got an Ice Cappacino. Drove the remaining hour and a half in my slippers.

1:00am – Climbed into bed in Ontario.

It was a long, long day, but our stuff, including our children, cat, furniture, and industrial class computers are across the border. Wednesday the driver will drop our stuff off in storage, and we’ll select a few items to go to our temporary apartment on Saturday. My home office is online, although barely. And we’re all alive, and no worse for wear.

This has to have been the smoothest International move… ever. Now if we can just get our kids some health care…