Boy have I got some exciting news!!! A week or so ago I asked a bunch of you for positive energy on Facebook…and guess what! It worked! We are now under contract to buy a lovely house that we are pretty excited about. I suppose I sort of owe an update on the decision-making process…even though I don’t really want to go into it. Oh well, here goes.
We went round and round about what part of town to live in. We really wanted to do the whole downtown-ish urban thing, and that’s what we’d been fantasizing about since long before we even got here. We both had eyes for Highland Park and I still think that is an awesome part of town. We also love Regent Square and Squirrel Hill. However…the fantasy just wasn’t panning out the way we’d hoped. For one thing, the homes that were updated enough for us to consider were at the very high-end of our chosen price range in Highland Park and we couldn’t really make anything work in Regent Square or Squirrel Hill without significant compromise. In fact, after looking at many homes downtown, and in the Forest Hills/Churchill/Blackridge area, we lowered our price range because we just weren’t “wowed” by anything. And you kind of want to be wowed at the top of your price range. So we decided that if we were going to settle, we might as well be settling at a much lower price. That decision pretty much removed the lingering Highland Park from our consideration altogether.
So we focused on Forest Hills, Churchill and Blackridge for a while and when I finally realized that downtown was no longer an option in James’s mind, I had to hit the brakes. This all happened right about the time I wrote that last update on our decision-making process. I realized we just weren’t going to be able to make it work downtown and have the sort of urban/pedestrian/pseudo-European lifestyle that I had been dreaming of. Too many factors were stacked against us. I also realized that our effort to compromise a little by considering areas just east of downtown was a little misguided. It was an effort to hold onto the downtown dream, but in reality there was absolutely nothing downtown about it. We wouldn’t have had any of the benefits of living downtown…in my mind things like being able to walk or bike to the city’s gorgeous parks, my favorite grocery stores, and the abundant cultural venues. Oh yeah, and I’m probably supposed to mention the sports venues as well now that I’m Burgh Verified, right? Anyway…we weren’t going to really have that living in Forest Hills or further east. At that moment…the moment I realized that…I knew that if we were really going to do what was best for ourselves, we were going to have to give New Ken & Lower Burrell a second chance. So we did.
We found that we were able to stay at the low to middle end of our newly lowered price range and find homes that had been updated enough to satisfy us. Several homes. We also admitted to ourselves how important and beneficial it was for us to be near some family. Still, neither of us was (or is) thrilled about the current economics of the area. We are very fortunate to be a telecommuting family. James is blessed with the same employment situation he had in Denver, except…he does it from home now. In fact, we are ALL blessed with that and I’m not exaggerating when I say that I give thanks every. single. day. for it. One big reason we avoided NK/LB was in case James ever ended up needed to commute into downtown. We finally realized we probably didn’t need to arrange our lives around a “maybe.” NK/LB does have a few things going for it that were important for me…they have one of the nicest Giant Eagles I’ve seen since we came here. They also have THE nicest Target I’ve seen since we came here. And incidentally the ONLY Target I’ve seen that has a Starbucks inside it. I’m sure they have one down in the Robinson area too but that’s just way in the opposite direction of everything we came here for. There’s also Pittsburgh Mills…not the most awesome mall, but it will do until 2.0 has the fortitude for occasional day trips to Zombieville…which is currently my favorite mall in the area. Waterworks isn’t too far away either, as long as Rte 28 hasn’t imploded. So. There is plenty of support for my raging consumerist tendencies. Which would be much abated if there was a reasonable secondhand/thrift market around here. If there is one, for the love of God help me find it!
So anyway…point being…we were able to overlook the pretty significant detractors and see some positives. I’ll probably avoid driving through downtown NK at all costs to avoid sinking into a depressive funk. We have also found a house that seemed almost made for us. Almost. It has a perfect space for James’s office on the main level. It has just enough bedrooms and the walkout basement has lots of potential to be finished to our liking. It’s on a double lot…so there’s yard space for kids to play and for adults to barbecue & booze. Have I mentioned how badly I want a margarita lately? Wait, where was I? It has a garage for at least one of our cars. It’s in Mt. Vernon…which I personally believe is one of the most kid-friendly areas in NK and also just a cool neighborhood in general. People decorate for the holidays. They have a neighborhood association that coordinates an annual garage sale, a Halloween parade, and various other community events. Sidewalks throughout the entire neighborhood. The house backs up to a beautiful swath of trees. And it looks like a modern house inside. It’s been totally redone. Walls have been removed to make for a more open floor plan. Everything is new. Everything is bright. So we’ve managed to get a contract on this house we like. In New Ken. Literally around the corner from Mia, Grandpa & Aunt Kelly. Also much closer to James’s Aunts & Uncles & cousins on his mom’s side. Pretty much the whole family lives up that way, save for some very important people in Florida. And that brings me to my next point…
I’ve talked about lifestyle before and how we have some crazy ideas for what we want our life to be like. We know that there’s a lot we’ll have to come to terms with. I mean, I know we just aren’t going to be jet-setting around the globe, showing the kids the seven wonders of the world if we don’t win the lottery or somehow come into some money a la Scrooge McDuck. Currently we aren’t even buying lottery tickets…so I’m not totally delusional. However. One very important aspect of our life plan is to someday reasonably “soon” buy a second property in Florida, up the street from those very important people I mentioned earlier…or maybe on the beach 5 minutes away. At the very least, we are committed to dividing our time between PA and FL as soon as we can achieve it. We’ve done a lot of calculating. We believe it’s reasonable that we could achieve that in less than a decade based on our choice to buy a house at the low-end of our chosen price range. So that is the grand plan. It’s always been the grand plan, although lots of other things float around in there and get a lot more press, not the least of which is annual ski trips for maintaining Momma’s sanity and the undying dream of travelling the world with our kids. We’re going to have to scrimp and save and do the Spartan thing for a few more years. Of course here and there we’ll treat ourselves to some niceties. I know we both want to move beyond the college furniture we currently have and treat ourselves to a few upgrades. I know we both want to have a legitimate space to host guests. But overall, the goal is set and the wheels are in motion. We’ve committed to several more years of pragmatism and frugality so that we can get our hands on some priceless intangibles a bit faster. We think the kids will appreciate it someday. And we hope all of you VIF’s (very important Floridians) understand it too.