Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New Lease on Life (and an apartment)!

Has it really been a month and a half since I last posted??? 

My friend Lori asked if I was still doing the blog and it jogged my memory, "oh yeah, I was going to do this blog to keep people up to date more and to have a sort of diary of our new adventures."  We are settled in very nicely into a two bedroom apartment in an area of Alexandria, VA called Kingstowne.  Andy and I dropped our kids off with his wonderful parents in Indiana while we came out here together to find a new place.  The drive here was more mountainous than I was expecting and we went a different route home to avoid all the up and down on our poor little Nissan Quest.  If you ever drive here from Louisville, I recommend coming the more southern route that is more straightforward. 

We arrived after a 10 or so hour ride and got here just in time for D.C. traffic with no exact plans for a place to crash for the night.  Did I mention the traffic yet?  I have been in some rush hour stuff in Chicago and St. Louis but this was unreal.  Later we would meet people that described their rides as, "My ride in is only 45 minutes, but my ride home is 3 hours."  We knew moving out here we would only have one car, and since we sold the other one at our auction and are not rolling in the dough, but sheesh 3 hours??

Our criteria was simple for our future home:
  • safe
  • close enough to a metro station so we could walk/bike to the metro
  • in a ridiculously low price range for around here 1600 max
  • 2 bedrooms, but 3 would be nice
We got an expensive cheap hotel room at the Econolodge in Falls Church that first night and then found a local bar to chill out after our drive.  Dogwood Tavern was just what the doctor ordered.  They had a large variety of microbrews that I had never heard of and heavenly food.  After making our way back to the hotel we continued our search online and with our Apartment Guide courtesy of the Washington Post that my friend Paula had gotten for me.   We picked out a few that looked good, mostly by price and size and we were kind of sticking to the Falls Church area since I thought that was where a lot of homeschool activities were going on. 

First place we looked at the first day the price was right, it was a bit far from the metro so that meant a bus ride of some sort and it was just so congested in the area.  We got a tour of a model, which I would later find was the way it goes.  They show you a model that looked pretty, clean, odor-free and then you had to go on blind faith that the one you signed your lease for was close to the same condition.  I did not like this and made it known that if you can't show me the inside I at least want to know what unit it will be so I know if I am next to the trash compactor or sewage plant or whatever.  When I did this at the first one, I felt Andy look at me like "what are you doing, you are being a little pushy".  Pushiness pays off because we were shown a model on the "garden level" also known as a basement.  The garden level apartment model we looked at was on the main floor and walked right out to the grass when you went out the sliding doors.  The unit that we would be getting when we went to look at it, was a stinkin' basement.  First one we looked at was the last on my list already.

We saw about 4 or 5 that day and most were either "garden" basements and one was too expensive and didn't really seem very kid-friendly, more college/grad student/bachelorish--but it was hardly a block from the metro.  This one was the top of the list that day.  We regrouped--Andy went to a fly fishing store he spotted and I went to TJ Max and bought some clothes that I am wearing now nearly every day (two shirts and a pair of boots) that's my wardrobe.   I have some jeans that I alternate with to really get 5 different outfits.  You know I am joking right?, but not really.  While I was at the Max, Andy got online at Panera and got a deal on a room at a Hyatt or Hilton but we had to pay for internet there.  Crazy, right?  Several adult sodas later, we mapped out a new list that included an apartment complex that had some townhouses in our price range, but had this review on  "It is a great place to live as long as you don't mind living in a retirement community".  When we took the tour that about summed it up, plus too far from a metro and guess what?  We would again be offered a garden apartment with one of the townhomes we originally wanted above it.  I guess you have to wait until someone dies to get one of those. 

The second place we went to, Andy had aparently said a secret prayer before we went to.  We were going into territories unknown about 7 miles east in Springfield, VA.  We were done with the Falls Church area.  It was too pricey, and so congested with construction still going on everywhere.  So, on to Springfield with no lunch or breakfast and coming off yet another lame tour.  I was just going along with Andy, I was out of ideas.  He said, "I know this is going to be the one".  "Sure, whatever", was my attitude.  I thought we were way to far out to be near a metro. We showed up at lunch and only one rental agent was there and she was just signing a lease with someone so we had to wait.  We ate the offerings of cookies and coffee gratefully since we were starving and this was going to take longer than we thought.  Finally our turn arrives and we got the schpeel and toured a 2 bedroom that would be the actual one we could move into that day.  We loved it.  Then we started talkig about a model one she had just shown us that had a sunroom (sort of) in it and asked her the price of that one.  She said that if we were considering that one we should spend about 20 bucks more a month and do the 2 bedroom with a loft and extra bathroom.  We mulled it over looked at the floorplan on paper since one would not be available for a month, which was when we wanted to move in anyways.  Then she told us how her husband rides his bike to the metro that is only a mile away and takes the metro to work in D.C.  And, she tells us that there is a bus stop that is only a 5 minute ride to the metro if you don't want to walk or bike.  I don't know if it was the hunger pains, the continuous circle of crappy apartments with one that was nice and met our criteria, or the prayer--but we signed a lease that day. 

The apartment is over our price range, but the $1600 one was over our price range to begin with considering we still are paying our mortgage in that farm we still own back in Missouri.  Eh-what's another couple hundred when you can't afford the first 16?  I know it is bad Emily Post manners to share financial information, but I wanted to share with you and remind myself later how much it costs to live modestly in the D.C. area.

So, we went back and retrieved our kids.  I will fill in those blanks in the near future.

Day 3 of looking   

We arrived after

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