There's been a lot of talk around Casa de Cheeky as to whether this particular casa has outlived it's Cheeky-ness.
My deep personal loathing of suburban America has kept us comfortably nestled in our snug, $700/sq. ft. grassless abode, patiently reminding ourselves of how much our mortgage helps our taxes while wincing every time a delivery truck grazes our car. We love the convenience of walking half a block to the over-priced grocery store that smells like Bruce Vilanch's large intestine if it had been left on the counter all night. We're just down the street from a movie theater that, including babysitting, costs $40 per show, and we've got tons of cool restaurants and bars down the street that we vaguely remember the insides of. It's almost ideal!
But there's a down side, too. Our yard is a lovely shade of asphalt. The space between rooms is about the same as the space between these two words. And the cost of school virtually guarantees I won't have groceries--let alone essentials like an iPhone--until retirement.
Meanwhile, our friends beckon us with bony fingers from across the rivers, tempting us with tails of gingerbread houses on gum-drop lanes, with attached garages and affordable schooling where all children are handed gold bullion and Ivy League scholarships. "Join us," they call, "all are welcome." Their dulcet pleas echo in our ears, promising joyous backyard barbecues, with traces of desperate pleas for companionship in shared misery beneath the surface.
No harm in looking, right?
This weekend we trekked north for a brief taste of what could be should our weakening bonds to the city ever snap. Armed with a fair value estimate of what we could afford and a short set of rules (no McMansions, no Penn Station) we ventured into the wilds of Westchester County to see if our hard-earned equity could be turned into something that didn't require an elevator ride and a stored-value card to do laundry.
In Des Moines, or Little Rock, or Missoula, the sale of our apartment could probably be leveraged into an 8 bedroom estate with a carriage house, marble fountains full of 1958 Glen Garioch, and a family of jugglers and flame-eaters who would perform nightly for our amusement. We didn't think our dollar would stretch quite that far around the city, but a bathroom with two sinks and minimal exposed plumbing seemed reasonable. Sure enough, the towns we visited (officially "villages," which makes me think they're populated by Smurfs) were all charming and beautiful, with affordable schools, beach-front access, and no neighbors casually dropping anvils on the floor above us during Cheeky's nap time.
Of course those weren't the houses in OUR price range.
No, the houses in OUR price range "have potential." They're the ones that HGTV looks at and says, "Well, we COULD fix it up some, but we might as well just bring in the bulldozers." Don't get me wrong, I'm as big a fan of floor-to-ceiling wood-paneling in EVERY ROOM as the next guy, but there's something missing when the only cleanser you need is Pledge.
And then there are the "pass-through" streets these
over-priced quaint homes were located on. "Pass-through" is suburban code for "acceleration-only" allowing cars to shoot by like Hot Wheels coming off the loop-de-loop. Backing out of the driveway would suicidal, and ever since I saw Pet Semetary I've assumed all such roads were automatically accompanied with nearby burial grounds for the internment and resurrection of evil dopplegangers of pets and loved ones. No thanks...I'll pass on the high-speed Frogger and homicidal zombie cats, thanks.
We walked away disheartened, not because we didn't find anything we liked but because of how obviously poor and unworthy we are. It's not like we told the broker we were interested only in castles with helipads; we legitimately thought we might find a yard and driveway without also finding appliances from the dawn of electricity. Nothing makes you appreciate your unobstructed view of the apartment next door like the prospect of commuting an hour to get there.
My next strategy: contact some brokers to see if they can locate a nice house somewhere in the early 1990s.