Housing and Transportation

Now that we’re living with my parents, it’s easy for my father to mention that my last blog post is getting stale–I guess that’s a sign that I need to update. We’ve been busy, and one of the most delicate adjustments in the moving process is that of finding time and space to write. I don’t entirely understand his complaint, because the main function of this blog is to provide pictures of Elena, and he now gets to see her every day. He must be thinking of all the other readers who don’t get to see her as much.

We had two major things to find once we got here: a place to live and a car. We took full advantage of the internet to lay the groundwork for both of them, which made the process mostly painless when we arrived. We didn’t want to commit to anything without seeing it for ourselves, but were able to take care of both things in our first week, giving us enough freedom in our schedule to visit Jenny’s mom, Grandma Nancy, last weekend, but more about that later.

In the month before we left Texas, I regularly checked militarybyowner.com which, despite its name, is not exclusively for the military. Jenny set up email alerts on a real estate website. We may not have seen every available rental in our search area, but we saw most of them. One day a new listing for a townhouse popped up–it seemed to have everything we wanted: the right size, an ideal location, a local landlord, and a price that fit into our budget. I was so excited that sent the landlord an email as soon as I saw it, and then made a follow-up phone call less than an hour later.

When I told Jenny about it, she wasn’t easily convinced. She checked out the walk score, learned about coupon policies for nearby grocery stores, researched the community, and eventually came to the conclusion that it would be a good place to live. Just when we were fully invested and excited about the prospect, the landlord contacted us and said that the current tenant had decided to stay on. Crestfallen, we resumed our search.

About a week before our move date, the landlord contacted me and asked if I was still interested–the townhouse wouldn’t be available until the beginning of October, but we could take the first shot at it. We visited it two days after we got here, and it was almost everything we had hoped for. We still didn’t want to make a decision on the spot–at the very least, we wanted to check for other options.

The landlord allowed us one night to sleep on it, but wanted a quick decision. We quickly realized that there wasn’t anything else even close, and pulled the trigger. When we went to sign the contract, the landlord told us that in the one week the listing had been posted there were more than two hundred emails from other hopeful renters. Mine was the first, and I promised that we would be excellent tenants, and in the end that was enough. As much as we appreciate living with my parents, we can hardly wait to get settled in a place we can call our own.

I used craigslist to find a car, but the difficulty was the high volume of postings. Even after narrowing down my options I read lots of listings. We were still in Texas, so I didn’t plan to respond to any of them; I figured everything good would sell before we got there. Still, when I found one that looked perfect, and decided to give it a shot.

The listing was for a single-owner 2000 Honda Civic, and appeared well-loved. The ad said that they were looking to send it to a good home, and I decided that we qualified. When I wrote to them, I said that I needed the car because I would be moving for a new job after completing my graduate work. The seller empathized–she finished a Ph.D. a year ago. When the first prospective buyer fell through, they contacted me to see if I was still interested, even though they had several other offers. After a test drive, I knew it was the right car for me, and we filled out the paperwork.

The car needed a little work to pass its safety inspection. As a result, I’ve learned how to buff and restore headlights, and made Jenny jealous in the process–she’s pretty sure she’ll need me to do the same for her car before we register it. I can’t replace the frayed seatbelt myself, but I’m getting that done tomorrow and then I’ll be street legal, just in time to drive it to work on Monday.

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