Thursday, July 8, 2010

We Have a Place to Live!

B & I have been so excited about moving to Florida. Actually, we've been excited about finishing law school, completing the Bar, and ... did I mention being done with the Bar? Florida has simply been icing on the cake.

However, every cake must have a box (or some metaphor), so I knew I needed to make a trip to Jacksonville this summer and secure us a place to live. B's knee-deep in Bar review and course work, so I left him with his parents and recruited Mom for a girls' trip down to the riverfront.

Our adventure got started earlier than expected. We volunteered to drop off some family in town for the 4th at the airport on our way out, which meant we were on the road at 5am (post airport drop off) and arrived in Jacksonville at 10:20am. Have you ever driven several hundred miles and arrived someplace while Chick-fil-A is still serving breakfast? It messes with you.

We got checked in to the amazing Priceline hotel, then headed to the Landings for lunch. One delicious lunch and a little wine later, we were en route to visit a few of my top picks. Number one turned out to be in the middle of Riverside, a cute area off the St. Johns with shopping, restaurants, and a margarita bar. I swooned. The house was even better than in the pictures. We knew it was vacant, so we peered into the windows and excitedly texted the agent that we were in town and ready to roll!

Earlier in the week I'd started to panic. What if the houses rented while we were driving down? What if every single one of the six on our list vanished before my very eyes to some laughing family of undeserving art deco charm? (Seriously, this is the kind of stuff I worry about.) I armed myself with information about apartment rentals, just in case.

Here's the deal. B & I are over apartments. They're wonderful, convenient, amenity-filled, and generally clean and lovely, but they have mass parking, group trash, sterile hallways, and zero community feel, at least in our experience. Everyone exists together, but no one knows anyone else. It's like the Mark Twain quote, "TV is the only invention that allows millions of people to do the same thing at the same time and still feel completely alone." And not in a good way, if you ask me.

But apartments have selling points. On-site landlords and maintenance. Safety in numbers. Easy of move-in and utility hook up. This ain't their first rodeo. Still, we wanted a house. Then we saw the prices and decided that a duplex would be more our style.

Still, three homes remained on my list. Tried-and-true single family detached homes. So off we went, driving by one. It wasn't too bad. Cute as a button, but on a street where the lawn mowers (and tire-free cars, I might add) must be on strike, cause they weren't movin', that's for sure.

It felt sketchy, so we drove on. House two had rented the weekend before (I KNEW it!). House three turned out to be in the shadow of a gold-buying pawn shop, just down the street from the title car hub of SE Florida (#2 on our list). Veto, Veto, Veto.

House one lingered on my mind.

We went to see two apartment buildings. One was great, right on the river and totally fine. Clean, wonderful, and fine. Apartment two was industrial style, cold and clean, but a second to the first apartment, for sure.

Happy that we'd ruled out so many and excited to see more the next day, we headed out to the beach (13 miles), then back for dinner at an adorable place called Biscotti, where we enjoyed wine, lobster pot pies, and salad before calling it a night and slumbering away in our comfy, posh hotel room.

Wednesday started bright and early. We left at 7:30 to check out and hit a well-known bakery before our 8:45 showing at an apartment complex. The complex was amazing, like a hip New York hotel dropped right on the riverfront. But there was no place to eat or shop or walk anywhere around it. It was surrounded by lonely businesses that cleared out after work. No life. Plus, I might not have been cool enough to live there. It did have a sauna and steam room (don't tell B!).

After that, we met our agent and went to see House #1. We met the owner and heard all about it and, honestly, fell in love. After our tour, we went across the street to another listing (#3 on our list) and spent the entire tour (agent included!) talking about the house across the street.

That was it. The rest of the early afternoon was spent negotiating price (fail), talking move-in dates (win!), and submitting our rental application. Mom and I were practically singing as we pulled onto the road at 2:30, due into Atlanta around 7:30. After a minor delay (more to come!), we were on the road an hour later.

I won't say we have the place yet (application is pending), but I'm confident that my record's clean and that B's just been vetted by the Bar. Plus no pets, no kids. Come on, we're ideal! I'll let you know. And when I know, I'll post pictures!

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