Saturday, April 28, 2007

If I don't know where I am going, how will I know when I get there?
=
I may not be making any art...OK, I am definitely not making any art, but it is only because I am preoccupied with trying to find a new place to live.
We liked Tennessee, but then Dave felt it may not be far south enough, since he really wants to get away from winter, so I got back online and started looking farther south, in Georgia. I had to be careful not to get too close to any big city so we can avoid traffic, and congestion and the feeling of not being out in the country. On the other hand, we need the usual amenities: culture, shopping, medical support and airports, so I searched for a small town that can supply just the right balance.
A friend suggested Rome Georgia, as Forbes Magazine specifically pointed it out as a fine place to live and work. And you know Forbes and I are tight, so I did a Google search and found a great real estate site where I could see what homes were like. Oooohh. I liked what I found.
Specifically, the town is on the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains, and has lots of woods and water and the world's largest college campus, Berry College. It has milder summers, because of the altitude and is only 1.5 hours from both Chattanooga and Atlanta, and not that far from Birmingham, Alabama.
I found a glob of wonderful homes at great prices with low taxes and showed them all to Dave. I was a little heavy on houses with in the ground pools, but still, it is Georgia so I figured, a daily dip couldn't hurt.
We are of course waiting til our house sells before buying another, but it felt good to have found a destination.
Uh...or so I thought.
I came home from a trip to the store and found that Dave was ready to have a talk with me. Eeek.
OK, he was being honest and really wanted to have "the house with the canal that you can walk out the back door and get on the boat and putt putt putt away down to the ocean". Meaning Florida. Hmmm.
We had already spent a whole day researching Florida, and what we like, we can't afford and what we can afford, we don't like. The places we can afford are stuffed to the gills with small homes, row after row after row, all pretty much the same. One side of the street has the canal and the other has canal envy.
I like Florida, very much, but the Florida where I have the big house with a pool and huge boatdock with the big boat and Antonio Banderas as my pool boy. And I am very thin. And young. With no cellulite.
So back to the laptop to find him a place that has the water that leads to the Gulf or something deep out back...that we can afford, because I WANT TO RETIRE SOMETIME before I die.
This search leads me to Mobile, Alabama. Wonderful spacious homes, with pools and canals that are still standing after all the hurricanes, that have splendiferous kitchens, mega laundry rooms, established gardens to die for, with KOI PONDS and magnolias and palm trees, and real dirt. I am in heaven. Affordable and begging to be sold to us, at reduced prices. What's the catch?
There must be a catch. If it seems to good to be true, it usually is.
We know there is a good chance that hurricanes are a factor. We know that many of the homes farther west along the Gulf are gone or nearly gone. Does that give me pause? Only if you whack me with the facts.
Thud.
I stand here whacked.
We have another talk. Honestly, I am starting to get a little crispy around the edges. I am short with Dave. I hate it when I have to crawl back to reality.
This time it is he that is realizing that maybe it is all a pipe dream and he may not be able to handle a boat, as there are always oodles of things that come up with boat maintenance and going off like he will have just missed everything ( missing the boat came to mind, but wasn't that a little too literal?) if we don't get a canal out back. So the boat/canal/Florida house concept goes into the crapper.
And Mobile goes in with it. Or mobile, as he calls it.
So where does that leave me in my search? I have the nesting instinct up the wing-wang at the moment and like a crack addict I gotta have my daily real estate fix. I still like Rome GA. I haven't been there, but it has my woods, my magnolias, my peaches and my IKEA nearby in Atlanta.
I think I know what Dave wants better than he does. Peace. Quiet. Green warmth and a nice place to nap.

22 comments:

  1. When my father moved from Connecticut to Punta Gorda Florida - I though he had lost his mind ! Now I wish I had understood the need for warmth on older bones sooner ! Punta Gorda has canals, asalubrious climate , boats parked out front (or in back as the case may be) and is close to Naples etc.
    I understand more noew... hope your find your special place !
    Marie Johansen

    ReplyDelete
  2. jessica10:33 PM

    Florida is expensive and houses on the water, whether ocean or canal or river are at a premium. To go out on the ocean you will need a relatively large boat so Dave doesn't end up in Davy Jones' locker. We're talking some money for housing and boats. We're talking humidity so fine that you'll be parked over the air conditioning vent. Then there's the gators and the snakes... not to mention those dreaded hanging chads!

    ReplyDelete
  3. During your internet searches, is there any way to look for property that borders either national or state parks? That way, Dave has access to fishing and boating when he's so inclined and you also don't have to worry about urban encroachment spring up and blocking all that green view.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Don't let the hurricanes scare you away! The Gulf Coast is still a wonderful place to live. We'd love to have you in Baldwin County, here on the Eastern shore of Mobile Bay, where I just enjoyed a lovely, WARM evening on the back porch. Oh, and we have a thriving arts community as well. Unfortunately, there's no IKEA, but I keep hoping...

    ReplyDelete
  5. It's frustrating isn't it? We keep asking ourselves the same thing. We don't want traffic, we want good medical, good home prices, we want it all for cheap... and warm.... and sunshine.... and a good airport... and what the hey! Throw in an Ikea.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous10:51 PM

    Have you taken a look at coastal Virginia? We lived in Newport News for ten years and LOVED the area. Ocean, mountains, history, warm weather, etc. Williamsburg, VA, is frequently named one of the best cities in which to retire---expensive, but you don't have to LIVE there---lots of surrounding communities are nice, more reasonably priced and close to the amenities of the Colonial Capitol and The College of William and Mary. Norfolk is great as well. Plus, you're only a couple of hours from Cape Hatteras--a fabulous place to fish, boat, relax, etc. There's an IKEA in D.C., airports in Norfolk, Newport News and Richmond, good healthcare, rivers that connect to the Chesapeake Bay, FABULOUSLY fresh seafood, etc. Check it out!

    ReplyDelete
  7. We have owned a boat. My husband says that this saying is true:
    The two best days in a boat owner's life are the day you buy it and the day you sell it.

    If you lived in Mobile, you could go visit my commission quilt which is at the Univ. of S. Alabama!! And let me know how it is doing!

    I wish you the bes of luck and happy house hunting whereever you go.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Have you considered GAinesville, GA, home of Brenau Univ. It is a small city very interested in the arts, situated on Lake Lanier, about an hour northeast of Atlanta. I was there for the art fair this past year...great things being shown by local artists.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm still loving the whole Chattanooga idea. We saw some friends at church today that had just returned from being there for a couple of weeks and they highly recommend it. Plus, they tell me the mayor is a Christian...whatever that means. But, yeah, that's my vote.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Two words...Winter Park. No, it isn't on the ocean. I don't think Dave should be out on the ocean anyway. But the lakes in Winter Park are numerous and many are connected by canals. The fishing is fine. A small boat with a trolling motor and he will be in heaven. Look at this url: http://www.alexandclaudia.com/?OVRAW=Winter%20Park%2C%20FL%20Real%20Estate&OVKEY=winter%20park%20fl%20real%20estate&OVMTC=standard?4ca1f8c0

    teri

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anonymous11:36 AM

    I had always said "I don't like Florida and I will never live there".
    Then one day we went to see some model homes - I was just looking for decorating ideas - Guess what? within 24 hours we had contracted to build an affordable home - and we love it.
    Try central Florida - halfway between the coasts.
    Check out The Villages.
    But - don't buy there. Look for another community within the area.
    You can take advantage of all Florida's friedliest hometown has to offer without the high prices within the Villages. (I liken The Villages to an adult Disneyland. Ever one is walking around with a smile on their face.)
    There are many lakes in the area and even some of "Old Florida" still exists.
    You'd be about 1 hour from the Orlando airport, 2 hours from the Mayo clinic at Jacksonville, etc.
    currently it's a buyers market due to the real estate slowdown throughout the US

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh, and Rollins College.....

    teri

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anonymous2:59 PM

    My cousin moved to Mobile two years ago from California - right on San Francisco Bay.

    Mobile has bugs. Lots of bugs. Huge bugs.

    So don't feel too bad about not going there.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Bev Snow4:28 PM

    While you follow Teri's suggestion about Winter Park FL, remember there are many, many wonderful lakes in central Florida, from Orlando north. Mt.Dora is a gorgeous town, hilly, on a lake, New England-y victorian homes, and major antiques shows (lots of quilts). Truly, lots of lakes that would be perfect for Dave. And, close enough to Orlando for easy travel. I'm in West Palm Beach, and wouldn't wish this congestion and high proces on anyone!

    ReplyDelete
  15. dan C4:52 PM

    Living on the water and being able to walk out of the house and jump into a boat... that was always one of my dreams. Like the father in Flipper only without the dolphin or the kids or the occasional criminal, well maybe with the dolphin as long as it's a crime-fighting dolphin. In my fantasy I'd get up in the morning, have breakfast, and then jump in the boat and go to work (in my fantasy work was 15 minutes away and also on the waters edge).

    There are lots of homes in eastern VA. on the Chesapeake which leads to the ocean. I don't believe they're very affordable anymore. It's flat land and it's at a low altitude (near sea level of course) so it's terribly humid for 7 or 8 months out of the year.

    There are houses on lakes which appeals to me because you can be up in altitude when the lake is up in the mountains. That's the best combination if you ask me - a lake up in the mountains preferably in dense woods. Smith Mountain Lake in VA. is beautiful but probably too expensive. Look for waterfront property up in altitude not oceanfront property.

    NC and TN have many lakes. The ocean has its appeal but it's (of course) at sea level so it's very humid.

    Alabama, Mississippi, Florida... you had better like humidity for about 10 months out of the year. My folks lived in Florida and it was humid even at Christmas! Their washing machine rusted through as did their cars. Mold on everything. Can you tell I'm a non-humidity kind of guy?

    Cood nights up in the mountains, sitting in front of a fire, on a lake, with a bright sun during the day. And a couple of months of cooler weather around the holidays to remind you of the seasons... and to kill the damn bugs.

    Good luck - it's fun reading about your area hunting adventures.

    ReplyDelete
  16. jayne5:56 PM

    If you can get Antonio Banderas to be your pool boy, I will come be your maid for free!!! Location doesn't matter!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I was floored by Lois's comment above about my "little" town, Gainesville, GA! Small, small world. It's a great town, but just the little that I know you (from a weekend class) I think you are more suited to Athens, GA. It has the University and is truly, truly arty. There are other cute little towns around it, like Watkinsville, with the old southern charm. While it would be a real kick to have you here, I think you'd be restless after a short time.
    Just my 2 cents.

    ReplyDelete
  18. So many good suggestions... have you read any of Money's articles on "Best Places to Retire?" They have a pretty good system set up and you might find a few new places to look.

    We are all living vicariously thru you, don't ya' know?!!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Anonymous8:30 PM

    Wow Melody, lots of good and not so good suggestions, so here's MY two cents after we've done the same searching around the South thing.
    Winter Park, ask Claudine Hellmuth, she lives there! Nice weather, near enough to the Orlando airport and housing is not too expensive. Athens GA and also Wilmington, NC are fabulous for the arts community and Wilmington has plenty of boating. My aunt lives in Hampstead, just outside of Wilmington and loves it. Prices are still decent compared to here. (Fort Myers) Punta Gorda is all old people, don't do it, it's a cultural wasteland...and finally you could live here in Cape Coral on a canal for boating but you'll want at least a 26ft boat to go out on the Gulf and also the house will cost upwards of $400K. Good deals now though because market has been awful, it's just starting to come back around slowly. Don't even waste your time on Virginia Beach VA it's a tourist trap and lots of crime, my old neighbors were from there and wouldn't go back! Try NE Atlanta area, like Buford. Close enough to go into Atlanta for the airport. Have no idea about IKEA!
    GOOD LUCK and keep hunting!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Anonymous4:40 PM

    Hi, Added a new value add to my blog this weekend - a news widget from www.widgetmate.com. I always wanted to show latest news for my keywords in my sidebar. It was very easy with this widget. Just a small copy paste and it was done. Great indeed.

    ReplyDelete
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