Speaking of running around, this morning we went out to Jacksonville again. We were slated to see five houses, but only ended up seeing three. The first house was a very new one in a somewhat cramped neighborhood. The area was a strange place to me, because half the houses were quite old, and the other half were brand new, nestled in among the old ones. The real estate agent told us that this is a neighborhood that is actively being developed and renewed, by removing or renovating the old nasty houses.
The second house we went to see had some awesome features in the pictures online, but we never got to see them in person. The little lock box on the door didn't have a key in it. We looked around on the porch for places where it might be hidden, but it didn't turn up. The third house we were to see only had about six pictures, so I was looking forward to seeing the rest of the house, but it didn't work either. This time, the lock box was giving us an error reading, but the real estate agent didn't know what it was, so we moved on.
The fourth house was super cute, with a huge yard that would have been perfect for us. It was a bit older, but well maintained and with lots of character. It was along the quieter part of a busy highway, but set back from the road significantly, plus it had that huge yard in back. There were a few color schemes in some rooms I wasn't thrilled with, but Clayton agreed if were going to be there long term, we could paint the few things I didn't like.
The fifth house we visited was in a developed community. It had an open floor plan in the living room and dining room area, that flowed nicely into the small, but well-equipped kitchen. The yard was nice, but smaller than the others we'd seen, and it had a very nice deck and huge grill there for our use. Also, the double doors in the dining area opened out onto the deck, which had me eyeing this large space from the front door to the end of the porch as a great opportunity for parties. The bedrooms were nice enough, well portioned, but nothing extraordinary. A couple of them were clearly kids' rooms, as they were painted sorts of colors only someone under 13 would choose. Once again, if we were going to be here long term, we might paint them.
All of our houses either viewed or eliminated, it was time for us to decide which was our favorite. Pretty quickly, Clayton and I decided we liked the fourth house, which had a big, gorgeous yard, and on the inside all sorts of character perfect for our personalities. Our real estate agent, however, reminded us that because that house was so much older than the other two we got to see, it would cost us huge amounts in electric bills, especially in the winter. Since we haven't had much experience in paying for utilities in this area (they're basically included in the cost of base housing), we took his word for it and ruled out our favorite house. So then it came down to two perfectly good houses that we were pretty much tied on.
That's when we broke out the house score cards and tried to quantify just what it was we liked or didn't like about both houses. We each scored one house, compared scores, and then switched and scored again. Both times, they came to within one or two points of each other (heck yeah, we used points!), so that didn't help tons. Basically, we liked the first house best, but its cramped neighborhood wasn't very exciting for us. The last house was very close to Clayton's work, and it had a garage, but we didn't like the bedrooms or yard as much as the first one. I think in the end what sold me was the kitchen. Of course there were lots of other factors involved, but when you see this kitchen, I think you'll agree it's a really nice space.
Since you're probably still confused, we went with the first house. We applied to rent it, and hopefully they'll call us tomorrow, asking us to come down with a deposit. If someone else snags it first, we agreed we'd be all right in its contender, too. If both get snatched up somehow, then I guess we'll have to look again (eww) until the stars and planets align, or whatever it takes to find us a new home. Until then, we're getting packed. So here's another chance for me to say this: if you want our new address, please email me yours. I'm hoping to send out moving announcements once we get to wherever we're going, and I want to have a nice fat address book by then.
Oh. Here's a picture of the nice kitchen I might be using in a week.