This time last year, we were living in Illinois in base housing. Housing I complained pretty bitterly about on a regular basis. Housing that even though I complained about it on a regular basis, included our utilities. Utilities that if you used less than the average amount for that residence, would give you a refund check. No, I didn't complain about that part.
I did a dance of joy when we passed the housing inspection when we PCS'd (moved permanently).
We moved to Asheville, which has no military base nearby. The closest one is 2, 2 1/2 hours away and is actually in South Carolina. Living away from a base means higher grocery bills, civilian medical care (which is actually great, but ends up with many Tricare battles about what is and isn't covered), and lots of people in the immediate area that find your family to be odd for whatever reason, even though we are pretty sure it isn't us it's them. Po-ta-to, pah-tah-to. The biggest difference so far has been the kids' school, which is a blog post within itself.
I was SO delighted to be able to choose where we were going to live. And then reality set in. I wanted to live in a good school district. I wanted to live in a safe area that was convenient to the things we'd need. I wanted to live somewhere that would be convenient for Robert's work. But most of all, I wanted a really nice house. One that was well constructed and had some personality. Turns out that it's much easier imagined than found.
I started looking for houses immediately. One problem with that. We weren't moving until March and all the houses we were interested in got rented almost immediately. When you live in a military community, there's a certain amount of understanding about the 'hurry up and wait' practice that permeates all things military. That includes the moving process.
When contacting rental companies about available houses in Asheville, in order to move into a house in March that was available in December, well...we were going to have to rent it right away or hope that no one else rented it before March. Which, on one hand I completely understand, but on the other hand, phhhhbbbttt.
On our way to visit family for Christmas, we took a detour and looked at about four houses. What we found was that our budget for a house wasn't going to go far in Asheville. Housing prices and therefore rental prices were much higher than we expected. And pictures often were way more complimentary than standing in front of a property in real life. Not to mention, they also didn't accurately show the steep angles of the driveways or indicate the tiny, narrow, curvy roads that led you to the driveway. Which was a deal breaker for a chickensh*t winter weather driver such as myself. Rain? Fine. Snow? Fine. Seven inches of fallen leaves/pine needles? Fine. Ice on a steep, narrow, treacherous, curvy road? Peace out, homie. No thanks!
While continuing to look online, I found a beautiful house. Lots of windows to let in lots of light(that don't leak air!), a big yard, a hot tub, a sun room, a see through fireplace, renovated kitchen and bathrooms and a bonus room downstairs. Plus a two car garage. With openers. The downside, it maxed out our housing allowance so utilities would have to come out of pocket. By some miracle, it was still empty in February, and they agreed to rent it to us starting March 15th without our having to pay rent for February and the first half of March.
We do really like this house. Even though we had a sewage back up in the basement and some mold issues. And the sump pump in the furnace room which is the middle of the house downstairs keeps having issues. But the utilities are redonkulous. I expected to spend about $300 a month for gas, power, cable, phone, and water. We are spending $300 just on power and gas now...and that's with our thermostat set at 65.
So as far my ability to pick a better house than we got in housing? Yeah, yeah, yeah.