Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Having narrowed my search to a Top Ten list of cities, I was able to eliminate a couple more based on a combination of factors, such as proximity to my kids and grandkids, transportation costs, crime statistics, and climate, leaving me with a Top Eight list. As I alluded in my 09 January post on San Antonio, what made the most sense to me was to begin personally investigating those cities closest to my immediate family and work my way eastward if I found them unworkable. And so the moving process began.
My relocation to San Antonio is a subject that would require several posts to cover fully, so I'll just summarise it for now. I began the process by going room to room through my house, sorting everything I owned into one of four categories: keep, sell, donate, or discard. Knowing that I am a "pack-rat" I was determined to move less than half the possessions I owned to San Antonio. Overall, I sold very little -- only a few high-value items to help finance my relocation costs. I donated the majority of my excess clothing (especially items like winter clothing I knew I would seldom need again, but would greatly benefit recipients in Indiana), thousands of books (keeping only those I either use for research, reread frequently, or are family heirlooms), and furniture items that are cheaper to replace than to move. A nearly equal amount (by weight; not value) of stuff I simply discarded. Most of the discards were furniture items that had been all but destroyed by the cats and dog I had been sharing my home with: two hide-a-bed sofas, a matching couch and love seat, a La-Z-Boy rocker/recliner that had seen far too many better days, and two bedrooms of garage sale rejects -- all bulky and practically worthless! That process occupied me through the end of March.
By mid-April everything I didn't absolutely need was packed and ready to go. I had rented a mailbox in San Antonio and arranged forwarding of my mail. So I rented a moving truck and moved everything but my clothes and the essentials I would need to set up a temporary household to a storage unit in San Antonio. I chose Palo Alto Self Storage solely because it is a Budget Truck Rental affiliate, but I was absolutely thrilled with their friendly, personal, and highly accommodating service (so they deserve this accolade!). Then I returned to Indiana for my SUV, which I loaded to the gills with my clothing, personal effects, and living essentials, said my farewells, and drove back to Texas.
The day I decided that San Antonio was the best starting point for the final phase of my research, there were over 100 homes in the MLS in my targeted price range. The day I arrived, that number was fewer than 20! One thing I had not counted on was the healthy Texas economy causing a shortage of affordable housing. Speculators were gobbling up the low-cost homes and "flipping" them. The first home on which I submitted an offer sold for 50% more than its listed price. There was a bidding war for any affordable house that wasn't ready to fall off its foundation! As a result it took me five frustrating months to find a home. Employment and business opportunities are plentiful in San Antonio, so it was quickly apparent that I could flourish here ... but not without a suitable place to live! Twice, while I was in the process of completing the offer forms for a house, my realtor received word that another offer had been accepted earlier that same day. I was on the verge of giving up on San Antonio and heading up to Dallas/Fort Worth when I took one last try at a house in central San Antonio ... and was high bidder!
It's a charming little "American Craftsman" style home built in 1924. It's age shows in several places, and it needs a lot of cosmetic work, but it is structurally sound with recently updated electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems. So I have now embarked on Phase II of my life in San Antonio ... what I will probably refer to as my "Bob Villa" phase as I embark on the restoration of "this old house".