Our house -- 10/24/03

I found our house eight years ago.

Well, actually, it was eight years and two days ago.

We had been living in Binghamton, NY and were relocating to Rhode Island. Nancy's mom and one of her sisters (and family) lived here, in the town of Richmond. I was starting a new job in Middletown, RI (The cities of Newport and Middletown and the town of Portsmith share Aquidneck Island -- also known as Rhode Island -- but everyone says "Newport" because that's a noted vacation/resort city and probably just about every state has a Middletown.) Nancy and Jill stayed behind in Binghamton for an extra couple of months -- we were trying to sell our house there and Nancy was attempting to watch that process plus get packing and discarding done while Jill was on the cross country team and didn't want to move until after cross country season. I had to start work at my new job on Monday, October 16th (1995) and also had to try to find us a new house.

Jeremy and I came over the week before I had to start my new job. We stayed with Nancy's mom. I enrolled Jeremy in 5th grade in the local school system and began to look around for housing. Not good.

I had known that housing prices would be higher in Rhode Island. (This was compounded by the problem that housing prices in the Binghamton had dropped precipitously in the early nineties and, by late 1995 had not only not recovered, if anything they had slipped a little more.) What I discovered when I began going around to look at actual houses that were on the market, was that the price situation was worse than we had thought, that double the price we were asking for our Binghamton house would not cover the price of an equivalent house in an equivalent neighborhood, at least not in South County. I also discovered that Richmond being a relatively lightly populated rural town, there wasn't a large supply of houses from which to choose. Also, the commute was a bit of a drag, about forty-five minutes each way.

My sister-in-law suggested that I look in South Kingstown, the next town over from Richmond. It was a larger and more populous town, had more growth, had one of the top school systems in the state, and would shave a few minutes off my commute. On a bright and sunny but crips New England autumn day, Sunday, Oct 22nd, we drove around through South Kingstown so I could get some ideas about what various neighborhoods looked like. I turned into this street, the street were we now live and I really liked it -- mature landscaping (the first few blocks were about a decade old at that time), very nice houses, autumn leaves, Halloween decorations, children playing on lawns. The street curved and there were just a few houses, newer ones. And I saw this house -- an empty lot to the left, a nice house on the right, empty lots across the street (well, not empty, they were filled with trees)... and best of all, a for sale sign in the front yard. But this was just too nice a neighborhood. I knew we couldn't handle those prices.

By mid-Novemer I had determined that it wouldn't be possible to find an acceptable house in the price range we were considering -- we had to move even further up in price.

Our House
Crosby, Stills, Nash Young

I'll light the fire
You put the flowers in the vase
That you bought today

Staring at the fire
For hours and hours
While I listen to you
Play your love songs
All night long for me
Only for me

Come to me now
And rest your head for just five minutes
Everything is good
Such a cosy room
The windows are illuminated
By the sunshine through them
Fiery gems for you
Only for you

Our house is a very, very fine house
With two cats in the yard
Life used to be so hard
Now everything is easy
'Cause of you
And our la,la,la, la,la, la, la, la, la, la, la.....

Our house is a very, very fine house
With two cats in the yard
Life used to be so hard
Now everything is easy
'Cause of you
And Our

I'll light the fire
And you place the flowers in the jar
That you bought today

Nancy and Jill came to Rhode Island for Thanksgiving and that weekend we went around from house to house. I had even arranged for us to see this house. The original asking price had been way out of our range, but the owner had come down a lot, evidently the housing market was a little softer in Rhode Island than it had been and this was a school age family neighborhood and I think families with school age children tend to shop in the spring and move in the summer. The next week I made an offer... probably too low, I thought, but was prepared to come up a bit (we were getting desparate) and I waited anxiously for several hours until our real estate agent called to say the seller accepted our offer.

Then it seemed to take forever to go through all of the negotiating and red tape, but we finally closed and moved in at the beginning of February. (Nancy and Jill came over in December; we were living with Nancy's mom while our furniture was in storage, Jeremy stayed in the Chariho school system until we moved in, Jill enrolled in South Kingstown and I would drop her off at school on my way to work all through January.)

We've been very comfortable here. Oh, as with any house, there are a few things that have needed attention. Just last week we had to have some work done here and there, like replacing the corner column on the front porch, mostly because the builder had cut corners here and there and didn't use pressure-treated wood everyplace it shoud have been used. This is only the second house we have owned (we'd bought our Binghamton house in 1980).

A lot of people must like their houses and relate to the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song -- when I googled I found at least forty people using those lyrics on their personal webpages to praise their homes.

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