Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hot and Houses

The last two days here in the bay area have been brutal hot. Feels like summer, except most know that summer in SF is not exactly summer. It's generally the time when your car is full of clothes that you will need to put on and take off as you pass through one weather biosphere to the next. Home is cool and foggy. Mission is hot and sunny. Drive 10 minutes - change the weather. But on the best days of summer it is rarely as sunny and hot as the last two April days have been. George the Younger commented yesterday that it smelled like Thailand here. Funny thing was, that it DID smell like Thailand. That kind of morning smell when it is still breezy and cool, but you know damn well that in just a few hours it's gonna be killer hot. The other remarkable thing about the comment was that - - well - - how many 12 year olds can comment knowingly about how the weather smells in Thailand at all? Kinda crazy when you think about it.

Other than the weather, George the Elder and I have been focused on housing. We were sure (then not sure) that our current landlords were going to sell the house we are in. This is the preeminent hazard of renting, is it not? Here you are happily ensconced in a house that we love - and someone has the power to say sorry-we're-selling-find-new-digs.

So, while we were thinking that moving was a definite over the summer, we started looking around for what's out there real-estate-wise. The quandary is should we rent or should we take the ultimate plunge and buy? The puzzle is complicated further by the myriad of neighborhoods here in SF. Should we stay in our semi-suburban, yet partially urban neighborhood? Should we head back to what we are used to, as in far more urban with Pete's Coffee so close that you can smell the fresh roasted beans next door? Do we consider the location of the boys' school (keeping in mind that I AM the BUS!), but also realizing that in two short years, George the Younger will be making the big move to High School and who-the-hell-knows where that will be (but I will still be THE BUS)?

To add more fuel to the fire, we also have to consider the state of the current housing market. Is it falling, is it stable, is it falling, yet stable? Does anyone have a common opinion about this? Jeez, not a day goes by without one "expert" or another pontificating on what he/she thinks of the housing market in general or the SF housing market specifically. In a word, it sucks. Don't ya just want two days to go by where the consensus is, well, a consensus? Frustrates the crap outta me.

And just to make sure that the fire is really raging and making our decision even more elusive, is the fact that real estate in SF isn't exactly a steal no matter how the market is doing. Even in these "depressed times" SF RE is still obscenely expensive. In a creepy sort of way, the locals appear used to it. They have this notion that shelling out several million bucks for a house that still needs bathrooms updated from the turn of the century is entirely normal. It's even more justifiable if the property is located in a semi-no-fog-area or has even the most infinitesimal view of downtown buildings, an ocean, a bay or the Golden Gate Bridge. I'm thinking they're all drinking from the same glass of Kool-Aid. Clearly a deluded state of mass acquiescence. Makes you want to move far far away where the median housing price (WHATEVER that may be) actually buys you something more than a cement parking pad that fits a SmartCar.

Good news is that we heard last night that our owners are not going to sell immediately. Bad news is that we now have more time to mull and muse over what-we-want-to-do. After 19 years with George the Elder, I know that the more time we have to stew over an issue, the less likely we are to make a decision. Give us five minutes to make a decision and the two of us can put our heads together and resolve it in a cinch. Give us five months and we ruminate and defer and generally procrastinate.

Luckily, the weather has changed for the better today and it's not nearly so hot. This is good, cause if you're stewing about something - - best to keep it at a low simmer. We could be at this decision for a while....

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