Hello again friends. As many of you know, I don’t often write about my life per­son­ally here on Everyday-Modern. I see this blog as more of a venue for how-to’s and rel­e­vant design infor­ma­tion. But this week I am going to break the mold a lit­tle bit and write about our deci­sion to move out of the urban core. Though it is likely just a col­lec­tion of my inco­her­ent ram­blings, per­haps this arti­cle will help some other young urban dweller con­tem­plat­ing a change.

To pro­vide a bit of a back­story, JT and I will be clos­ing on our first home in a mere 2 weeks. This, of course, is fol­low­ing a gut-wrenching hair-color induc­ing real estate hunt that has spanned nearly 18 months. That’s right — for a year and a half we have been scour­ing the new list­ings, going to open houses, and search­ing for that exquis­ite spec­i­men that would be wor­thy of bear­ing the title of “home” for this design-obsessed young couple.

Why so long? Because we are snobs and noth­ing quite lived up to our expec­ta­tions. Our new dwelling had to be urban, it had to have a view, it had to have a rooftop deck, it had to have a pri­vate ter­race, it had to have 2 bed­rooms, it had to have 2 bath­rooms, it had to have plenty of day­light — prefer­ably of the west­ern expo­sure per­sua­sion, and it had to have an open plan. And after 18 months I can assure you, with utmost con­fi­dence, that such a place does not exist in Seat­tle for under $500,000.00. And since my lit­tle blog hasn’t hit the big time yet, I’m afraid that’s cur­rently a bit out of reach.

So. What’s a girl to do? Set­tle for a shitty condo? Con­sider a house? Wait, what? A house? No, I don’t do houses — I won’t drive a mini­van, I won’t be a soc­cer mom, I won’t live out­side the urban core. I am a hip urban­ite and my hypo­thet­i­cal future child will be raised in a cul­tured envi­ron­ment and know how to order that per­fect 140-degree 2% designer hot choco­late by age 5. And thus began the inter­nal bat­tle of my need for an urban lifestyle against the real­ity that I would have to make some con­ces­sions about my dwelling.

I tor­tured myself for weeks over this deci­sion. Until that one night when we were cook­ing din­ner. Still men­tally war­ring with myself, I was chop­ping veg­eta­bles when JT looked at me and said “Tell me what’s both­er­ing you about this house thing”. At that moment, a tor­rent of words exploded out of my brain and at the end of a breath­less tirade, I real­ized that what was really both­er­ing me about this house thing is that it came down to how I defined the deci­sion to buy a house 5 miles out of the urban core. It is either sell­ing out, or it is grow­ing up. It is admit­ting that despite my best efforts to remain an urban­ite, at some point, the city stopped giv­ing me every­thing I needed and I real­ized I wanted some­thing more.

So now that I am 2 short weeks from clos­ing on a house in a beau­ti­ful up and com­ing neigh­bor­hood just a hop, skip, and a ligh­trail ride away from my beloved urban core, have I decided if it’s sell­ing out or grow­ing up? Almost.

And here are my five rea­sons why I am lean­ing more towards grow­ing up.

A Neigh­bor­hood vs. The Sub­urbs — When you live in the city, you develop a cer­tain high opin­ion of your­self and begin to deem any­thing not imme­di­ately urban as “the sub­urbs”.  It is impos­si­ble for an urban­ite to even say the word “sub­urb” with­out lac­ing each and every syl­la­ble with com­plete dis­dain and utter contempt.

How­ever, recent explo­rations, (and Google searches), have enlight­ened me to the fact that there is a large dif­fer­ence between “the sub­urbs” and neigh­bor­hoods.  My good friend dictionary.com explains it all rather well:

Sub­urb: a dis­trict lying imme­di­ately out­side a city or town,especially a smaller res­i­den­tial community.

Neigh­bor­hood: a dis­trict or local­ity, often with ref­er­ence to its char­ac­ter or inhab­i­tants: a fash­ion­able neigh­bor­hood; to move to a nicer neighborhood.

It turns out, you can indeed have a neigh­bor­hood within the city, that still main­tains char­ac­ter and pock­ets of edgy trendi­ness, but has not gone so far as the vomit-inducing devel­op­ments filled with homoge­nous homes and quaint lit­tle sidewalk-less streets that specif­i­cally deter human inter­ac­tion.  Step 1 is under­stand­ing that there is a dif­fer­ence between the dreaded sprawl and the lovely lit­tle neigh­bor­hoods filled with side­walks, cof­fee shops, and neigh­bors more than will­ing to lend you a cup of sugar.

How Do You Want to Spend Your Time?  As I strug­gled with the deci­sion to con­sider buy­ing a house, I started to remem­ber pieces of a past life.  A life before I moved down­town.  It occurred to me that in this other life­time, I used to have hob­bies.  In fact, I was a pretty inter­est­ing person!

I used to race bicy­cles!  We had lots of friends through our var­i­ous out­door pur­suits, and we used to hang out and have BBQ’s.  I used to plant flow­ers every spring.  I used to do many, many other things that didn’t involve going out to eat or hav­ing a drink.  In short, I real­ized that the urban lifestyle has slowly drained away all of the things that I used to fill my spare time with, and replaced them with cock­tails, shop­ping, and eat­ing out.

And yes, I know, if you live down­town you can still ride bikes, or take week­end trips to go back­pack­ing.  But, you don’t.  It’s so much eas­ier to just walk down the street and grab a cof­fee and then mean­der around look­ing at fur­ni­ture all day.  Going snow­board­ing requires get­ting up early, pack­ing up all your stuff in the car, and dri­ving for an hour and a half.  Why do that when you can just sleep in and go get mimosas?  Enough said.

Same Prin­ci­ples, Dif­fer­ent Loca­tion — If you have spent any­time at all read­ing this blog, it is obvi­ous that I stead­fastly believe that one does not need a 3,000 square foot home to be happy.  I so strongly believe this, that you could cat­e­go­rize it as a defin­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic of my design prin­ci­ples.    So allow me to let you in on a lit­tle secret that I’ve recently learned: houses don’t have to be ginor­mous.

When con­tem­plat­ing mov­ing out of my stu­dio apart­ment and into a house, the thought of all that wasted square footage kept me awake nights.  Right now, my home is a tes­ta­ment to effi­ciency.  While small, I have never lacked for space in my 500 square foot apart­ment.  Not to men­tion the lit­tle bonus prize that comes along with a tiny apart­ment: you don’t have room for extra­ne­ous crap to clut­ter up your phys­i­cal space and your mind.

Hence the ter­ror of a huge house — imag­ine all the shit that could col­lect there!  Luck­ily, my lit­tle piece of heaven on 48th street is a quaint 1200 square feet, includ­ing the unfin­ished base­ment.  It is big enough to have a work shop (can you say chop saw under the tree this year?), but still small enough to fit into my lit­tle home mentality.

What is the City Giv­ing You Any­way? Dur­ing a recent exploratory trip out­side of down­town, I began to cog­i­tate on just what I was get­ting for my pre­mium rent down­town.  Sure, there are the boat­loads of crack­heads and home­less peo­ple, the con­stant sirens, and the fast-paced abrupt cul­ture — but what else?

After much thought, I came up with my top 5 urban neces­si­ties that need to be eas­ily acces­si­ble (read: within 5 blocks of my front door) -

  1. A good pub
  2. A good cof­fee shop
  3. A good restau­rant that delivers
  4. A gro­cery store
  5. A creepy lit­tle quickie mart that sells a $5 bot­tle of wine

On this recon­nais­sance trip, I learned that in these so-called neigh­bor­hoods my top 5 urban neces­si­ties are within seven blocks of my hypo­thet­i­cal front door.  At this point, I had to ask myself — is 2 blocks really worth $200,000.00?  Maybe if I was obscenely wealthy, but for lit­tle old middle-class me it seems more eco­nom­i­cal to walk the 2 blocks.

I’ll Just Come Right Out and Say It: The City Let Me Down — This was the big one.  As a life long believer of Que Sera, Sera, I just couldn’t fight the city any longer.

18 months we looked for a place and the city just kept defeat­ing us — we decide to throw our hat in the ring on a house and bam we are clos­ing 6 weeks later.  That, more than all of these other things leads me to believe that life does indeed go on out­side the urban core.  Every­thing will be okay — hell, it might even be bet­ter in a neigh­bor­hood that wants us there.

I’m sorry Down­town Seat­tle, you rejected my love, and like my pal Shake­speare says, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.  So dear Down­town Seat­tle, it’s not you, it’s me — but I do hope we can stay good friends and still hang out on a reg­u­lar basis.

That’s all I have for this week — and if any of my hip­ster read­ers are con­tem­plat­ing sell­ing out, let me just say that I don’t think it’s so bad.  I think it will all be okay, maybe even fan­tas­tic.  So with­out fur­ther ado, please feel free to share, just please give me credit for my work when you do.