Home Sweet Home

In another addition to the “way overdue post list”: we bought a house! Well, a condo. But we’re now property owners! Real adults and all that.

House searching was fun but definitely trying for us. If you know us at all you’ll be shocked to know that we were looking for pretty different things in a home (that’s sarcasm right there). We started off by making a list of our top attributes. That’s how we knew it wouldn’t be easy. I don’t remember the exact details, but I think for me the priorities were a single family home, a yard for those raging parties I was deluding myself into thinking we’d have some day, nestled into a pretty tree-lined suburban neighborhood a quick walk away from a bustling little town center. In a nutshell, I was looking for the home we’d lived in in Decatur. Oh, and a porch. And a big bathtub with jacuzzi jets.

Jill on the other hand was looking for some place more urban and near public transportation, in a good school district, with room to grow if we should decide to expand our family. Now, if we had endless funds it would have been trivial to find something that fit the bill for both of us. Since that just wasn’t the case, it became of task of compromises. In the end the place we bought wasn’t perfect, wasn’t either of our dream homes, but was good enough. It was, as we’ve said many times since, the Compromise Home. 

So our Compromise Home is located in what many consider to be an affluent suburb, as in when we tell people what town we live in they say, “Oh! Well.” We live in the lower half of that town though. Whereas the suburb they’re thinking of is the part with the large single-family homes and rolling green lawns, our reality is the portion made mostly of multi-family homes, including some rentals. It’s not bad but it’s not “The Heights”. We bought the first floor of a three-family condo. It also has a finished basement so we technically have two floors. Here, take a looksie:

The place has its gotchas, as most homeowners probably find. There are little things that have come back to nibble us in the rear: the fact that our bottom level was finished in perhaps not the most…standard…way; some device in the basement that makes an incredibly loud noise at night during the winter (we suspect it’s the thing that pumps fresh air into the furnace room), which happens to be situated right under our bedroom; doors that don’t quite shut; locks that don’t quite work. That kind of thing. Over all it hasn’t been a hassle. Certainly not to the point of having Buyer’s Remorse.


I was against getting a condo because I was concerned about the human element. I didn’t want to have to deal with other people. I certainly didn’t want to go to others to ask permission to do things to the property that I had just bought, you know what I mean? There was also the noise factor. We’d just moved out of a two-family where it felt like the upstairs occupants were in the apartment with us, and they were seemingly oblivious to the fact that they were loud and disruptive. I didn’t want to go into another situation like that, and Boston’s traditional condo style (converted single-families on the cheap) pretty much meant that unless we moved into some brand new 30-unit association, we’d be facing the same thing.

Unfortunately both of my fears came to pass. When we moved in the top floor was owner-occupied, and the second floor was being rented. Both of those ladies were lovely and we lived for about a month in peace. Then the second floor unit sold and the Antichrist moved in.

We didn’t think she’d be bad in the beginning. We had a nice first condo meeting in her place and while she seemed flaky and scatterbrained, she also seemed nice. We thought, holy cow, we lucked out! We live with cool people! Then the tires fell off that dream truck. That analogy is pretty bad, right?

I won’t go into detail about everything that has happened, but in a nutshell: this is a fairly recently divorced mother of 2 who lives in a 600 square foot apartment with her two kids, a dog, a guinea pig, and a cat, who has determined that somehow Jill and I are responsible for all the woes in her life. Simple requests that she lock the exterior doors behind her or clean up her dog’s poop from the back yard are met with lengthy, angry emails that vacillate between self pity over how hard her life is and accusing us of trying to wage some sort of domain war with her and asserting ourselves as the rulers of the condo building. She really has some sort of weird grudge against me and Jill. It was a complete 180 that we didn’t see coming. One minute she was smiling and chatting with us as normal, the next we received our first of multiple nastygrams. I suspect it’s because she’s envious of us. I hate saying that because our lives are by no means perfect or ideal, but in one of her first emails to us she says something snide like, “Good for you that your lives are so orderly and calm” or something to that effect. In addition, she’s pretty loud up there with no consideration for how her noise level affects us, and since she’s pretty unreasonable we can’t even go up there and talk to her about it.

Luckily the third floor owner is nice and we get along well with her. She’s also quite aware of how unstable the Psycho is so it’s nice to know that she’s on our side and that we have someone reasonable to talk to. The sad thing is that, if you can look beyond all of the vitriol and nastiness (which I find difficult to do), one can understand that she’s likely under a lot of stress and finding life challenging right now. Jill and I are the kind of people who would be completely willing to lend a hand, you know? Watch the dog sometimes, watch the kids, share a babysitter, whatever. She’s been such a pain to us though that we have lost any inclination to offer that kind of assistance and support. We pretty much try and avoid her now, to the point of waiting for her to clear out of the hallway in the morning when we’re all trying to leave for work. I personally am not into exchanging pleasantries with someone I don’t actually like.

We’re really hoping that she gets her act together and finds some place else to live. She’s been talking about looking for a single-family house since she moved in here, so I can only hope that that happens for her sooner rather than later. She’s an absolute nightmare. She’s been the single darkest spot on an otherwise satisfying new venture.


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