As we prepare to sell our house and move to North Carolina, we’ve been watching a lot of HGTV. Like, a lot. Love It Or List It, Property Brothers, Renovation Raiders, shows about people looking for luxury rentals in Costa Rica or studio apartments in Stockholm, you name it.
Most of these people tell their real estate agents the top thing on their must-have list is space for entertaining. I had to go to dictionary.com to discover what this “entertaining” thing was. I was shocked and horrified to learn it involves inviting other humans to your home – on purpose – and entertaining them. I thought this sounded a bit dirty at first, but additional research indicates entertaining typically involves providing food and beverage, occasionally music or board games, and most likely not unconventional naughty-pants activities. At least not on HGTV. I think there’s a network for that sort of thing, but we don’t have it, because it costs extra.
What do we want for our new home? It’s important to consider, because we are in our late 40s and absolutely, positively, no-way-in-blue-hell are we moving again. This new house is where I’ll be found someday, hopefully many years from now, decomposing and surrounded by my dogs, who definitely are not feasting on my corpse because I was thoughtful enough to leave the fridge open and the toilet lid up before I shuffled off this mortal coil.
Number one on the list is privacy. Our current neighborhood has oversized acre-plus lots, so we’re not crammed up against the surrounding properties, but I want even more isolation. More trees to block the view of any houses which might be nearby, and I don’t want to hear the highway. Acreage would be great, but an acre-plus lot would be okay in the right situation. If Brody sees something, he will bark at it, so the less there is to see, the better.
Tom wants a nice, big, covered “rocking chair” porch. Yep, he’ll be that guy. Sitting on the porch, in his rocking chair, bourbon based beverage on the table at his elbow. And possibly whittling. I discourage bourbon and whittling as concurrent activities, but I try not to tell him what to do.
I want a nice bathroom with a jetted tub, since I finally got one in this house, and I refuse to take a step down the home-owner evolutionary ladder. I do want a big kitchen, since I’ve been cooking and baking more, and I’ll need lots of counter space to process the forty-two metric tons of pickles I’ll probably make each year due to the lengthy North Carolina growing season and my deep affection for pickles. I’d like my kitchen to be open to the living room, but not so I can socialize with my “guests.” (Shudder.) I just need to be able to see the TV, and I don’t want to take up any valuable pickle-making space with a kitchen-based TV.
Three bedrooms, a couple of bathrooms, nothing fancy. The target price is “insanely cheap,” because we don’t intend to spend our senior years house-poor, and I have no intention of getting a job. I do plan to get back on track with my writing, and for my ongoing royalties to provide the cushion we need without my having to leave the house and risk interaction with people.
Another thing these HGTV people seem to care about is their neighborhood. Poor David on Love It Or List It has a struggle every episode getting one of the homeowners to loosen their co-dependent death grip on their beloved neighborhood. I’d say I totally understand this, but their reasons are the exact opposite of mine. They wax poetic about the lovely, friendly people, the happy children who play with their kids, the wonderful sense of community, block parties, and a whole bunch of other social-type words I fail to understand.
I care about neighborhoods, too, but for different reasons. I’ve endured 17 years here because my neighbors are quiet and leave me alone. I don’t want neighbors who come over to borrow three eggs when they’re baking cookies, and then return to offer me a dozen of those cookies in gratitude. I don’t want them to come check on me when I’m sick, especially if it’s because they notice they haven’t seen me out and about lately. If that were the case, they’d be over here twice a week, as I do not go out and about.
Here’s the sum total of what I know about my neighbors. Of our four immediate neighbors, two have been here longer than we have, a third moved in shortly after we did, and the fourth are renters recently arrived on the scene.
Next Door Neighbors (West) are Clyde and Mrs. Clyde. I do not know their last name. He works for the electric company (or so Tom tells me), and tends to lurk in his yard watching Tom cut the lawn. He might cry when we leave.
Across the Street Neighbors (West) have several kids of indeterminate age, and a couple of dogs who regularly get loose and roam the neighborhood, driving Brody to a screen-damaging, barking frenzy. They have chickens. I was unaware of this, and have no actual visual evidence, but Tom told me a few days ago that he saw Mrs. Neighbor (nope, don’t know their names) chasing chickens in the front yard. One must assume the chickens live there, as I’m unaware of a feral chicken colony anywhere nearby.
Across the Street Neighbors (East) are Lee and Rita. I used to know their last name, but don’t anymore. They had a cool dog named Grizzly, but now they have something little. A Boston terrier or pug, maybe.
I’ve never spoken to any of these people more than a handful of times, and 90% of this involved dogs. Apologizing for my dogs, asking about theirs, or in one case telling the dog-roaming neighbors which direction the crazy white dog ran.
Next Door Neighbors (East) are the recently-arrived renters. We just ignore them, as long as they cut their grass.
That’s it, all we need. Small, inexpensive, nothing-fancy house with a porch, a decent bathroom and kitchen, on a private lot, and neighbors who will leave me alone.
Oddly, realtor.com doesn’t have a search function that quite meets my criteria, which makes my house-finding chore much harder. Somebody should…wait, brilliant idea! I need to start a property-finding site for people like me.
Off I go to buy a domain name: hermithousehunters.com.