Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Life on Letterly

Today, my wife Tara and I are celebrating one year as home owners! March 25, 2008 was a crazy day. We spent the morning closing on our new house with our awesome realtor and friend Stacy, and a bunch of other legal types. I was pretty much zoned out for most of it, but I became an expert at signing my name that day. After a celebratory lunch at a Center City cafe, we began the fun task of moving all our stuff from our old rental to our new purchase. Why "fun" you ask? Well, that's because we moved a grand total of four houses down on the same block, resulting in the easiest move ever! No moving trucks, no cars filled to the brim, no crazy packaging. Just lift object...walk 100 feet...set object down. This begs the question, of course, as to why we even bothered moving in the first place.

In July 2006, Tara and I got married and moved into a rental house on Letterly Street in Philadelphia. Overall, I'm very grateful for our time there. It served its purpose and will go down in the Alan & Tara annals as our first house together. But I must say, the place was hard to heat up in the winter and a chore to cool down in the summer. We must have been PGW and PECO's favorite customers as a result. Plus, the previous tenants let their cats have free reign in the basement, so despite our best cleaning efforts, the pleasant scent of cat urine would occasionally come wafting up through the vents. We talked to our landlord about the possibility of buying that house but something just didn't feel right. For a number of reasons, it just wasn't the house that we thought would be best to settle down in long term as we work to plant roots in our surrounding community and eventually raise children. Nor did we feel that throwing away more money in rent was wise.

Meanwhile, down the street at the end of the block was this hideous shell of a house. I mean this thing was a freaking eyesore: Boarded up windows and rickety shutters. It looked like something out of a horror film. And that was just the view from the outside! From what we learned from our neighbors, the house had pretty much been in an empty state of decay for the past decade or so. In mid 2007, a guy bought the house and began rehabbing it with the intention of selling it upon completion. Since Tara and I had been living on the block, we saw the whole rehab process unfold and even got a few chances to see the amazing work that was being done inside. At some point, we dared ourselves to dream what we never thought would be possible: to stay on Letterly Street (where we felt really moved to commit long-term) but not have to live in our rental house. But it just didn't seem feasible. This newly rehabbed house would surely be out of our price range.


Before


After

Well, sometimes things work out that are simply beyond our control. Needless to say, despite overwhelming odds, we were able to buy the house at the end of our block. On our moving day, with the help of a bunch of awesome friends, we got all our stuff moved from the old house into the new house in one hour...(organizing it afterwards was a much longer process, of course). Now, one year later, Tara and I are continuing to fall in love with our new house more and more. One of Tara's favorite features is the completely open downstairs - from the living room all the way through to the kitchen - which creates way more space than we previously had. One of my favorite features is that in addition to the full bathroom upstairs, there is also a half bathroom downstairs; a feature we didn't have in our old rental. I love that I don't have to run upstairs to use the bathroom between innings of Phillies games anymore. What can I say? I'm easily amused. Our dog Bailey was, I think, initially a little confused as to why we were now going into the house at the end of the block rather than the one in the middle, but she soon adjusted. Most importantly however, are the people who live on our block and the relationships that have been built over the past three years. Without a doubt, they make living on Letterly Street worthwhile.

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