Tuesday, October 18, 2011
In case you missed my rant two weeks ago, Kristen and I are now the proud owners of a 2-bedroom 2-bathroom condo in Long Beach. The move has been exhausting. As I had told my folks, this is the hardest either of us have worked on something. Ever. Has all of that hard work been worth it? I don't know yet.
I'm going to avoid talking about the financial side of things. It's sufficient to state that the loan and escrow process has been upsetting. K and I did everything correctly, while everyone on the other side did not. I am unable to write about it further in order to avoid rage-quitting this post.
I don't think we realized that were purchasing a fixer-upper for our first home. It's like getting an abused dog from the kennel. This place has been treated terribly by all of its previous owners. We plan to be the first ones to really care for it. And like a child (metaphor switch!), it will take over our lives for quite some time. That wasn't the intent, but that's what we've got. Every hour we're learning something new.
Last week we soaked, scraped, sanded, dusted, and painted the ceilings. Where they had once been crumbly cottage-cheese-looking "popcorn" ceilings, they're now smooth and flat. Except in the second bedroom (heretofore known as The Office) where we discovered a significant mold infestation. Speaking of significant infestations, the walls are full of termites. Both of these problems should have been noted by our professional inspectors. They were not.
We'll be pulling down all of the painted-over wallpaper, killing the mold, and repainting the walls and ceiling. We're also trying to figure out how our HOA handles termite issues since the bugs don't just hang out in one place. And the building is made of wood. We've been told a few times, "Don't worry, now that the weather has cooled the swarmers won't come out of the walls." Yeah, that's not really the point now, is it?
We've cleaned and cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. Still finding chunks of food(?) from previous occupants. We pulled out two sets of cabinets and replaced them with a fridge, washer, and dryer. The fridge arrived without a connecting hose and the washer/dryer had the wrong stacking kit. This resulted in multiple visits from the delivery crews.
The plumber, a great guy from Guardian Plumbing, has been here three times because there are issues with almost all of the plumbing in the unit. But we've been lucky that the plumber has been nice.
The Verizon tech came by to install the cable, phones, and Internet. For a one television home, he said it takes 2 to 3 hours. It took over eight hours here. He said that was a record for him. The building is old, its phone box is outdated, and the cable installation had been done incorrectly and wastefully multiple times in the past.
Our actual move took place on Sunday. We were going to move ourselves, but due to ongoing physical pain we chose to hire folks. (Thank you, Kristen, for suggesting out loud exactly what I was thinking.) We wouldn't have been able to haul that stuff on our own. It took the movers all day to complete the job.
It's now Tuesday and despite hours of work, we're less than halfway through the boxes. The great news about the place is that it's incredibly spacious. About 50% more floor space than our apartment. But it has very little storage. Closets and cabinets are almost non-existant, so we'll need to be creative to figure out where everything's going. In the meantime the place is labyrinthine, about which neither of us are happy. It makes us feel like hoarding squatters.
The place is full of gives and takes. The street noise is significant because the windows are poor. But the constant ocean breeze is wonderful. The cabinets, counters, and fixtures are stupendously ugly. But the sunlight is so beautiful, it's the exact opposite of our dark apartment. I have to figure out how to cook on an inferior electric stove. But the stove works! We overlook an Albertsons parking lot. But when the sky clears we can see Catalina and the mountains. The wandering junkie quotient has tripled. But we're a 15 minute walk to the beach. It's not Los Angeles. And it's not Los Angeles.
We're restarting our lives this week. Kristen's commute has been shortened by 90%, thirty miles to three. I woke up before the sun to go to the gym for the first time in two weeks. Today will be the first LBC TJ's run for groceries. And I'm trying to get a blog post out from time to time!
I'm sure that there's some advice to dole out here, but we're not on the other side of this, yet...