Jan 24, 201409:52 AM
Joie d'Eve

Living, loving, laughing, and learning in the new New Orleans

Itching To Move

When is it time for a new house in New Orleans?

This week marks six years since I moved back to New Orleans. It seems like just yesterday, but it also seems like absolutely forever ago.

When we first moved down here, it was me, my now-ex-husband, and barely walking 13-month-old Ruby, along with a 100-pound Rottweiler mix. My dad was living in Mississippi at the time, and he graciously let us stay in his Mid-City home rent-free while we tried to sell our house in Missouri.

I bought my first house when I was 23, in the summer of 2004. It was ridiculously easy to get a mortgage (I was working as a TA in the journalism department and they still gave me a mortgage), but it was ridiculously hard to get a house. We were involved in numerous bidding wars in which other buyers ended up buying the house we wanted for sometimes as much as $10,000 over the asking price. Ahhh, 2004.

We finally managed to buy a place in a not-so-great neighborhood (only because our Realtor, after seeing all we’d been through, took pity on us and showed us this house before it was even listed). Even though I was always concerned about crime (mid-Missouri crime < New Orleans crime, obviously, but I still didn’t like fistfights on my lawn or drive-by shootings two blocks away) and its corresponding effect on my property value, a phrase that simultaneously thrilled and panicked me, I adored my house. It had three bedrooms, an enormous backyard, a basement, a den, a tiny but perfectly efficient kitchen, a dining room, and a living room with an incredible fireplace. We were completely invested in the home ownership thing – we did weekend landscaping projects, we painted the outside, we put up a fence, we redid the bathroom. This was the house I was living in when I got pregnant and the first place Ruby ever lived. I still miss it sometimes.

If we bought at the wrong time, we sold at the absolute last second of the right time, signing the papers in late summer 2008. I don’t recall the exact date, but I do know that within 48 hours of getting the Fed-Ex’d check from the sale, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were all over the headlines.

After we sold our house in Missouri, we were more or less content to just stay at my dad’s and save money, which we did until the following summer, when Dad started urging us – gently at first and then a bit more insistently – to get our butts in gear.

We considered renting because the housing market was now making it much harder to get a mortgage, but ultimately we realized it was far easier for two employed adults with good credit to get a mortgage than it was to find a rental that would take a toddler and a 100-pound Rottweiler mix.

So we bought our second house, a slightly run-down three-bedroom in Broadmoor. I loved that place, too. It had a huge open kitchen, big windows, an attic – and it is the only home I have ever lived in, in my entire life, that has had two bathtubs. But even the joy of two bathtubs couldn’t cancel out the misery of my dying marriage, and I moved out of that house about eight months after we bought it.

Now my husband and I are renting, and there are lots of good things about that. That feeling of “la-la-la, not my problem!” when the dishwasher breaks is hard to beat. Not having to pay New Orleans’ exorbitant homeowners’ insurance is nice, too. Our rent is completely fair, and our landlord is fantastic. I love our apartment, our neighborhood and our neighbors.

But I’m starting to get antsy. I’m starting to sneak glances at Realtor.com and Craiglist. I’m not necessarily eager to own a home again, but I am eager for a second bathroom. For an extra bedroom. For just a little breathing room.

Georgia’s crib is wedged into our bedroom, butted up against my nightstand, which means I can no longer use it as a nightstand at all because she has destroyed the books, Chapstick and alarm clock that used to sit on it, and if I ever forget and leave a glass of water there, she dumps that all over herself, too, just for fun. Her changing table and dresser are sort of squeezed into our dining room, leaving us cramped if we try to eat at the table. Her books and toys have overtaken our living room – but that happens in every house with a baby, so I am not too concerned about that.

I don’t know if my house-lust is coming out of the fact that I have moved practically every year or every other year for most of my adult life (I have moved 11 times in the past 15 years) or just from feeling pinched for space, but I am pulling up full-page pictures of houses on my computer, admiring dormer windows and rooflines, fantasizing about a master bathroom or a den, getting a bit giddy over the prospect of an actual bedroom – a whole, real room with four walls and a door – for Georgia.

But then I realize I don’t need that right now, not right this very second. I don’t need to be greedy. What I have – my whole family, safe and healthy, in a nice house with running water and heat and AC and laundry facilities, in my favorite neighborhood in my favorite city – is enough. It’s more than enough. I am lucky. I am blessed. Six years in, I am so thankful, every day, to live in New Orleans.

I still want a second bathtub, though.

 

Reader Comments:
Jan 24, 2014 12:42 pm
 Posted by  WHTREVOR

Sounds suspiciously like a nesting urge! Pregnancy issues aside, renting is living in someone else's nest. It isn't yours. It isn't permanent (you could be evicted). You're in your favorite neighborhood in your favorite city, but really you just rent. It isn't enough and certainly not more than enough. "Rent" is synonymous with "temporary"; renters move, owners remain. Strong, solid, stable, permanent, rooted...the phrase was never "Rent A Piece Of The Rock". Go find a rock in your favorite neighborhood and OWN it. I don't think you're lusting to move (11 times in the past 15 years, really?). I think you're looking to confirm stability for the years to come, probably for Ruby and Georgia more than yourself.

Here's the best part: the house that you will own for decades to come will be the touchstone your child can return to should she ever lose her way.

Feb 3, 2014 03:42 am
 Posted by  lala

My, my. What crawled up ^^^^her^^^^ but and died?

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Joie d'Eve

Living, loving, laughing, and learning in the new New Orleans

about

Eve is further proof, if any is needed, that New Orleans girls can never escape the city. After living here since the age of 3 and graduating from Ben Franklin High School, Eve moved to Columbia, Mo., where she received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Missouri School of Journalism and became truly, unhealthily obsessed with grammar.

She had originally intended to strike out to New York City and work in the cutthroat magazine industry there, but after Katrina, Eve felt a strong pull to return home, to her roots, her family, her waterlogged and struggling city – and a much more forgiving work atmosphere that would allow her to skip a routine of everyday makeup and size 0 designer label business suits and enjoy the occasional cocktail or three with an absurdly fattening lunch. She moved back home in January 2008 and lives in Mid-City with her two daughters, Ruby and Georgia; her stepson, Elliot; and her husband, Robert Peyton.

Eve blogs about the joys and struggles of living in post-Katrina New Orleans, the unique problems and delights of raising a child in such a diverse and challenging city – including her experiences with the public education system – and her always entertaining and extremely colorful family.

Eve has won numerous writing awards, including the Pirates Alley Faulkner Society Gold Medal, the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence award for column-writing and Press Club of New Orleans awards for her Editor’s Note in New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles and for this blog, most recently winning the award for "Best Feature Affiliated Blog."

She welcomes comments, advice, empty flattery, recipes, drink invitations and – most especially – grammatical or linguistic debates.

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