What A Difference Seven Miles Makes

I’ve complain-blogged several times about the neighborhood we live in.  Well, after three years, we’ve moved…7.1 miles, into another suburb.

It’s both a benefit and a curse of renting.  A curse, because if the landlord/homeowner decides to sell their house, we have to move.  Which is what happened in this case.  A benefit, though, because we’re not monetarily tied to any neighborhood or house, so if we want to move, or the neighbors are all donkey-asses (is that redundant?) we can just pick up and go.  We’d been looking at moving the last time our lease came up, and this was just the push we needed to overcome the inertia of “well, it’s easier to not move, and the kids are in a good school and blah blah blah…”

So anyway, we moved.  Last weekend was the horrible two days with a truck, and boxes and sweat and work.  This weekend we cleaned out the old place, and left our keys and garage-door openers on the kitchen counter, and drove away.  So long, old neighborhood.

And…it’s amazing to me how different our new neighborhood is.  And again, it’s just another subdivision, 7.1 miles from our old house.  Or maybe I’m fixated on small, insignificant changes, and the two places are really 99% alike.  Which is probably closer to reality, but whatever.

First, the house itself.  It feels homey.  It feels like it’s meant to live in.  Our old house was built to entertain and impress – it had flying arches and showy stuff, but was built with an utter lack of quality.  When we moved in, everything was white.  Like, in low light I couldn’t tell where the ceiling stopped and the wall started, because it was all the same.  And, everything was hard-surfaced – tile floors, hard walls, everything hard…and the sounds of four children echoed around like we were in a sound-cannon.

The Old Living Room
The old living room: cold, white, echoey.

The new house, though, is laid out differently.  There’s carpet, there are cozy colors.  The kids can play in one room and we can still have a conversation in another.  The style works with our furniture.  It doesn’t seem THAT much different, but it’s enough to make it feel like home.

The New Kitchen
The new kitchen, warm, cozy, homey.

And the new neighborhood makes me feel so much more relaxed.  Every yard is not a postage-stamp of manicured perfection.  There is scrubby grass, there is nice sod, there’s a variety.  Every house is not one of the four approved floorplans.  Yards are landscaped or decorated with a goal of livability, and done to the homeowner’s taste – not calculated for resale value.

The cars of these residents are not all brand new, selected from the approved list of sedans, SUV’s or minivans (check one, from Germany or Japan, in your choice of silver, pewter or sterling).  There are old cars, there are new cars, there are interesting cars.  My drippy T-Bird fits right in.

Our new neighbors have all waved and smiled, and most have made some small talk.  They have not stared, scowled at “the renters” and turned away.  Our next-door neighbors just bought a 1980 BlueBird WanderLodge RV, named “Large Marge,” and parked her in their driveway.  No neighborhood-gestapo has flagged it as a violation.

Heck, the mailboxes are all different.

And, though we moved 7.1 miles, my commute has been shortened by four.  Four miles.  From 22 miles to 18 miles.  And Holy Crap, it’s cut 15-20 minutes off!  I have been getting to work in 40 minutes in the morning, not an hour.  I’ve been getting home in 45 minutes, not an hour-ten!  It has really been the first five miles in the morning, and the last 5 miles in the evening that have made my drive unbearable…and they’re gone.  It’s amazing.

So, tiny little move, in the scheme of things, but I feel like it’s made a big difference.  Maybe everything really is 99% the same, and I was just a huge complainy-butt about the old neighborhood.  Maybe the old neighborhood really IS the proto-suburb-from-Hell that I’ve claimed it is.  I feel better, though — more relaxed.  My wife loves the new house and neighborhood, which is even more important.  And I’m looking forward to living here for the next two years – for our last two years in Florida.


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