Monday, May 23, 2011

First Impressions of Kentucky

We returned on Saturday from our week-long stay in western Kentucky. Everybody warned us that it'd be so slow-paced and "country" there but you know what? I felt very comfortable and thoroughly enjoyed my stay. Slowing down a little from the ridiculously fast-paced lifestyle of the East Coast can do a body good. :)

Our hotel was THE cutest place I've ever stayed. Go to the website and check out the lobby. :) It made me feel right at home upon walking in. Since we'd been on a plane for several hours as well as a two-hour drive from Nashville in a rental car, we decided to take it easy our first night there. In fact, I think Rob and I were in bed by 9 PM! We knew we needed to rest up for a busy week of house hunting. Our goal: find a house in a week or bust!

Because we are not familiar with western Kentucky, we decided our best option would be to rent. That way we could spend a year or so getting to know the area, assessing schools for our boys, and figuring out where we wanted to permanently settle down. I would hate to jump into a mortgage blind, you know? Renting is a safe bet. If we end up not loving the rented house/town, we're not stuck there forever.

The first house we went to look at was in the ghetto of Paducah. Wow. Rob looked at the dilapidated house and saw potential; I saw disaster. No way were we raising our kids in that section of town. End of discussion. The next place on our list was an apartment complex. We need a 3-bedroom and it just so happened that one was going to be available in the next few weeks. Perfect! The man took down our number and told us he'd call that afternoon to arrange a walk-through...and never called. When I called him, I got the answering machine. Several times. Oh well, moving on.

The next house on our list was beautiful! Pearly white interior, spacious rooms, and in a gorgeous section of town. Oh, did we mention it was out of our price range? Hmmm....yeah.

Driving around all morning was starting to wear on poor David so we headed back to the hotel for naptime. Rob and I scoured Craig's list and all of the local listing for houses and apartments. Why weren't there very many for rent??? We called a local real estate agent and gave him our information. He provided us with the addresses of two houses in a town called Murray. The houses were next to a college we'd never heard of called Murray State University. Ok...worth checking out, right?

Did you ever walk into a house and nearly pass out from the smell? Ugh...that was the first house. The odor was a combination of dog dander, cigarettes, and month-old garbage. I wanted to turn around and race out right then and there but we'd made an appointment and the least we could do was keep it. I dry-heaved several times but somehow made it through the showing. The kicker was the dog that almost bit my son. After smiling at the family and thanking them for their time, I made a beeline for the door. I couldn't believe that when back in the car, Rob actually had to ask what I thought of the place!

The second house was a 3 bedroom brick ranch with a garage and a good sized front and back yard. The back yard was enclosed with tall, beautiful bushes instead of a fence. I had never seen anything quite like that and was impressed. I've never been one for fences but I do like my privacy. Three college students had lived in the house for three years and while they did take care of it, it was obvious that they hadn't made any significant improvements. They didn't do much besides mow the lawn so several of the tree branches were overgrown and hanging over the house. There was plenty of room for a vegetable garden or flower bed both in front and in back and my mind started to race thinking of all of the ways we could improve the overall appearance of the house. It was a cute house but with a little TLC, it could definitely be transformed into something wonderful!

We walked through the house several times. Our son ran around the backyard while we hemmed and hawed over minute details. Yes, the appliances were old. Yes, the garage would have to be used for storage instead of for holding the car (no basement). Yes, the gutter would probably need to be replaced. Yes, our china cabinet might not fit in the dining room. At the same time, yes, being near a college has many benefits (including my taking night classes and possibly adjuncting a few courses). Yes, the neighborhood is safe and our kids will be able to play with the other kids. Yes, the rent is WAY cheaper than we'd ever pay in NJ so we'd be able to save money. Yes, the layout of the house is perfect. Yes, with our finishing touches, this house could scream "Rob and Chanel" and we could be very happy here.

After discussing the pros and cons with family and friends, we decided to listen to what our hearts were telling us and put in our application for the house. We await their decision, not knowing how many other applicants are in the running. If we don't get the house, it won't be the end of the world...but we would be terribly disappointed. We would also have to live in a hotel until we find something else, which would not be fun. The reason there are so few rentals in the area is because the recent floods have displaced so many people from their homes. They have taken 99% of the rental properties available, which leaves little to no choices left for people like us.

Here's hoping something comes through soon...

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