Thursday, July 5, 2007

Ya'll Come Back, Now!

We headed East for the Holiday and spent the day with friends and family. It's funny how, when you move and settle in, you find a comfort zone and then when you have to leave, you're a nervous wreck!

For nearly all of Hubby's life, he lived in the Northern Virginia area, which is as close as you can get to DC without actually crossing the state line. Over the years, Northern Virginia (NoVa as locals call it) has grown and grown, the trees giving way to new parkways (they aren't kidding when they say PARKway) and empty fields giving way to McMansions and rows upon rows of townhouses. Smaller, older homes get torn down to make room for identical shopping centers and the county forces older, retired folks to move by raising property taxes to ridiculous amounts, to the point where they cannot afford it anymore. I feel for younger, just married couples that don't have the income to buy one of these homes and have to take out an 'arm and leg loan' just to afford the down payment. They have to fork over the other arm and leg to get the mortgage loan.

We lived in an apartment in NoVa the first 3 years of our relationship and then the early part of our marriage. We got tired of seeing our rent increase every year and seeing our money fly away instead of being invested in a home. We couldn't afford a house in NoVa and decided to look in the next county or two. Both of us worked for the Post office in NoVa so we didn't want to move too far. We checked out Centreville and prices were in the $250,000 range. A little too much for us. We hoped to find something in the $130 range. We checked out Leesburg, Woodbridge, Chantilly, Manassas... but everything was either too expensive or right on a major traffic jam.

We went to see a local realtor for help in finding a house. It was in a large office building, a nice suite of offices, nice lobby, and a nice, perky, older secretary... We were told to wait until Mr. Realtor was ready for us. About 10 minutes later, we were ushered into his office. Introductions were made, small talk about the weather and where we were from, and then, THE question: "What's your price range? " He asked us.

"We were hoping to find a house with at least an acre of land for $130." we said.

"HA ha ha ha ha ha ha ha......" he laughed! I kid you not! He LAUGHED! When he saw we weren't laughing with him, he calmed down, straightened his tie, and told us that would be impossible. Hubby was royally pissed and said we weren't going to be doing business with him. We got up and left, and Hubby tells me later that he heard Mr. Realtor start laughing again after we left the office.

We decided to look even further for a home. We went into another county and sure enough, there were plenty of homes in the price range we were looking for. The trade-off was driving 40 minutes one way to work. We thought that was a fair trade and we found our little house after a couple of weeks of house-hunting. It was sort of in the country, with the town being a mile away, but you had the feeling you were in the middle of farm land. We loved living there and the commute to work wasn't bad at all. But other people started discovering our town and traffic increased, more homes were popping up, prices and property taxes were getting higher, more stores and restaurants were moving in and pretty soon, our little town wasn't so little anymore.

Although I couldn't hear it, there used to be only the sound of crickets in the evenings with the occasional moos from the cows in the field behind us, the twittering of birds and the neigh of the neighbor's horse. There was a small airfield nearby and every weekend we were entertained with small planes flying above our house, many were ultra-lights and experimental small planes. But then came the constant pounding of carpenters and the drilling of big earth movers boring through hard rock to make room for more and more new homes. Beautiful fields were being raped of lovely 100 year old trees and corn fields plowed down. Hubby tossed and turned at night with the new sounds of a growing town. It was time to move.

Finding this house in the mountains was a godsend. It's peaceful and quiet here. There's no place for a developer to come in and plant 100 McMansions anywhere because the mountains and valleys don't allow it to happen. You get used to the slower way of life and not having a thousand cars crowding around you on the roads. Going back to NoVa turns Hubby's knuckles white as he grips the steering wheel, the muscles in his neck and back tense up and even I start looking for something to hold onto when drivers cut too close in front of us. We start thinking about making a U-turn and heading back home. We say stuff like, "You couldn't pay me to move back here!" I believe we are official country bumpkins now. We'll start saying stuff like, "Ya'll come back now, ya hear!" And instead of sounding like a couple of city-folk country-wannabes, it'll sound like it came from a couple of bona-fide country hillbillies! Ohhh-wee!

20 comments:

Annie said...

This kind of development seems to be happening all over the place. It is the same where we live.

This post makes me want to move to the country :)

Elsie Button said...

ahaa country bumpkin! i have become one too! you always make it all sound so amazing - where you live. one day i might try to describe where we live, because it is pretty beautiful! i know what you mean about the stress of the city. i got into some terrible road rage in our local town earlier. i was soooo angry.

Lisa C. said...

Boy, there are so many developments all over that place in North Idaho where we lived. We sold our house in 2005 just after the price range went up so high and we got a very good profit. When we left, the town BOOMED so fast from the population of 18,500 to 50,000. My brother who lives in Washington state said that the building permits in North Idaho had to be stopped till the another sewer plants must be built.

We bought a new house with same price range as we bought our old house in Idaho in a new development in one of the boonies in North Texas a year and half ago and we love living here. Houses in Texas are lot cheaper than in Washington and Idaho. We know that the price ranges in Seattle , Washington are five times higher. We noticed that the road rage here is lot less than in the Pacific Northwest.

jenny said...

Annie--I wish that more people would be willing to buy and fix up old houses instead of opting to raze prime farm land to build huge McMansions! Developers seem to have sold their souls for $$$$! Thanks for coming back!

Elsie-- Ohh! Hubby would be a road rager if I wasnt in there to calm him down! He gets pissy just seeing a driver cut off SOMEONE else!! Keep me in the country!! You'll have to post about your road rage incident! Thanks for coming by!

Lisa-- It's a hard fact of life when the human race keeps multiplying and we all need to live somewhere! But as I told Annie, above, I wish more people would buy older homes and fix 'em up instead! Thanks for stopping by!

DJ Kirkby said...

MacMansions! What a great nickname. Your home sounds so beautiful. Do you get any huckleberries on your land? My dad has huckleberry bushes and they are just delish but hard work to pick enough to make a pie.

Drunk Mummy said...

Sounds like you have found a little piece of heaven after the hell-hole of city life.
Thanks for my 'Rockin Girl Blogger' nomination - I was delighted. I thought I had posted a comment to say thankyou, but not sure if it made it!

The Good Woman said...

I think I know how your hubby feels. We go back regularly to the coastal village in South Africa where I was born - it's become more of a coastal mecca for tourists. Just weird really.

jenny said...

Dj-- No huckleberries that I can see.. I've never had any, and I will try it the next time I find some. They look a lot like blueberries.. do they taste similar??

McMansions is something that is quite common to say in NoVa.. See it in all the papers and news stuff. I think it fits well!

Drunk Mummy-- You're Welcome!! You totally deserve it!! Did you pop open a bottle to celebrate?? :o)

We sure do love it up here! Nothing like coming home after visiting the city and seeing the moutains get closer and closer, feeling the change in the climate, and smelling that fresh air! Home Sweet home!

jenny said...

Good Woman-- Of course you want everyone to enjoy places like the coast and the mountains, but then you want them to GO AWAY! Shoo! Scat! Begone! Especially if they start to complain about the lifestyle or lack of amenities that come with the territory. There was actually an article in the paper hubby showed me the other day, about a couple that moved next to a farm with cows. They complained about the mooing! Well-- I'm absolutely speechless! Where did they think they moved to???

Lisa C. said...

The bears might have eaten all the huckleberries, yum. They won't share them with you!! (chuckles)

lady macleod said...

I'm smiling. Well done.

Jenn said...

We too long to move our little family to the country someday. I love to climb into your little country world through your wonderfully descriptive and inviting words. The benefits that our children would reap growing up out of that harried fast city life calls to me. Time is bidden, money is saved away with our future hopes, plans, and dreams. Someday.

jenny said...

Lady M-- Thank You!

Jenn-- It's worth the move! Sometimes I miss the closeness of friends and family, but the rewards I get up here easily rival that. The longer we are here, the more surer we are in our decision to move here. Someday your dream will happen! Keep making and selling your wonderful goods, and it'll happen!

Iota said...

This is an interesting post. I like the big picture of the social and economic changes of an area, and the little story of your own lives (only "little" in relation to the big picture of course - our lives are always the big story to ourselves!) City people always look down on country bumpkins, but the country bumpkins don't bother to defend their reputation too hard. They wouldn't want to persuade too many city folk to join them, and ruin the peace and quiet, would they?

Dana said...

I get white knuckled everytime I go back home to Austin! As much as I complain about the little town where I live, I couldn't move back to the city.

sufferingsummer said...

I'm jealous. That is all. I can't wait to get out of this city life I've known far to long. I'm so glad for your family that you have found such a lush and lasting place.

jenny said...

Iota-- Welcome!! How right you are!! I'm perfectly happy to have city folk stay where they are and I'll stay here! It has been interesting to go back to the old place and to see so many more changes since we left. No regrets! Thanks for coming by.

Dana-- Me, too! We have gotten used to making a trip for provisions from the next biggest town. We kind of like the idea of stocking up on big items and if there were ever a snowstorm, we'd be well-stocked for at least a month!

Summer-- Aww... Dont worry, your dream to move out to the country will happen one day! until then, you're welcome to come out here and get your fix! :o)

Lindystar said...

OH I'm so glad you found a better place in the country! Coming FROM the country to town made me realize how incredibly different it is. Chino and I are going to start hunting for our first house this fall/winter.

OMFG it's so intimidating, I had no idea there is SO FREAKING much to it. It makes me just want to crawl into bed in my little ghetto and never come out from underneath the covers.

It'll be ok right? Any tips?

jenny said...

Lindy-- Oh! Congrats on going house hunting!! I wish you the best of luck in that!!

The only thing I can tell you, is to make sure you get a realtor you LIKE and that he/she completely understands what you're looking for. Don't let realtor push you into anything when they say, "This house is going to go fast-- there are 3 other people looking at it..." I think we would have passed on our first house if the realtor didnt tell us that. We loved the location, but the house could have been better. I can't complain now, cuz we got such a good profit when we sold it. Karma, I hope! It'll be ok! Come on out from under those covers.. c'mon, honey... :o)

DJ Kirkby said...

They are a little more tart and the flavour varies between berries, unusual and a delight on the tongue.