Happiness doesn’t have just one address.
Moving has been an integral part of my adult life. Not counting the moves I made before I married Mike, I’ve moved 13 times; number 14 is on the horizon. Some of those moves were within the same city; we started out in apartments until we found a house we liked enough to buy. While I’ve liked all of the houses (and this condo), I loved some of them more than others. I think that is just natural.
Every once in a while, I think about each of the houses and the memories of our time in them. I sometimes wonder if I would feel comfortable in them now, and I come to the conclusion that I probably would not. They were all large houses, and today I am in more of a small craftsman or bungalow mindset.
For a long time, I thought we needed those four-bedroom houses. We moved often because of Mike’s job, and we thought that selling a four-bedroom house would be easier when it was time to take off for the next city. Even when we moved back to Las Vegas in 2009, we bought a two-bedroom house that had a library, dining room, and living room that we hardly ever used.
“Change Will Do Me Good”
Traveling to Europe and living in Italy changed my mindset on houses. I remember when I started to realize that we did not need to all of that room. We were in Paris in 2013, and we rented a garret apartment in the Third Arrondissement. Tiny, the kitchen, living room, and bedroom cramped together in a space about the size of our Las Vegas living room. A long narrow bathroom was the only other room, and the washing machine sat outside the door on the landing at the top of the 100 circular stairs.
The kitchen, little more than one burner and a sink, had a refrigerator that was big enough to hold a few small blocks of cheese and a bottle of wine….if you turned it on its side. Three sliding doors on one wall hid the only closet. Ten inches deep, the cabinet had three bars on which one could hang a total of about twelve items.
Vanessa, the owner, met us as we were leaving, and I mentioned that we would rent from her again. She told me that she was done renting the apartment as she was moving back into it. Having moved to a rental in the country, she really missed the comfort of that small place.
Still with too much of the “bigger is better” mindset, I did not quite understand then. Living in small apartments in Bologna over the last seven years, though, helped me realize that I did not need all of that space. While the Bologna apartments there were bigger than that Parisian garret, they would still entirely fit into two rooms of our Las Vegas house. I like that, and while I was going through chemo last year, I noticed that I spent most of my time in two rooms—the bedroom and family room. Throw in the kitchen, and that was all I needed.
“Everything’s Waiting For You Downtown”
I bring all of this up because we bought a small condo in Downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, in 2019 with the intention of moving there permanently in May 2020. I was set on trying to replicate that European lifestyle. Need groceries? Walk a few blocks to the market. Want a coffee? Visit any other coffee bar within a two-block radius. Have to go to the doctor? Literally walk across the street.
While the pandemic and my breast cancer delayed our move, we finally loaded up the honking-big Penske truck 14 months ago. Moving from a house of 2100 square feet to a condo of 860 square feet was challenging. We had to get rid of a lot of stuff, but as I said, we learned we didn’t need a lot of what we had. When I mention that we’re moving to a house, most people think it’s because the condo is too small, that isn’t true (I will admit that I will be glad to have a larger kitchen). That’s not it at all.
We’ve enjoyed living in Downtown St. Pete. We can walk to restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies, and Starbucks. There are 11 museums we can visit easily, and the Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Rowdies play in stadiums within walking distance. There are even two beaches, a dog park, and so many other activities.
But, we found we were still getting in a car to go to Target or to do major shopping. Riley refused to do his business on the grass we bought for the balcony, so we cart him up and down on the elevator five or six times a day. He used to love sitting in our backyard, but the balcony is just not his thing. There are other reasons, to be honest, but suffice to say, we decided to look at houses.
“You Can’t Always Get What You Want”
I really wanted to move to a bungalow, and Mike wanted to stay near Downtown St. Pete. Cozy, stylishly warm, and abundant in the St. Pete area, bungalows dominated our list as we started to look. The St. Pete market is hot, though, and bungalows are overpriced, undersized, and still need a lot of work. We changed our parameters, started looking north of downtown, and found—within three weeks—the not-a-bungalow house for us.
It sounds rather easy, and it could be. That said, the house is in probate, we have a condo to sell, and it’s the holiday season. What could go
wrong crazy haywire?
Next Time: You have got to be kidding….