How do you decide where to live?
I'm not just talking about apartments or houses (although that is also totally over my head), but the neighborhood, the community, the city. How do you decide that one place will be better for your family than another? I have no idea. If you do, please tell me.
We're in the interview stage. Bryan's applied to optometry schools and we've narrowed it down to three. Three interviews. Three totally different places. All of them brand new to us.
And all of them a plane ride away. The big O and I are for sure going with him to one of the schools for the interview, but we're undecided on whether we should go with him for the other two interviews. Mostly because it's expensive. We'd love to save money and drive, but it's not an option. Between his current classes and the interview schedules, it's just not possible. Any insight? Any advice? For those of you who have been through this, do you think it was beneficial for both you and your husband to go check things out? Or do you think that would be a waste of money? I have no idea.
Now, back to housing. How totally overwhelming to find good, safe, affordable housing in a place you've never been before! Luckily we have good friends (and even some family!) in each of the three places we're looking at. If that weren't the case I don't know what we'd do. We've already looked around on PadMapper (a site that combines housing listings on Craigslist with Google Maps) a little bit, but I honestly just don't even know how to tell if any given place is going to be a good one.
In one of the areas we were looking at we found an area that got us really excited. At least a handful of cute houses to rent. And all the listings kept mentioning the zip code so we took it as a sign that the area must be a good place to live. And the houses were cheaper than what we pay on our cinder block apartment rent now. With yards. And washing machines. Ahhh. I started dreaming of hanging my wash out on a clothes line. I started getting motivated to decorate. I started seeing red accent on pillows and the big O and me hanging out in the back yard.
Then I talked to my cousin who lives there. And she told me that we were looking at a super sketchy neighborhood. Gah! How would we have even known that without going there ourselves? So frustrating.
So how do you do it? I know we're not the first ones in this boat. So, to those of you who have been there and done that, I ask for your experiences, your advice.
What do you look for in a community?
What do you look for in an apartment/house to rent?
What do you look for in a neighborhood?
How can you (or is it even possible to) tell if a neighborhood is safe just by visiting it once in the middle of the day?
Also, can I just say this? Rental car companies really should change their policy. Bryan and I are both responsible, respectful, trustworthy adults with perfect driving records. We are married. We have a child. We have a car of our own. We have good credit. So why is it that we have to pay an additional $27 per day just because we're not 25 yet? Gah. Sometimes it's frustrating to be the same age as your spouse. Sometimes it would be convenient if one of us were older. Or at least if one of us were as mature as a 25 year old. Because, clearly, we're nowhere near that.
Anyway, this wasn't meant to be a whiner post. Because it's not that I'm angry or pouty. I'm really not. (Well, maybe except about rental cars.) I'm just really feeling like I don't even know where to begin on trying to make some of these decisions. I'm really interested to hear from you about your experiences. Thanks so much in advance for sharing. I really appreciate it.