Saturday, January 2, 2016

House hunting

One major task for the next two weeks is to figure out where to live, potentially long term. We have begun searching for suitable places.

First stop, suburbs.
The first place we toured was partway between my work and Jonathan's school, right next to the train line and the freeway. In realtor speak you say "conveniently located." When you actually see the place, it's probably a little too close to train and freeway. To the immediate left is the train line, about 20 feet from the side of the building. Here is Jonathan looking disgusted at the graffiti on the train side of the building.

Train noise is not so bad, but just on the other side of the train is the freeway, walled off so you can't see it. However, from outside you could hear the constant hum of freeway traffic.

There were actually three options in that location. Two were dark, one had one fewer bathroom than necessary. One had fewer bedrooms. And none would actually fit our furniture.

But the location really was great. This little park is where we would pick up the bike trail.

Commute times:
To Jonathan's school: 15 minutes by bike, 27 minutes by public transportation (either tram to bus, or train to bus, or train to 20 minute walk), 5 to 10 minutes by car (if there is no traffic).

To my work: 40 minutes by bike, 50 minutes by public transit (train to bus), 12 to 15 minutes by car (if there is no traffic). 

Next we toured a few apartments in a high rise building in the city center. There were four options in this location. Some of the views were good.

Option 2.
Except the views of the opposite buildings.

Option 3. Definitely not an option.
The fourth of the options was a corner apartment, and the only one of the four with windows in every bedroom, and light in the apartment. It is the only one we would consider. But the rooms were very tiny. We would have to sell most of our furniture. And the others in the high rise apartment seemed to be almost exclusively university students from China. I don't know how we would enjoy lots of students as neighbors.

Commute time:
To my work by public transit: 45 minutes. By bike: 1 hour, 30 minutes. 24 minutes by car with no traffic, but (a) there would always be traffic during commute times, probably it would take an hour to get there, and (b) there is no way we would get a car if we decided to live in the city centre. We would have no place to park it.

To Jonathan's school by public transit: 38 minutes. By bike: 41 minutes (that would probably not happen), and 20 minutes by car with no tolls in no traffic, but again that would never happen.

Third choice, and this is pretty wild: The apartment just on top of the apartment we lived in two years ago!

We loved this place two years ago. It backs onto a 100 acre park. On the opposite side, trams run every 3 minutes direct to the city center. We know where everything is from here. 20 minute walk to the Prahran market. 25 minute walk to grocery store. Or take one of the trams. 10 minute walk to the Botanic garden. The park is full of birds, possums, flying foxes late at night. I trained for a 5K by running around the perimeter twice each morning.

And it's actually better than our previous place: one floor up means there is space for that most desirable second bathroom.

But the commute is not as nice as the first place.

Commute time:
To Jonathan's school by public transit: 40 minutes, tram to bus, or one tram, then walk 10 minutes. By bike: 40 minutes, along the Yarra river. By car: 15-20 minutes without traffic. (Probably there would be eternal traffic.)

To my work by public transit: 45 minutes, tram to train to shuttle (or skip the tram and walk 20 minutes through the park). By bike: 1 hour 23 minutes via Scotchman's creek trail (that would almost definitely not happen, but at least the ride would be pleasant). By car: 24 minutes without traffic. But traffic happens during commute times. So I'd really have to plan to take the train.


We would like to see a few other houses in the neighborhood of the first options, in deeper suburbia. The 40 minute bike commute for me sounds great. On the other hand, a 20 minute walk through a park followed by a half hour on the train is not bad for the chance to live in our old place. And we know we loved living near the huge urban park.