Tough times in the ranch house these days. Most of you know we’ve been given our end-of-lease notice—not through any fault of our own, exactly, except perhaps failure to purchase the house before it nose-dived another $50K. And now the landlord has no interest in selling for a pittance. Nope, he wants to move back in and, at the very least, lessen the chance of a fireworks-and-bonfire-related blaze that might damage value further.

So we’re on the market for new lodging.

There’s just so much to consider: Location is limited, with CCB working in St. Pete and me in Sarasota, and neither of us wanting an hour-long commute. So we’re pretty well limited to Bradenton proper, east and north, with Palmetto, Ellenton and even interstate-adjacent Sarasota locales also a possibility.

Then there’s the money: Spare the wallet and spoil the ghetto; spend big and say goodbye to furniture (not to mention hockey budget).

Condo or house? One’s easy to maintain; the other lets you set fire to things in the back yard.

Rent or buy? Not really prepped for a down payment, but holy cow it’s a buyer’s market.

Only after all those logistics come personal preferences (otherwise known as “bonuses” when you’re house-hunting): two-car driveway, two bedrooms, proximal to civilization, minimal drive-bys, etc.

So where do you give? Low rent, newly built, size of a closet? Cheap buy, awesome yard, bullet-perforated? Comfy, cozy, smack dab in the center of East Jesus? And in addition to our shared logistics and preferences, we have to negotiate our differences: Is he willing to drive farther? Am I willing to pay more?

Where will Beerslinger Bud reside next Halloween?

All that, and searching for a new place is only a third of the struggle. We’ve also got to clean the old one, which is going to be a titanic undertaking, considering our tolerance for mold and filth. Then you’ve got the riddle of how to get the guy, his fox, his chicken and his feed across the river one boat trip at a time. Except with us it’s a cat, a fish and a work-appropriate wardrobe—given limited transportation and storage, when do you move what so that it’s in the right place when you need (to feed) it?

It’s stressful, and it makes me feel as though all other gnawing obligations should stop while I address this knot of coordination and heavy lifting. I shouldn’t have to get my car fixed too, dammit; I shouldn’t have to go to the dentist.

But, I admit, it’s also kind of exciting. In all the panic about torn curtains and security deposits, I dream about where we’ll put the tables in our new home, how we’ll arrange the couches, about endless countertops and built-in bookshelves. I think about what the view will be when I look out the kitchen window, how much easier it’ll be to access the photo albums, where we’ll sit when we come home from work, kick off our shoes and drink beer while we watch the sky turn orange, then blue, then black.


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