Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Strategy, I haz it..

One of the scariest thing about PCS-ing is not knowing where you'll be living in the very near future..  At least, in my opinion.

That was one of the scariest things about Bahrain.  Couple that with an inability to do any research online to find a place before hand.. Yeah, I wasn't a happy camper.  In the end, it worked itself out though.  45 days of hotel living (ugh, please Navy, never make me have to do that again) provided the time and opportunity to literally go out and find a place.  That was a treat, not.

For MD, things are quite a bit easier.  I can actually look online and research places in advance.  Recently, I was in contact with my future-LPO and she said: You should have a place when you get here.
Me: WHAT?!
Her: Is this your first shore duty?
Me:  My first real shore duty, yes.
Her: You can look online.
Me: I'm coming from Bahrain.
Her: Well, maybe you get something special then.

Excuse me, very nice lady I've never met, I will not just live in a place I've never been inside/laid MY eyes on in person.  Sorry, not happening.  I do get 10 days for house hunting leave after I arrive in MD.  Maybe I'm just a freak, but how am I supposed to find a place to live in 10 days?  Apparently, it is do-able though, so there is that.  The Navy will reimburse me for staying in the Lodge/Gateway for 10 days...  That is it, any time longer than that and it comes out of pocket.  45 days of TLA must have me spoiled.

"Great fixer-upper!!"... bet I wouldn't see this photo while looking online. (image)
So.. I've been doing "moving" research.  I don't like to call it house hunting, because moving research makes it sound like I'm literally moving my body or something, which I'm not actually, unless you include hand activity over the keyboard (pretty sure that came out dirtier than intended).  Either way, moving sounds literal, and it is kinda, since I'll literally be moving across the world... again.  It can also be confused for working out, potentially.  :)

For a few months, I considered buying a house/town house.  Teh Bear has successfully talked me down from that ledge.  He explained how renting gives me the advantages of getting to know an area (including the bad parts/the loud parts (hello jets)/good parts) and, depending on my rent amount, will give me the opportunity to save more money for a larger down payment, which was solid thinking.  But... in true Teh Megan form, my brain just keeps thinking, but you're wasting money by renting!  In the meantime, every one else is asking me if I'm planning on staying in Pax River after my Navy contract is up (assuming, I don't reenlist.  Again, solid thinking).

After at least 2 months of debating this issue back and forth with myself, I've come to realize Teh Bear is right (he's been doing that a lot lately).  So now, I've eliminated the buying option, I'm looking for places to rent.  The prospective-LPO did suggest staying away from Great Mills Rd.  Fantastic, I need advice like that if you want me to have a place by the time I get there w/in 10 days of arriving.  That has been helpful.

This wouldn't make me happy... (image)
I've been doing most of my searching on realtor.com.  My first thing is to check out the distance to base on Google maps/what side of the peninsula it is on.  I really don't want to have to deal with bridges on my commute.  Especially when it comes to winter time...  A closed bridge that means I wouldn't be able to get home, and that would make for a not happy Teh Megan.  I'm also able to narrow down options by my desire for 2 bedrooms and at least 1.5 bathrooms.

I plan on having company, so a 2nd bedroom was a must.  Teh BFF and I living together is the reason for having 1.5 baths.  When you come home and you both have to go business, and waiting isn't an option for either of you, 1.5 bathrooms is not only appreciated, but required.  I also really like the idea of having a fireplace, but its not a make or break type thing.  The idea of having a garage would also be cool, but again, not required mostly due to how much the price increases.

Then it comes down to townhouses vs apartments.  Realistically, I'd like a townhouse.  I like the ability to get away from others by not being on the same level as them (something I learned from living with the ex-fiance).  I also like that the kitchen isn't on the same level as the bedrooms.  Meaning, if I burned something, the smell might not necessarily reach the bedrooms... Or in the instance while Teh Bear was here, we made bacon and EVERYTHING smelled like bacon for at least 24 hours... I was not pleased.  Plus, a townhouse usually mean less neighbors.  Less neighbors = less noise.. I'm down for less neighbors.

Then reality hits, which is ironic (to me), since I'm usually on realtor.com.

Side story about why I think its ironic: I confused realty and reality when Teh Mom, Teh Sister, Teh Granny, and I went to the beach once.  I asked my mom why were were stopping at the reality place.  She was super confused till I showed her the sign, which actually said realty.. still makes me giggle to this day.

Apartments are cheaper, which means the ability to save money.  Most of the townhouses I've seen are right at my BAH (money for housing) level, which means that utilities would be coming out of pocket.  If I can find an apartment for cheap enough that my BAH would cover my rent and utilities, I'd be golden.  If I can find an apartment for cheap enough that my BAH would still be more than my rent plus utilities, that would be even better, because then I could save the extra money.

This is all find and dandy, but I'm still only looking online.  Some of the places I've seen only have a photo of the outside of the property, which is super inconvenient.  I want to see how small the kitchen is, I want to see those hideous wood panel walls, I want to know that you have gas appliances (yuck).  Most of these things require actually visiting a property to know, which is why only having 10 days to find a place seems over/underwhelming to me.  Overwhelming because is that enough days.  Underwhelming because I feel like you should get more.

For now, I'm a month out.  I'll continue fighting with the internet for my "moving" research.  Hopefully, this will help me eliminate options.  Someone also suggested that once I get there, I just drive around and literally look for places.  Which doesn't seem like such a bad idea.  Who knows.  I contacted the housing office at Pax River and they sent me a flyer for places that have special rates for military.

I was very interested in one place from the flyer, despite it being an apartment.  I like the floor plans, the buildings seemed nice (assuming those weren't stock photos on the website, although I did also check Google Earth), the commute isn't that far, and the community has a pool/fitness center (which means not always having to work out on base).  I was also woo-ed by the fact that you could "place" furniture on the floor plans on the website.  I was totally enamored.  Cool technology will always win me over.

Now its just a matter of saving all these bookmarks and setting up appointments to go look at these places once I arrive.  So much to do, so little time.

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