Our New Home in Providence

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I mentioned in my last post that we bought a house during a weekend visit to Providence.  It sounds more impulsive than it actually was.  I had tracked the Providence East Side housing market for a while, comparing listing prices to sale prices, noting how many days an appealing home tended to stay on the market, trying to determine whether we could afford to buy a home that would meet most of our needs without requiring substantial renovations or upgrades.

We contacted realtor David Hasslinger who had helped Jeff’s sister Debbie to sell her home, and gave him a list of eight homes that we wanted to see.  He arranged a very efficient Saturday of home touring for us, even finding a slice of time in the middle of the day for lunch.  We saw all the homes, ranging from major fixer-uppers to lovely completed renovations.  None felt just right, however, so we figured to make a few more weekend house hunting trips during the spring and summer.  Dave told us about one more house that we should see, coming on the market the next day with an open house.  Jeff and Sophie and I arrived at the start of the open house on Sunday, walked in, looked at each other and said “wow”.  The wow feeling continued unabated as we walked slowly through the house and yard.  So much light!  Such pretty floors!  A modern kitchen!  We smiled at the funky blue fixtures in the upstairs bathroom, said “oh, well” about the odd feather pattern wallpaper on the stairs, and started imagining new wall colors and furniture placements.

Technically, our new home meets a lot of our stated criteria: three blocks from the running and bike paths of Blackstone Boulevard, a short walk to other things (like The Butcher Shop Cafe and Deli!), about 2300 square feet of living space, a lovely small yard, a nice kitchen, a garage, move-in ready condition.  It flunked on other measures: only one full bathroom, laundry in the basement, no bedroom on the first floor.

But our glass is much more than half full.  When I climb the stairs to the bedroom I will pause halfway to enjoy the pretty view from the big window on the landing. I will put some comfortable seating in the basement laundry area where I can read or listen to podcasts while I wait for the laundry to finish.  And I’ll enjoy figuring out where to put a new second bathroom!

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The Big Idea to Move to Lil’ Rhody

The year began with lunch.  And a walk, during which we discussed what we REALLY want to do now that we are retired.  There were further discussions, more walks, some glasses of wine, some more glasses of wine, and a test balloon of an idea at the end: Maybe we could move to Providence RI.  

We know Providence well; Jeff grew up in the area and his extended family is mostly there, we both went to Brown, and our beloved daughter Sophie lives on the East Side and works in Cranston.  (Our beloved son Jeffrey and his adorable girlfriend Jenny will probably move around a bit before they settle, so they dodged the parents-moving-to-their-town bullet.)  We love visiting Providence because it is fun, friendly, colorful, quirky, artsy and hip, with residents who are engaged and involved in their communities.  The surrounding area has abundant natural beauty, with the state of RI claiming over 400 miles of coastline.  As an added bonus, Boston is easily accessible by inexpensive daily commuter rail service.

However, it might be crazy for us to move to Providence because:

  1. It’s colder there in the winter than where we live now, Bethlehem PA.
  2. We’d like to live on the East Side, which means we’d have to buy an old house.
  3. That old house that we would buy would probably not offer one-level living (at least, not in our price range!)
  4. It’s colder there in the winter and sometimes they get a lot of snow.
  5. They have a car tax. Ok, that reason is a bit petty, but a car tax is annoying!
  6. Did I mention that the winters are COLD in Providence?

Taking all of the above pros and cons into consideration, we made a trip in April to do some exploratory house hunting, purely for investigational purposes of course, to get a better feel for the market, see what kinds of homes were available in our price range, start the process, etc.  And that weekend WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!  and IT’S OLD!!  and IT HAS STAIRS!!!  But it is also lovely, charming and filled with sunlight, has a pretty little back yard, and is within walking distance of all sorts of things that we like to do.

We rushed back home to Bethlehem and worked hard for several weeks getting our house ready to sell.  It sold four days after we listed it!  We are grateful to our friend and realtor Barbara Fraust and to the staff of Carol C. Dorey Real Estate, Inc. for their excellent advice and service.  Here’s a picture of our house in Bethlehem:

front of house 1

Things are happening fast.  We will move in July, and begin our new adventure.