January 29, 2006

Contemplating change.

I'm contemplating selling my big old house, which I've lived in for 20 years, and moving into a condo very near the Capitol, in a beautifully renovated old building that was once a glamorous hotel. (President Kennedy stayed there. So did Mae West.) I'm rather entranced by the idea of living up off the ground, in a very solid, substantial place, with a view of the Capitol and a cathedral and, at street level, a cool café (where they sell lots of wine by the glass as well). I like the idea of a one mile walk to work that takes me down State Street, past dozens of cafés and restaurants and shops. Who wouldn't walk if that's the walk? If you get cold (or hot), there's always a place to step inside. My house is only a little over a mile from the Law School, but the walk -- which I've already walked thousands of times -- is through a residential area and campus, and there's nowhere to stop along the way.

Should I make this move? What's the downside? The work of dismantling my house, editing my possessions down to fit in half the space, seems overwhelming. I have an attic that I haven't entered in years, even though I used to stash things up there all the time. Then, I discovered a bat problem that freaked me out. I got the bat man to correct the problem long ago, and there hasn't been a bat in the house since, but I haven't been up there in all this time. Then there's a basement full of stuff, including lots of musical equipment from the bands that used to practice there. There are two speakers that are the size of armoires. There are thousands of paperback books, which we bought by the stack over all those years when hanging out at Borders was a major pastime. There are a thousand vinyl LPs, not just ones that I bought but ones that my parents bought. (I'll bet I have more Ray Conniff records than you. More Julie London too!) There are large paintings on wooden stretchers and lots of unused stretchers and a giant roll of canvas. There are a hundred sketchbooks and innumerable loose drawings.

What an overwhelming task it would be to deal with all these things!

And yet....

I could blog about it.


Judith said...

Having moved 4 times in the past 15 years, I have found it bracing and even enjoyable to face your accumulated stuff and prune. You get reacquainted with stuff you forgot you had and find out you love and want to keep. You have the satisfaction of throwing away stuff you really don't want to keep.

You might want someone who specializes in estate sales to help you prune, especially if they know how to sell on eBay. You could donate all the proceeds to worthy causes. I bet some of those old LPs are worth a lot of money.

mrsizer said...

Difficult choice! I know where you are talking about (they are making condo out of that place?!?) and it would be a great place to live since you work on campus.

I wouldn't worry so much about the stuff - you're going to have to deal with it eventually unless you leave it to your heirs.

Think about the space and how you use it - not what's in it.

Consider the yard issues. Consider neighbor and construction issues (tell the agent you want to see two adjancent condos at the same time and bring a loud radio - if he/she says "no", then you can safely say "no").

I loathe yardwork and gardening, but still prefer the single-family-dwelling over a condo/townhouse because I do not like hearing my neighbors and _I_ am loud and don't like imposing myself on them.

Good luck.

Dave said...

One of the things that I like about living in an apartment in New York City is that its small size forces me to not have a lot of stuff.

On the other hand, I see people living in apartments smaller than mine and they are crammed floor to ceiling with years of detritus and accumulated stuff.

Perhaps it's just a personality quirk.

I find clutter overwhelming and do my best to avoid it.

D.E. Cloutier said...

I lived in a penthouse apartment on the 29th floor of a high-rise for years. I loved it. Looking back, the apartment was my favorite residence, and I have lived in houses all over the world.

Speaking of bats, the ceiling of a library in Africa recently collapsed because of the weight of bat droppings in the attic.

CCMCornell said...

I guess you're sort of familiar with the Ithaca area. As far as location and commute, my living situation has been similar to the one you're looking at. I've previously lived on the Commons in a traditional apartment and now live just south of the Commons in an old house that has been converted to have mutiple dwellings.

The walk is pleasant with all the cafes and restaurants on the Commons. The interesting, perennial characters on the way make up half the scenery.

Walking up the hill can seem daunting at first, but is fine if you take a longer, less steep route. As you pass through Collegetown's residential areas, you can see a different cast of characters hanging outside of their houses and it helps you transition your day to campus life. Finally, before campus, is Collegetown's commercial area which provides a last dose of coffee before the day and the first chance at respite at the end of the day.

For you: with all the potential people watching and other bustle of town life, you could find another source of blogging material and, with wi-fi powered cafes, more potential pitstops to blog from. Also, you might find yourself walking, working and blogging more often even when not commuting since the transition from home to hotspot will be diminished.

The downsides? Noise, privacy, no Agatha and no squirrels. Plus, as my mom always wonders when considering a move, where would the kids stay if they visited? Would they tend to visit less if the arrangement wasn't as comfortable and familiar?

Lastly, what does your home mean for your blog persona? Anne the condo owner? What about blogging within view of Agatha? Complaints of the squirrels? Weird house noises in the podcasts?

Charlie Eklund said...

Never go to the library without a hat.

Bruce Hayden said...

Change is good, esp., IMHO, when you go beyond 50. Keeps you more alive.

Dump your extra stuff now, instead of waiting another 30 years as my widowed father is facing - winnowing 60 years of stuff from raising 5 boys moved into ever larger houses.

Jake said...

Really check out the sound proofing in your condo. If the sound proofing is poor and you have noisy neighbors, your life will be a living hell.

richard mcenroe said...

"a cool café (where they sell lots of wine by the glass as well). "

And thus you take the first perilous step down the path wobbled by Dowd and Ivins...

Jake said...

ztuYou need to Feng Shui your house.

Have a dumpster put in your driveway and then work to fill it.

Go through every room and every drawer and throw everything you don't absolutely love. Be heartless and ruthless. Feng Shui believes that you should not have anything that anchors you in the past. I don't agree with that but if an item doesn't have a great memory associated with it-throw it.

End result:

1. Everything in your house works.
2. All your clothes fit.
3. You have room to put stuff away.
4. You can find things.
5. Your belongings could fit in a condo.

A person should do this every 5 years. It is a very liberating experience.

Duffy Nichols said...

Forget the move. I'd get looking at those sketch books, however.

Ann Althouse said...

I had to work on dismantling my parents house after they died, so I'm very aware of what you're leaving to your kids to do. I don't want to do that myself. And I'm not being morbid here. I think having too much stuff accumulated around you isn't good.

Richard: Why do you assume it would be only the first step?

As for having my own trees and the like: I don't so much care whether the things in my immediate environment belong to me or not. Once I'm out the door, I enjoy whatever is there -- trees, animals, buildings. Downtown is full of those things. I may appreciate it more if they aren't my responsibility.

Wade Garrett said...

Ann -- my parents are struggling with just such a decision. They've lived in a big, old house for 19 years. When they bought it, they had two young boys and four elderly grandparents who might have eventually needed to move in with us, if they could no longer take care of themselves. Now, its just the two of them, and the house is empty most of the time; they actually turn off heat to the third floor and to two of the bedrooms, for lack of use.

I speak to them about this once a month or so, and we've drawn up a long list of arguments for and against a move. My mother is more interested in moving downtown than is my father, who sees the house as the place where his children can come back to visit, a place he's proud of owning, and, most importantly, the place where he raised his family.

We've spoken about what to do with all of the clutter and the thousands of books our family of bookworms has accumulated over the years. We sort of agreed that, if they do decide to move, they'll find something to do with their stuff -- put it in storage, have a garage sale, give it to charity. The more important issue is the memories they have of the place, and how much they liked living there. If you're really attached to your house, then its more than just a place to keep your stuff. If you're not that attached to your house, then if you do decide to move, you won't have much difficulty parsing down the stuff in your attic and basement.

If you do decide to move, I for one, and, I'm willing to bet, some of your other Madison-area readers would be willing to help you move!

Anonymous said...

Move into the (smaller) condo that suits your needs and has the view.

(It will make it that much harder for John to try and move you into a home 20 years from now.) (I am kidding.)

It will make it easier for you to travel in the future.

And you definitely could benefit from a new perspective.

nina said...

I found my move this year into a downtown space (also from a house with twenty five years' worth of clutter) to be daunting. Overwhelming. Not fun at all.

But the end result was worth it.

My recommendation: take the plunge. It is a plunge, but one worth taking.

Icepick said...

Ann, no real opinion about what you should do. There are pros and cons to both. However, it certainly sounds like you've already decided to move, and just want some assurance about any lingering doubts. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the new digs!

Victor said...

I think the decision is an easy one. Move to the Condo, ASAP. Here's why?

1. I think one of the less desirable vestiges of modern life is a commute or a commute that's not fun ("residential area" for someone with no kids at home is another).

2. Another is to have to walk to undertake your preferred activities (e.g., get a glass of wine and chat or go to the gym).

The move solves both of these problems AND gives you a view. Assuming there are no negatives with the Condo (loud neighbors, too many students, which are probably unlikely given the price) you would drastically improve your home environment which can result in a life change for the better.

As for the downside of moving and dismantling your possessions I think it's an equally environment enhancing move. The fact that you own a house with areas you don't regularly use, and which has areas filled with storage (of stuff you don't use) means that you are not living in an environment that is very suited to your day to day activities. (I think having a bunch of possessions in your house you don't use can be another aspect of environment imbalance.) If you want to hold on to the stuff put it in storage. There are probably some valuable things in there, put them aside (along with the things you are emotionally attached to) and get rid of everything else.

I'm a firm believer the idea that your living environment should be carefully tailored to your lifestyle and lifestyle goals and that this makes a huge difference in your day to day living, level of relaxation and the direction of your life.

MadisonMan said...

I agree with another poster: Contemplating change to me means you've decided already and that you just need to take a deep breath, buckle down and do it. Can you take a sabbatical to move? :)

Now I understand why the earlier photos you blogged from those condos happened.

Anonymous said...

A walk of a mile to work through interesting neighborhoods and good shopping and eats is almost priceless.

I used to walk 25 minutes from my apartment in Berkeley to my classes (on the other side of campus and at the top of the hill). The walk took me past Berkeley's wonderful 100 year old homes, through the Gourmet Ghetto and past the Cheeze Board, the French Hotel, and the original Peets, as well as Berkeley Espresso and past small businesses, and some terrific little boutiques and restaurants including Chez Panisse Cafe, Cha Am, Cesars, Cheeze Board Pizza, Poulet, Spats (micro brew and bar), and others.

And then of course, a walk through a truly beautiful campus.

Damn, I sure miss Berkeley, what a wonderful city for walking and living.

verification word: tehbay

Alan said...

What do you want for the house?

DNR Mom said...

Here's the easiest home clear-out process: You decide, with or without our experts' help, what you want to take with you. Take it. Then call my company. We'll deal with every item, stick and, if any, dustbunny there.

Great stuff goes in your estate sale (and you don't even have to be dead!). Good stuff goes to charity (tax slips by my crew as third parties provided). Trash goes to the curb or landfill.

Estate sale profits usually exceed clear-out costs. Tax deductions are the gravy. Best, this method 99% means no psychiatry needed.

reader_iam said...

No opinion either way, even with regard to the following potential factor, nowhere alluded to:

Expecting any grandkids one of these days?

chuck b. said...

I'm interested to see what you'll find if you move forward with your consdierations.

I blogged some stuff I found in my grandparents' house that I decided to keep (here and here , for example--just the tip of the iceberg).

Moving is one of the most stressful things ordiary people do. On the upside, doing it single is probably better than doing it partnered because there's noone to argue with. Maybe you'd like someone else to make the inevitable hard decisions tho'.

I don't think I could move into a condo, but I wish my dad would think about it.

alikarimbey said...

Professor Ann, I support your move. I love the Madison Capitol. The cafe you mention is near one end of the Capitol building. The other end is the museum (which will move I think I learned when I visited your fair city). The cafe has a very nice spinach crossiant. the other end is the bar that has an excellent vegan burger. There is also a nice Starbucks. You will be in heaven at this location, with the Sat. farmer's market - the best in the US. Go for it.


PS: I like the PR (BravoTV) blogging by you. One thing puzzles me - how did the contestants get selected? I vote for Chloe to win it all.

Ron said...

Although the move itself maybe too daunting, I'm really liking the idea that you would be channeling the ghost of Mae West! Definately someone who should appear in the blog, speaking sotto voce, saying things that "Ann" can't say! Go ahead, get a West-like pic taken for the blog pic, it's not like you look THAT much different! Just imagine all the salacious one-liners "Mae" could say, that "Dr. Althouse" could not!

It would be a hoot-and-a-half!

Unknown said...

Ann - How big is the condo? One-bedroom, two-bedroom?

A small place can be very confining. But if you have room for a home-office, a place to put guests besides the living room, etc., that makes a big difference.

I'm lucky enough to have a rather large condo in New York, but I love it. I'd much rather be in the thick of things, than in a boring and lonely house in the burbs.

Joan said...

Like Nina, I think such a move would be daunting, difficult, and worth every pain. I'm constantly waging a losing battle against the "stuff" that is accumulating around here, but I have 3 little ones and kids basically need stuff. I'm resigned to that fact.

However, once they have moved out, my husband and I are getting out of this over-sized place into something nice, cozy, and walking distance to town. The condo scenario you described sounds ideal.

I don't envy you the work, but I am looking forward to what you have to say about the process.

Stiles said...


Both neighborhoods are attractive generally, and I'd imagine choice for faculty. You're a successful adult and I'm sure you'll draw up the list of advantages and disadvantages of both locations and come to a decision that makes sense for you.

But since you've asked, a key question might be space vs. less space. If the extra space is for storage of long-term or lightly utilized possessions, then it's not too important.

But for me, the most important question is where you spend your time. If there isn't anything in your current neighborhood (proximity to Camp Randall, a place of worship, your yard, some preferred parks or someplace tasty like Babcock Hall) that really draws your time vs. downtown activities, then the move speaks for itself.

And you'll be closer to the Great Dane!

Drew said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Drew said...

Ann - what a tough decision.

Could you keep your current house as an investment property? Your close proximity to the UW campus would provide an everlasting supply of tenants. That would at least give you the option to change your mind should the new lifestyle prove disappointing...

Don't forget homeowner’s association dues. They are like a tax that produce no return on investment.

Good luck!

Jen Bradford said...

My vote is for a major purge regardless. That way, you'll wind up with new digs even if you stay put.

Anonymous said...

My vote is for a major purge regardless. That way, you'll wind up with new digs even if you stay put.

Yuck, I'd prefer not to see your living room.

amba said...

It sounds like you want to do it -- it would suit you better at this time in your life -- but are just appalled at what's involved. It's like a really enticing place to be on the other side of huge a mountain of junk, with inertia and sort of stale sentimental gravitation.

Activation energy is a good concept. It's the intense heat it energy it takes to touch off a chemical reaction or nuclear fission, OR, it's the thrust it takes to push a rocket free of gravity. But the reward is pure power and freedom.

PWS said...

No matter how much you're looking forward to the new place and though you will undoubtedly enjoy it, it will be emotionally wrenching to leave your current house.
Good luck with your decision!

RogerA said...

I have moved 25 times in 40 years (and they still havent caught me)--Moving is liberating and as some have noted forces you to go through your things and find out what is really necessary--

I didnt know they had wine shops in Wisconsin :)

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Professor Althouse: Is the new place one-level living and handicap accesible/friendly?

Have you thought about how some young family might relish your current home and want to raise their children in just such a large home with sounds of Camp Randall and a red bud tree?

Finally, having St. Raphael's as a neighbor means that there will always be Jesus [in the tabernacle] within a stone's throw to stop by and visit and meditate with. Having a church as a neighbor is only a problem one day a week.

Little Greenie --> Silvio
University Heights house ---> condo

It seems apt.

Pete said...

I'm with Icepick: You've already made up your mind, whether you want to admit it or not.

Maxine Weiss said...

Is there any way you could just try it for a year or so to see how you like it?

Maybe, rent out your house, and then rent whatever you want in the new location for a year.

You always want to leave yourself an out--an escape hatch. Reduce your risks, and figure out a plan B, just in case things don't work out at the new place.

Peace, Maxine

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aspasia M. said...

Hmmm. Well, my major thinking points would include:

1) Even the possibility of bats would chase me out of the house. Eeek!

2) But what would I do with all the books?

3) Will the condo appreciate in price?

4) Is the insulation better in the condo versus the big house? Madison is cold!

5) The walk sounds fun from the condo.

6) University towns can get noisy on the weekend. (Drunk, loud students making too much noise.) Is that a problem with the condo location?

PatCA said...

I'm contemplating the same kind of move, but here in CA moving has property tax consequences that complicate the decision. Don't know about WI in that regard. And 6% realtor fees seems a high cost just to sort of...change.

Other issues: I need at least some yard. I don't like having to go somewhere specific to be outside, however good the view. And I need to assess the noise issues. Urban is great, except at 4 a.m. when the delivery trucks show up right below my window...

Ann Althouse said...

Alan: "What do you want for the house?"


dearieme said...

How lucky you are in the USA that you can just kill the bats. In ze UK ve order zese matters differently.

JimNtexas said...

I've thought about a similar move, but I'm very sensitive to noise distraction.

Whenever I've had a shared wall, there has always been someone playing loud music on the other side of it...."thump thump thump" goes the subwoofer, all day and all night.

I can't handle a shared wall.

MadisonMan said...

(Drunk, loud students making too much noise.)

In my neighborhood, the noisy drunks are usually alumni on football weekends. I especially appreciate night games 'cause there's always one or two drunks who are lost and can't remember where they parked and can't find it in the dark. I rather doubt there are problems near the Square on football weekends. Will the rosy glow of bonfires on State Street every Halloween be visible?

Re: $800K -- I think the market is cooler than, say, 2 years ago -- at least it is on the south side of Regent -- so good luck getting that price -- unless everything inside is immaculate. But maybe the proverbial Californian with a suitcase full of cash will come to the Open House -- it happened to my neighbor when she sold. I'm sure your neighbors will appreciate the selling price. :)

When we sold our house 6+ years ago, it was a wrench to leave because it was finally in nice shape. We got it in great shape to sell it -- why'd we wait all that time to perfect things? I still ask myself that, and no, the present house isn't in perfect shape either. Maybe I'm destined to live in perfect houses only when they're on the market.

Art said...

I don't know what the condos are going for but if you get your asking price for the house you're going to walk through the deal pretty much debt free.
Between the reduced energy costs (less external wall surface, less square footage, the ability to bus (or walk or bike) to work) you will be cutting the percentage of your income subject to a component that will likely be leading inflation.
The one drawback: Some think (I don't) that high rise condos are a temporary fad so it's possible you could be buying in at a peak.

As for the cleanout, we had to bring in a dumpster for a re-roofing. It was way bigger than the roofer needed and he said, "You're paying for it, might as well fill it up."
It was a great motivator.
A long ago boss who I truly respect had a saying. "One move equals two fires."

dearieme said...

In case you think I was kidding about the bats:-

lindsey said...

"Finally, having St. Raphael's as a neighbor means that there will always be Jesus [in the tabernacle] within a stone's throw to stop by and visit and meditate with. Having a church as a neighbor is only a problem one day a week."

You may want to check the amount of crime in the area as well. Hearing that the building will be near a church makes me wonder how many homeless people might be milling around your building. My brother moved into an apartment near his college campus several years ago. The apartment was located near a church and this church was very kind to the homeless. Unfortunately, this meant that living in the area near the church was awful for non-crazy, non-drug addicts. My brother was accosted by crazy homeless several times. His girlfriend was afraid to walk around the area because of the scary men. Hell, so was I. I'd park and then literally run up to his apartment. Where would your car be located? Inside a garage? Because his wasn't and many mornings he woke up to find homeless people sleeping in his car. The last straw was when he found one trying to urinate on his car. Also, given the wintry weather in Madison, if your car is outside, it'll age much much faster than if it were inside, especially if you are rarely driving the car since you can walk almost everywhere you need to go. I've never been to Madison, so I don't know if there's a homeless problem or if the streets sparkle with non-crazy, non-drug addicts, but it's something to consider. If I ever move to the city, I'm going to make sure to never live near a church.

Henry said...

editing my possessions down to fit in half the space

That sounds like heaven. But that's just me. My retirement dream is the two-room beach shack (or brownstone apartment -- neither has a yard) that I'll keep shipshape while my wife travels with our kids. I love getting rid of stuff.

For a long time I held out on the books. But then, after living in our house for five years we bought two big bookshelves and gave our books in boxes a choice -- either be on a shelf or be gone. Picking the last 50 losers was really hard. But now I've rediscovered the public library, which is a big net gain.

My advice... oh I don't know. The walk sounds great, though. Think of the pictures you'll take. I had an art professor who used to walk to the college and he had carousels of slides he used to show of weathered brick and iridescent bird droppings.

KaneCitizen said...

There are a thousand vinyl LPs, not just ones that I bought but ones that my parents bought. (I'll bet I have more Ray Conniff records than you. More Julie London too!)

You may have more Julie London LPs than I do, but I bet you don't have more Julie London lunchboxes. (I have two, to be exact.) That's her standing in the middle on the side panel, with hubby Bobby Troup to her left.

What do you use to play your platters that matter? We got this real cool turntable/CD/Cassette/AM/FM pretty cheap last month.

Brendan said...

My advice? Stay put. I mean, have you seen those Farmer's Market freaks on the square? Who gets up at 6AM for fresh greenbeans?

bluehoo12 said...

My first impression of the Lorraine was it lacked natural light and the ceilings were low in comparison to the rest of the new condos around the square. I have heard that you can get Barriques to deliver to your condo though, so that would be a plus.

Ann Althouse said...

Re St. Raphaels: It's currently a burned out shell. It's not clear whether it will be rebuilt. The walls and steeple are there.

Re my high asking price: I've got over 4000 square feet in the University Heights historic district, less than a block from the Chancellor's Estate, two blocks from the Frank Lloyd Wright Airplane House, with a beautifully open kitchen and many other amazing things, including Agatha the oak tree and two redbud trees arching over the front walk.

Re the bats: We didn't have them killed. One way doors are created, then, after they've gone, all the cracks are sealed, and anything that might be left is vacuumed out to be released elsewhere. There was no carnage.

Re the car: There is parking under the building and you go from the garage to the elevator.

Re dumpsters: I'm getting my roof done next month and plan to take advantage of the dumpster.

Re getting rid of possessions: I look forward to this but fret over the things that are kind of valuable, like the piano. I suppose I'll have to figure out how to use eBay.

PatCA said...

"But maybe the proverbial Californian with a suitcase full of cash will come to the Open House."

I'd love to know what you all think of us Californians who are re-migrating back home!

Aspasia M. said...

800K - Yikes! Do you have lots of fertile acreage? I didn't know that Madison was so expensive. I mean, it's the midwest, not Seattle or Boston.

dearieme: A friend of mine got bats in her house. Her, her husband, and their toddler all had to be given a course of rabies shots just to be safe. (Yikes)

Another couple not only got bats in their attic, but a possum somehow climbed in their attic via a tree. Hmmmm...graduate student housing. That is too close to the midwestern wildlife for me.

Ann Althouse said...

Check out the photos two posts up.

Kev said...

" I've thought about a similar move, but I'm very sensitive to noise distraction.

Whenever I've had a shared wall, there has always been someone playing loud music on the other side of it...."thump thump thump" goes the subwoofer, all day and all night.

I can't handle a shared wall.

I got a kick out of that comment. I can't handle a shared wall either, but for the exact opposite reason: as a musician, I am the noise distraction. I need to be able to practice or jam without feeling self-conscious about it, so having a house is pretty much a requirement for me.

Best of luck with your decision, Ann!

chuck b. said...

As a recent veteran of the SF Bay Area real estate market (well three years ago), it's amusing to hear people gasping at $800k. Until perhaps very recently, it was customary for sellers here to radically underprice their homes when they put them on the market, thus letting buyers bid them up insanely in blind bidding wars. Homes routinely sold (sell? I'm not sure what's going on nowadays) $100-200k over asking. In fact, the game was to offer the nice homes way under market and the crappy homes over market. The crappy home sellers get whatever they can, and the sky was the limit for the nice home sellers. I hope it's settled down since then, but I don't know.

I googled up a Dane County real estate webpage here and searched for single family homes in Madison in the $700k to $900k range. If Ann's house is as nice as it sounds, I think $800k sounds low.

Eight of the nine houses that came back looked atrocious to me. ALthough I don't like brick, the only remotely plausible home I saw looks like 1812 Van Hise Avenue at $749k (Of course, it needs serious redecorating).

lindsey said...

It's good to hear that homeless won't be a problem. It's a nightmare.

It's possible Ann could keep the house but have it split up into multiple residences or just rent it out to numerous students. You could make a nice income off the rent to finance split second trips to Paris or Bangkok.

lindsey said...

This horrible thing is being sold for $1 MILLION in Madison. If people are really paying 1 million for that, Ann should be able to get much more than $800,000.

Ann Althouse said...

Lindsey: There's no way I want to be a landlord. I want to simplify my life and remove obligations.

Aspasia M. said...


But SF housing prices are craaazy! I live in the midwest, in a place where housing prices are still sane, and young families can still purchase houses.

About 15 years ago, when Californians seemed to en-mass move to the Seattle area. The housing prices went through the roof, driving up the property taxes and such.

Anyhow, one day I was riding the ferry, and the Captain announced that a black BMW car alarm was going off. He also announced that the car had a Cal plate. ("Would the person with the black BMW and the Cal. plate please turn off your car alarm?") It was the rush hour, so the boat was filled with people.

Everyone started booing. Mostly large groups of 35 to 50-year- olds. As a young teenager, I was surprised at the "adults" acting in such a surprising manner.

The booing continued until an elderly man stood up and chastened the crowd, telling them to shush.

It was an interesting sociological lesson on the impact of housing prices on polite behavior. There was a bit of anti-Californian sentiment during those years.

paintedgoat said...

Ann--I envy you getting the chance to decide whether you want to move and to where. I'm currently in my 11th or 12th house in 20 years. There's never been a choice about where or whether to move, and most of the houses themselves have been the "least bad" choice or the only choice.

On the other hand, I've had enough bad kitchens and bathrooms to know exactly what I want when the time comes to get our "real" house, and tons of decorating experience.

If I were you I'd make the move now while you still have the mental and physical energy to deal with it, but only if the noise check recommended above works out well.

Ricardo said...

Some of your earlier posts have seemed to indicate a desire to change towns and possibly lifestyles, and not just residences. Are you sure you don't want to lighten your load by getting rid of unneeded possessions, sell your house, bank the money, rent a place for awhile, and look at your options as extending beyond Madison?

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tristram said...

My father rented a Condo in a similar sounding location in Arlington, VA. It was wonderful when I visited. The coffee store / independent book shop was across the street, but nice to lounge in. The movie theatre one block over was fun. The Irish pub down the street had wonderful food.

For the first time in my life I understood the appeal of city living.

Don't let process inertia slow you down if you really want the condo. Just start working towards it.

Truly said...

For me, the difficulty with paring down one's belongings is that I have so many well-meant gifts that I can't, in good conscience, consign to the ash-heap of history. Am I the only one who can't throw away something that's been given to me without feeling unbearably guilty?

Prof. A, I agree with the earlier posters: you've already made up your mind. It sounds like a great adventure! Plus, you have two boys to help you with the work (strong backs and weak minds, as my dad would say).

PatCA said...

You know, Ann, you may want to rent, as someone suggested, especially if your proceeds will be exempt from capital gains. My realtor is sort of discouraging me from getting a condo because she says you're trading one set of problems for another, one where you don't have complete control because of homeowners' association rules.

You're at the top of the market now, so renting for a while might be a viable option. Anyway, best of luck whatever you do!

chuck b. said...

Lindsey, I saw that $1M thing too. It must have features that aren't apparent from the picture!

GeoDuck2, Believe me, native Californians have expended no small amount of energy being hostile toward newcomers who drove up our property values (not me of course). It happened to to California before it happened to Washington. :) Now that I own, I'm on the other side. Welcome newcomers!

chuck b. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
XWL said...

This has to be one of the most active threads for a 'non - hot button' politically charged topic.

We like you we really like you, Prof. Althouse.

Plus, 'proper' living is something that everyone contemplates in their own life so they can't but help share their own thoughts when someone offers the opportunity.

I concur with those who assume that the asking of the question suggests a leaning towards action.

The place you are contemplating moving to sounds 'cool' in many ways, far 'cooler' than the large house you occupy now (at least judging by your comparative descriptions of both locales).

Reducing, renewing, and repackaging yourself sounds like a good way to go right now.

But I only 'know' you from your blog posts and your podcasts so I don't really 'know' you at all.

Enjoy whichever space you choose to live in, that's my only advice.

(which is advice, I suspect, you'd have heeded whether proffered or not)

MadisonMan said...

The million dollar house is lakefront.

Guesst said...

Seduced by a great view, a better route to walk, new v. old, and a simplification of your life by decluttering and pruning....

You could get all of this without moving.

Ann Althouse said...

More than one realtor has calculated the value in the high 700s. Maybe you're a greater expert on Madison real estate, 800k.

abraham said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.