Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I HAD AN OAKLAND EPIPHANY

Last week I had an epiphany.

You've heard me complain, pretty much ad nauseam, about how much I hate Oakland. And while it's true that I really, really, really hate our inept local government, and the outrageous crime, and the police's inability to do anything about any of it, I don't think it's so much Oakland that I dislike, but rather, our little patch of Oakland.

I'm just going to put it out there: I don't like living an urban lifestyle - at all. I know it's cool to move to a gentrifying neighborhood and go to the hip coffee shop and newest restaurants, and that's supposed to make you look tolerant, but that's not me. I'm simply not tolerant of a neighborhood covered in graffiti, where homeless people regularly camp out, and go through our garbage every week, and where thugs (either real or wannabe) roam the streets acting like they own the place, throwing their garbage in people's front yards because they can't be bothered to hold on to their crap until they get home or are near a trash can, walking down the street at 11 p.m. screaming at each other because they don't know how or care to talk in regular voices.

Last week on my way home from the dentist, I drove through a neighborhood I hadn't been to before. It was like utopia compared to where we are now. People decorated for Halloween, not worried about people stealing their decorations. People were outside walking their dogs. Kids were playing in the streets, quietly. Yards were landscaped and not with hipster art. Rather than go straight home I drove around some more, just exploring. On my way to pick Alan up is when it hit me: I could live here. It was kind of a smack in the face because I've been lobbying - hard - for leaving Oakland. But it's clear to me that it's not Oakland I want to leave - it's this area. It's Temescal or Bushrod, or whatever we're calling this neighborhood these days.

So, our current thinking is that when we sell this house in the Spring we're going to stay in Oakland long-term provided we can find a house that we love in a handful of neighborhoods: Crocker Highlands, Rockridge, Upper Rockridge, Montclair, Trestle Glen, Elmwood, Berkeley Hills. We went to a few open houses on Sunday and found a house a couple of streets away from where Alan went to kindergarten. The area holds a special place in his heart, and I love it because it's far in the hills, with oak trees, and a beautiful mix of houses where owners show real pride in their homes. Of course, these are the most desirable areas, so there's a premium on houses here. But that's okay because we're fortunate enough that unlike in 2006 when we bought this place, our finances can now support our desire to live in one of these areas. We're not exactly sure what price point we're looking at because this is still a new idea and we have to talk to a mortgage lender to see what we'll get approved for. Obviously we're not going to buy anything unless we say this place and given the recent comps our realtor has provided, I'm very confident in our ability to sell for a number that doesn't make me want to vomit. We'll likely take a small hit (mostly on realtor and transfer fees), but to be able to move somewhere we feel safe and happy, that's a small price to pay.


Flickr | Oakland Daily Photo

5 comments:

  1. Gene Anderson9:08 PM

    I've been in Montclair for 18 years, and loved it. The downside is it takes longer to get anywhere else in Oakland, and it takes time and energy just to get to the store. Walkability and public transit weren't on my radar back then. But we are close to the regional parks and Joaquin Miller.

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  2. That's good feedback Gene. After living in an area with a high walk score and "excellent" public transit, those things aren't high on my list. :-)

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  3. That's nice that you might ultimately decide not to leave Oakland altogether! I've never experienced this sort of thing, but I imagine it would make things less stressful.

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  4. I'm very glad to read this post. Living where we live, we know the importance of neighborhood. In DC, Virginia, and Maryland, the neighborhoods can change block by block. We love San Francisco, and we'd be so happy to see Casa Caudill continue across the bay, but that move comes with it's own major limitations and sacrifices that, as you've discovered, may not be ultimately necessary. Congrats and we can't wait to see where you end up.

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