So, since I last wrote, the family has arrived in sunny California. Once again, the most excellent Mike Jansen saved the day and picked up Miriam and the boys at SFO because due to an unfortunate scheduling conflict, I was several hours into the the almighty hunt already, by the time they landed.
The hunt, of course, referring to quest for a more permanent home here in the valley.
For the uninitiated, take your local rent/real estate prices, double or triple them, then divide square footage by two, and you might be in the realm of a so-so home in an ok neighbourhood with a potentially ok school to attend.
The market here is – truly – crazy. The inventory is limited at this time of year. And while valley salaries are equally crazy, the market is well aware of this fact and has adjusted around this fact in a gloriously exploitive fashion. Because hey, if Google engineers are crawling over the place and making 200k, of course they can afford $6,000/month for a 600 ft^2 closet.
Fortunately, as part of our relocation package, LinkedIn included 2 days consultation with a local home finding/settlement company who interviewed us over the phone to learn more about what we required in a home, and helped line up a full day of open house viewings this past Saturday (which, if you’ve already forgotten, is why I couldn’t pick them up at the airport).
Our consultant, Nilda, lined up six possibilities all over the south bay area for me that day, but mostly focusing around the southern edge of San Jose – areas known as Campbell, Cambrian and Willow Glen. One up in Sunnyvale (closest to the office), and one further south in Los Gatos.
After a long day of viewing homes that were all a compromise in one way or another – some in weaker school districts which automatically invalidated it – some in less than ideal shape – some that were so good that they were functionally rented before we even got there – we ended up with a good idea of what the market really looks like at the moment, but not too much else.
The next day, Miriam and I drove out to see a few of the possible places again, and a few new places that Miriam found online that had Sunday open houses.
As a result of a very full weekend of family reunion, and lots of back and forth driving across the south bay, we had submitted applications to rent three different homes. The first one we applied for in Willow Glen was unfortunately one of the “rented before we formally got in the race”, so we missed that one. Which brought us down to two possible candidates: one in Campbell, and one in Los Gatos/Monte Sereno. Miraculously, not one, but both the remaining applications were accepted and we actually had our choice of which of the two we wanted, or the risk of passing on both and hoping something better might come up next weekend.
Not wanting to risk it, we decided to look deeper into the school situation in both to ensure we actually had a high degree of likelihood that Lochlan would end up in the school we were expecting (and not get bumped elsewhere because of capacity issues – which we had heard can be a nasty surprise to house hunters in some cases). As it turned out, there were less than warm fuzzy feelings from the district school board about Campbell. The folks in Los Gatos were a little bit more reassuring, although they also suggested that it’s late in the school registration cycle and we would need to get going ASAP.
Both homes had good things going for them, and bad things, but we are happy to report this past Tuesday evening, we drove back down to Los Gatos to sign a lease for our new home on Poppy Lane!
We (well, *I* … the family will be back in Canada at the time) move in on July 27th. It’s a very cute little home, that reminds me a lot of a “lite” version of the Soquel, CA home we were possibly considering purchasing way back at the start of this process before we got cold feet about pulling out of Waterloo so entirely and switched over to the “Justin on his own for a year” plan, which again changed in light of Miriam’s current employment situation. The front yard is a very private space covered in natural stones, paths, and is dominated by one of the most impressive oak trees I’ve ever laid eyes on. The back is similarly lawn-free with more stones and a decent sized deck. It is book-ended by two huge California Redwoods. Inside, although a bit dated, the home has 3 really good sized bedrooms (at least, by the standards of the other places we’d seen here that weren’t a bazillion dollars), 2 bathrooms (with showers, but no tubs – remember those concessions I was talking about?), and a decent sized living and dining room, and a kitchen that we’ll have to work a bit of magic on
One of the nice perks of this place is that Lochlan’s school is literally (in the grammatically correct literal sense) across the street. So that will a big bonus for us as we try and remain a one car family in California. There’s a *huge* park a few blocks away, groceries are walkable, and it’s an easy trek into downtown Los Gatos, which really reminds me of Uptown Waterloo, only about 2.5x the size. All in all, although it was a difficult, stressful, concession-filled choice, we think we’ve made a good one and are anxious to move into our new rental home.
Until next time!