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Buying a home in South Central Alaska, Part I: The Preliminaries of finding out you need one

After pulling my hair out for ten months in plans to rebuild our house after the fire and a summer of telling me, “Next week we will start!”, my husband came home and announced that the bank was making it too easy to purchase an existing home. I screamed. I cried. I invented new swear words. Steamed, I left the house that night and my 14 year old daughter came with me. Like me, she was crying. We’d looked forward to everything that we’d been told we could have in our new digs. I’d been hesitant about everything as we didn’t have the official loan by May and had even started looking at homes without my husband, but at the end of July he was announcing that we had to find some place. I knew that we would move just after school resumed. I would then find out all about buying a home in Mat-Su!

Going up to our old property, my sad and wistful mood turned to incredulous disbelief. Across the street was a mud truck yard and they had three cars parked in our driveway. Next door to us was the light blue house with the black trim that was put on in the same manner of a middle school girl applying make-up with her weak hand, and they had a dead bus and a graveyard of junky, rusty SUVs. I stopped on the side of the road and surveyed the messes of houses. Did we really want to build a $350,000 house next to those clusters of chaotic clutter? Up the road next to my friend’s house that is worth a half a million dollars and was for sale for $300,000 (reduced by two fifths) is a home with old cars in its yard as the husband is a mechanic for a living. They were great folks but they were draining property values. I looked at my daughter and asked how long it had been like that and she laughed. “Mom, you swore about these places every day! There was a trailer across the street when the fire happened and it blocked the fire trucks! You were blowing more smoke over that than the fire over that!”

There were two things that were obvious by what my daughter said. I swear a lot, and I am oblivious.

After any disaster, the first thing many people do is want to rebuild. It is natural when something is violently torn from you. You don’t consider that you were not really thrilled where you were. The blue house slum had an annoying kid who showed up on my door step at all hours and I caught him peering in my windows when he thought everyone was gone. Their grandmother complained every time I used my yard because it bugged her dogs. The people across the street were nice and invited us to their parties where the food was awesome and the music great, but we were too old for their parties.

With what remained of the daylight hours, we drove around and scouted out some neighborhoods. As we drove, my daughter let me know what schools she preferred and what her friends were saying about other schools in the Valley and Anchorage

For the sake of my commuting husband, we looked into homes in Anchorage and quickly nixed the plan. Houses of 2,500 square feet or more were hard to find in the nice neighborhoods. We found houses in the Valley in totally yuppified neighborhoods that were so far off the beaten path that one would have to put on an extra twenty minutes to half hour to get to them once one hit the general section of the town. We were not interested. We decided for his sake that the commute had to be in certain quadrants, close to one of the three roads that presently take us into Anchorage, at a particular high school, and a jump onto a road that would make it easy for me to drive in the morning while I transport 5 kids to three schools and come home.

The location of the old house had been perfect. We made it work even with how small it was and while we were in cramped quarters, it was the only home we ever knew. My chief concern was finding a house in a place that our family liked. Location was everything, as I knew we could live just about anywhere. After something so devastating, you are older with other experiences that have shaped you, and your kids are older. I wanted to get us moved before snow fell and not be moving after school resumed, but it would be cutting it close.

While I won’t be talking about where exactly we chose to move to, stay tuned while I explain in the next editions how we decided where to go and how the Valley's areas are mapped out.
 

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