Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My Friday Adventure

The other thing about our trip is that we did not have the "eyes of a tourist" we had the eyes of a family of 7 who needs to find a place to live. I think that makes a big difference in a trip. Things that were shiny and glitzy are fun to see when on vacation but when househunting it kind of leaves you looking for something more. So on Friday morning, Trent went into the office and I headed out. First, I walked to the Gershwin Theater and got there at 9 am. I wanted to see if there were any tickets available for wicked. The box office did not open until 10 so I walked around and called and checked on the kids. I was first in line and was told that the only seats left that night were single tickets for 125 dollars. No, thank you. 250 bucks and we don't even sit by eachother???? But I did notice the sign about the ticket lottery. It said that 2 1/2 hours before each show, you may enter into a lottery for 28 front row tickets for $26.25 each. Then I went and got a subway map, took the Q line to 42nd street and the 7 to grand central, bought a round trip ticket on the metro north rails 10:35 local and headed to Stamford CT.
At the stamford station (1 hour and 15 minutes later) (the express train is quicker, only 46 minutes), I picked up this beauty of a rental car. I also got a garmin GPS navigational system and headed out. I drove to the 2 church buildings (Stamford and New Canaan) and the neighborhoods around each and to all of the schools that were ranked 10 out of 10 on greatschools.net in New Canaan, Darien, Stamford and Wilton). Things are VERY, VERY different there than I am used to in Texas. First, if there are any fences they are rock and look like they have been there for a hundred years. Second there is no sense of a neighborhood like I am used to. No central parks, green belts, bike trails, no sidewalks for that matter. The majority of houses are old, old, old. Here are 2 that I thought were cute. One is very, very tiny, but I probably could afford and one is huge and I can't afford it.
But the vast majority of homes, I did not care much for. Here are some other interesting things.

1. The ground is mostly rock (thus the rock fences). But it means that they don't have water lines, sewer lines, or gas lines. Each home is its own little island. In reality that means each home is on well water, each home has a septic tank (which I have learned means you CANNOT have a garbage disposal), and each home has a heating oil tank of 300-400 gallons that must be filled by a oil delivery man after you have negotiated a contract and rate.

2. The current price for heating oil is $3.57 a gallon (excluding delivery charges) and the 2 families of 4 kids we spoke with have their 400 gallon tanks filled every 2 weeks in the winter 7 months and once a month in the spring summer and fall. The delivery charges range, but they said each delivery was about 200 bucks. OUCH!!!!!! So, for all of you Houstonians complaining about your 300-400 dollar summer electric bill, just keep in mind that in New England people can pay 1500 dollars a month or more on Heating. CRAZY huh?

3. Since we are looking at rentals, I have figured we can afford a home that is about 2400 square feet. (mind you, it is well, well, more a month -- nearly double our current mortgage on a 4000 square foot home. )

4. The schools in the suburbs are good, really good.

5. Since each home is on an acre or more, the driveways are long. Most people have them plowed in the winter, because if you are a commuter racing to the train to catch the 5:55 am express to grand central you don't want to shovel a 1/4 mile driveway of snow starting at 4 am. Some landlords include snow removal in the rent, but if they don't it is about $45 each time.

6. A monthly train pass is about $260-300 depending on what station you go to.

My little excursion out to the suburbs was EYE-OPENING! How people live there, I don't really understand. It seems kind of antiquated and yet, the people love it. The families we met were awesome.

Our little adventure there is for only 3 years and I am sure we will learn a ton and meet so many new people, but I think I will be glad to come back to Houston.

All this info made us start to wonder about just living in an apartment on Manhattan -- so we have been gathering info about that too. I'll share it with you another day.

I caught the train back in to Grand Central, and met up with Trent and we went and tried the Wicked ticket lottery. We did not get picked. So we had dinner, wandered, explored, breathed in more 2nd hand smoke than our entire previous lifetime combined, and headed back to hotel around 11pm exhausted.

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Kelli said...

what an adventure it will be. An apartment in Man NY sounds exiting and fun

Bertie said...

Wow!! I'm glad I live in Texas- but I have always LOVED the East Coast! It will be so much fun- and those houses are super cute!

Andrea said...

What a change of scenery, right?
So, if you're only there for 3 years, are you going to sell your house in Houston?

Amber said...

My goodness! All I can way is "whoa!". That's craziness. Isn't it cheaper for you to just stay in Houston with the kids and let Trent commute :) just kidding. it might be cheaper, but it would be terrible. I like the look of the little house. It's cute. You should do that one.

Carrie said...

Commuting to New york, not bad, he already works crazy hours and you don't see him so Amber might have an idea here. The Houston suburbs are a bit different than New York. Just think you could live in Queens or Brooklyn, the options are endless. what a fun adventure.

Gretchen said...

Living in one of the houses with a rock fence and not in a planned community sounds pretty sweet to me. That's one thing I'll gladly leave behind when we someday move out of Texas.