Help Me Find a Home

I’ve never felt like DC is really my home. Yes, I was born here (in Alexandria, in the hospital where my grandmother worked – some of my earliest memories are of that hospital, when my step-grandfather was taken in for a heart attack). And no, I’ve never lived in the city proper, only in the various suburbs (and when I say ‘various’ I mean that I’ve moved about 30 times that I can remember, not even counting other areas I’ve lived in). So maybe it’s fair to say that I’ve never really had a home at all. But, my kids are about grown now, and so there’s nothing really keeping me tied here anymore. The job market in DC is great. Lots of opportunities. There’s amazing food and tons of various things to do, and almost every type of store there is. But, traffic sucks. People are rude. It often feels like too much work to go out and deal with those things to do any of the fun stuff around here. My HOA is insane. Virginia is inept and tries to support itself through extorting its citizens via taxes, police, and miscellaneous administrative follies.

So, I’m starting the hunt for a new home base; either as a retreat or a full-time residence. These are my requirements, for the community, and then for the home itself:

I need a fun community/area. Fun does NOT mean a bunch of college kids partying all the time; I’m not one of those pathetic old people that hangs around people half my age in an attempt to never grow up. Fun also does not mean a bunch of swingers hanging out at the hot tub drinking frou-frou drinks and waxing faux-intellectual at their cocktail parties. I’m a laid-back person, and just want to sit and relax with a burger and a good beer and good people. Or sausages. I have nothing against people whose idea of fun differs from mine and doing new/different things, but I don’t want to be around a bunch of people who shove their style/values down my throat. (Note: this isn’t ‘bitter,’ this is ‘frustrated.’ It’s hard to have fun when you’re uncomfortable, and it takes me a while to get past my social anxiety when I feel pressured and/or am an outsider coming into a new group. If I’m helped through that and can relax, then I fit in with most social groups, and enjoy it. The anxiety wears off quicker if I’m put at ease/reassured externally, or with people that I trust, but I will be a little nervous with new people. The last ‘new people’ I met via my ex were incredibly horrible to me, so that made it worse. I might get past that soon, but it’s fresh, so it’s more pronounced than normal and I worry about it more than I usually would.) I need to be around people who are creative, but in a humble way. I have dealt with a trillion ‘artistic geniuses (who are misunderstood/holier-than-thou),’ and at some point they blur together. They may well be talented, but are they a decent human being? No amount of talent makes up for being an ass. I’m cool with people who overcompensate because of insecurity; but not the kind that can’t admit it and resort to petty name-calling and putting down others. I don’t suffer fools well. I can’t stand pretentious, and I can’t stand stupid. I don’t care if someone doesn’t know the difference between Kant and Kafka – they have to be able to respect other people and differing opinions, and they have to be interested in learning things (not from me, but in general). People who enjoy ignorance are simply people I can’t relate to, and I’ve seen a lot of communities where this standard is embraced. My stepfather would constantly say ‘oh, I’m just a dumb redneck’ to excuse his behavior – so when he’d make a racial slur or sexist remark, he’d shrug it off. He just never was considerate enough to think of the viewpoints of others and to try to become a better person, and that drives me batty. I’m very self-aware, very open, and need to be in a healthy environment that supports that. Ultimately, I don’t want to be in a hive-mind culture where any dissent is treated like having cooties. I like learning about others and appreciating who they are, not thinking I can only be accepted if I think like they do or like everything they do. That being said, it’d be refreshing to be around people who shared some common interests with me; I can always find common ground with people, but is it the stuff that I’m passionate about too? I need a place that has lots of cool little shops; bars with good beer, novelty items, thrift stores, good food, in areas that are easy to park in and get to. Bonus points for a Chick-Fil-A, Ikea, and a good Thai place. I’d prefer someplace that never got too cold; I’m a cold wuss, but I might be flexible for the right place. It also has to be a place where I can dress in my… eclectic style and not feel like everyone gossips about it (or cares). I like dressing weird, always have. I don’t need people snickering at me because of their cattiness; I’m comfortable with who I am. No crazy HOAs, reasonable taxes/regulations, and no nosy, gossipy, meddling vibe. I’d hope my neighbors would be friendly and pleasant and respect my space – and helpful (and of course I’d help in return). It’s gotta be at least somewhat accessible to concerts, comic-cons, rennfests, and other cool stuff to go to, and ideally not too much of a hassle to get to an airport to get away. The cost of living should be reasonable; at the very least, cheaper than DC (not hard to do). I know, I am asking for quite a lot.

What will my home be like? Well, I could go one of two directions. One option would be to get a space in a downtown area, so I could walk to places and such. If I went this route, I’d still do the second option later on, which is – I’d like a place that’s secluded enough to be private, but that still gets fiber optics and maybe the occasional food deliveries. I want to have two or three buildings; one would be a workshop/studio/garage space, maybe a guest house, and the main house. I fully intend on having a lot of space for friends & my boys to visit/stay. There will be a hot tub, and a pond. The main house will have a theatre/game room, and I’ll do all kinds of crazy sci-fi/fantasy/funky decor. It will, of course, be very high-tech and media/music-centric. I’ll have a kick-ass vegetable/herb garden, and lots of ‘green’ options (solar, composting, water reservoir, recycling). I’m cool with doing container homes or whatever, but if it eventually looked like a Victorian/medieval/industrial/nightmare/sci-fi/fantasy home, well, that’d work great. I’d also consider converting an abandoned warehouse. Since it’s just me now, it has to be in at least good enough shape for me to deal with (and factoring in that I might have issues w/my Meniere’s at times). It doesn’t have to be huge, but enough space for people to visit/stay comfortably. And, there has to be a good area for the squirrels, and hopefully not a lot of too-wild wildlife (I find nature rather unnatural at times; yes, it’s a me-thing, and I respect nature, but the less poisonous snakes or bugs there are in the bathroom, the happier I am. I’d have an area for camping/stargazing, and stuff like that, but I have a lot of fear about dealing with things on my own, again, because of the Meniere’s, and a lot of personal trauma).

I’m not looking to pack up tomorrow (well, I’m always looking to pack up tomorrow, but not rationally). While some things are great to do impulsively/spontaneously, some things require thought and planning and putting the time/energy/effort into them. Anything worthwhile will always take time, patience, and willingness to do them, and making a house a home is worth the hard work. I don’t want to be unwanted and rejected forever; I want to feel like I have a place where I belong (aside from Cheers, of course). I want to invite people into my home and make them feel comfortable and special (because if I invite them there, they are). I want a community where I’m surrounded by smart, cool people who aren’t hung up on judging others or on taking their issues out on every one/thing around them. There are some areas I’m considering, but I need to research them/visit/get feedback on them. I like the PNW, but with my mold allergies, places like Olympia, Seattle, Portland, etc. might not be good for my health, and I’m not sure about the taxes/regulations. Cali seems too high from a tax/COL standpoint. So, Southeast, or outside the U.S. is most likely. Asheville, NC sounded good; it was where me & my ex were looking into going. I wanted something between our families, but I thought he didn’t want to go back to Savannah (apparently he lied). I’ve already lived in Savannah, and that might not be appropriate now. I don’t even know where else to look just yet. So, that’s why I am turning to ask you, oh Web ones. What areas should I consider? If I was looking for a place under 200-250K (initial cost), where would you look? Or somewhere else (but it’s a little pricier)? What about outside of the U.S.? Chances are I’ll keep the current home too, so not sure how complicated that’d be. Any other requirements I should consider?