September 26, 2007
I can see it all now.
Yesterday it was a bit murky, being that there is no traffic in the real estate market in Fairhope these days, and I have not heard from my broker how he can rework my account so that I have income instead of what is laughingly referred to as growth. I checked the real estate listings in Hoboken daily and it looked moreso than somewhat iffy that I'd be able to afford the monthly rent on a spacious apartment with charm and a view of the Empire State Building. Especially if my house didn't sell.
I had hit a wall. I was discouraged. It didn't seem too bright to try to rent out this house and still have to pay taxes on it and taxes on the income I made from it, plus the maintenance of shoring it up and making repairs as necessary. I felt stuck; I felt trapped.
So I thought, what part of this equation can I change? What part can I keep? What must I keep? What I realized was that Hoboken, despite its intrinsically humorous name, is one of the jewels of New Jersey. It is the center of new growth, of young and upscale new residents (who work in Manhattan), of old charm and new money. Rents therefore are higher than its neighboring cities -- you pay for those views, those parks, that short commute to the city.
So I started browsing Craigslist New Jersey for rentals in neighboring Jersey City Heights, Weehawken and Union. All of these places are just a jump on the train from Hoboken, and some are almost as close to Manhattan as Hoboken is. What I found is that the rents are more in line with what I can afford and I could get more space for the money. I have walked those streets and found them very pleasant. They didn't compare in charm and convenience (and happiness-vibe) to Hoboken, but they were close enough. Okay, some of the pictures are downright depressing -- but all of them aren't. Some are knockouts.
I can see it all now. A year from now I'm comfortably situated in a quaint apartment somewhere, walking tree-lined streets after buying some groceries at Montclair's Whole Foods or the Portuguese supermarket in the Ironbound of Newark. I'm sitting on a bench in a park across from my apartment. An elderly lady sits down next to me and we look at the view of the Manhattan skyline. We are having a gentle chat about the neighborhood and the history of the city where I'm living, be it Hoboken, Jersey City, whatever.
She says to me, "All you new people are the same, you know. You move to a place because you find it quaint, and then you tear down what's there and replace it with something modern. You should have seen this town 50 years ago. It was really special then."