I wish I could offer a clear headed, orderly guide to searching for the perfect abode. I can't. Finding and securing an apt. in this area is akin to trying to grasp a blue minnow in a shimmering pool of mostly blue-green minnows while wearing rubber gloves.
If I had to come up with some rules... these are what they would be. I know they are useless. Sorry.
1. Forget perfect.
Perfect for us location-wise would be a place that is close to our closest friends, my place of work, their school and that place does not exist. Perfect would be a house with running/hiking trails in the back and a sidewalk that leads to the library. Perfect would be a place where I could have chickens and, on lonely nights when my kids are with their dad, perfect would be a place where I could walk two blocks and be at a girlfriend's house. Perfect does not exist. Forget Perfect.
2. Get a Raise.
Rent is steep here. Alps steep. No wonder why there are so many homeless people around Western Mass. steep. A couple weeks ago. I was in the waiting room at the docs (about to find out that I need pt for a weak/strained periformous muscle aka- weak arse, which is apparently common with runners which made me feel good bc my doc called me a runner) and I was thinking about my budget. I was feeling a bit sick thinking about trying to pay for rent, utilities, loans, car payments, insurance, cell phone, food, gas and miscelleny on my piddly salary. I was trying to think of what I could do to make more money. I was planning on asking for a raise. But I knew it was unlikely to get me far. Little did I know, that a few days later I would be offered a job. A job with a pretty serious salary increase. It's not like I am going to trade my economy car in for an SUV and start wearing Manolo Blahniks, but I will be able to buy insurance for my kids. And we won't be living on peanut butter and popcorn.
3. Weigh the possibilities
The boys need space. They are active outdoor kids and I love that about them. I don't love the probable lyme disease that we are currently treating for Ez. But I love that they spend most of their time outside. I love that their knees are skinned and they are dirty until winter. Most city apt.s don't have the space my kids need. But my kids also want a cat and many country apt.s don't offer that option. Can we happily live in a city apt. that is a block from the YMCA and a huge park if we have a cat? Can we live in a country apt. that has gobs of space outside but no neighbors and no little critter for the kids to love? YEGADS. They voted for city with a cat. I made no promises.
4. Ya get what ya get.
And you try not to to get upset. I have applied for two apt.s now. I did not get the first one. I may not get the second one. Neither one was perfect, see #1. I am trying not to be too attached to the second apt. I applied for. I have not heard yet. It is a 25 minute drive to their school. It is close to friends. The yard is a postage stamp (with blueberries) but it is a hop to the Y and a great park and it is on a dead end street. We can have a cat.