My feet have been firmly planted back on Houston soil.
This weekend went by incredibly fast. I honestly think this is the shortest amount of time that the two of us have ever spent together, and you throw in the whirlwind of looking at this apartment and that townhouse and time got away.
On the bright side, we did find a place. It’s a two bedroom townhouse in the adjoining city where Julie works. It’s across from a pond that has a trail around it and close enough to shops and coffee houses that we could walk if the weather permits.
One thing that has stuck in my head since starting this journey that became glaringly obvious to me… The cost of living.
In Austin, this place would easily garner a rent of $2100 a month. Here in Houston, $1600. There? $950.
I realize the state of Illinois has a State tax that we don’t have here in Texas, but every employer I’ve spoken to has mentioned that my salary would be commensurate taking the tax into account.
When I lived in Austin, a friend of mine from school, who lived in Austin too, once told me, “if we transferred back to Wichita on our current salaries, we could live like royalty!”
She was right. What barely passed for a living wage in A Town was considered a good salary in Wichita Falls.
To put things into perspective, I did look at housing in other areas of Illinois. Chicago, for example, has housing that’s pretty much in line with Houston. But, even the “big” cities in Illinois aren’t nearly as large as Austin and Houston.
Springfield, the states capital, has a population of 120,000. Houston is closer to 4 million.
Obviously, Chicago is the largest with almost 3 million. But the next largest is Aurora with just over 150,000. That’s a huge difference!
The town that we chose our townhouse in only has a population of 70,000.
I guess when you have more people vying for housing, it’s easier to ask higher rates. In these tiny towns, asking for an outrageous sum simply means your property will sit vacant for far too long.
As we were looking at this place, then that, I started to feel that familiar anxiety creeping in.
At one point, the agent went to check on a property and we stopped for lunch. I decided to voice my fears.
“If we sign a twelve month lease, and it does take me a year to move, how will that work out for us?”
My beautiful and logical girl has already got the answers.
“I have to move. We bought the house we are in now because it was the halfway point between her job and mine. Everywhere I look in the house, I’m reminded that it’s not where I want to be. Add in the stress and complications and even if you weren’t in my life, it would be time to move. Regardless of you being here in a week or next Christmas, I need a transition to my next life.”
And that was that.
It will be nice to have our place to be when I go see her. Every time I’m in the house she shared with Milly, I feel like a visitor. Like I’m stepping into their world and it’s an awkward feeling.
The townhouse won’t be available until August. The house goes on the market on June 15th. Our hope is that with closing, inspections and such, we’ll be able to make a relatively smooth transition.
I’ll be back several times between now and then, obviously, I’ll be back for the actual move, and I have worked out a plan with my current firm to assist on the inspections they have in that area. So, that means more time at home with Julie until my final relocation.
The funny thing here is that my boss now, is actually trying to find a way for me to transfer up there and stay with this company. We have an office in Chicago and we have a lot of contracts right now so it’s not that big of a leap to think he can make it happen.
I guess we will see.
Julie is excited. Planning which walls to hang my prints of bridges and where to put this item or that. Talking about how it’s close enough to where Heather lives, that we can actually go running together on a normal basis, rather than having to make plans and scheduling a work out with friends.
I’m optimistic. I’m hopeful. I’m determined to take whatever obstacles come our way and turn them into an opportunity for strength and growth.