Ok, so first, before you go "what?! why are you moving?!?", take a look at the tagged map below. Click it so you can really see it. Legend follows.
First, overall view of Richmond, so you can get your bearings:
A our house
B Dan's office
C current preschool (near Dan's office); new location fall 2009 (Southside)
D Ellwood Thompson's, the organic market where I prefer to shop*
E Museum district**
F botanical gardens
G Kyle & Johannah's house
A to B/C: 15-20 min (no traffic)
A to D/E/F: 25-30 min
A to G: 35-40 minutes
A to Southside C: 35-40 minutes
Area South of B/C is where I'm looking for homes - Tuckahoe/Westhampton
*There are two locations of another org market that pretty much stink,
plus 2 in-town farmer's markets, both of which are close to downtown.
We do most of
our shopping at Ukrops (Richmond grocery chain); they have
locations pretty much everywhere.
** area around D/E is "The Fan", an uptown historic area with lots of museums, boutiques, thrift shops, a couple of our favorite playgrounds, great restaurants, other cultural attractions, and home to some of the local festivals we like to attend. South of this area are two huge parks and the main strip of James River Park (hiking, river stuff).
Looking at the map, I wonder how the hell we ended up wayyyyy out here. People who live in town / uptown consider Short Pump to be another planet. When we invite people over, I feel guilty for dragging them so far from home!
I think the time has come. Our house is just too out of sync with our lifestyle and personal preferences/philosophies. We need to move closer to town, to an older neighborhood closer to all of the people and things we love! I've been combing through house listings and probably need to contact a realtor so I have somebody lined up who can pounce when I see something I like.
Right now we get on the interstates (I-64 or I-295 / I-95) to go almost anywhere, unless it's very local. Where we live, it's box store land. On the one hand, that can be very convenient. Any chain we could ever want is right here. On the other hand, chain store shopping is virtually all we have here. Retail is the main form of entertainment and unique restaurants exist but are harder to find and get to. The traffic is AWFUL. When we moved here it was already bad but back then we were the farthest neighborhood out our road - an enormous number of neighborhoods have popped up since then, every little bit of land is being developed. It takes a minimum of 10 minutes to get to anything (mall, Ukrops, Target, library, Griff's elementary school, entrance to interstate). For anything else (friends, Dan's job, preschool, museums, parks, etc) we get on I-64 and drive down several exits. The preschool and Dan's office are 15-20 minutes away or more, depending on traffic. 15 on a traffic-free day when I hit every green light and push the speed limit. Organic market? 25 min. Children's Museum? 25-30 min. We *need* to get closer to things. The current state of affairs is not efficient in terms of time, money, and cost to the environment.
I've got that excited and scared feeling. I would love to be doing less driving and living in a house that isn't such an energy suck, and that has a nice shady and fenced back yard for playing in. Older home, wood floors, a sun room, etc. But I'm so settled in our house and hate to shake things up. Not that there's ever a good time for that. I also know that as many good things as I think we can find in a house closer to town, in our price range we're unlikely to get as much light and as nice a kitchen as we have now. We're going to be making some sacrifices, for sure, but the things we sacrifice aren't really as important as the things we'll gain. There are two things which give me major pangs. One is my morning room, which is the reason I bought the house. The second is my neighbors, the Engiles. I love them, my boys love them. I would *almost* stay here just for them.
Cross your fingers for us that some lovely underpriced gem walking distance from a grocery store, a school, a playground, and some good friends will pop up, ok? If anybody really really wants to browse listings for me, we're looking at Henrico County homes just West of the Richmond city limits - pretty much West of Libbie and East of Parham, South of Patterson/Monument. All North of the river. We're not Southsiders.
Hopefully wherever we move, we'll be there a long, long time, perhaps even permanently. It's looking like Richmond is our town, we've put down roots.
It is so much different looking at homes when you know more about a city! So much more limited, too. UGH. And if somebody would like to throw $2M my way so I can buy one of the GORGEOUS homes right next to U of R or South of River Road, I'd be much obliged.