Last week, Fernando and I set out on a mission to find a new home. Our sights were set on Asheville, NC. We had multiple apartment visits lined up over the course of three days, and with a looming deadline on our current lease, the pressure was on.
We traversed all corners of the city and saw several beautiful options. Spacious apartments in brand new buildings with swanky amenities, and most were more affordable than our current spot in South Florida. Cost of living was a big driving force in this move, as well as love for the environment, and a mutual desire to put down roots somewhere. Yet, we ended the trip deciding to stay where we are for another year.
The problem? Lack of walkability.
Before we set out on our journey, we made a list of our non-negotiables. We considered the interior space, but also how it needed to fit our lifestyle. I spend a decent chunk of everyday walking my dog. Of course, it’s so she can get good exercise. It’s also very much for my own mental health. Sitting for hours in front of a computer screen is not my happy place. Running around outside with my dog is. I also love to run solo and go for bike rides (often with my dog in the basket).
As it’s nestled in the mountains, Asheville is surrounded by stunning hiking trails, so there’s no lack of beautiful places to walk. The issue is that the apartments we liked were situated such that getting off the property required getting in the car. These weren’t neighborhoods. There were no sidewalks beyond the property lines. Unless you wanted to run loops around the apartment buildings, you had to get in your car, hop on the highway, and drive to a walking destination.
It may sound ridiculous to you, or somewhat spoiled, that someone that loves walking would reject the opportunity to live somewhere with beautiful hiking, but I know myself well. Living somewhere that requires getting in the car to get off the property makes me feel trapped. I get claustrophobic. I’ve done it a couple times in the past and it didn’t go well.
The truth is, right at the end our 3-day search, we saw one place we loved that fit all the criteria. It was a beautiful, brand-new house in a lovely neighborhood with walkable streets and a stones-throw to downtown Asheville. Sadly, the landlord wanted a much earlier move-in date than we could accommodate. It would mean a lot of money down the drain right up front.
On our way back home, I felt down and defeated. We put a lot of time and thought into considering this move, and it felt strange to walk away empty-handed.
Past me might have said, let’s do it anyway! But present me makes different decisions.
After letting the stress of apartment hunting dissipate, we were able to see the bigger picture. Instead of instant gratification, we can now focus this year with more clarity on what we truly want, and take our time finding the right fit. Instead of spending money on a big move and more rental costs, we can work toward buying a home in the very near future. We weighed our options, and ultimately the most practical decision is to stay in Florida.
I’m not sad. I absolutely love West Palm Beach and our location is pretty perfect (the photo above is the morning sunrise view from my balcony—not complaining!). Also, now that we don’t have an impending move, I can focus my energy on building community here, and my current creative pursuits. Even though we’re not in our forever home, it’s great for now. And, I will never again take a sidewalk for granted.
When it comes to where you live, what are your non-negotiables? What are the elements of your home that feed your soul and that you absolutely can’t live without?