The problem wasn't finding a suitable neighborhood. The problem was finding a wheelchair accessible house or condo therein. Since all of our target neighborhoods were of the urban variety, the houses tended to be old, undersized, and, well, vertically oriented.
We listed our house in May, brimming with enthusiasm and a sense of adventure. By mid-July we were thoroughly disillusioned. We had grown weary of keeping the place "show ready." We were annoyed with having to repeatedly vacate our house on sometimes short notice, only to learn that the prospective buyers were not interested for any of a number of legitimate or sometimes utterly baffling reasons. We were sick and tired of searching online for a house that seemingly did not exist (with one exception). We halfheartedly dragged ourselves through houses that we considered long-shots at best. We decided to endure this process only until the end of July, and then we would resign ourselves to staying in our existing house, which was not a bad situation at all; it just could have been better.
In June, not long after we listed, Kim stumbled upon the only house we ever found which met our search criteria. When we did our walk-through, it was an obvious match. We didn't get our hopes up, however, as we needed to find a buyer for our house before we could even make an offer, and we hadn't had much action on that end at all. Our realtor, usually the eternal optimist, served up a dose of reality as well by predicting that the house we loved would not stay on the market for more than a few days. Luckily, she was wrong.
In late July, just as we were losing interest in this whole undertaking, a gentleman with MS and his wife found our house, and fell in love with it. They were looking for a suburban home that was handicapped accessible. Remarkably, nobody had yet scooped up our target home- thank you Great Recession! So, over a period of a few days we simultaneously negotiated sales and purchase contracts on both homes. It all came together, and on August 26 we closed on our old house at noon and on our new house at 1:30. We were officially homeless for 90 minutes.
It was particularly satisfying to sell our house to someone with a disability. We had put considerable effort into modifying the home to make it accessible for me, and it was comforting to know that those modifications would continue to serve the next family who lived there.
Not onlywas it heartwarming to welcome people whose lives would be improved into our former home, but it was also satisfying to, for once, financially benefit from being disabled. I believe that we sold that house only because it was handicapped accessible. If this had been a non-accessible house, it might still be sitting on the market, like most other houses that are for sale today.
Our new house is not truly handicapped accessible, yet. However, it has the basic layout that will allow for adaptations. Most of the doorways are 36 inches wide. There are no elevation changes inside the house. The master bedroom and bathroom are spacious. The living room, dining room, and kitchen are one open area. The hallway is wide. Nevertheless, I was still concerned that we had overlooked something. I feared that once I got into the house and spent a couple of days I would say, "Oh crap!"
But that hasn’t been the case at all. In fact, I estimate that 90% of the features of the house were more or less what I had expected. Of the 10% of the features which were a surprise, probably 8% of them were of the pleasant variety, and only 2% were of the unpleasant variety. With a grab bar here, a lowered countertop there, and a new roll-in shower, this house will be well-suited for a wheelchair user.
Here we sit in house number six. I don't know why we would ever move into another one, but we always say that. I’m not in the habit of contemplating the future anymore, though. I'm finding that life is best digested in bite-sized portions, one day at a time. When I find myself pondering long-term scenarios, it becomes too much to swallow.
How am I feeling today? Today, I just love my new house.
If you’re in the neighborhood, please stop in for a visit. Flowers and vegetables are nice housewarming gifts. Beer and wine are better ones.
The view of Portland on Saturday, from the bridge which is a 5 minute walk from our house.