Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Horror: Real Estate

We sit in the comfort of an air conditioned room at the Trees Motel, an old school joint with--you guessed it--some trees out front.  We are in Bishop, California, with the terrifying plan of buying a new home.  The day is hot, muggy, threatening rain but not delivering more than a drop or two.  We've done a nice hike in the mountains, and now we wait to meet some new friends for dinner. This situation, sitting in a motel room, is so familiar from the long tours we've done, but there are no trikes or bikes clogging the space between bed and wall, no jerseys drying in the closet, no take-out spread across the table.  No, we're on a mission to change our lives.

Jodi has had a few health challenges lately, some adrenal and thyroid issues, and when we came home from a recent doctor's visit, she said, "Scott, you have to retire in two years."  I didn't argue, but when calmer minds reflected on the finances, the idea of a full retirement at 55 was pushing the edge too far.  Technically, we could make it work, but there would not be enough padding for things like out of control gas prices, exploding cars, alien invasions, that sort of thing.  No, I couldn't unhook so early from the community college that has dominated my life for the last two decades.  The retirement structure is such that they really encourage senior faculty to hang in there.  That's okay.  They win.  I'm not digging ditches.  The main issue is burnout--with certain kinds of students, with the administrative duties that kill the soul.  What we did resolve to do was go to our original plan:  Work full time (for teachers, that is), for the next two years then go to half time for as long as I can take it, probably until I'm sixty, maybe sixty-two.  So, that's the plan.

The problem is that now is a good time in the real estate market, and while we had considered buying a house and moving to Bishop fulltime, that would be leaving a great home and good friends.  But there was no doubt about the draw of the East Side, so a second home plan was hatched, a place to escape to, a base of operations, a getaway for getting to what satisfies our souls.  With my academic schedule and then going half-time in two years, we'd have ample opportunity to use a place.  But what would that look like?

Housing in Bishop is, well, insane.  Between Los Angeles Water and Power and the BLM, there is precious little real estate for anyone.  This state of affairs keeps housing prices very high.   We found that decent homes in the 1,300 sq. ft. range start at about $300k, and such places will likely need some work.  That's right:  $300k buys you a "fixer upper"!  Of course, with such high prices come high taxes.  No go, Joe.  So we immediately turned to mobile homes, of which there are quite a few in the Bishop area. 

After scrapping the idea of a full move, I kept scanning the real estate listings.  Then, one morning: Uh, oh.  Jodi, we have to look at this one.  Tiny park, end unit, big trees, a creek.  A lightning drive up and back in a day to check it out, and now we find ourselves in escrow.  The horror.  Endless expensive inspections, worry about whether or not we're making the right decision.  Ugh.  It's a big investment, about $60k, but when all is said and done, we can make the monthly nut.  We're excited to have a tiny piece of the East Side, even if we do have to rent the tiny patch of land from the Piute tribe, which is fine by us.  The tribe is mellow about dogs, and Django quickly made a couple of good buddies in our short time there.  Actually, our end unit comes with about 1/4 acre private land--almost unheard of in mobile parks.  We don't get the expansive views, but the huge willows and the north fork of Bishop Creek are sweet compensations.

Now the long, drawn-out escrow process grinds along like a glacier.  I don't think we'll have access to the place until sometime mid- or late August, just in time for me to get back into the classroom.  Oh well.  Below are pics of our latest adventure:

So that's it for now.  My adventures these days are financial!  Oh, I'm slowly recovering from my rib injury, and we hike or bike every day, but I don't know when I'll be back in the great outdoors.  Below are a couple of photos from hikes we did during out quick trips to find and purchase the mobile.  Trailheads for these hikes are about 20 minutes from our new place.  You get the draw?


  1. Congratulations! I would have urged you to look near us....Carson, Minden, just 15 minutes from Tahoe, but I'm sure your new place will be great. Any time you want to sample our biking,hiking, skiing or snowshoeing, we have plenty of room here in Genoa. Enjoy! Keith Serxner

  2. We leave soon for Salida Co for a 7 day loop that includes camping at The Great Sand Dunes Park. I'll post some pics on Facebook.

  3. Congratulations on the new digs and all my best to Jodi. I remember when Carrie had to deal with a thyroid issue some years ago. Now with only half a thyroid she is totally fine.

  4. Thanks, guys.

    Hey, Keith: Have a blast in Salida. That is one of my all-time favorite towns and would always be on a very short list of places I'd like to live. I've pedaled through twice and didn't want to leave both times.

  5. I haven't looked in here for a long while but I am glad to see that a year ago Django the super dog was looking good