Thursday, December 23, 2004

Madison Real Estate on a Budget

by Tom Bozzo

In comments on the Madison condo boom post, Brian (who is in a later stage of law school, but I'm not sure exactly how late) is concerned that he'll need a partner's salary to afford central Madison dwelling large enough to accommodate his growing family.

I sought to reassure him that, for now, he need only be a well-regarded associate to be able afford a decent house in a near-west-side neighborhood such as mine. He, or similarly situated individuals, should be prepared for tradeoffs in that price range, though.

The small yard, typical of the neighborhood, is no big deal. We have no fewer than four city parks with play equipment within some definition of walking distance, and have missed our previous large yard less than I'd have expected. It didn't hurt that I only had to spend about a half-hour mowing the lawn, total, all summer.

The tougher thing — over which I'd declined to make an offer on the house until I'd reached the Despair phase of the search — was that to obtain a desired fourth bedroom on our budget, we had to forego a garage. The original attached one-car garage was converted into a family room in, from the looks of it, the sixties or seventies, which is a higher-valued use of the space overall.

This was fine through the summer and fall. Then the cold set in, and I started to think that the action of my car's seat heater buttons (press once for full blast, which can be uncomfortably warm, up to three more times for lower settings and off) maybe wasn't a design defect after all. Then, yesterday morning, with the temperature display reading -1F and the clutch pedal feeling like stepping in thick muck, a new garage shot way up the list of future home improvement projects.
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