Alfred Drive - My parents' apartment in Bloomfield, NJ, when they got married. I was born a year later, and we lived there for another eleven months. Naturally, I have no recollection of the place. I drove over there once a few years back, just to see it. It's a typical '40s and '50s "garden" apartment complex, and was still in pretty good shape when I visited.
Western Avenue - Our Cape in Morristown, it was exactly the same size as the house I live in now, and it boggles me to realize that we had eight people living there by the time we finally moved out. It was a great place to grow up, just down the road from a National Historical Park (Washington's troops spent two winters there during the Revolution), lots of woods nearby (with an abandoned farm house in them), a ball field a block away, within walking distance of the center of town, lots of kids our age in the neighborhood. We lived there until I was thirteen.
The Homestead - The big old brick house across town that we moved into, where my parents still live. Built in the 1920's by a mason for his own home. After living in the tiny Cape, having all this room was amazing. I even had my own bedroom for awhile, until baby sis got to be too big for her crib, and there was some room rearranging. Then I got stuck back in with my brother. The house has steam radiators, which were the source of rude awakenings more than once when I would accidently touch one with my bare foot while sleeping. I lived in that house until I was 22. Then I got married.
White House - My in-laws' house, where the ex and I lived for the six weeks after we got married, before we moved to Rhode Island. Way out in the sticks, it was built on a parcel of the old family farm by my FIL. There were two features that stick out in my mind. The first was the fireplace. My FIL was a stone mason, and he built a fabulous fireplace out of fieldstone that covered one wall of the living room. The other was the shower, which was in the basement, and had a ceiling that was only 5'10" high. This was fine for my wife and the in-laws, but I'm 5'11". I wound up taking my showers upstairs in the actual bathtub, but I was the only one who used it.
State Street - Our apartment when we first moved to RI, it was very nice subsidized housing. However, the weekly drug bust in the complex got to be annoying after a while.
Andre Avenue - Deb's folks bought us a brand new house to live in just down the hill from URI, and we paid them rent. That's why I was the one who had to move out when she decided she didn't want to be married anymore. Truth be told, it was never my house, because except for one room and a corner of the basement, I was allowed absolutely no say in how it was decorated.
Botany Bay - My exile started in a three-room summer cottage two blocks from the ocean that I rented for the winter of '81 - '82. It had no insulation and electric heat, and my dog and I froze. Still, it was two blocks from the ocean, and it was terribly quiet. It was on a bus line, which was fortunate, because I didn't have a vehicle for most of the time I lived there.
Shannock - As Memorial Day approached, I was having a real problem finding a place to live for the summer. I was so desperate I wound up renting a trailer under renovation in the village of Shannock, which is four miles west of nowhere. I lived there a week. It was ridiculously hot, except for the one night it rained huge buckets (most of South County was flooded that night), when the sound of the drops pounding on the aluminum convinced me that I had to find something, anything, other than a trailer.
Attu Acres - The dog and I found a three-bedroom ranch owned by an Coast Guard officer, and we shared it with him and another Coastie. We had a ball. The property abutted a little dairy farm, so the dog kept bringing home interesting things, and occasionally there'd be cows outside the window. It was close enough to URI that I could ride my bike to school every day.
Boston Neck Road - My landlord got reassigned, and had to sell the house. I wound up sharing a Cape near Bonnet Shores with two oddballs, one of whom was dating my best female friend, which later ended badly with him trying to stick me in the middle of it. Over Christmas break, we blew out all the pipes on the second floor (where I was living) because roomie forgot to order heating oil before he left for Michigan. I came back from NJ to find water pouring through the dining room chandelier, and spent most of the next few days learning all about plumbing as I repaired everything. I had also just dropped out of grad school, and was job hunting. Found one just as our landlord told us he was selling the house out from under us, so I went to look for a place by myself.
Ten Rod Road - I had a tough time finding a rental that would let me have the dog. I found an attic apartment. Cheap rent, but there was no shower, only a tub under the eaves, so I couldn't even stand up in the tub. You also had to walk through the bathroom to get to the bedroom. It also turned out my landlady was insane! She missed a bunch of mortgage payments, so I had to send my rent directly to the finance company. Our gas was shut off, too, so she had the other tenant turn it back on at the meter. The gas company then came back and pulled the meter completely. One day, she couldn't get her car started, and called AAA. They couldn't get it started, either, but offered to tow it to the garage to repair it. She flipped out. She started screaming at the guy about how she had a doctor's appointment and had to get there, and told him to take a hike. So he a left. Then she dialed 911 to get a ride to the doctor. Next thing I know, the house was surrounded by police and rescue crews trying to coax her out of the house, and she was hiding behind the door telling me not to talk to them.
Slocum - A friend I played softball with bought a two-family house in the middle of the turf fields, and he asked me if I wanted to rent the other apartment. Given what was going on with insano!landlady, I jumped at it. The house was being renovated, so it was close quarters for a couple of months while my apartment was being worked on, but the work went quickly, and I learned a lot about working on houses. I lived there for 14 years, even after my friend and his wife split up and she became my landlady. It wasn't the perfect apartment, but it was comfortable, and it had the best yard ever. It was huge, and the turf fields surrounding it made it look even bigger. We had the best croquet layouts there. The negatives were that the basement had a dirt floor, so all my tools were subject to rust, and that it wasn't my house.
Casa Machina - My landlady met a boy, and they decided to get married. He had kids, so they needed to assimilate my apartment, and I had to move. I got lucky. I found a Cape nearby that was almost perfect for my needs, which was being sold below market value to settle an estate. It was in the exact location I wanted, had an unfinished attic with dormer already in, a nice yard, and a (mostly) dry basement. The negatives were the woman who owned it before me didn't take care of it very well(not her fault, she was dying of cancer), and had originally had it built on the cheap. It has crappy windows, a teensy kitchen, only one closet, the carpets were in poor shape, a lot of the exterior trim was rotted, and it needed a paint job badly, but there's a lot of potential, especially when I get around to finishing off the second floor.
2. Which was your favorite and why?
The place I'm in now, Casa Machina, because it's mine, and except for the teensy kitchen, is pretty much what I wanted.
3. Do you find moving house more exciting or stressful? Why?
I hate moving, I hate the packing up and the unpacking.
4. What's more important, location or price?
I looked for location first, then for something I could afford, because you can always fix up a place you don't like, but it's really, really hard to move a house out of a bad location.
5. What features does your dream house have (pool, spa bath, big yard, etc.)?
A large great room, with tall ceilings, skylights, and lots of windows. Big kitchen. A view. I like vistas. There are places along the coast with gorgeous views of the ocean and the bay.