We are renters. We like it that way. But with renting comes an element of uncertainty. When we rather suddenly needed to move last year, we spent a lot of highly concentrated time looking at places. Well, I spent a lot time, anyway. Poring over Craigslist for hours on end. Every day getting on there, hoping to see and snatch up the perfect home for us. 24 houses total over 3 months time... actual appointments and go-inside-of-it looking. That doesn't count my drive-bys. A lot of places. And with a 6-month old...oh, and 3 other kids.
There were just a couple of neighborhoods in which we were looking. Family-friendly, close to amenities, easy access for commuting... Schools were not an issue because our kids would be staying where they were. We wanted something big enough so that we didn't feel like too many rats in the cage. We wanted something nice but not fancy (fancy does NOT work if you have kids). A nice landlord was also a must, as was a yard for the kids. And, of course, we had a price range. lol
We ended up in a place we would NEVER have considered in the beginning of the hunt. But after seeing all that I saw and evaluating what was REALLY important to us, we wound up not in the charming, character-filled, 100-year old brown shingle walking distance to shopping and other amenities that we had envisioned but in a cookie-cutter development... a Gated Community (we joke about it, saying the words like the South African bad guy in the movie "Lethal Weapon" says "diplomatic immunity" and laughing uproariously ... we're weird that way).
It is right by the water and a stone's throw from a waterfront trail. Because it is near the ghetto (no lie) it is very affordable... but it is quite separated from the scary places by a freeway, and there is a police headquarters in the middle. And there is The Gate. The Gate tripped me out at first. Who wants to live in a place where you need to be locked in and others need to be locked out? But I have grown to love The Gate.
The Gate means I can run at night! That is pretty much the only time during the week that I can run. I have a loop that is 0.6 miles and I can mix it up with a couple of figure 8's on the dividing streets. And right now I don't really run all that far so it isn't too boring yet. I can leave the front door open and if I scream from anywhere in the development, my husband would most likely hear me. If it weren't for The Gate I wouldn't be here... on this blog.
The Gate also means that my kids can run around the neighborhood and ride their bikes right out of the garage into the streets without being nailed by an oncoming car. This is not common in these parts!
When people get freaked that I run at night, I simply claim, "Gated Community" in my best Afrikaans accent. They never get it.