Moving On Up

My husband and I have been in our current home for nearly four years now.  I was absolutely in love with it when we first moved in, both because it was our first place together as a couple and because it was a nice looking place in a fairly quiet area.  We had a blast buying new furniture and necessities and even spent our first wedding anniversary engrossed in a weekend long painting project to try to get our home as perfect as could be.  Our first couch was a donation from a friend, the second was a gift from my mother-in-law that we chose in red to match our kitchen.  We spent quite a while sanding and painting our balcony and storage room with the plan to buy some outdoor furniture and have a nice spot to sit out and enjoy a bit of nature.  As time has passed, my husband and I have made various upgrades to ensure we’re comfortable and that we have what we believe we deserve.

Unfortunately, as we have been trying to move up the ladder, our neighborhood seems to be content edging downward.  What was once a clean and quiet community has become overrun by slovenly people displaying a total lack of pride in their home.  New management brought new signs and a hastily paved parking lot but failed to make any improvements aside from meaningless frills.  The maintenance team replaced our dishwasher due to a leak but failed to address the plumbing problem that caused the leak and also resulted in the garbage disposal malfunctioning.  We’re not big on using the dishwasher, but it would be nice to have the option to use it when the dishes pile up and we’re feeling a bit lazy.  The frustration of living without a working garbage disposal doesn’t need any explanation.  The other plumbing issue is in the second bathroom; for some reason the bath water will not stay hot for longer than a minute or two unless the washing machine is also running.  The sink will scald you, but the tub thinks cold showers are in style.

Those plumbing problems are annoying but fixable and I would definitely be pursuing property management to call in the experts to get it repaired if not for our main issue with our place:  the neighbors.  Whatever wiring is shorting out the light in our kitchen can be fixed.  The lack of consideration from our neighbors can not.  We come home to find trash and cigarette butts scattered around our front door, often thrown in the bushes that the kids have trampled during a game of hide and seek.  The one year we tried growing flowers by our front door, kids ripped them out of the ground and threw them all over the sidewalk.  Our front door has been used as home base for tag, the end zone for a game of football, and a makeout spot by the teenagers across from us.

I’m not a cranky old lady trying to crush the childhood joys of all youngsters around me, but I do expect a bit of respect for my space and an attempt at parenting from the adults that are supposed to be in charge.  I expect parents to tell their kids that it’s NOT okay to throw things against cars and front doors, to tear down parking signs, or to sit on the hoods of cars while waiting for the school bus.  I shouldn’t have to worry about my property being vandalized simply because young adults are bored and their parents can’t be bothered supervising or disciplining.  Bringing up concerns with management results in nothing more than a general notice handed out to everyone, stating the obvious of where trash should go and how people should behave.  As adults, we should all have enough sense to clean up after our pets, yet my husband and I often feel like we’re the only ones who prefer not to step in a pile of doggie presents.

After one too many nights of being disturbed by the two tiny yapping dogs downstairs, we decided to take a drive and find a new place to live.  On Sunday, we got to view a lovely two bedroom place with an attached spacious garage, an adorable patio and backyard, and an amazing kitchen twice the size of what we have now.  The bedrooms are also bigger than what we currently have and the layout is much more appealing than what we’ve become used to.  The leasing agent told us that he is quite familiar with many of our complaints from people coming from where we currently live and was very confident in saying that those problems are nonexistent in their community.  The cost is slightly higher, but we’re getting an entire garage and a yard to ourselves, two things we can’t say we have now.  We’ll also receive a discount on our cable and internet and have access to a wooded dog park.  At least, we will if we are approved.  Wish us luck!


About Jamie C. Baker

“Long time no see. I only pray the caliber of your questions has improved.” - Kevin Smith

Posted on November 28, 2011, in Family, Life, Money and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. So excited for y’all!!

  2. Congratulations. I’m sure you’ll really enjoy your new place especially considering the decline happening around you at the old one. Nothing turns a great place into hell like bad neighbors.

    But as too many people I know are wont to do, I will now abuse your happiness to twist the conversation around so I can talk about myself. 😉

    We lived in Irvine, CA for almost ten years and by most measures, it’s an expensive, upper middle class and higher area that sports the top schools and manicured streets where every tree was planned years ago on paper and every blade of grass is hand-cut. I mean, it’s really impressive. It’s also expensive as hell. When we first started dating, we rented a nice apartment there because the housing bubble had priced us out and I was not willing to take on a suicide loan. When we realized this was going to be a multi-year economic event, we looked for a much nicer apartment and got lucky. It was brand new, nobody above or below (carriage unit – after almost 19 years of renting you learn how important NOT having anyone above or below you is) and only one small shared wall, and it is on the outside of the build-out so we had a tree and quiet street view. It was as close to house-ish as we were going to get and was perfect for the five years we needed to wait out the government induced housing bubble cluster cluck.

    The developments in Irvine come with Olympic pools, volleyball courts, tennis and basketball courts, playgrounds every thousand yards or so, “sitting areas” that are benches surrounded by landscaped and manicured flowers and plants and grass, bike trails and each community has its own shopping center within walking distance with everything you need in it from grocery stores, nail salons, bike shops, chic restaurants, gyms, etc… It is by all measures, ONE of the most beautiful places to live in the OC. It’s managed to avoid the housing decline by attracting cash-rich Asians who happily slap down $500,000 or more in cash to get into a 2,000 s.f. condo that is selling for $650,000, with $600 a month in Association Fees and HOA Dues and at least $10,000 a year in property taxes.

    That back story is necessary so you can appreciate the rest of my observations about……people. California, as part of its rapid ascent to get the gold medal in failed communist states has decreed that every city needs a certain amount of low-income housing (LIH), and Irvine gets no exception. So what happened when they completed building the LIH around us? We suddenly got more cautionary emails from community management about smash-and-grabs in the parking lots, at the playgrounds, at the swimming pools. Of course they never SAID that’s what it was, but we all can’t help but notice the correlation.

    Keep in mind, the only cars in my neighborhood are BMW’s, Mercedes, Acuras and Lexus. I mean…c’mon, it’s all Asian…haha. Asian in the O.C., especially in Irvine, this is what they drive. The cheapest car is a newer Honda Accord or similar. One morning sitting on my balcony, enjoying my hummingbirds, drinking my coffee I hear a car drive by thumping bass Compton style, a low rider with chrome rims, tinted windows…and I watched as it cruised down my quiet street and turned right into the LIH.

    A different morning, same balcony, same setting, I hear a noise approaching me from the sidewalk below. Ah, I see what it is. It’s a lady pushing a grocery shopping cart towards her unit down the street in the LIH. And what do they always do with the shopping carts they stole from the grocery store? Just leave them on the sidewalks, or streets for someone else to clean up but not after the rest of us have to look at them lying on their sides on the tree lined streets or walking around them as we walk our dogs.

    I am sure this all sounds very elitist, and I don’t give a shit. I used to live in those bad areas because I didn’t have a lot of money when I first got started, as most kids find when they strike out on their own. When you first start out, you live where you can and you work hard to get out of it. That is the whole point. That is the beauty of the freedom of this country. If you don’t like where you live, you can move and if that means you go back to school to get smarter or get aggressive at work to get promoted and that puts more money in your pocket and you get to move into a better neighborhood, well hell’s bells, you earned it!

    But then the Big Nanny State Knows-Better-Than-All-Of-Us Government comes in and forces those who have worked hard to earn a spot in the nicer neighborhoods to get away from the noise, the crime and the pollution, to be neighbors with those they worked so hard to get away from, that now get rewarded for their lack of hard work by having their rent subsidized (a subsidy that I have to give them from my taxes), so they can afford the exact same apartment I have for half the price, and bring the ghetto I escaped from with them, and back to my front door. How is that fair? Why do I have to work harder to earn my way into a nicer area AND pay for them to live here too no matter how little work they do?

    I should have worked LESS, not MORE…and just applied for some LIH…then I could have moved into Irvine while reducing my effort. So I am a firm believer that despite the Liberal Holier Than Thou Utopian Kumbaya they mandate upon us from their lofty mansions on mountain tops, you can move the man out of the ghetto, but you can’t move the ghetto out of the man. Case in point, my downstairs neighbor….

    He got into our complex as one of the maintenance people so he got a discount on his rent, and at the time had a wife, a teenage daughter and a younger son. He scored one of the harder to get two-car direct access garages. For the first year we were there, he parked both his cars outside so he could use the garage as an extension of his house. Typical ghetto style thing to do. And of course, the number of parking spaces available to everyone is based on the assumption that everyone uses their garage, so he was unfairly reducing the number of available spaces which occurred to me every night that I had to walk back from afar because I couldn’t find a spot…and all so he can add a hundred square feet of house to his apartment. It’s not my fault he is cramming four people into a two bedroom.

    Our walkway went past his patio, one that was always littered with their crap, and the walkway was always littered with cigarette butts, from his shirtless nights smoking and drinking outside. For the past two years, they’ve left their trash to pile up outside their front door for a week at a time, which is directly below our stairs, so every morning and every evening we get a putrid update on how much his trash has rotted over the course of the day as the vapors rise up through the stairs. And when he finally does toss it out, there are nice lines of gooey wet stuff all over the sidewalk that leaked out of the bag while it was there.

    A couple years ago we suddenly noticed his 16 year old daughter was ready to pop one out and soon enough, bang came the baby. Apparently the father didn’t want to stick around as we learned from several conversations under our window where she caught him cheating on her on Facebook. The whole time they argued he would leave his little trick car banging some nice rap beats and idling below our window. The combination of immature teenage mommy anger, unintelligible gangster rhetoric, Tu Pac slamming his dope lyrics and noxious car fumes wafting through the window was always a pleasant end to our day.

    And of course there were the other ghetto fabulous people in our complex. There were the ones that let their German Shepards swim in our nice resort-style Olympic pool or in the jacuzzi, the ones that we saw at a community sponsored wine tasting that included a sommelier and cheese pairing,that grabbed the last bottle of wine everyone was supposed to share on the table by the neck, walked out to a table and passed it around drinking from the bottle, or how about the ones that take all the junk mail out of their mail box and put it ON TOP OF the trash can covering the opening rather than inside, which forces everyone else to leave it on top, which of course gets blown off by the wind and blown all over the place making a mess. Really? How hard is it to put your junk mail IN the trashcan you dirty, lazy &*%$’s.

    I remember trying to enjoy our resort, palm-tree lined cabana style pool one weekend by taking our iPods and doing some suntanning. Along comes Mr. Ghetto Family Man to let his young kids loose in the pool, screaming, yelling, splashing all over the place. It was as disruptive to the serenity of that pool atmosphere like watching someone drop a piece of plate glass on concrete. Now, I’ve been to the pool before with parents and kids, and the parents scold their kids when they get too loud and tell them to be careful when they splash, etc… I understand kids will be kids, but there are playful dog kids and there are rhino’s in a crystal gallery kids and the only difference is the parents. Too often I get the rhino kids, and I don’t think that’s fair. The pool is for everyone, grown-ups and kids alike so I get pissed off when the parents show up with their kids and treat it like the whole pool is theirs like its in their own back yard and the fact that some adults are trying to quietly sit and read is irrelevant to what their kids want to do. And the cherry on top? When the kids finally get out of the pool they leave a dozen of their floaty shit all over the top of the pool. The parents just leave it all floating around in there, so if we want to use the pool we either have to pick them up and put them on the deck ourselves, or swim around them.

    So yeah, I used to live in the ghetto’y neighborhoods and I saw what I expected and I was fine with that. It was the best I could do at the time. Eventually I escaped it….but holy crap if they haven’t followed me. I can’t spend enough money on my place to get away from them, they just keep coming. They either get subsidized by the government or they double/triple up so they can make the payment.

    So I can’t wait until I buy something so obnoxiously expensive that I never have to deal with these idiots ever again. After having rented for so long, and being surrounded by ghetto fabulous people, I can not wait until my turn comes to escape and leave them all behind me…and I work harder every day to make that happen…to EARN it. I strive to be the 1%. If being the 1% means no more dogs in my pool,shopping carts outside my balcony, gangsters driving on my street, people leaving trash all over the place then my single solitary ambition until my last breath will be to achieve the 1%.

    “You can get ’em out of the ghetto, but you can’t get the ghetto out of ’em.”

    • It’s awful… I have nothing against people who are not as financially well off as I am, but if I am paying good money for a nice place, I want neighbors who are on the same level as I. Thankfully, this new place is able to provide that; it’s very hard to qualify and it’s a great area. I wish we could go now 🙂

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