|Harvard at night, Oct. 12, 2012|
My first appointment had been moved up from Sunday. It was a house in Bellingham that had many pluses: plenty of space; a location that offered rare elbow room, since it was built on five acres and near the Charles River; and met our goals of having onsite laundry as well as welcoming our dogs.
However, it was in Bellingham, which, I would discover, was way away from the city center. Points off. The drive out was pretty, and via the Mass Pike and I-495 offered a rare chance to kick the Volvo to see what it could do (it shined) and get a glimpse of the Massachusetts countryside, which was scenic and spectacular.
Bellingham itself is suburbia personified, and you could mark your passage going from Boston to there by the dramatic shift in political signs from Liz Warren to Scott Brown. You could also note going from an urban setting to one which featured such cultural icons as Walmart, Best Buy and Chili's.
As for the place itself, it was in a nice setting, but it was on grounds immediately adjacent to the home of the owners. The owners have 12 people in their house... their brood of nine, plus three boarders. The owner runs a car detailing business, so his front yard looks like a used car lot. It also has a parked RV on the grounds. The lovely deck on the rental home overlooks their above-ground pool, trampoline, and the rear of their home just 20 yards away.
The price was also a little high, and I was getting a hard-sell from the wife of the owner. This woman would go on to call me about five more times over the course of the weekend. She had pushed me to see the place earlier, pushed that she had other prospective tenants lined up, and pushed to give them a definitive answer ASAP. It was the first place I saw, so I didn't think it was the right call. M pretty much handed me the reins on this, and I knew the long distance, the generic-ville quality of Bellingham and the excess craptastic nature of the location would not play well.
Back into Boston, I met a broker named Bill who turned out to be one of several really nice folks we wound up meeting over the next few days. Several of the brokers we dealt with were lousy: didn't return calls or e-mails, forwarded listings that were inappropriate, etc. Ex.: It is a complete waste of my time, and yours, to send me a listing for a place that says "cats only." We have dogs. Three dogs. No cats.
Bill showed a place in Roslindale that was OK, but I had some reservations. The biggest room was the kitchen. The bedrooms were so tiny that I imagined they would have been problematic. In fact, I'm sure that I would have had to store my clothes in the other room.
But the kicker came when he wanted to adjust the rent by $150 a month for the dogs.
Bill then drove us cross-town to a place called Belmont. We went through some pretty choice 'hoods... I later found out that Mitt has one of his numerous homes in Belmont. The apartment was nice, the first floor of a three-story house. But pricy. Then again, everything in Boston is pricy.
However, it had a lot of "pros" on the ledger, including onsite laundry (not coin-op), a little yardlet, a private deck, a very favorable location, and off-street parking. Which, I think, will be of immense value when it starts snowing.
So for Day 1, we had one winner, one fallback, and one no-way.
That night we decided to enjoy the trip a little and went out to eat in Harvard Square. We went to a loud, crowded place called the Russell House Tavern. It was Parent's Weekend at Harvard, and Homecoming at Northeastern, so the streets were packed. We traipsed around Harvard Square and caught a cab back to the hotel: $10. A good price, and the same the next night, so we know what the rate is now.
Ahead in Pt. 3: I meet a real witch in Salem, then get banished to hell.