Thursday, December 19, 2013

Where the Heck Are We Going to Live? °o°

How do I describe the blur that was our arrival to the Orlando area? After six days of driving, we arrived on my lucky day; Friday the 13th... in the state of Florida, anyway; we still had four more hours of travel south to Central Florida. We decided to stay overnight in Tallahassee and then continued the last stretch after we were rested for the evening.

That night I received a call from a landlord that I had emailed from a listing on Craig's List. She agreed to show us the house the next day at 2:30.  On Saturday after that four-hour drive, we saw the "Welcome to Orlando" sign at 2:20, 10 minutes before the appointment!

It turns out that the house was not to our liking because of safety concerns in the area (driving through the streets we saw a lot of run down homes, broken down vehicles, and bars on windows), but at least we knew to eliminate that neighborhood from our list.

It was still early so we spent the next couple of hours driving through neighborhoods in different towns that we knew we were interested in. We were charmed by Maitland and a few areas of Winter Garden, but found that unlike many neighborhoods in Phoenix, there were no "house for rent" signs in the front yards to be found, and to be honest, those beautiful neighborhoods were still quite a drive from the parks. I figured I would be doing my homework that night on various rental web sites, and calling our real estate agent that we had established a relationship with last year on our scouting trip.

Since it would be getting dark soon, we thought it would be best to secure a place to stay for that night and until we could find a house that we wanted to rent.  We pulled into a parking lot so that we could start making phone calls to find an extended stay hotel, which costs less than a single-night hotel room.  

We settled on Super 6 Extended stay because they advertise that they are pet friendly, and were the cheapest out of the three that we called. For $430 we had a "home" for seven days, with a kitchenette, refrigerator and two HBO channels! Not exactly the most warm and inviting of homes, however. 

Sunday and Monday was spent doing more of the same; driving around, looking for "for rent" signs. We are concerned about the fact that we are trying to rent a house without having jobs yet, so we were trying to avoid Property Management companies that expect you to prove that you earn at least twice the rental amount.

We found a few and called right away. Some would not allow pets at all and some were out of our budget range. Somehow, during those two days we decided that we were really comfortable with the nighborhoods right in the area of Northwest Kissimmee where our hotel was located. After touring through three or four of them, we were impressed with how nice and neat most of the homes were. We decided that although Kissimmee didn't carry the prestige of a Hunter's Creek or a Winter Garden address, the area was still very nice and more of the homes were affordable to us. Additionally, in the right zip code, we would be less than ten miles away from the parks.   

Our agent sent us a list of houses that were available for rent on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) that were in the Kissimmee area. However, many of these homes would not be vacant until a later date, were run by property management companies, or did not need meet our needs (a two-car garage is required, considering how much we have to move into the house).  Heavy, heavy sigh.

I have to admit to you that things were not looking bounteous.  We did not have a plethora of rental  houses available to choose from and although it was early, I was starting to worry. It takes time to drive around town, set appointments with busy home owners and if we should find a house that fit the bill, I also knew that it would take time for background checks to clear, or other paperwork to be processed.  Our goal was to be out of the Extended Stay by the end of that week so that we could get the POD delivered and at least have Christmas week to settle into our new home. Maybe even set up our Christmas tree.

After a lot of pavement pounding, we found only three houses that we wanted to pursue. The first was eliminated quickly because after calling about it, we found it was handled by a property management company. They told us right away "no jobbie, no rentie".  The house in second place seemed like it was going to work out without a hitch. We were so confident that we even called my folks to tell them that we had found our house. I guess we were counting our chickens before they hatched, because although we had a great meeting with the husband that owned the home the night before, the wife had different plans by morning. She told us she had already accepted payment from another tennant. That was a heavy blow. 

We were left with the house in third place as our only option. We did like it, but it was still in rough condition with a hole in the living room wall, dirty walls, and an overgrown lawn. A diamond in the rough.  We called the owner and set a time to meet so that we could fill out her paperwork. My biggest fear being that something will happen that would sour the deal; a cousin of the family was going to be in town for six months, and they were going to rent to her, or some other crushing development. We were already losing valuable time because we had stopped looking.

This time it turned out that three really is a charm, and we walked away with the lease with no problems whatsoever. They even had a team of people repainting, cutting grass, and scrubbing all surfaces when we drove away with a smile and a contract in our fists...  Next stop, GUEST RELATIONS at Downtown Disney!


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