Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It’s been almost 2 years since my last HGTV tumblr post.
I blame grad school. Seriously. It occupied most of my waking hours. But since I will be working 9-5 once again, I’m hoping to have a little more time for keeping this tumblr updated and tweeting on the regular.
Programming note: I’ve changed my Twitter handle from @MyFirstPlace to the more applicable @BitterHGTV. I even changed my location and my header image. I may try to bring back the podcast. Maybe.
Here’s a granite counter top as a symbol of these promises:
Noticed that I haven’t been tweeting very much? Worry not, I’m still ready to mock the future home buyers of America. It’s just that I don’t have access to HGTV right now. I don’t even own a TV at this point.
We just moved from NYC to Atlanta — or as everyone has corrected me, “Hotlanta.” Yep, it’s the south, it’s August. We get it.
Moving is exhausting. I haven’t physically un-tensed in several weeks. Having now done a big inter-state move as a couple, I now seriously wonder how in the world House Hunters can bring themselves to move for reasons like “upgraded kitchen” or “crafting room.” Unreal.
But somehow we drove down to Georgia, car laden with as much 10-year-old Ford Focus can handle, and made it our new place.
Yes, that’s a fireplace behind the mountain of box remnants!
Unfortunately, the truck with all our stuff won’t be joining the party until this Sunday, meaning we’ve been making do with an air mattress this whole time. It’s a little like camping, except that you have to spend several hundred dollars a day on basic start-up necessities like detergent, brooms, IKEA furniture, curtain rods, and dish racks.
However, I must say that I’m really digging our house. Before you get any Atlanta McMansion-burbs ideas, I’ll tell you that we are living ITP (in-town, in the city, etc.), in a very old house (yep, the one from the previous post). It’s a rental, so we won’t be renovating, or “upgrading” any “yucky old stuff.” Actually the place is in pretty good shape at this point.
Disadvantage of high ceilings: rickety ladder needed for everything.
Well, by my standards, not HGTV’s. (Although I have been to Lowe’s about a dozen times, so I guess all that advertising worked…bastards!)
I will say that I’ve achieved one of my personal housing goals: my own washer and dryer!
As you can see, they’ve been around since the days of appliances that actually work for more than two years. And they still work really well!
I’ve also achieved a frequent House Hunter must-have: DUAL FREAKIN’ SINKS.
Why yes, that counter top IS fake granite laminate. (And note the big bottle of Aleve featured prominently.)
But just to bring this down to earth, I’ll share a final photo that will shake you loyal HGTV viewers to your very CORES:
So, in another month I’ll no longer be living in New York City, capital of bitterly watching HGTV. I’m moving south to Atlanta, which was probably the most frequently featured city on My First Place (or it was a couple years ago — seems like the market here has taken quite a hit). Look, moving to Atlanta wasn’t my choice, location-wise, but I was offered a spot in a great grad program at GaTech, and moving down there was part of the bargain.
Atlanta is so different from NYC. It’s a car city, totally spread out. People do not walk around here. There’s more crime. It’s freaking HOT (106 today, woot!). So. I have some anxiety about moving. There are a lot of things that concern me.
We’d scouted out some neighborhoods when I went to visit the school. We did our research by googling “Atlanta hippie neighborhoods.” Thing is, the real estate trend in Atlanta seems to be straight out of the HGTV playbook: newer, shinier, cheaper is best…old stuff is yucky. The listings (which I’ve been monitoring for months) are very telling. Lots of “luxury you deserve” (why do you deserve it?), “flourishing, upscale neighborhood” (if you don’t check the crime stats), “brand new appliances” (and 500 sq ft of total space).
We booked a week-long trip for end of June/beginning of July, figuring that this would give us some extra time to find something if one week wouldn’t cut it. I did as much pre-planning as I could, scouring listings daily, creating maps and spreadsheets, soliciting advice from our social networks, getting all our financial documents together.
[side note: apartment hunting in NYC is ridiculous and that is what I’m used to. You have to demonstrate a salary of 40x the monthly rent, bring cash for a deposit and put it down on the first half-decent apartment you see. You also end up working with super sketchy brokers. It’s a total circus.]
So naturally, with all that careful pre-planning, we applied for the first place we saw.
I should back up. We did follow everyone’s advice, which was to drive around the neighborhoods we liked and look for “for rent” signs in the yard. We did that and never saw a single sign. So that was a bust. We had scheduled a few viewings for the next day, but we checked Craigslist one more time that night and saw a promising listing.
Huge amount of space, a porch and backyard, duplex in an old house with charm. It was located just a couple streets away from our first choice neighborhood and down the block from the train. We were able to see it first thing the next morning.
The place was trashed. Long story short, there was an eviction in progress and a lot of partying and bad behavior had been going on in this beautiful, 100+ year old house. It did not show well, to say the least. In fact, it required a lot of imagination to see the place as it might be. We’re not talking paint color here. (Actually, I credit all the HGTV-watching for my ability to look past the cosmetic issues.)
I loved it right away, but my boyfriend wasn’t quite as on board. We went off to our other scheduled appointments and saw about six more places that day, but the first one was still our first choice. We decided to apply for it. We’re still in that process now.
The upside is that it’s basically everything we were looking for. There’s actually an extra room besides the two bedrooms (man cave, anyone?). The disrepair means that at least some stuff will be redone before we move in. The downside is that we’re not sure exactly how it’ll turn out.
So I hope that we’ll know for sure if we have the place before we leave. We’re in no man’s land now, unsure if we should continue to put more effort into looking on our last two days here. Not that there’s much to look at in our price range. I’ve been checking the listings like crazy and coming up with very little.
So, cross your fingers for us. I hope that next time I update, it’ll be with good news and complaints about the lack of stainless steel.
For some reason, a bunch of media outlets jumped on a pretty tame post from a blog called Hooked on Houses that details someone’s experience as a subject on House Hunters.
Since it was picked up by AV Club, of all places, I thought it would be super-damning. Turns out that the worst thing in the post is something we already knew: the subjects have already picked out a house by the time the show films and sometimes they tour houses that aren’t even for sale.
This doesn’t bother me too much. I think we mostly watch House Hunters to:
- Mock the people looking for a house and their ridiculous list of demands.
- Stare incredulously as people in Texas buy 5 bedroom houses for 17 dollars and some pocket lint.
- Check out what other people’s houses look like.
To me, the fact that these people are not actually looking at and choosing from among only THREE PROPERTIES is a non-factor. If the show were real, those people would be morons because that’s a really terrible way to look for a home.
I think that having these couples tour whatever random friends’ houses they can get into probably makes the show more entertaining. It explains why they feature so many houses that don’t seem to fit the house hunters’ (admittedly unrealistic) wishlists. It also means that they’re complaining about their good friends’ paint colors an awful lot.
As I mentioned on Twitter a few months ago, I took a little break—not only from blogging and tweeting about HGTV, but from watching it, period. It wasn’t personal, I was just immersed in applying to grad schools, on top of my full-time job and there weren’t enough hours in the day to snark on House Hunters on the side. I decided to put some things on hold until 2012.
I thought I’d be back after the holidays, but then I got caught up in a bunch of other stuff, including a trip to Hawaii, and returning to blogging was put off again. In the meantime, Michael Ian Black is trying to usurp me, that bastard. HGTV is now doing HGTVBingo. So now it’s serious.
Here’s the problem: I have too many freakin’ House Hunters episodes stored up in my DVR. We’re at 92% full and my boyfriend is going to take drastic measures soon. I’m totally in denial about this. I’m not sure whether to declare bankruptcy, try to watch through them all marathon-style, or just pick and choose based on the vague descriptions. Not all of them are interesting. Let’s face it, most of the time, House Hunters is a pretty boring show, which is why we like it. Doesn’t mean I want to spend my precious TV-viewing hours watching teachers from Delaware upgrade to a three bedroom ranch for 12 hours straight.
So in the next few weeks, I hope to get back into it by writing up some more long-form recaps and live tweeting (even if the episode is a couple weeks old). I may not get through them all, but I want to keep creating new stuff for y’all to read. We shall not let Michael Ian Black win.
The housing boom in Florida certainly fueled it share of excess. Our new favorite: David Siegel’s Versailles, an unfinished 90,000-square-foot home in the Orlando area that boasts 13 bedrooms, 23 full bathrooms, a 6,000-square-foot master suite (with plans in place for a bed on a rotating platform), a banquet kitchen plus 10 satellite kitchens, a 20-car garage, three pools, a two-story wine cellar and a grand hall with a 30-foot stained glass dome.
As I’ve said many times via Twitter, my number one future residence wishlist item is in-unit laundry. Screw granite, I want to do laundry in the comfort and privacy of my own home. To me, that is total luxury.
In my adult life, I’ve mostly done laundry in creepy apartment basements or sketchy laundromats. Here’s why it’s awful:
1. Schlepping your laundry several blocks away. In the rain. In the snow. Did you forget your quarters? Your detergent? Yes? Better run three avenue blocks home. Remember, you’ll have to carry it back, too.
2. Some laudromats are open ridiculous hours. Like, 6 am to 6 pm. Huh? Who gets home in time to finish doing laundry BY 6 pm?
3. Laundromats can be GROSS. The first time I lived in Brooklyn, the large laundromat down my block had rats running around. And this was the “nice” laundromat. Plus, you’re sharing machines with the filthy clothes of all of NYC. There’s a lot of grime here. And people are always putting sneakers in the dryers.
4. Crowds. This is probably my biggest complaint, and it’s still a problem even if you have laundry in your building. On the weekends, everyone wants to do laundry. You find yourself waiting for washers to finish, so you can take someone else’s gross wet clothes out and hope they don’t return in time to see you touching their underwear. On the flipside, you end up waiting for hours, “guarding” your machine so that you can do multiple loads. And if you have a day off and decide to do laundry during a “non-busy” weekday, you quickly realize that the laundromat employees are using 90% of the washers for the drop-off customers.
It’s just aggravating. Luckily, I do currently live in a building with a few laundry rooms. My boyfriend takes it a step further and pays our cleaning lady to do his laundry. Yes, I said cleaning lady. She comes every other week, and it’s the best money we spend, aside from rent and food.
But I really don’t mind doing my own laundry, if I know that I don’t have to worry about hauling it around and snagging a free machine. When I lived in Phoenix, we had a washer/dryer right in our apartment. You could just walk over and dump your stuff in. I never had huge piles of laundry accumulating. I could just do it, painlessly. It was amazing.
Miss the days when Suzanne Whang hosted House Hunters. Now they have a Suzanne wanna be trying to sound like her… HM WHY DON’T THEY SHOW YOU THEN!? HUH!? Okay… I’m a big fan anyway.
Be Better…at Weather.
Apologies to all Floridians out there, but anytime I see an episode of House Hunters set in Florida, I know my eyes are gonna be rolling nonstop. When the buyers are looking in Fort Lauderdale, and they’re under 65, I assume they work in the assisted living industry.
So I was thrown when this episode featured a lady we’ll call “Angry Lauren Graham” and her husband, who shall be known as “I’m Here Too.”
Angry Lauren Graham has some weird job that involves interpretive dance and wearing flow-y tops.
Maybe she teaches retirees to dance? I’m Here Too does something too boring to show on camera.
Here’s the crazy thing: Angry Lauren Graham is Canadian. And she’s not nice. Although she does say “a-boot.” Seeing mean Canadians is just…like seeing a mall Santa take his beard off. Very upsetting.
An important thing about this couple: They like bossing around stubby, blond, balding guys, whose names end with “k.”
Mike, a “friend” who unwittingly agreed to take them in when their lease expired. From body language alone, we have to assume that Angry Lauren Graham knocked Mike’s door down and demanded a bed. I’m Here Too must have shrugged at his friend and whispered, “Thanks, man.”
Realtor Nick, who we’ll call Scared Patton Oswalt. I have a feeling they chose a realtor using the criteria “Who can we best frighten into submission?”
So, instead of just finding a rental in the interim, Angry Lauren Graham and I’m Here Too decide to invade Mike’s house and hassle him about his food choices. Seriously, the one scene of them cooking together (what, no veggies to chop?) features this couple complaining that he doesn’t have “adult food” for them. Um, Mike is paying rent on his own dwelling. If he wants to eat cereal and milk, more power to him.
Culinary mastermind Angry Lauren Graham sighs and tells her husband, “I’ll make you a bagel.” So you can see why they’ll need a granite counter top and top of the line appliances.
House 1 is an immediate disappointment.
"I made it very clear to Scared Patton Oswalt that we only want a single family home," Angry Lauren Graham declares. The hapless realtor tries to calm her wrath, pointing out that it has the requested 4 bedrooms (one for each half person!) and a pool.
Once inside, she is pleasantly surprised that the disgusting townhouse has a nicely updated kitchen. (Who knew that contractors would actually step foot inside such a building?) Now she can spread cream cheese on bagels to her heart’s content.
Unfortunately, it’s a short sale, which could mean 6 more months of being passive aggressive with Mike. Scared Patton Oswalt points out that, in the long run, 6 months isn’t that much time to wait for this kitchen. Or they could, you know, find a perfectly fine house and spend that money upgrading a kitchen to their exact specifications.
Remember kids, you’re not buying real estate as much as a slab of granite. Choose wisely.
House 2 is a single family home with only 3 bedrooms (oh no, only two empty bedrooms!). It’s also a ranch house, when Angry Lauren Graham specifically requested two stories. It makes her feel safer, people. Everyone knows burglars can’t climb stairs!
On the bright side, she sees a lot of potential for entertaining all those guests who are sure to come from Toronto. What is it with people on House Hunters who seem to think that they’re going to have constant house guests? If you were traveling all the way from Toronto, would Fort Lauderdale really be your top destination?
Unfortunately, there’s a hiccup. The price is at the top of their budget. And the kitchen is a nightmare. I mean…my GOD. Formica. No stainless steel in sight.
I’m Here Too asks his loving wife, “Can you live with this kitchen for a year or two until we could afford to update it?”
"No," says Angry Lauren Graham, without missing a beat. "I would need it updated immediately."
I’m Here Too says that Scared Patton Oswalt better be a “miracle worker” on that purchase price. Cut to the realtor, wishing the non-hardwood floor would open up and swallow him whole.
House 3 is located in Boca Raton. Hey, maybe they’ll run into Jerry Seinfeld’s parents at the early bird. Complaints include: paint color that doesn’t complement anything they have, tile (Angry Lauren Graham does not like tile), and four bedrooms that have far too little square footage for all the empty space they need.
When this couple made their final decision, their main factor was “which option would allow us to inconvenience Mike even more?” So House 1 it was! And for four additional months, they took advantage of Mike’s hospitality.
You see, in Angry Lauren Graham’s world, short term rentals do not exist.
But once they move in, she is able to make her dream come true: lounging poolside while I’m Here Too plays pool boy.
Plus, they have their first party, where the median age seems to be 75. Welcome to Florida, eh?