The Stakeout

On Saturday morning, I staked out the neighborhood of my current favorite home.

I’ve driven through the neighborhood several times during the day and at night, always liking what I see and feel. In fact, I’m going to do it again on my way to get burgers this afternoon. What I did differently on Saturday was I sat in my car for over 30 minutes and just watched what was going on.

In order to not look like a character on The Wire, I used this time to return a call to my mom. The first thing I noticed was at the house directly across the street from my current favorite home. A mom and her daughter were chatting, then they played volleyball on a net set up in their front yard. A few houses down, I saw a man and a woman cleaning sticks and winter debris from their yard and mowing. Even further down, an old man and woman sat on their front porch. I saw two people walking their dogs. I saw a neighborhood where people like and feel comfortable being outside. That’s what I want.

I also spent some time checking out the complete lack of curb appeal on this home. I think the first thing I would do is paint the siding any color I want, because I could. There’s a house I’ve pinned on Pinterest that is like a muted purple. That would be better than pea soup beige. Then, I would plant some shrubs and bulbs in a border along the front and sides. I would put either portulacas or petunias in the window boxes. Bam, instant and inexpensive curb appeal.

When I got home, I stumbled upon lawn alternatives. I decided that over time, in lieu of maintaining grass which is expensive and harsh on the environment, I would opt for things like chamomile, corsican mint, and thyme. These are plants that cover the ground but that don’t require any mowing. They also release their scent when you step on them! I read that instead of grass, Buckingham Palace uses chamomile for their ground cover. If it’s good enough for the royals, it’s good enough for me.

Later, I would stumble upon these patio blocks that snap into place. I would definitely use them in the back, but I thought of maybe putting in a small patio in the front left so I could join the neighbors in sitting out front. I also spotted a $98 picnic table at Home Depot this weekend that I would purchase, paint, and plop in the back. Along with my hammock. I need a hammock.

All of these ideas are simple, inexpensive, DIY projects that I could do over time. I’m currently waiting to hear back from my realtor who forwarded a bunch of questions over to the seller’s agent. I’m anxious to hear what they say.

I highly recommend doing stakeouts (if you can) in the neighborhood in which you’re interested in moving. When I texted a friend of mine in New Jersey about it, he thought it was odd. I asked him if he had done that, and he said, “No, everyone in New Jersey is the same.” I thought that was funny and somewhat true, but in my city, it’s like a swiss cheese of good and sketchy areas. And still being somewhat new, it’s important to know where I would be living for the next 5-10 years. So if you can, do a stakeout. Do a few stakeouts. Feel out the vibe, and if you aren’t feeling it then it’s okay to move on.

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