With one viewing under our belts and a brush with excitement at finding an “almost” house in Cambridge, we were excited to set up our next outing with our realtor to look at homes in Kitchener. After sifting through the listings, we narrowed down the list, and we only had two homes we could go and see that met our criteria and that were still available. Kitchener is a tricky beast for us since it pulls us one step farther away from the 401 for Dan, and from his friends (who all live in the Burlington/Hamilton area), while it’s almost ideal for me because it’s so central to all of the things I like/need, like my work, and my friends. Our compromise neighbourhoods for Kitchener are homes in the Stanley Park, Fairway Road, Ottawa, Courtland areas. It’s a pretty wide zone, but because it’s not top of the list for Dan, the house would have to be pretty close to perfect.
House #1 was just off Ottawa Street, near Ottawa and Charles (and the newest location of a City Cafe Bakery – major points). Our realtor mentioned that she has sold many homes in this neighbourhood, and owns a few rental properties in the area too. This means a lot to me, since Dawn knows what she’s talking about, and without being overbearing, she lets us know what she thinks of a home or neighbourhood and is really great at pointing out things we miss. The home was also a home-based business, so when we went to see it, the owners were home, and they had a client in one of the rooms, so we couldn’t see everything. The home needed some updating love, but the bigger issue for us was that it was very compartmentalized. For a home that was only about 1000 sq ft, it had 4 + 2 bedrooms (!!) and 3 bathrooms. There were two bedrooms on the main floor, one of which barely qualified as a bedroom (it had a sauna in it, and I couldn’t imagine how a bed of any size would fit in there) and the other one had the client in it, so we couldn’t see it. There were two bedrooms upstairs, in classic 1.5 storey fashion with a bedroom on either side of the house, and even a teensy tiny powder room in what looked like a closet. The “+2″ bedrooms were in the basement, and they should really be storage rooms rather than places were some poor kid has to sleep. The kitchen was fine, and there was a dining room, but it looked a little small for our table-for-6 dreams, and it was drafty as hell (poorly constructed addition? I think so). The yard was a good size, and they had a workshop/”garage” that would be large enough for a car if they cleared out their junk and boxes. Neighbourhood was nice, so while this wasn’t a good fit for us, I would definitely consider another home in the area.
House #2 was cute cute cute. Dan’s a sucker for a staged home, and I have to admit, it makes the whole thing seem nice to me too. This one was off of Ottawa near The Aud, so very close to highway access. As soon as we got out of our cars, Dawn pointed out some of the realities of having a corner lot, and this house was the mother of all corner lots. BIG property, sidewalks running completely along both sides of the property, and great big hedges all the way around the lot. MAINTENANCE. I’m totally down with doing some gardening, and we’re responsible citizens at our rental and we clear the sidewalk, but this was too much. The house itself was very cute, very generous dining room, kitchen with lots of potential space, large living room, only one bathroom but lots of bathroom storage, and the most adorable little half room slash walk-in closet for craft supply storage. The basement was another thing entirely, and that’s where this house lost it for Dan. Too much needed to be done – crappy windows, dated finishes, leaking air like a sieve.
Our Kitchener viewing was done and over quickly, but we learned some important things. I would be completely happy in either neighbourhood we saw, just not in the houses we viewed on this day. Like I said before, Kitchener has to hit it out of the park in every way if it wants to be a contender.