Monday, May 21, 2018
Casa Querida: Rental Searches
Recently on the hunt again, we tried craigslist, our local MLS costa nostra website, and Zillow. Not much else needs to be said about craigslist, as enough skeezy anecdotes about anything having to do with its pages litter the internet. We even started down the road of a scam about a house in a neighborhood we were wanting to rent in. The place looked empty, ready for rental. There was a sign out front. Eva started texting the craigslist listing, only to get a spiel about overseas travel, and how they didn't trust the property management, and that you can work with them remotely. The rent seemed too good to be true. A quick google search and this seems to be a not uncommon scam in Arizona. There was even a news story about it.
Zillow, while still better looking that craigslist, is more or less the smoothed out icing on a birthday cake that you dropped on the floor when baking it for your friend. You're pretty sure you can salvage it with the right amount of "architectural" sugar. And no one will notice when it's cut into because they'll already be drunk by then and they'll eat anything. Zillow doesn't do rentals well in Tucson. Landlords seem to put their ads on autopilot and you're never sure if it's actually available. I messaged one once, and he lazily forwarded his dashboard email to my email address, instead of in-app messaging. I was then able to then take his rental off the market, because the access to it was included in the email he wasn't supposed to message me.
College town landlords can pretty much do whatever they want in this town. There will always be someone ready to rent to. They have carved up good looking neighborhoods that are teetering on the edge of historic recognizability by taking advantage of the market and installing "mushroom dorms." These are kludged together rooms tacked on to the back of older houses that just barely squeak by the lax building codes.
The other thing college town renting does is restrict the ways you can rent. Almost no-one will do a lease less than 12 months, and I've only come across one or two rental companies that will let you go month to month after your lease ends.
One rental company seemed to purposefully rent to Chinese national students attending the university, but then didn't seem to hesitate to sue them when they left after the semester was over, but their lease wasn't.
When we first moved here over 10 years ago, we had an apartment hunter lined up to help us the first day we were in town. They never showed, so we ended up cruising up and down the streets in neighborhoods we thought were close to the university. This is still our recommended way of finding rental housing. Almost all of the places we've rented in Tucson have been found by hitting the pavement. When you cross compile bike routes or areas of attraction, like retail or downtown areas, you can easily see which neighborhoods may be located well, and then drive up and down looking for rental signs. This is time and fuel consuming, but seems to be faster in the long run. It's like doing a drive by of a place before scheduling time to look at it. Plus landlords are almost always bad photographers, so getting a sense of the neighborhood might be a better indication of the quality of your surroundings.
Thursday, March 01, 2018
And We're Back...
Long winded analogy aside and among the birth of our child, international travels, layoff, the start of new jobs, moving (twice), death of our beloved dog, the publishing of a momentous book, and the explosion of a start to a documentary, we decided it was time we needed a mortgage. To a house. Were we'd all live. Forever.
Fast forward 12 months, to right about now, and we're still renting.
So, as with any other reasonable blog, I decided it was a good opportunity for catharsis on the long painful journey (swim?) (for us) of house hunting. We've learned not only a lot about ourselves, but about ourselves house hunting in Tucson. Most of it good, possibly useful, and occasionally funny. I will try to highlight both of those in coming blog posts to a category of Tucson Querido, entitled imaginatively "Casa Querida."
Please stay tuned...
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Crunchy Parenting in Tucson: From Pregnancy to Baby
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Campbell Grant Neighborhood Picks
Conner Park (3 min. walk) Shady picnic tables, bathrooms, playground and grassy softball diamond.
Tahoe Park (15 min. walk) Shady picnic tables, playground, tall palm trees and a gorgeous view of the Catalinas.
Blue Willow (10 min. walk) They serve "American classics." I would especially recommend them for breakfast. Go for patio seating and set aside some extra time to get lost in the gift shop.
Lovin' Spoonfulls (15 min. walk) Best vegan restaurant in town. Get the Stroganoff Supreme.
Amelia Grey's (17 min. walk) Fantastic, new cafe in the neighborhood. I was so sad when they shut down their location in the Copper Country Antique Mall, but so thrilled when they re-opened right in our neighborhood. Perfect for lunch, breakfast or high tea. Yes, I said high tea. They have an absolutely precious teacup collection, and you can pick your own cup. I recommend the crème brûlée tea and the monte cristo.
Umi Star (11 min. walk) The newest kid on the block, it calls itself a "Street Style Asian Food Bar" and includes sushi and "tapas" on the menu. I'll have to update after visiting, but the place looks very hip and cute from the outside.
Yoshimatsu (13 min. walk) Self-proclaimed "Healthy Japanese Eatery," they do great sushi and more. Modern ambiance.
Brushfire BBQ (12 min. walk) Yummy. Friendly. BBQ. Totally casual.
Kingfisher: (15 min. walk) Upscale, sophisticated, great service, excellent wine list. Best place pretend you're a mobster and eat oysters. They also have one of the most famous burgers in town. Also, they have a reverse happy hour.
Ted's Country Store (7 minute walk) Quality lunch sandwiches.
iLuv Pho (11 min. walk) Tiny, casual, cheap pho place. They often have Groupons, making them an amazing bargain. That and proximity win them points, but if you are willling to go up the road a few miles, Miss Saigon is the queen of Vietnamese food in these parts.
The Curry Leaf (13 min. walk) Very decent South Indian food, although not the best in town. Still, can't beat how close it is to home.
Raging Sage (12 min. walk) Great coffee and even better scones. One of my favorite work spots is on the little patio under the trees. Weird note: no WiFi until after 4 p.m. (probably due to limited space in this tiny adobe).
Cartel Coffee Lab (10 min. walk) I personally don't think their coffee is as good as Sage's, but their baked goods are equally delicious. The hipster factor is high in here, so be warned. This place is often packed, but so is Sage and Xchange.
Coffee X Change (13 min. walk) One of the only 24 hour coffee shops in Tucson; not the best, but can certainly get you out of a late night pickle.
Beyond Bread: Soups, sandwiches, bread and beyond.
Sauce: Salad, pizza and pasta.
Dunkin Doughnuts: You know. Oh yes, you know.
Yogurtland: Fro-yo and fruit!
Jamba Juice: Juicy.
Five Guys Burger and Fries: What it sounds like.
Aqua Vita: Crunchy granola health food store. I like it here.
Albertson's: I hate this place, but it's a supermarket within walking distance.
Plaza Liquors: Probably Tucson's best boutique liquor store. The beer selection is especially impressive. Great people work here.
Yoga Oasis: Life-changing yoga studio, I'm not exaggerating. Good meditation classes, too.
Bookman's (used books and media) A great place to hang out with Tucson's friendliest geeks. Dog friendly, great bargains.
Mac's Indian Jewelry (jewelry and artifacts) One of Tucson's best stores for authentic native jewelry and artifacts, particularly unique collection of Zuni fetishes.
Ross They sell clothes and household goods you find at department stores for a fraction of the price. I do almost all my clothes shopping here. I love their business model so much that I bought some of their stock, and it's doing pretty well!
Campbell Spa Nail Salon
Saturday, November 03, 2012
Weekend in Prescott
We were so busy that Labor Day weekend surprised us this year. Andrew has so little time off that we decided we had to take advantage of the holiday to get in a little road trip, even though it was the last second. We wanted to go someplace cooler, dog-friendly, within driving distance, and that still had room.
In my opinion, any trip to Prescott should begin at the Sharlot Hall Museum. This darling museum gives a great overview of the history of the region and honors a pioneer woman who loved and fought for Arizona: Sharlot Hall. I relate to her adventurous, free spirit and passion for this land. This is an excerpt from her poem, "The West":
The wanderers of the earth turned to her, outcast of
the older lands--
With a promise of hope in their pleasing, and she reached them pitying hands;
And she cried to the Old World cities that drowse the Eastern main:
"Send me your weary, house-worn broods, and
I'll send you Men again!
Seed of Man--Seed springing to stature and
strength in my sun--
Free, with a limitless freedom no battles of men
One such primitive road I love to explore in the Miata: Williamson Valley Road (Yavapai County Road 5) between Prescott and Seligman. It's one of Arizona Highways's Scenic Drives.
Our drive culminated in a very private hike down the Oaks & Willows Trail in Prescott National Forest. This was also an Arizona Highways suggestion. We got a little confused trying to find it, being that the Walnut Creek Ranger Station they use as a marker in the directions hasn't been there since the nineties!
Saturday, August 27, 2011
A Story About a Few Hummingbirds
Saturday, May 07, 2011
At The Loft: Super
Being that the only two posts of 2011 thus far have both come on the heels of tragedy, in a sense, I think it's time to lighten things up a bit.
Tonight we went to see Super at The Loft.
It's a little weird because it borrows from a few different genres, making it feel at times like a movie that doesn't know what it wants to be.
The excessively graphic violence is congruous with the comic book genre, for example, but perhaps the more tender, human moments make scenes where heads get bashed in or blown apart even harder to stomach. (For more relevant theorization on the topic of violence in film read "Masculinity as Excess in Vietnam Films" by Susan Jeffords.)
I was hoping the presence of Ellen Page (playing the side-kick) was an indicator that the film does something beyond typical Hollywood gender roles, (I'm thinking about Hard Candy) but...meh, not so much. The side kick is just that, a side kick. In this case Page's character, Libby, is played like an overly enthusiastic junior antihero-cum-sacrificial lamb. Liv Tyler plays a whore of circumstance who needs saving. Pretty predictable female roles.
What I do like, however, is that the film has some "heart," if you will. Frank, (played by Rainn Wilson of The Office fame), starts out as someone who can only recall two perfect moments in his life. By the end of the film things have not gone the way he wanted, but he gains something precious: he has collected an arsenal of perfect moments. He represents them in naive-style drawings but we aren't compelled to belittle them. Instead, we are brought to acknowledge that this really is the magic stuff of life: any chance we have to share and connect with others, a scene as quotidian (and moving) as a moment of affection between a person and their pet rabbit.
Having seen this movie shortly after, Megamind, I have to wonder if the antihero is on the rise. I'd like to believe films like these are a sign of how collectively tired we are of oversimplified "bad guy/good guy" constructions in current-day dominant media representations related to war situations in which the United States is currently embroiled. I mean, I'd like to believe that.