On this final day of March, I just want to reflect back on the actual madness that plagued my little family over the last month. It is the reason we now reside in Texas, and the reason I am just now catching my breath after a whirlwind of house hunting, packing, unpacking, packing again, and driving across 3 states to finally settle our asses in a place that can check the boxes on our not so out of the ordinary wishlist. Trying to find the same thing in LA would have you believe otherwise. Keep reading to find out what I mean.
Since we moved into our last apartment and before baby, my fiance and I have always had the itch to be in a house, with a yard. When we first started scoping out places and learning about home ownership, I was still working at my salary paying, soul-sucking job, and still couldn’t realistically afford home ownership, but for shits and giggles we viewed houses and tried to figure out what we would need to improve on to make it happen.
Ultimately, we needed more money, more W-2s, and more information that no one was giving us. After living in our place for 2 years, filling it with beautiful memories, especially those of bringing our son home, growing our first garden, and becoming close friends with some of our neighbors, we unfortunately knew it was time to bounce. Not only was our building management a joke (3 maintenance requests to fix a flooding door?!) but our son was walking, running, climbing, and everything in between and getting to a park in Koreatown meant at least a 20 minute drive because of traffic. This meant frustration and constant apologies to a Westside mommy group I was in because I could never make their events or risk ruining naptime and sitting in rush hour traffic on the way home. We needed space for him to let out this energy and for all of us to feel comfortable in our roles again.
We decided it was time to move on, put our 30 days in, and began looking for our dream rental. How hard could it be? We had found our then wonderful little town home within 1 day of our last search. and moved in within 2 weeks.
Well, I’ll tell you exactly how hard it was…
We searched high and low, from the Valley, to Long Beach, and for a hot second considered moving into a tiny loft downtown just for the change of scenery (mind you, there are more parks in walking distance in Downtown LA than there are in Koreatown)
We spent a shit ton on gas and time maneuvering through traffic with our toddler in tow, spent an equal amount on rental applications for places we thought we loved, and still got no where. I was literally writing the equivalent of college application cover letters introducing property managers and home owners to my little family and explaining our situation, complete with pictures and every supporting document to explain that we could afford to rent their property.
If you recall, I’ve decided to stay home with my son and piece together a work-life balance that includes freelancing and starting a home business. Meanwhile, The Man is out here grinding with 3 jobs. The response we almost always got was “Oh my goodness, you have such a beautiful family” and yadda-yadda-yadda. Then fast forward several days later, “We decided to go with another applicant or a stronger application”. Are you kidding me???
Every rejection felt like a slap in the face to us as parents. 40 years ago, it was expected that a woman stay home and raise her kids, now it’s balked at. Do moms get respect anywhere? LA is seemingly one of the most mom-friendly places to live, but apparently, mama needs to make a 5-figure salary along with her husband, while raising her kids, hitting the gym at least 3 times a week and still have dinner ready by 6pm.
Even a management company run almost entirely of women couldn’t help us, though they did a good job masking their completely bitchy attitudes long enough to take our collective $70 application fee and send us on a wild goose chase to view a home 20 miles away that was missing the lockbox so we couldn’t even get in. But, that’s all smoothed over with a smiley face emoji paired with a rose because apparently finding the perfect home in Los Angeles has about the same rate of success as finding love on The Bachelor. *cue the ugly cry*
How many times did we have to feel defeated in 1 month for goodness sake. Then there was the borderline racist woman who gave me 1 million percent hope on the phone and then basically ignored us when our little blasian family walked in. And after asking her about the other property she was renting, we were left waiting while she moved a car and instead of coming back to a pair of eager renters, continued to answer questions from the same tiny dog wielding couple who I clearly overheard explaining a similar financial situation as ours (1099s are life). GTFOH!
Or how about the gentleman who connected with my fiance on the phone and urged us to rush out to Long Beach to meet him at the property with the mutual agreement that both parties wanted a swift and easy move in. Armed with all of our tax documents and cash in hand to fill out our application and leave a deposit, he shows us the house and then reveals that he showed the property to a couple over the past weekend and was likely planning to rent to them if they turned in their paperwork on this same day. Then explained that he needed to rush off for some important appointment like renting his property wasn’t important on the phone 1 hour ago.
This is a shortened list because you don’t deserve to drown in our sorrows, but the final straw was when the last property we were actually in love with approved our application and the last thing they needed was the reference check from our current manager. Unable to actually do his job correctly, he refused to answer their questions fully or at the very least refer them to his superior, and our application was rejected. Of course I appealed and sent contact info for an older manager, but not before we effectively became homeless. Thankfully, The Man’s mom lives nearby so we stayed with her for a couple of days planning out the next move. But ultimately what I gathered from this full experience was that we were not good enough. Not a good enough family, not good enough for the suburbs, not good enough at settling for the bullshit. By why should we? Angelenos pay a high premium to rent their apartments and homes, yet are treated like a commodity. Out of all the places we viewed, very few made us even feel like we were about to make their property a new home. It was almost an inconvenience that they had to rent again, and let alone to a nice little family like ours. Scratch that, all but 1 place made us feel that way. I want to send a huge thank you to Rebecca at The Jeffries in DTLA, who made us feel like we were about to move into our next home. Think about that, a loft in the middle of downtown, a walk away from Skid Row, was the only place to welcome us with open arms and a smile. Yet, off in the neighborhoods with lush lawns and neighborhood watches, we were treated like we couldn’t belong. I guess humanity has its limits.
The Man, born and raised in LA (213, not the Valley) explains bluntly that it’s all the kids from the suburbs wanting to move somewhere cool that make living in Los Angeles so hard for the people who were raised there, but when you try to get out and move to the neighborhoods they’re so willingly leaving, you get the rejection. Let’s just say, he doesn’t put it in as nice of terms as I do, but it’s the truth.
I’m technically an outsider, coming from Akron, Ohio. And I came to LA for the same reason many people do, to work in the entertainment industry. The only difference is, I didn’t come to add value to this city, I wanted the city to add value to me, and it did. My perspective on life is forever changed because I didn’t choose to shield myself away from the real parts of it.
That may be a roundabout way of explaining that we were fed up. We needed and yearned for change, something less expensive, something a little slower, and something that embraced us instead of making us feel like shit for wanting better for our son. Luckily, the next day, The Man was offered an opportunity in Texas, which came at just the right time. I was the first one to say, yep, let’s do it! At this point we had absolutely nothing to lose, except proximity to our LA friends and family, but to me, life is all about moving forward, wherever that may take you. For us, this was just what we needed to move us out of a weird stagnation we were experiencing in LA. That’s not to say I don’t love the city of angels. It is the best thing to ever happen to me, but when you are in a relationship and effectively, a teammate to this other person, you must do what is best for all, not just for the individual.
So here we are, trying to live that Texas life with a backyard ripe for exploring by our little guy. It’s different, it’s slower and that is all good with us. This will be an adventure for the whole family since it’s something neither of us has ever experienced. I just need some BBQ and I’ll be good to go.
This is just the beginning of the story to let you all in on how the hell we wound up here. I’ll be sharing more insights on moving with a toddler and traveling across country in later posts as well as my thoughts on how our lifestyle translates in Texas (or will it even?) and what kinds of fun things there are to do with baby in The Lone Star state.