We left that first, sad little house after just 15 minutes and I was regretting my whiskey-free coffee. We spent the remainder of the day driving around various neighborhoods to get a feel for the city. Ugh, what an awful idea. There must be a hundred beautiful homes for rent in Tampa. Homes in good school districts. Homes with gorgeous landscaping and ocean views. Homes within walking distance of food and shopping. Homes that run about $5000 a month. Say what!
Oh the frustration. I'd be lying if I said no tears were shed, but Ben doesn't really like me to talk about him like that. Okay, seriously, I ended up breaking down over some truly amazing Italian food. It might seem silly to stress over a rental home. I mean, we're not talking about a huge down payment followed by paying to repair broken hot water heaters and keeping up the landscaping for the sake of curb appeal and resale value. We are renting, sure, but we are hoping to stay in the same house for the entire three-year tour. That means we have to live with our choices for three years and, after a bit, little things can really take a toll on a person. What if the kitchen cabinets don't close all the way? Or the carpet is a wonky shade? Or we hate the way rain sounds on the roof? Or, heaven forbid, the bathroom does not have enough outlets? None of those are really worth moving all our crap again in a year but oh just think of having to live with something you aren't allowed to fix for THREE WHOLE YEARS. I definitely feel a few tears were justified.
The next morning (Saturday) we were supposed to meet our real estate agent, Jessica, at 9:00. Something went amiss with the route Ben planned so we were running late. Our agent called. Relief! She was also running late. Because her car broke down. The morning was off to a stellar beginning and I was still lacking whiskey for my coffee.
Jessica had warned us the night before that all the houses on our original list had rented so we'd be looking at places not previously researched by Ben and me. On the one hand we'd spent weeks pouring over real estate ads, photos and school rankings. On the other hand, the ads and photos hadn't turned out to be reliable. But you guys, the first house totally made up for everything. It was in an ideal neighborhood with a highly ranked school. I was instantly in love with, well, look:
And then a big fat "not so fast" bit us in the rear end...