on cars and living in L.A.

I had a different blog post planned for today … but the beauty of running your own blog is you can change the schedule whenever you like!

Gas is now about $4.25/gallon by our house!

Not a typo. It’s absurd.

We have been saving on gas this week though …. Now that we’re down to one car.

Yep. That’s right.

Down to ONE CAR at the moment.

Tuesday around noon, Andrew left for work …. and came right up back to the apartment about 10 minutes later:

“Um, my car isn’t where I parked it. So I’m going to take your car and drive around the neighborhood and look.”

OK. Awesome. Exactly the way I was planning on spending my mid-April this year.

It’s now Thursday. Day 3 with 1 car. …..

Those of you who have seen it know Andrew’s car is nothing special. 1996 Honda Accord. Really, people. ~$2200 ? What possible reason would someone have for stealing it?

I keep hoping we’ll get that phone call saying it was abandoned perfectly fine a few blocks away. Joy ride, right?

WHY ELSE WOULD SOMEONE STEAL THAT CAR?

But, the good news is:
One of my coworkers lives just down the street AND works the same shift as me, so I’ve been able to get a ride to work.

The other good news is:
With gas at $4+/gallon I probably should have been carpooling all along

The other good news is:
We HAVE plenty of $ to get a new car. Luckily. There’s no need to apply for a last-minute car loan or anything. That fact alone keeps this from being a stressful situation.

The bad news is:
That $$ was supposed to be for our house down payment. Sigh.

But, living in Los Angeles, with our way different schedules and work locations we’re going to have to get another car soon. It’s nice that my co-worker can take me to work this week … but I’m sure he would appreciate the OPTION of not having to.

L.A. is simply based on a car-culture. I don’t have the option of taking public transportation to work.

Andrew could ride his bike to work, but he runs so many errands as part of his job, he needs a car too.

So, we’re shopping for a second car!

What kind of car do you drive? Do you like it?

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The Schuberts go house hunting (part 5)

I bet you’re all wondering what we’re still doing in this tiny apartment and when we’re going to be tired of it.

Done. Tired of it.

Here’s the latest update in our house-hunting adventure.

As of June 14 when we moved into our current place we had about enough for a decent downpayment (about 10%) in savings for the house.

My grand plan was to spend the next 6-9months furiously saving $$ so we had another several thousand.

Using the base as a down payment and also having enough saved for closing costs and some furniture purchases for the new house (we NEEDed a bed).

But, alas.

Within a month of moving we put $1100 into my car and another $1100 into Andrew’s teeth (we did get reimbursed from my work for some but not all of the dental work). Plus Italy. Plus investing in my business. Plus my employer did not give the mid-year or year-end bonus like they usually do.

So much for my grand plan.

BUT – then in October Andrew got a substantial raise. Finally able to buy a bed like grown-ups.

And we were able to save more money.

Part of my grand plan to buy a house in the spring of 2010 was falling into place …. but only part of it.

The other part was the housing market itself.

If you are so inclined, take a look at these articles and websites about the current housing market. All VERY interesting.

So, basically. People have stopped paying their mortgages, but banks aren’t foreclosing because they don’t want to lose the value on their books.

Which keeps prices artificially high.

Which means we could buy a house but as soon as all these should-be-foreclosed houses go on the market house prices will drop again.

Just for an idea of the house prices we’re talking about …. look at prices for bank-owned homes in Woodland Hills (Woodland Hills is a nice area, but a little far distance-wise from the heart of the city). Bank-owned. These are supposed to be the deals.

Sigh.

So – the new plan.

Our next step in house-hunting is to keep saving money and start testing the waters again next winter/spring.

In the 9 months since we last looked, rent prices have dropped dramatically. We can now afford a 1 bedroom for what we’re paying for this garage.

Yea, I know. Ridiculous.

So, we’ve started looking and have a target move date. We’ll keep you updated as things progress.

To sum up: Still saving money as much as we can and able to upgrade to a 1 bedroom apartment.

Wish us luck!

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Home in Tarzana – our new apartment

We’ve been living here in Tarzana for about 6 weeks now, and I have not yet posted any real pictures of our new apartment … I know I know. Shame on me.

But, for the longest time, the place looked like this, with a stack of boxes in the middle of the room…

Before - that "just moved in" look

Before - that "just moved in" look

But, eventually, I gave up thinking that the place would ever look perfect … or even great. And just decided to show you the way it looks. Much more authentic anyway, right?

First, take a look at our neighborhood. The next 3 photos were taken from just outside our front door … the lawn is yellow (not our fault).

We live on Friar St, near the crossroads of Victory and Tampa in Tarzana (if you follow this direction, you’ll hit Tampa). The neighborhood is full of $400,000ish houses, big mature trees, and I’m pretty sure the old couple next door has lived here since the neighborhood was built.

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We have this little path from our front door to the sidewalk ….

We’re welcome to park in front of the house, except, of course, when the trashcans are there.

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This direction goes deeper into the neighborhood and quiet residential streets.

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Our apartment is (I think) a converted garage, and the entrance is on the opposite side of the building from the main house entrance … Just inside the gate to the right is our door; and if you go straight there is another gate to reach their side/backyard.

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Our path – These tiles are maybe a 12″x12″ …

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You see why people can’t just stop by? You’d never find our front door!

Those lights above the door are on a motion sensor … . except, they never sense you’re there until you’re inside the gate … which means that when I come home at 1130p and it’s all dark, someone could be hiding inside the gate, waiting to ambush me. And if they’re still enough, the light won’t go on until I walk inside the gated area … and by then it would be too late.

I try not to think about that.

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We have all this lovely space just outside our door, but we can’t use any of it because the gardener needs the area to drag the trash cans back and forth 2 days/week. It’s really unfortunate.

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Julie mentioned she thought this place was a converted garage because of the way the door is situated. … The door frame is a full 6+ inches from the ground.

It took a little while to get used to. I definitely tripped a couple times and stubbed my toe when I was carrying groceries and couldn’t see my feet …

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And finally, just a glimpse of the interior. I will be posting about each corner of the room in more detail throughout the week (with the exception of ‘Etcetera’ on Wed, if you don’t care about the apartment you might not want to come back til next Tuesday).

These last 3 photos were all taken w/ my Wide angle lens and my back to the front door …

(the white door on the right of this photos leads to the bathroom)

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Didn’t I tell you? Not cleaned up at all …. that bike in the middle of the floor is pretty much permanent.

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So, there you go!

Your first little glimpse into where we have been living for the last 6 weeks and will probably be living for at least the next 9 months or so …

Tomorrow: a look at our “living room”

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