Monday, March 31, 2014

Wrapping Up Our Stay In Santa Fe

First of all I have to say that I've had a great time on this vacation. It was just what I needed to get out of my doldrums and shake my depression. Perhaps that is indication enough that I should get away from winter earlier in the season before things get that bad, like they did this year. And, in my much improved state of mind, I do appreciate the good things that Leon and I have together, more than I do when things look bleak for no apparent reason.

One of our objectives in coming to Santa Fe was to look at homes with the possibility of relocating here sometime. There are many things to consider and many that we checked out while here, including the cost of living, the health care system, and other services.

One thing we hadn't considered was Leon's dyslexia. Camino de las Crucitas or Passeo del Peralta are not easily deciphered and/or pronounced, let alone spelled easily by my dyslexic partner. We had some laughs picturing him trying to explain to someone where he lives in Santa Fe. I told him he would need to pin a note with his address on his shirt.

The cost of living here I think is much higher than we are used to, even though taxes are lower and the cost of heating/fuel/electricity is less. Home prices are much higher than in our neck of the woods in Connecticut, though many people think that Connecticut is wall to wall wealth and mansions. We could not sell our home and get anything comparable in Santa Fe.

Many of the homes we looked at in our price range were in less desirable neighborhoods, were in need of cosmetic overhauls or major repairs. 

Some were so weirdly configured that I couldn't imagine what the designer was thinking. Like not being able to access the backyard without going through the garage, or having a garage door that opened to a storage locker the size of a shed because the rest of the garage was made into a bedroom, or having a sunken sunroom whose purpose escaped us. 

Finding a house with a decent size yard was also a challenge. 

The very first house we saw was in move-in condition and very charming and inviting. I really liked it. However it was in a small, isolated community in Cochiti Lake - about 30 miles from Santa Fe. But at $135,000 it was the best bang for the buck. People said, "It's too far, no one would ever come out to visit you." And you don't own the land; and there is nothing to do - no grocery stores, CVSs, HomeDepots or Targets - just a gas station and a minimart. There is a community center and I think there's a small library, a school and a golf course with a restaurant.

Other homes had issues or tiny yards which our dog would not enjoy. Or you trade off a large yard for weird interiors.
Real quirky house with a large yard
Other homes were very small but with relatively large price tags - especially those nearer to the center of town.

Others were large, looked promising from the outside but needed a hundred thousand dollars of refurbishing/remodeling.

Others not only needed work but were in ugly surroundings.

But it was a fun way to see the City and surrounding area and gave us a good perspective on what would be involved in moving.

We did meet two guys in town who had moved there from New York and were introduced to us by a mutual friend back east. We went to dinner together, went hiking the next day and to Saturday brunch with them and really enjoyed their company. They were also a wealth of information about the relocation process.

We also met another couple who invited us up to their very beautiful place where they had a 3-acre lot with piñon and juniper. Their neighborhood is way, way beyond our budget. But we had a very nice visit with them.

We could move to the Earthship complex near Taos, of course. But there you have to be wealthy to live poor - off the grid.

On the way to Taos we saw this mountain with a cross on top and other religious icons on the landscape. Reminded me of the "Holy Land" atop the smaller mountain in Waterbury, CT.

A little tighter than a hairpin
Bridge over Rio Grand Canyon
Rio Grand Canyon
A Tree in Taos
Taos Style
More Taos Style
 Santa Fe style seemed a bit more subdued than I remember it from past trips.

 We walked the park along the Santa Fe River (a babbling brook in our neck of the woods).

Santa Fe River in Town
We saw different parts of the city and countryside. We met some very nice people and had more laughs than I've had all winter. The weather was pleasant, springtime warm, the daffodils and forsythia and cherry trees were blossoming and we even had a light mud shower one night that left spots of mud all over everyone's car. This alone will be a challenge for Leon who is so anal about keeping our vehicles spotless. I still think I would miss the greenery of the Northeast, the maples and oaks and birch and the grass and the flowering shrubs and the dense woodlands. I would miss the streams and the lakes and the ocean and seacoast.

If I could be assured that Santa Fe would improve my psychological well being, I might be more inclined to make a move and give up the green and the water.

We shall meditate on that and see.

Tomorrow, its off to Albuquerque and the Breaking Bad Tour? And an early flight to Hartford on Wednesday.


  1. Looks like beautiful country. Hope you have/had a safe trip back.

  2. Too dry and dusty for my taste, but to each his own. Glad the trip has perked up your spirits.

  3. Wow, I see what you mean about houses in Marin. Makes me feel guilty for even considering buying property there. I tried looking at Northern Marin, which was always cheaper in my boyhood. Not anymore! Cheapest were 350,000 and plenty of grand estates in the millions. Santa Fe houses look charming and the kind of simplicity that attracts me. 500,000 is considered "middle class only" in the SF Bay Ares. Good luck with your search.

  4. So many desirable locations (climate, view, amenities) are beyond the reach of ordinary folks, except for an occasional visit. From Provincetown to South Beach, to San Francisco and many communities in between - places that used to be affordable, have been "gentrified" - a somewhat inaccurate term - and low and moderate income folks have been shut out or forced out.

  5. On another note, I discovered that the number of foreclosures in SF almost equals the number of regular homes for resale. What does that tell you about the state of the economy. Many of these homes are gorgeous and are being sold for half their market value, some below $200,000. Some foreclosures in Marin, but not as many.



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