I haven't had time to take photos of the home, so I hadn't written about it, but thought I'd share a bit about how we found it.
We looked for a home off and on for about 8 months. I started looking in March of 2012 when I had more time since school hadn't started yet. At the time, I looked mainly in the Highlands and Sunnyside areas, which are just northwest of downtown. These neighborhoods are sort of like Eagle Rock (LA) 10 years ago or Grandview (OH). The homes in that area are older, mostly built in the 1900s. I love the charm of older homes, and the neighborhoods are fairly walkable. I also liked that it was close to downtown. Since we don't know where I'll end up working, I thought it would be good for at least one of us to have a short commute.
I had difficulty finding homes in that area because prices were fairly high for Denver. The homes in our price range either needed major renovation, or were flipped, but in a way that didn't preserve the original charm of the home and used cheap materials. I did find one home in Sunnyside that I really liked - the owner had done a lot of work to it over time, and it had a really large yard. We were pretty close to making an offer, but that was around April and we had just moved to Denver in January. It felt like a lot of moving for us, and a little bit early to settle on something. So we let it go.
In August we started looking again. Up until this point I had contacted the selling agents and we didn't have a realtor of our own. We looked at one place in the condo building where we were living and liked the realtor, so we started working with her. As I looked around, I noticed prices had gone up 10-15% since I had looked in March. The more we looked, the more we regretted not buying that one home. Around that time, some friends of ours suggested that we look in another neighborhood, Stapleton.
I had resisted Stapleton because I felt like I'd be "selling out" to the burbs - even though it's only 6.5 miles from downtown. Stapleton has a unique history - it is the site of the old Denver airport. 10 years ago they decided to move the airport to another location, so a big piece of flat land was left in the middle of the city. Most of the homes in Denver proper are old, but Stapleton homes are new within the last 10 years, and they are still building new homes. It's one of the few neighborhoods in Denver where you can live in the city and live in a newer home without moving out to the burbs. Also, it has really good schools.
We'd never looked at homes in Stapleton, so we decided to go take a look one day. We looked at a few homes, and looked at model homes as well. And one week later, we found our home.
So we ended up living in a neighborhood that was completely different from where we had been looking. It just ended up being the best value. W's commute is about 20 minutes, or he takes the bus. My commute to school is 10 minutes. We've been happy with our decision. We're not very handy so we would have struggled or had to shell out more money with an older home. Sometimes I miss the energy and vibe of being closer to downtown, but I can easily drive there in 20 minutes. Another thing about Stapleton is that it's a master planned community -
so it feels a bit like Irvine (CA) or New Albany (OH) - which to me
sometimes feels sterile and cookie cutter. So those are the downsides. Upsides are that Stapleton also has lots of parks and paths because most of the homes don't have yards. It's different from an Irvine in that the planners had a urban development in mind when thinking about the ethos of the community. So homes are pretty close together to make neighborhoods more walkable, and most homes don't have big yards. Instead there are parks, dog parks, pools and trails throughout.
So that's how we found our home. I'll give you more details about the home in another post.