We bought a house! The papers are signed and we are now homeowners. We finally settled on a little house near Mission Concepcion, just south of Southtown, San Antonio’s semi-official arts district. The house is a two bedroom/one bath on a pier and beam foundation. It was originally a one bedroom with the front door opening directly into the bedroom. At some point the side porch was walled in turning in into a two bedroom and a front door to the living area was added. There’s an additional room off the back with a concrete foundation/floor, not sure what we’ll do with it, maybe turn it into an office or studio. The house was built in the 1920s, super sturdy construction, but has been poorly renovated in some areas, and barely maintained in others. Luckily the flippers didn’t get to it first, so the price was low, only $85,000, and there’s no funky, caulky, Lowes renovation stuff to deal with. I would describe the condition of the house as beat up rental. Lots of laminate floor layers and painted shut windows.
So what’s magical about the house? Everything…the outside is painted pink, or lavender with green and beige trim, the kind of color combination I’d be too unimaginative to think up myself but looks so right. There are lots of shade trees, mostly pecans, a crape myrtle, some elms, lots of plantings. The view from the front yard is of a handsome public golf course across the street, pastoral rolling hills and well kept trees… it’s breezy, it seems like the breeziest spot in San Antonio, perhaps because it’s on a slight rise from the golf course area, which is in the cooler flood plain along the river. What else, it’s small, easy to work on, it’s cheap, it’s on a full lot. It’s about a mile from the main arts area, less to the river, close to restaurants, a library, bike trails. The interstate is close, but not too close. There’s a small grotto in the back yard that looks to be plumbed for a tiny waterfall. Hard wood floors safely protected under linoleum, ship lap interior walls. The alley behind the house is paved (the only paved residential alley I’ve seen in SA). Big back yard. Room for a garden, workshop, deck… and it’s cheap, cheap, cheap.
I doubt there are many major cities left in America where you can buy a livable house on a 7000 square foot lot this close to downtown for $85000. San Antonio remains unique, maybe the heat keeps it cheap. But property values are on the rise. Our neighborhood hasn’t been gentrified yet, but it looks like the wave of development centered around downtown will pass through the area within the next five years. Luckily our house was priced just out of investor range or it would have been scooped up. There are a few flips for sale in the neighborhood and more being worked on. Most of the neighbors are older hispanics. Retired. Relaxed.
The plan is to renovate for the next month or so and then move in. I’m gutting some rooms. Redoing the bathroom, reconfiguring the kitchen, refinishing floors. I’ve been waiting a long time to be able to renovate my own house. My wife and I looked into buying in Richmond, VA and then in Santa Fe, but anything we could afford would have put us too far out from the areas in those cities that we loved. This time it felt right so we went for it. Besides not having many friends in the area, the location is great, away from the super high stress, high congestion North Side of San Antonio. South Side is almost empty by comparison. It’s gets rural real quick. Open spaces. Mellow roads. Mellow people. Feeling good.