Buying into South Florida

Something I never would've dreamed of has become reality. My wife and I have made an offer on a villa (that's what you call a single-floor townhouse, or a ground-floor apartment with no one over you) in Fort Lauderdale.

Pictures are online here. (Don't you love the green door?)

The neighborhood is very nice -- quiet, tree-lined. We heard neighbors greeting one another by name. It's not too far from I95, which is nice, as we both need to commute about 20-30 minutes to work.

The house (I'm not an architect -- I think I can call it a house) itself is extremely cool. The ceilings are all exposed wood, very high. Makes the place have a sort of ski-lodge feel. The main living area (living room and dining room combined) and kitchen have red clay tile. Someone's gone a little crazy in the past and given the kitchen a fake-adobe treatment complete with missing patches in the fake adobe so you can see the fake bricks underneath (like something you'd see in a Pimp Your House magazine, cluck over, and turn the page).

There's a patio out back and a small live oak (20 years old?). There's quite a bit of space in the back yard -- unfortunately, the current owners poured concrete over it all. I plan to build up half of the yard back into yard with 4x4s and lots of dirt so we can plant cucumbers and tomatoes (and in all likelihood watch them wither and die). More importantly, there's a two-person jacuzzi that's accessible from the master bedroom's sliding glass doors.

The guest bedroom has a loft space that the current owners have set up as a miniature office. That's going to be my writer's garret.

Yesterday, I attended the inspection. The inspector spent two hours opening doors, pounding on walls, and squinting at things. There was only one flaw that needs immediate attention (a crack under one of the high triangular windows in the living room). But everything else looks solid and good to go.

I never would've seen myself paying 7x my annual salary for a house, especially considering how overheated the real estate market is. But at this point we can afford it. And, even if there's a bad downturn, we can ride it out and eventually the prices will start to rise again. We're far enough west that insurance isn't nearly as bad as it could be (but still ridiculously expensive).

Closing date is scheduled for March 13.