When my wife and I first moved to Dallas 13 years ago, the directive to our real estate agent was simple: we want old, we want trees, we want easy access to DFW Airport (where my wife was going to work), we don’t want to spend a lot of money, and we never want to move again. Oh, and we’ve got one week to look.
The real estate agent took us to one neighborhood, Oak Cliff. We looked at three houses on Saturday; we made an offer on the third home, a 1924 bungalow, the following day. It was a for-sale-by-owner, so things got dicey for a minute when the artsy owner insisted on moving into the guest house for a month or two after we closed, but ultimately we didn’t care. We had old, we had trees, and we were never going to move again.
Thirteen years later, we have to use an upholstery clip remover to jimmy the front door so that it will lock because the foundation has shifted. The window blinds have started to fall apart on the living room window where rain leaks in, which in the big scheme of things doesn’t matter so much because we rarely sit in the living room due to the gale-force winds that blow through the original single-pane pulley windows. The rear screen door resembles a bear attack after the neighborhood stray cats decided to use it to sharpen their claws. And yet, our house has nearly doubled in value.
So when the editorial team was researching the city’s best neighborhoods for our Great Places to Live feature, I was sorely tempted. A condo in Uptown where I would never have to mow the lawn again? A transitional new build in Melshire Estates with all the latest appliances? A house built out of shipping containers in Old Lake Highlands where we could entertain the entire tennis team by the pool? A sprawling Spanish-style hacienda a touch farther south in a mysterious NorCal-style neighborhood called Beckley Club Estates, populated by peacocks and with values sure to skyrocket if the proposed deck park over I-35 is approved, that I never even knew existed?
In the end, motivated in equal parts by love and fear–love of our neighborhood and fear that we would be unable to find or afford a new home–we decided to stay put and remodel. Check back with me in six months; I’ll probably be crying at my desk. In the meantime, I’m glad that during a balmy December week 13 years ago, I had no idea how many unique and wonderful neighborhoods existed in this city. If I had, I’d probably still be looking.