I keep meaning to blog about something, but this time I have a good excuse. We spent the last week packing up everything we own into a million different boxes where we won’t ever be able to find that one thing we need right this moment ever again. We did this because we were moving to a new apartment.
We didn’t want to move as we’ve been pretty happy in Ann Arbor, but the owners of the apartment complex we lived in (Mill Creek Townhouses) decided to hire Village Green to run their apartment complex a couple of years back and Village Green likes to think they can turn any apartment into a “luxury” apartment by putting in new cabinets, fancy lighting fixtures, and black appliances in the kitchens and raising the rent to an unholy level. When we first moved in we rented a 3 bedroom townhome with a basement for $1050 a month which was a stretch at the time, but Anne was working and we could afford it. When Courtney decided to move out to live with her mom so should could attend college in Grand Rapids a year later we moved down to a 2 bedroom with a basement that cost us a much more reasonable $735 a month. That was 5 years ago. In those years Village Green jumped our rent considerably each year such that my last year of rent was $1010 a month — almost as much as we paid for the 3 bedroom 6 years ago.
This has nothing to do with this entry, but I thought it was amusing.
We ended up finding another 2 bedroom townhouse with a basement for $810 a month in Canton which, if you’ve been reading this blog since its inception, you may recognize as the town I lived in back when SEB first came into being. We lived in Canton from 1998 to 2005 and only left because that was the year of my first real bout of unemployment. It’s been 10 years and moving back feels a lot like going home to a place that (so far at least) seems to have only gotten better since we left. We’re losing about 100 square feet of living space in the move as the new apartment is slightly smaller than the old one. This is particularly noticeable in the kitchen where the fewer number of cabinets is significant, forcing us to make some decisions on what goes in the cabinets and what gets moved to storage in the basement. We’ll find a way to make it work, though, and I think we’ll be pretty happy. More importantly we’ll have a little more breathing room in the budget than we’ve had in a couple of years. If you have to leave someplace you were happy with it’s always nice to go to someplace else you were also very happy with.
Technically I was on vacation last week, but it sure doesn’t feel like it as we spent it trying to figure out what to put in which boxes and what to throw away and where the stuff we were keeping would go in the new place and hoping the movers we hired didn’t kill us for being the disorganized, messy, hoarding people that we are. Fortunately the movers were awesome as fuck and kicked much ass and told us that we had done an excellent job compared to a lot of their customers. I suspect they were just being nice, but they got all our crap loaded into their truck and unloaded in the new place in around 7 hours or so in heat that felt more like late August than late May. They even disassembled and reassembled our bed for us which was probably the thing I was most unqualified to do. If you live in Michigan and want to hire some professional movers we’d happily recommend Morse Moving and Storage as they did a kick ass job for us.
So that’s what we’ve been up to. We’re in the process of unpacking now which is going to be a long process, but we’ll get through it. We did decide to make the second bedroom into a Den for our computers instead of putting them in the basement like we did in AA. So now when I use my webcam there won’t be a tower of boxes behind me. Maybe I’ll try some actual vlogging now.
Thanks to the remnants of hurricane Ike we got our first real heavy rains here in Ann Arbor since we moved into the townhouse. Our landlady had warned us not to stack too much stuff along the walls in the basement until after the first heavy rain because some of them do leak, but we hadn’t seen any signs of water on the walls or floor when we moved in so we put our computers down here and stored some boxes only to find out that, yes, we do have a leak. With that discovery came some good news and some bad news. The good news is we didn’t really have anything near where the leak is occurring, our computers are on the other side of the room and the boxes are far enough away that it wasn’t a problem and the leak itself was more a trickle than a torrent. The bad news is that it’s coming through the wall via the circuit breaker box which is just scary as hell and its fair enough away from the drain in the floor that it leaves quite the meandering puddle of water before it gets to the drain.
So we called to have the building maintenance guys make an emergency stop by the apartment to check it out and see if we were in any danger of shorting out the circuit breakers and starting a fire. We also noted that it appears part of the problem has to do with the gutters on that corner of the building (we’re in the last unit on the end) as they appear to be overflowing and making for a small lake at that corner which is undoubtedly contributing to the flow of water through the wall. Chuck, one of our friendly maintenance men, showed up in no time and took a look after taking the cover off the breaker box. Fortunately the rate of seepage is slow enough and the point of origin low enough that we’re not in any danger of having it short out the circuit breakers so we put a bucket underneath the box to catch the water and a towel down to catch anything the bucket misses. Once the rain stopped yesterday the water stopped coming through the wall almost immediately, but we’re expecting another round of heavy rain tonight (some 2 to 4 inches we’re told) so we’ll have to keep an eye on it. Once things dry up in a couple of days they’ll see what they can do to fix things up including repairing the gutters, improving flow away from the building, and possibly jack hammering the wall out where it’s leaking and patching it up properly. Something they’ve done more than once it seems, which is understandable as these buildings are over 30 years old.
I have to give the staff here at Mill Creek Townhouses a lot of credit. We’ve called them at least a dozen times with various small issues we’ve discovered since moving in and they’ve been quick to respond without complaint. One of the other issues they’re working on for us involves the dishwasher in the kitchen. Putting some dishes in the other night we accidentally broke off one of the tines that sticks up holding the dishes in place. It was rusted through at the base as are several of the other tines so we called to see if they could replace the bottom basket. Turns out they have to buy both the bottom and top baskets as a set and the cost is almost as much as a new dishwasher and the one we have is quite old already so they decided to just put a new dishwasher in. Can’t really complain about that. So if you’re moving to Ann Arbor some time soon for some reason I can’t fathom (not because Ann Arbor is a bad place, but because the economy in Michigan is so bad right now) then you may want to check these folks out.
We finally found a new place to live yesterday and, assuming my credit and background checks are acceptable, we should be signing a lease within a week or so. We’ve been looking for a few weeks now, but hadn’t found anything that we were one hundred percent happy with. A chance drive by the Mill Creek Townhomes last weekend, however, turned out to be just what we were after. They don’t have weekend office hours so we didn’t get a chance to drop by until yesterday after I got off of work. They offer 2 and 3 bedroom townhomes with basements for a reasonable rate and while I was hoping for a three bedroom, in part because they have an additional half bathroom, only the two bedroom models are up for grabs for the next couple of months. Still, the townhome has at least as much square footage as the apartment we had in Canton and that’s not counting the extra room the basement provides. Best of all the rent is only going to be about $100 more a month than what we had been paying in Canton.
My new job is literally a couple of blocks away from the townhomes so, in a pinch, I could walk to work in a reasonable amount of time. Also there are two bus stops for the Ann Arbor Transit Authority system nearby that we can also make use of. With gas prices expected to hit as high as $7 a gallon within the year we’ll probably take advantage of the bus system quite a bit. It doesn’t hurt that they’re all biodiesel hybrids. The fact that Ann Arbor is a college town also means we won’t have to go very far to have access to all sorts of cool stuff.
To say that we’re relieved to have found a place we’ll probably be happy in for at least the next year or two is an understatement. We’d been planning on making the move at the end of June after all the stuff with Courtney’s graduation and open house is out of the way and not having found someplace by the start of June was a little worrying. We hung in there, though, and found the right place in the right location for the right price. It’ll be good to be out on our own once more.
The city strung its holiday cheer with about 114,000 LED lights and plans to convert all of its downtown public lighting starting with more than 1,000 LED streetlights. The effort is aligned with other North American cities like Raleigh, N.C., and Toronto, which have both started similar energy-saving efforts.
When Ann Arbor reaches its ambitious goal, city officials expect to see energy use for public lighting cut in half and a reduction of 2,425 tons CO2 annually. The city also expects a short payback of 3.8 years on its investment, which was funded in part with a $630,000 grant from the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority.
A pilot program on one city block with 25 LED lights helped bring the LED idea from theory to application with three years of research on how the technology saves the city about 50% on energy and maintenance costs. Based on their research, Ann Arbor city officials project an annual savings of over $100,000 on just the first 1,000 retrofits alone. The city plans to complete the conversion to LED over the next two years.
Hopefully more cities will be making the switch soon.