In my Independence Day post, I promised I'd update ya'll (See? I'm a real Southerner now!) on the craziness that was our housing situation.
When Babe first moved down here, his boss was putting him up at a hotel. It wasn't the nicest place, but it gave him a free breakfast every morning and a bed to sleep on. Of course, though, this gets expensive fast, and he found himself in a situation where he needed to secure housing... fast.
Rental properties are not easy to come by in Baton Rouge. Our realtor friend explained that it's been this way since Hurricane Katrina, when the population of this city grew from 600,000 to 1,000,000 in a year. Apparently, all the people who couldn't afford to get out of New Orleans ended up here, many living in hotel rooms for years at a time. Since that time, the demand for rentals has far outnumbered the available supply.
Babe ended up signing a 6 month lease for a cheap, 2-bedroom place that he saw only briefly on the day he signed the paperwork. It was a dump, to say the least, but he didn't really have time to house hunt while he was working 12-hour days, and he was really just focused on finding a place to sleep.
Flash forward a couple weeks to my visit when he asked me to move in with him. Clearly, this was not a house I was willing to call my home. No amount of cleaning could remove the water damage to the wood cabinetry in the kitchen or bathrooms, half of the electric outlets (including both in the bathroom) didn't work, and a strong marijuana/cigarette stench wafted into our unit 24 hours a day (and really... this is the short list of the things we hated about the place). The rest of our neighbors were no better, loitering outside all hours of the day and fighting around the basketball hoop until the wee hours of the night.
While Babe was at work each day, I scoured the Internet for housing - a task that quickly grew old. It's very difficult to find a place to live in a city you know nothing about. It seemed that every place I liked was out of our price range (story of my life: champagne taste on a beer budget). It didn't take long for me to feel frustrated with the whole process. I had two major motivations, though, that kept me going:
1. I hated our house and neighborhood.
2. I wanted to get our furniture from Chicago. The air mattress we were sleeping on and card table I was smart enough to bring down in my car were not exactly what you'd call luxurious living!
After nearly a month of looking, we came home one night from Target to find a drunk/high guy in our parking lot. I made the mistake of smirking at the guy, who had his pants belted around his thighs and wife beater pulled up to his pecs, exposing the entirety of his boxers. I guess he didn't see the humor in his outfit because he looked me dead in the eye and pulled a pistol out of his pocket and tucked it in at his waist.
I hate guns. I didn't grow up around them. Yes, I've been to a shooting range before, but even that was way out of my comfort level, and it's in an controlled environment. This... scared the crap out of me. I know he didn't point it at us or anything, but I definitely felt threatened. We both did. Enough so that we packed up the house and moved into a hotel the next day.
I can't tell you how thankful I am for a home that is in a clean, safe neighborhood. And that we're able to afford to live this way. There are way too many people out there that don't have the luxury of being able to escape those neighborhoods. We are blessed.