We just became homeowners for the first time in Madison (third-time home buyers since 2008.) And, I have to be honest. This time around, it took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to make it happen.
Apparently, it's tough to find housing in Madison. The city is known for low crime, low unemployment and higher median salaries, which also has the potential to manifest into a giant dream-killer for house hunters. Since we gave ourselves a quick deadline to buy a house, we were literally in a race against time.
Real estate: America's Best Cities
The student apartment rental season, our giant dogs, and our desired budget made us work extra hard. We almost got away unscathed, but we definitely hit some snags.
Here are 3 things I wish I heard early in the process:
1. Decide if you're a "West Side Story" kind of gal or an "East Side for life" kind of dude. If you're from Madison, then you likely have a strong opinion about this. I personally like both, but for now, we found our home on the East Side... because we're pretty much charming and super hipster! Just kidding. We just really felt like we found a good fit. Our second-favorite house was in Verona (West Side), so we were all over the area.
2. Know that if you own a big breed dog, you're likely banned from all condos. It's not you, it's them. For real. We discovered that we couldn't BUY a condo because NONE would allow a number of medium-to-large breeds. I believe it's related to insurance. That also meant we had to spend tens of thousands more on a house. We also spent two weeks or more looking at condos before we figured this out.
3. Do your homework. Previously, I didn't put much stock into that idea from a buying perspective, but I needed to in Madison. I won't go into details, but we hit some major snags with our first lender. We were lucky to get two referrals from co-workers that led me to a second lender, Jeremy Woods from Millennium Bank. I wouldn't mention him if he hadn't saved us about $5,000 and helped us maintain our dignity and sanity.
Overall, we're really appreciative. We're in our house! Even though we had some challenges, we couldn't be more excited to start our lives in the Upper Midwest.
We are so fortunate to have lived in three wonderful states in as many years. We sold both houses in North Carolina and Missouri in less than 4 days. Peter Sweyer is one of the best realtors we've ever worked with - would highly recommend him in the Wilmington area! (Richard Crabtree is excellent and well-versed in the Rountree neighborhood in Springfield, Mo.)
Lots of great folks out there... this was just our experience. If these tips help you, then great! We love the idea of getting started in Madison. We intend on planting some roots - can't wait for the fun to begin!
If you have any tips, feel free to share them on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus.
Moving is hard. This is one of the best cities I've lived in, but this has also been one of the most challenging transitions I've lived through. Greatness often comes from chaos, so I'm expecting great things in Madison. Today, I'm going to teach you the things I learned after getting two of my tires slashed (er, uh, cut.)
1. Know the non-emergency dispatch number. In Madison, that's 608-266-4948.
2. Pay for roadside assistance or a tire warranty. I bought mine at Sam's. So, my tires are covered.
3. Talk to your neighbors. Within minutes, the HOA folks were at my door and also told me two teens were caught vandalizing stuff a block or two away. I'm not saying the teens were the culprits, but it's good to know just in case.
If you can imagine this scene-- I was shaking my pointer finger in the air, yelling, "You kids!" after discovering we'd been egg'd.
Jim and I were outside walking our dogs when we heard a fairly loud thud from the street. He said to me, "It sounds like my car just got hit."
I was thinking of a car crash... and I thought the sound was too quiet for that. But, then we walked up to his SUV... saw the evidence! Eggcellent.
I guess some little turds had their fun. Karma can be a tough old broad because I'm pretty sure it's payback for the one time I egg'd someone's house in the 7th grade. If I get TP'd tonight, I'm going to go toe-to-toe with a 14 year old. When does school start? Not soon enough, thinks this old gal.
Have you seen it?
Here's our latest promo. I am really enjoying working in Wisconsin. Also, love the DSLR the promo crew uses!
UPDATED: Also LOVE the new morning show promo! What are snow shoes???
Holy heck, orange really is the new black! The Netflix original is raunchy, addictive, and highly informative in a weird-prison-sort-of-way.
And, as you can see, some info was a little horrifying:
It is terrifying, funny, sad, suspenseful and uplifting all at the same time. "Orange is the New Black" is another mind-blowing Netflix original, brought to you by the same folks who created "Weeds".
A bunch of friends kept telling me to watch it... so thanks to the power of mobile devices, I was able to do a "Sunday Netflix Marathon" while also catching up on the laundry and cooking a week's worth of meals.
At the heart of it all, it's a story about the relationships of women... in prison. There's love, hate, violence, and hilarity. The show is not suitable for the youngsters, but it never promised to be clean. I don't even know what's considered raunchy anymore ("Oh, these kids!"), but it definitely has some risque sequences.
Bottom line? Sundays are for Netflix. We also call them "Stinky Sundays" because of our lack of productivity. Though church and showers are likely in our future.
It's a good day when I can get out of the WISC building and meet folks. I particularly enjoyed meeting UW's new chancellor, Rebecca Blank.
Chancellor Blank and I had a great conversation. She took so much time for us to answer viewer-submitted questions. We put a callout on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus... and at the end of it, she said, "So, you didn't ask if I like Seinfeld or Friends!" That was a Facebook question from a viewer that I DIDN'T ASK.
Her answer? It depends on her mood. My answer? Seinfeld.
Blank talked about her role as chancellor and how she'll work with Governor Scott Walker and lawmakers. There was quite a controversy centered around her predecessor, so people are wondering how Blank will get along with politicians.
Watch the whole interview here:
Madison is really going to miss Mr. Theo Keith. He'll soon be trading in his snow coat for a cute little bow tie. Theo will soon be a reporter in Louisville, Kentucky! Can anyone say derby?!
I only got to work with Theo for the last ten weeks, but he is such a gift. He's so passionate about journalism and storytelling, and I know he's only got great things in his future. Any newsroom will be lucky to have him.
For all of my Raycom buddies, Theo is moving to WAVE, where he'll take on a more investigative role. I think this is great because a lot of folks in Wilmington and across the country will get to know him through his stories if they're watching America Now. I'm sure some of his stories will air on WECT because Raycom shares a lot of stories within the company.
Anyway, we wanted to get a group picture before we left, and we asked our friends in our Google Plus hangout to take a picture! They got some funny ones!
So many people will miss Theo. I certainly will, but I am very proud of him. We'll see him on the flip side!
It's not even our birthday!
Special shout out to Google for the Google love (thanks, Bernie!) We have been working with them as a resource to launch our Google Plus Hangouts during our nightly newscasts on WISC-TV3.
Everyone here is super excited about the things to come... we're just trying to figure out how to make it all come together better and really amp up how we communicate with the community in Madison and at-large.
Join us on Google Plus
Getting two Nexus 7s will really help our newsroom talk to the people we care about the most - our viewers! Look at Jen's face!
Do you have any suggestions on how to communicate better with you? What can we do better?
I'm finally getting around to cashing in my big winnings.
I just played the Powerball for the first time... and won!! I mean, I got the Powerball. As in, I won $4 for getting the number 32.
I am anxiously waiting to see who the other winner is. We know of the 'Oceans 16' and the man from Minnesota, but there's still a third person from New Jersey who has yet to come forward.
Trust me, if I won the Powerball, you would know.
TIP: If you don't know already, the best tip experts give... let the computer pick the numbers for you.
It's been a really busy week, but I enjoyed seeing some of you from State Street and the Monona Grove High School! The 6 and 10 team are around town this week shooting a few promos that will start airing in a few weeks.
One is to fight bullying in our Time For Kids segment. I just love the fact that we're getting behind that, and I loved meeting so many awesome kids in our shoot!
The pics below are of me and Jim (and Mark in the background) shooting on the rooftop of the Overture Center. Gorgeous views! Only brought my smarthphone that morning!