It comes with centipedes and a nice draft in winter

December 17, 2009


I had no business being given a mortgage. I wasn’t even UN-seriously looking for a place. Yet two months later, there I was in my very own condo.

It all started with simple curiosity. The Twin Cities, like most places, had been going through condofication for a number of years. The majority new construction, but a lot of the old apartment buildings were being converted from rentals to condominiums. There was one such building in my old neighborhood, and I was very curious to know the asking price on an apartment that was for sale in it. I was not entertaining any notion of buying it or anything else, but I just wanted to satisfy my smug self that it was going for far too much. In the course of trying to find its listing, I came across the listing for my place.

I was basically convinced immediately upon seeing the character of the exterior of the building. I met the estate agent to see the interior, which was just fine, and had plenty of character of its own. The building is a Swedish row house (Minnesota is the land of Scandanavians), and the apartment was long and narrow with no interior walls (no distinct rooms) except for the bathroom and three good-sized closets.

I explained to the realtor the realities of my financial situation and that I was pretty certain that I wouldn’t actually be able to make a purchase. She gave me the name and number of a fellow who she said might be able to help me. Turns out he was a miracle worker.

I have been in my place for about four years now. Whereas I used to be completely squeamish about spiders, I now squish centipedes with aplomb (even the ones with inch-and-a-half long bodies) and scoff at puny spiders. It helps that centipedes aren’t crunchy.

The building was, apparently, constructed in the 1890s. Although the interiors were redone relatively recently, there’s still no denying its age. The building is constantly in motion and my floor has an ever-evolving contour (I’m on the ground floor, “garden level” as it’s quaintly called), so there are ample little cracks for frigid winter air to draft in. The windows are in good shape, but I’ve found that it nonetheless helps tremendously to seal them off with the 3M shrinkwrap stuff. When there’s a north wind, I watch the plastic over my bedroom window “breathe” and am pleased that I neither feel that breeze nor have to pay the extra heating bill.

My building is also part of the Minneapolis music scene. Morris Day and the Time shot their debut album cover photo ON MY FRONT STEPS! They were a Prince spin-off who established a reputation in their own right.

Although there are reasons why I wish I didn’t, I know the prevailing opinion is that it’s sensible to own rather than rent. Yay.


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