Sometimes, You have to Live like a Refugee


Okay, April fools! We’re really not refugees. But during this very weird week of “vacationing” in extended stay corporate housing, you can say we are a family in between states.

This week, the kids and I joined my husband to live in a hotel just outside of Pontiac, the blight-stricken city just outside of Detroit where General Motors has relocated him.

The hotel is just across the street from the abandoned Silverdome, the former home of the Detroit Lions until 2002.

Image

This stadium cost $55 million to build in 1975 was auctioned off in 2009 for $583,000, property and all.

That’s about the cost for a starter home in the Boston area.

I’ll talk about housing in the Detroit ‘burbs in a minute, but back to the Sonesta:

We are in the company of other GM families in our situation: spouses living here on a temporary basis and commuting back “home” (wherever that is) on the weekends. Wives and children also spending their spring break here in hopes of finding their next home. Only problem (and it’s a big one): there just are not that many homes here on the market that are worth living in.

So many of us are scrambling for the same properties in the same subdivisions.  We talk in terminology like “foreclosure” and “short sale” and “HUD ownership” over the breakfast buffet in the common dining area.

Our first room was a bit – fragrant. The previous guests liked to cook with a LOT of cumin and turmeric and the pungent aroma invaded our nostrils the minute we entered. The hotel manager claimed that the room was ionized yesterday when we were out for the day house hunting, but the stench was that of “the beast.” Like Jerry Seinfeld’s car that could not be purged of the B.O.

Then, there were the roaches.

Yes, it was starting to feel like home more and more.

So, after I woke this morning to find a tiny cockroach crawling up the wall of my bedroom, I demanded the front desk to be switched from our cumin-encrusted suite to a smell free, cockroach free one. So now I am sitting in a much better suite.

I may have to like it for a few more months into the summer.

Yesterday, our realtor, sick with a horrid cold, greeted us at the first property.

Now, as we get ready to list our home (no, I can’t call it that anymore. It’s our house. A house. An investment.), we fret about the chipped brick on the front porch stoop. Or the grouting around the kitchen sink.

When I saw these properties, listed for way more than my house could ever fetch, I wondered, “WHY am I killing myself about the clutter?”” The hardship that the previous owners must have faced, to walk away from a house with an underwater mortgage, was evident with each cracked door, torn off sheet of wall paper, or appliances ripped from the wall:

20130331_105440 20130331_105649 20130331_104755 20130331_103346

20130401_113714

Still, there are friends who have settled happily here, who have transplanted themselves to Detroit, who gave us shelter from the house-hunting storm to feed us not one home-cooked dinner but TWO, and show us around the neighborhood that they are glad to call home.

20130331_144501 20130331_145514

So, I will still hold out hope. It’s early. Too early to settle for a house that will need months of work before it can even be lived in. Come May, I’ll start to panic. There’s got to be a house out there somewhere that will be our new Detroit home.

Tags: , ,

About stacylynngittleman

I have been a public relations professional and reporter -- and always thought I would live in the New York Metro area - before my husband took a job in Rochester, New York. Most in Metro New York can't find Rochester on a map,and neither could I before we moved. I am now a columnist and a freelance writer for Rochester's only daily newspaper, the Democrat & Chronicle. I also am passionate about gardening, fitness and most of all, Jewish education and Israel Advocacy. Here's my perspective on Western New York living - the good, the bad, and the snowy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: