Realizing that each trip to Merida and back costs roughly one potential sofa, set of cabinetry, etc. (we have yet to fill Casa Nana with any of our own furniture) we’re scaling back on trips down there this year, with a big 2015 commitment in mind. So this gives us time to re-discover all the places in New England and along the Hudson Valley that we’ve always enjoyed.
First up, a trip to Provincetown, Mass. We’ve gone every year for the last 20 years, but actually skipped 2013 as construction came to a head.
Provincetown is our road less traveled. When we first decided we’d have a second property, that’s where we were thinking. A place totally opposite to Merida.
How did we go from second-home wannabes to second-home owners and landlords in the space of three years? We wanted a condo with a water view, hardwood floors and a fireplace. A place to drive to on weekends. We got a 100-year-old courtyard house with tiled floors, a pool and some guppy ponds. Not drivable at all unless you’re like this guy. How did we get here?
It all began in P-Town, about four hours away from home. Colorful yet gray, hippy-dippy yet yuppy-infested, and totally breathtaking Provincetown, on the tippy tip of Cape Cod, where we visit our friends W and T.
We were always impressed with their previous 10 years or so of buying vacation homes on the Cape, fixing them up, using them for rental income and for their own vacations, selling them at a profit, and taking the proceeds to an even nicer Cape property, and repeating the whole thing. Remember when people did that? They introduced us to the concept of managing a house remotely, using FlipKey and sites like that, to market your home to vacationers.
We asked them to keep an eye out for any property bargains in Provincetown, where we easily imagined driving up on weekends, renting out to others, and eventually joining that P-Town/Florida snowbird circuit. Mexico was the last thing on our minds. It all seemed so clear, and we’d have our friends W and T along with us, bayside in summer, and poolside in winter.
Reality set in, though, when that P-town bargain never materialized. On future trips, we toured Provincetown homes for sale. Provincetown is pretty tiny, and its homes are antique. That’s its charm, after all, but it makes for pretty challenging house hunting. Even in a buyer’s market, if there is such a thing in P-Town. We targeted a condo that was built in the ’80s or early ’90s with a sliver-view of the bay, a fireplace, and hardwood floors. But overpriced by at least $80,000, the realtor admitted. We waited for the price to drop. It sold instead. Today, nothing is available in the entire complex. Provincetown is linked to Boston by ferry, and I suspect that Beantown money combined with limited inventory is keeping prices high. Like 2008 never happened.
But earlier that year, we had seen House Hunters International, and the conversation kept coming up, that after nearly 20 years with very little change, we could be making a more daring move: to Mexico. Paul knows Spanish, which is a big help, and I … I … well, I had nothing to offer, but it seemed like we could live like kings for the amount of money we had in our homeowner’s equity line. Why don’t we actually go down there and see if the place appeals to us, we resolved, while sitting on a balcony overlooking the bay, which didn’t make saying goodbye to this idea any easier.
I had never been to Mexico. In fact, I had previously envisioned moving to Maine or Canada, and stuck to the idea that colder climes had a civilizing effect on society. I liked gray and wet climates; they reminded me of an old Masterpiece Theatre program, and I pictured myself lord of some manor somewhere, strolling the grounds. Watching PBS as a child left me an Anglophile.
So to answer my original question: How did that happen?
I really don’t know. I’ll attempt to answer that in the coming months. Meantime, we’re trading some planned Mérida trips for some Cape Cod and Hudson Valley jaunts this spring and summer. Casa Nana is rented out and in good hands. We’ll wait until late August to see our beloved Mérida again, just a few blocks away from the house. As hurricane season allows.
Why would we go down in August? There’s some business to get done. I’m turning 50 this year, and I have resolved to mark that milestone in Mérida.