About a month or so ago, I started really thinking about what is going to happen once Julie finishes law school and finishes the Florida bar process. That all should be finished sometime in August 2012. My lease at my current apartment in Gainesville goes up about the same time.
First of all, the job situation. I spoke with my boss and have gotten confirmation that after Julie finishes law school, there is no expectation for us to move back to Jacksonville. I may continue to work from home, no matter where home is. With the understanding that I will have to travel to Jacksonville a couple times a year or so. For our situation, this is very convenient. The job market for entry-level attorneys right now can be scary. Luckily, Julie is graduating from the highest ranked law school in the state and has done her best to build up a strong resume (no longer viewable on this website). Some assurance that we have an income no matter where we live puts less pressure on Julie. I don’t think most people over the age of 30 really understand what is going on with student loans in this country, but that is maybe a post for a later time.
We’ve given some thought about where we want to live. We are pretty much restricted to living in Florida, unless Julie decides to take multiple bar exams. We have been looking into moving back to the Pensacola area. The primary reason for this is because we think it would be a good idea to be near family whenever we start breeding spawn. There are some concerns with this idea, of course. The Pensacola area is sort of an Internet dead zone, still having overpriced, slow, and few broadband options. I currently have a 25mbps down / 4mbps up cable connection in order to get my work done. I don’t think those upload options are available at all in the Pensacola area. Much are the area has no broadband options at all (I define broadband today as a 5mbps connection or higher). If we choose to move back, we’ll have to make certain wherever we live has these options. We also have to consider the school options, but it sounds like Julie has found a few private schools that she would consider. I think both Julie and I are a little concerned about the job situation in Pensacola. It is an embarrassingly low tech area, but I think I would probably be okay if for some reason I had to look for work there. UF’s career center seems to think Julie will have no trouble finding work there if that’s what she wants. I have a few other concerns about living there again, but I won’t get into all that right now.
What we will live in. I’ve given a lot of thought into what I want to live in when we finally move and settle. I am very tired of apartments. I mean, don’t get me wrong, we’ve lived in some nice places and some not so nice places. Rent is expensive, and you never build an investment paying rent. I’ve been looking at several plans and properties online. The property I am still not sure about. At first, I was looking for a lot of land, say a 10 acre lot. I planned to clear out only 2 acres of it or so and leave the rest as a buffer. Julie has also express some interest in maybe having a house at some point [I don’t really know about that, but I guess the option is nice at least]. The reason for the buffer is I want to be able to stargaze in my yard without having to worry about neighbors light. Most of the area does not really have a big problem with skyglow. There are plenty of reasonably priced 10 acre lots in Santa Rosa County. I actually was looking as the roads just north of Willard Norris Rd, not too far from civilization. Unfortunately, it is a dead-zone for broadband, as is most of the county, so it is not an option. The problem is, I don’t want to live in a subdivision. I want to have space, and I want to have enough property to have a tree line all around, but AT&T ADSL and Mediacom Cable are horrible and are not available, even though their services are available 2 minutes away. I can’t even get a 3G connection, and satellite fraudband isn’t a solution for anyone with half a brain (in fact, it doesn’t support VPN at all). I could easily go into a rant about how horrible the US corporate controlled Internet infrastructure is right now, but I’ll refrain. My mom has been helping me try to find viable lots, but we haven’t come up with much yet. There are 4 acres available next to my brother’s house, but it may be only sold has 1/2 acre lots. I have actually picked out a house plan and have a lot I want to do with it. I have gone over everything with Julie, but I really haven’t gotten a ton a feedback from her. Anytime she has said, “I want it to have…”, I say, “Oh, I already factored that in.” Either Julie doesn’t have much to say about it, or I am just doing a good job of anticipating what she wants all ready. Rather than to go into all the details about the house project here on my blog, I think I will create a static page for it. I actually am going to make it a hidden page (meaning, you’ll need to register and login to view it). A static page will be easier to keep up to date than this blog. Some big things I want out of the house are: (1) Most rooms fully wired with a gigabit Ethernet for computers and set-top boxes, plus one or two wireless access points, (2) An intercom system in some rooms, (3) A designated “comm closet”, so that networking equipment isn’t an eye sore, (4) A fitness room for the treadmill and Wii, (5) A good sized guestroom for out of town family and friends [we have a lot of them], and (6) An office for Julie [as an attorney, she will need it].
One other thing I will say I want is something called a Garden Office. They are actually more popular in the UK, where telecommuting is much more popular. Essentially, it is just an outdoor building (insulated shed?) set up as an office, with power, phone, Internet, through-the-wall AC, etc. The primary use for this structure is because I will be working from home for the time being, and it would separate me from all the distractions of the house (e.g. Julie and cats). The structure would also double up as a hobby area, a place where I could store my telescope(s), and far enough from the house so that I wouldn’t have to carry equipment far. I found two relevant examples of structure similar to what I am looking for. The first is from a guy named Brian DeHamer. You can read about is here and see his photos of it here. The other example is actually my sister, who recently build an outdoor structure to use as a school house, as she home schools her children. You can read about her school house here. Although she left out many of the technical details (that only a nerd like me would care about), I asked her about these details. She wired the build underground using conduit. She wired power and a coax cable. The coax cable is currently not connected to anything. They wired it in case they wanted to move the cable modem out there. I would actually recommend that she leave the modem in the house and use Ethernet Over Coax to connect the building, but it sounds like her wireless network reaches the building and is sufficient at this point. Her building is much larger than anything I am looking at, but I list it as a good example and congratulate her and her husband on putting together a great building that is going to benefit them immensely.
What I will do. One of the primary things I want to get back into immediately is stargazing. Stargazing the using a telescope is one of my loves, and I very much regret that things didn’t work out with the local astronomy club here. If I move back to the Pensacola area, I may join the EAAA. My hope is that having a decent observation point on my own will lessen my need to use theirs (unless I just want to). I would also be more reluctant to get too involved too quickly, as I did with the AAC. It isn’t that I don’t enjoy building websites for groups, on the contrary, I do enjoy it, but if I ever were to do it again, I’d need an assistant or something. Not necessarily another person with programming skills, but someone who knows computers enough to serve as someone who the people can talk to. Having the audience talk to me directly is problematic. Another thing I want to do is get back to practicing my marimba. I have been without my marimba ever since I became a renter, simply due to difficulty of moving and lack of space. I would like to practice up and get back to the skill level I was before graduate school. I used to be part of the Pensacola Civic Band, and I also played for random gigs (Christmas programs at churches, etc). These were things I used to very much enjoy, and I want to have them back again. I think Julie would also like to pick up her violin again, but she hasn’t felt good about it living in an apartment. I’ve thought about even sound proofing to the master closets, so they could double up as music rooms.
These cool little ideas sum up exactly why I would rather build a house than buy an existing one, by the way. I will create a new Interests page for the house project later.
I’d like to restrict discussion about the house project to the forum. Thanks.