From Aspenite to … El Jebelean?
August 30, 2005
It wasn’t long after I started looking into what I could afford on the open market in terms of housing that I concluded I’d be living in a toolshed in Carbondale.I was close. It’s a trailer. In El Jebel. Or, as I’ve been corrected, it’s a manufactured home. And, I suppose I should quit referring to El Jebel as Edge of Hell.Still, friends were quick to point out that a “trailer trash” party would be an appropriate celebration. There will be pork rinds.Yes, after six years of waiting for my ship to come in via a housing lottery, I finally decided I’d better quit standing empty-handed on the dock. Instead, I’ll be standing at a bus stop on the Edge of Hell and grousing about the commute along with just about anyone else who works in Aspen but has nothing but a stubbed toe to show for their efforts to get a foot in the door here.Can’t win a one-bedroom condo through the employee housing lottery to save my life. Can’t bid on a two-bedroom with a significant other unless said other is working in Pitkin County. Other can’t look for a job in Pitkin County without a place to call home, which can’t be my rental unit because love is a package deal that includes two dogs. The two of us can’t bid on most of the worker housing that comes up for a lottery anyway. Again, the dogs.Now, I’m just nerve-wracking weeks away from plunking down an ungodly sum of money on a trailer, er, home.I’ve already written two gasp-inducing checks, initialed a bunch of pieces of paper and signed all kinds of binding documents. I’m told there will be a lot more of that.I’ve also been told I’ll get used to perpetual meals of affordable ramen noodles.If we get a 30-year loan, I’ll be older than dirt when it’s paid off. Of course, we probably won’t stay there 30 years. We’ll sell it and move up, incur more debt. Unless I’m missing something, we’re starting too late to ever pay anything off. In other words, we’ll have to work until we die, same as if we were renting, except we can have dogs. And equity. And a hot tub.Now I find myself laying awake at night wondering how much it costs to heat a hot tub all winter. Can we just drain it and turn it off? If we drain it into the lawn, will the chlorine kill the grass? Grass! We’re going to have to buy a lawn mower. We’re going to have to water the lawn. How much does water cost? Who do you call if you want water in El Jebel?If one of the rewards of home ownership is an ulcer, then I’m on my way.I’m trying to assuage my apprehension by focusing on the benefits of ownership – like I won’t have to deal with a repeatedly flooded kitchen because the people who live above me won’t fix their dishwasher, but also won’t cease using it.No more noisy Argentineans upstairs, waking me up every single night after the bars close for an entire ski season.No more stepping out the door and being on the ski slopes in five minutes. Oh, wait …Janet Urquhart wonders, will she be an El Jebelean, or maybe an El Jebeler? Her e-mail address is email@example.com