Blog Master G

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Saratoga Trip

Monday, December 15th, 2003 · No Comments

1860. It’s not our new address; it’s the year the historic building that we’ll soon call home was built.

Saratoga Springs, the city in the country, is famous for health, history, and horses. I went to the place that Jen and I will soon call home last week for the first time; it more than lived up to its reputation. I left San Francisco Wednesday and flew back Saturday, a day earlier than I had planned, so that I might avoid the snow storm that hit the Northeast Sunday.

The city exceeded my expectations. It’s full of character and is incredibly charming. I was blown away by the architecture: All the shops, restaurants, bars that line Broadway, the main strip of downtown; the mansions up and down Union Ave; the meticulous preservation of buildings like the post office. There’s so much packed into a geographically small area that it’s no surprise why everyone with whom I spoke raved about Saratoga Springs as being the best place to live. Of course, there’s the famous Saratoga Track that brings thousands from around the world every summer. The New York City Ballet performs in Saratoga every summer. The Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) is in town, as is a place called Saratoga Arts, which regularly shows old movies. The town is filled with health spas, a plethora of pubs and even a wine bar.

As if the built-in attractions of Saratoga aren’t enough, there’s always something going on in town. The Chamber of Commerce maintains a monthly events calendar, too. That there is a community calendar is very much in line with the tremendous sense of community I experienced during my quick three days there. Everyone is so nice. It was easy striking up conversations with everyone I ran into. It’s such a walkable city with but a single main strip that one can’t help but run into folks in passing.

With a population of fewer than 30,000, Saratoga Springs is no San Francisco, by any measure, but I’m certainly feeling ready for something a bit calmer that manages to offer many of the arts and cultural events found here in the big city in the west. Not only that, but it’s only a few hours to New York City, Boston, or Montreal. It’s closer to New York and Vermont skiing than San Francisco is to Lake Tahoe. And, of course, we’ll be close to Jen’s whole side of the family, along with many of our friends from college who are on the East Coast. I feel really good about this move, and even came home with a new apartment lined up for us (a big step in the process to have an address on the other end).

I looked at upwards of half a dozen apartments from downtown to the outskirts of Saratoga (Northumberland). It was refreshing to see so many affordable places, especially when compared with a city like San Francisco. It quickly became evident that, second to finding a place that would allow two dogs, proximity to Broadway was the number one factor. Having spent the past year in an urban center with so many resources at our fingertips, Jen and I can’t imagine having to drive for anything and everything. With that in mind, I had the search narrowed down to two places by Friday evening. Though I wasn’t as excited in person about this place as I was when I first found it online, we had almost made up our minds to go with it when I decided to take one last look in The Saratogian classifieds Saturday morning before my afternoon flight. There it was: The ad for the place about which I had previously called but had not yet been able to get a hold of anyone. I decided to give it one more try.

After speaking with he would become our new landlord, I immediately knew there was something special about this place and that I had to race up to Saratoga one more time before returning home to San Francisco. So I did. And am I ever glad about it. It was serendipitous: This place is perfect for us and exactly the kind of apartment I’ve always imagined our living in. It’s closer to Broadway than any of the other places I’d seen (an easy walk) and in the city’s desirable historic district. It’s an old brick, beautifully maintained building. Our apartment is a huge one bedroom occupying the ground floor with a private porch and entrance around the side. I knew the second I saw the building — and even more so once setting foot inside the gorgeous B&B-like lobby — that this would be the place for us. Inside the apartment, that feeling was confirmed. I wrote a check on the spot for the deposit.

For the first time, I understood what I’ve heard from many homeowners: That as soon as you find the right place, you’ll know. Albeit we’re still renting, but it’s an energizing, all-consuming feeling that recharged my enthusiasm about and confidence in this move. Living in a comfortable place with so much character (and in a perfect location) makes such a difference. Everything about the place just feels right. First item on my list after we move in: Get the owner to fix the fireplace. We have a functioning fireplace here in San Francisco, where it’s not nearly as cold as in upstate New York, so that’s one feature I’ll miss if we can’t get them to fix it.

Saratoga exploratory trip behind, the final stretch now begins. We leave a week from tomorrow. It’s hard to believe. The next week will go by so quickly that my head is already spinning trying to plan everything we have to do, not to mention selling some furniture and packing up the entire apartment — the little things. I had a feeling this week would sneak up on us, and it certainly has. December always goes by in a hurry and this year it’s even more accelerated.

I’m really glad I took the time to visit Saratoga last week. Making a cross-country move is hard enough, especially having never been there before a few days ago. It made all the difference. I came back energized and ready for this exciting change in mine and Jen’s lives (and the dogs’). Of course, the next journey, before landing in Saratoga, is the 3,000-mile drive there.

(Photo on right: Houses on the west side of town that reminded me of San Francisco’s Painted Ladies. The funny thing is that the west side of Broadway is the “up and coming” part of town — and even it is super nice…certainly the place to invest in real estate.)

Tags: relocating