Staying put for financial reasons is all well and good, but it’s not the only reason. Like, if I wasn’t happy in my house and the house was causing me stress in ways other than financial, moving would probably be a good idea. But that’s not the case. I adore my house.
Before I get more into details about why the house is working for me, I want to address why staying here for Bonita was something that had to take precedence over my own needs. Remember that I adopted Bonita at age 11 or 12 after she had spent 10 years living in a smallish outdoor enclosure. Bringing her here was a huge trauma that took months to get over. Now, she is queen of her little domain. The yard is large enough for her to get some proper exercise, there are a variety of spaces to explore, there is shelter, and there is easy access in and out of the house. I would have had to work really hard to find another house that had the right yard for her. She also knows the people who come in and out with any sort of regularity and is happy to see them. Moreover, she knows what is normal noise on the street and what I need to be alerted to — yes, I have a guard dog!
Now that Bonita is settled here, she doesn’t like to go out. I thought that she might appreciate a trip to the beach or to a park, but that just stresses her out. She’s always happy to go out initially, but it only takes a few minutes for her to have enough and express a desire to go back home. I always have to remember that she is an old girl and that she does not have the needs of young pup. So with that in mind, I think that moving right when she has finally truly settled in would have irreparably traumatised her.
So the house. Sure, I dreamt (and dream) of a house with more character but you know what? I’ve looked at a lot of houses here and unless I want to live in a damp, dark, and poorly ventilated colonial in centro or spend really big bucks for a mansion, I’m living in a very average middle class home in Mérida and I’m not likely to find one with character. They’re really conservative here and things are just as uniform and monochrome as middle class Canada and the U.S. have become, so it’s up to me to add colour and character within my budget and limitations as a renter. I’m about to embark on a project that would solve my biggest issue with the aesthetic aspects of the house, but I don’t want to talk about that until I have something to show for it. I’m super excited about getting going on it, but, as always, finances dictate how fast projects move forward. 🙂
The house is really comfortable as it’s built for the climate — I remain convinced that a smaller home with poorer ventilation would have ultimately cost me more because I would have had to rely a lot more on AC. The house very bright and airy (and private!), has the right number of rooms for me in the right proportions, and it is well maintained. The design of the house is such that it is almost entirely shaded from direct sunlight. So that combined with the privacy wall around the property means that I can leave most blinds open and let sunshine pour in. I never realised how important natural light is in a home and now that I have it, I’ll never want to do without. And to further show how well the house was designed, when it rains really hard, there are still doors and windows that are well protected enough that they can be left open, so I can still enjoy a breeze rather than let the cloying humidity build up.
Privacy is a big thing. I love that I can get fresh air and sit outside without necessarily having people see what I’m up to. I also like that if a stranger rings the bell, I’m only letting them see into my front yard, not my whole house. I don’t really feel that disconnected to my street, though, because I frequently step out to go for a walk. I know my landlady would just drive out of the parking bays and not talk to anyone. So I’m well connected to the routine of the neighbourhood and I know what noises I need to go investigate and which are just life going on as normal.
I also have privacy in the sense of having my own space when guests come, be they there for just a few hours or for a few weeks. I don’t have to share my bathroom and if I want alone time, I can retreat to my spacious master suite and let guests watch TV in the living room. I can also shut the door to my office and let guests live their life without bothering me. I still haven’t given up on the idea of doing Airbnb here and I’ve gotten a good sense of how that would work with my routine and my need to feel like I have my own space (doable with the right guests!).
I use all the spaces of my home, and most daily. It’s wonderful to have the upstairs landing as a creative place where I can leave unfinished projects without them being in the way. The maid’s suite is my “catch-all” room and a great place to do furniture painting projects as it has a door to outside. The guest suite is there when someone needs it and is very comfortable now that it has blackout curtains and a double bed. The kitchen is fully furnished now and I enjoy my meals at my dining room table, the breakfast bar, or the rear patio. I have to say the side terrace is the only space I haven’t used as much as expected, but it has a power outlet nearby and I have on occasion sat out there with the laptop.
My office is still nowhere near the office of my dreams and is poorly situated in the house, but I know the rhythm of my neighbourhood now and when noise will ebb and flow, so my productivity isn’t affected. I do love how I get a breeze through the room and how it is flooded with natural light for most of the day without there being direct sun. And, of course, Bonita has an exit to outside from it, so she’ll frequently go out to run around or dig in the dirt or chase bugs while still being able to occasionally pop in and make sure I’m okay.
The master bedroom caused me grief for a long time. It was just too loud and bright — I didn’t have the protection of the walls around it to tune out noise and one of my neighbours keeps replacing his rooster. I really didn’t want to move down to the maid’s room or even the guest room — I love having my private upstairs retreat. I investigated all manners of noise and light-proofing. As it turns out, a hammock, a good quality sleep mask, and the cheapest small box fan from Walmart run at top speed ended up solving my sleep issues!
So all told, I’d rate the house a solid 9 out of 10, losing points for bathrooms and a kitchen that need updating and its blandness. There’s no way I’m going to get a 10 at my price point, especially as a tenant. I knew this house was special when I first visited it and it still feels like that now. I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude at this house being my home. I remember doing some unpacking 18 months ago and thinking, “I’m going to be really happy here.” And I was right. I really think I would have more to lose than to gain by moving in terms of the quality of life I have in this home.
A future post is going to discuss some of the promises I made to myself regarding upkeep of the home and how I manage all the chores that come with living in such a large space. But I will add here that having a landlady who is on top of the maintenance really makes a difference. I have to pay for little bits of maintenance myself (like a plumbing leak), but she’s on top of the big things, like having major electric work done to resolve my issue of wild voltage fluctuations and changing the float in the roof tinaco so I stop running out of water when it gets stuck.
Of course, a house doesn’t exist in a bubble, so the next couple of posts are going to talk about where the house is located within Mérida and even all of Mexico. Then, I’ll delve deeper into details about my neighbourhood and how I’ve fallen back in love with it after having a bit of a tiff.