When I lived in the City, my heart belonged to two men—my doorman and my Super. Always there with a happy greeting when I got home and a pleasant farewell as I left, my doorman was the gatekeeper to all my dates, receiver of all my packages, and the lobby became a perfect confessional when I returned from a long night out. If I had a problem in my apartment, all I had to do was call down to my beloved doorman who would contact the Super to solve all my woes. Leaving them behind was more impactful than any breakup, and I would soon discover all the people it takes to replace them in the ’burbs.
Wouldn’t it be great if upon checking in to Hotel Suburbia, we were greeted with a welcome package containing the names and numbers of all the service providers we can’t imagine we will one day need? 87-year-old furnace quits as you arrive home with your second-born on the coldest winter night? Need that HVAC guy! Garbage disposal clogs just as you’re getting ready to greet a houseful of guests to celebrate your first Thanksgiving? Just call the emergency plumber! Ice dam blocks the drainpipes and your walls start leaking (who even knew that was a thing?!)? Thank goodness the roofing guy and painter’s names are in there! Unfortunately, no one gives us this handy dandy package because it doesn’t exist, as these service providers are a moving target. I’m constantly fielding SOS texts from my clients and happy to give them my favorite and most reliable handyman/roofer/plumber/painter. The next day, week or year, it may be someone else as these providers may become less reliable and more expensive. It’s so important to use your network to find the best people through referrals. Your local Facebook Pages are also a great resource to find the highly recommended Experts du Jour.
And then there are do-it-yourself moments which can be sources of both pride and shame. Nothing felt better than re-caulking and re-grouting my own tub. After watching a few YouTube videos, I learned the difference between the two and got busy. I even posted my after-photos like a proud parent! With this new-found confidence, I disassembled and unclogged my washing machine drain and even replaced my own thermostat. There is so much information online that even the most citified novice can look like a pro.
This is not to say there aren’t many things that should be left to the professionals. Setting a couple of glue traps is a good place to start when you have a furry visitor, but when you realize that he also brought his extended family, even the most tried-and-true treats on a snap trap aren’t gonna do the trick, and you won’t believe how much those hurt when they catch your thumb! I knew it was time to call in the professional exterminator when I discovered an entire mouse habitat in the engine of my car fully outfitted with dog food, insulation, and a cozy toilet paper nest that these wily critters sourced from my garage. After a quick call and a couple of visits from a pro, my house was rodent-free!
Landscaping and snow removal may fall under this category, as well. The first season of do-it-yourself-ing often leads to a discovery that precious weekends are better spent in other ways. If you have a green thumb and a yen for a garden, a good compromise can be to hire someone to take care of the mowing and weeding, leaving you time to plant, sow, and reap. If you intend to remove your own snow, be sure to have the tools to match the job like a solid shovel and a snow blower.
A fireplace is one of the best parts of owning a home and not without its very own learning curve. The first year, you may gather wood at the local supermarket until you realize that one of those bundles will barely last an hour. The next year, you may look to buy a pile of wood, swearing you can split and stack it yourself and wonder why it just smolders when you light it. I would say that by the third year you discover that you need to order your wood in the late summer to get your hands on the really good stuff—seasoned wood, split to perfection, and neatly stacked on the deck. I feel it’s part of my job to help speed up that learning curve and get you relaxing fireside faster!
You can find all the City Girl blog posts at riverjournalonline.com/CityGirl. I’d love to hear about your transition from “Calling the Super” to “Being the Super”! Or feel free to share the struggles that you’ve had adjusting, knowing you’re not alone!
Hillary is a city girl-turned-suburban mama and a social worker-turned-realtor who focuses on the transition over the transaction. As a top-producer with Hillary’s Homes at Houlihan Lawrence, she has clearly embraced life in the suburbs!