Everyone has something that distracts them online. Something that we use to fill the few minutes between tasks or activities during the day. Sports scores, cooking blogs, or gossip sites. Guilty pleasures that are unproductive but thrilling all the same. For me, without a doubt, it’s real estate.
First of all: I’m not moving anywhere. But that doesn’t stop me from looking. Far from it. Every time I visit a new city or town, I look up homes sales the minute I get back. On my list to regularly shop: Charleston, S.C., Newburyport, Boston and Cambridge, Mass., Chicago, Providence, R.I., Alexandria Va., Cornwall, Vt., Charlotte, N.C., Bermuda, London, and New York City. Last night we stayed in Concord, N.H., and drove through a beautiful neighborhood on the way out of town. I think I’ll add that one to my list as well. I even have an eagle eye on real estate in a few places I’ve never been.
God bless the internet for letting me search by neighborhood, price, school zone, style, age or just about anything else I can think of. Good results have internal and external photos. Great results have floor plans, in case I need to (mentally) move a couple of walls around to make things just right. I love the street view option, since I like to look around my hypothetical neighborhood before making my imaginary purchase. I sometimes use regular real estate sites (trulia.com) but it’s more fun to start with the National Trust website, which gets right to the kind of houses I’d love to own.
Sometimes I do somewhat realistic searches: if for some reason I was going to move to this place, what could I afford and how are the schools? Sometimes I do searches that are blissfully unrealistic: sweet but tiny row houses in Old Town, decadent brownstones in New York, cottages sized for just me (where I’ll do what — write children’s books and read before going home to Matt and John?), and beach houses big enough to hold everyone I know. I find the results of each to be equally — if differently — satisfying.
I can’t explain why this is so fascinating to me. I absolutely do not need or want a bigger house or better house (although an ocean view wouldn’t kill me). Our current house suits us just fine. And while some of the communities I’m searching in look interesting, many of them are places I would never even consider living. I just like looking — and maybe thinking about what it would be like if that were my house, or that. Or that. I assume it’s like buying lottery tickets for some people. Just a harmless excuse to daydream for a little while.