We moved to Benson!

Submitted by Ben on Thu, 07/11/2019 - 11:19

front of our new houseLast time I wrote, almost a year ago now, we had sold our house in Emporia, Kansas and were moving to Omaha, Nebraska. We lived in an apartment in the Dundee neighborhood for 10 months (from the end of August through the end of June), bought a house in the Benson neighborhood at the end of May, and as of yesterday we have finally moved the last of our stuff out of storage. I feel like our unusual move needs some explanation.

Why did we live in an apartment for most of a year? Because, despite many visits to Omaha over the years, I didn't feel like I knew the city well enough to know what neighborhood I wanted to live in. Jessie had a pretty good idea that Benson was where we belonged, but I was unconvinced: Benson seemed like it was in the process of gentrification, while Dundee is remarkable for having managed to avoid gentrification because the gentry never moved out in the first place. I was smitten with Dundee and wanted to try it out for a while, so we did.

Why didn't we stay in Dundee? Well, partly because we couldn't afford a house there. But also, while I loved the atmosphere of Dundee and the wide variety of restaurants and cafes in walking distance of our apartment, I didn't get the feeling that folks in Dundee have each other's back. That is, if and when the excrement encounters the impeller, I feel like folks in Benson will hang together, while folks in Dundee would prefer to hang separately.

Now, we're not technically in Benson proper; our neighborhood is identified on maps as "Metcalfe-Harrison," but nobody knows what that is, and we're three blocks from Benson High School, so we just say we're in Benson. We're very close to the historically black part of town (North Omaha) and to the lots that Omaha Permaculture is responsible for maintaining and transforming into neighborhood assets, and a short enough commute to Jessie's work that she can drive there and back on electric power without using our car's gas engine.

Our process of house-hunting makes almost as good a story as selling our house in Emporia did, but I won't drag it out. We offered the asking price on another house we were excited about and were so shaken by getting outbid on it that we nearly bid too much on a house that was in terrible shape before finding this little gem within our budget. The inspector said he's inspected over a thousand houses and never seen one as old (1925) in such good shape. It still has room for improvement, but on the whole we can really respect what the previous owners did with it, whereas with our house in Emporia we were forever wondering what the previous owners were thinking!

Our house in Emporia felt bigger than we needed most of the time. I used one of the three bedrooms as my office, and the third was supposed to be Jessie's studio, but it never wound up being used that way because it was in use as a guest room almost half the time we lived there. So in our new house, which has only two bedrooms, there's a dedicated guest room, and my office is currently a corner of the living room. That leaves the full, finished basement and the mostly finished attic as dedicated storage & craft areas! So although the living space is smaller in this house, it feels larger, because anything we're not actively using can get put away.

Similarly, the lot is the same size (1/10 acre) as our lot in Emporia, but it feels larger because the footprint of the house and garage are both smaller, and the driveway is shared with the neighbors. The previous owner did us and local pollinators the marvelous favor of turning most of the lawn into perennial flower garden. It's breathtaking and fairly low maintenance, though the bindweed takes some attention. I already have a long-term plan for turning some of it to fruit & veggie production, while leaving the rest for bees to enjoy!

We're still settling in. There are lots of things waiting to be put away, waiting to find their places. We still haven't met most of the neighbors or made lots of local friends or figured out what direction our/my business is going to take. But after 10 years of telling ourselves we were going to leave Emporia someday, it feels good to know that we plan to stay here.