What does $3,000 a month get you in Silicon Valley?

2361 De Varona Place, Santa Clara CA 95050

March, 2001

Justin and I were recently asked to leave the house in Fremont we'd been renting for almost four years. Not wanting to cause a fuss, we scrapped our plans for a rolicking street march to protest owner move-in evictions (San Francisco style!), and simply decided to start looking for a new place to live — something slightly closer to both of our workplaces. My commute had been something like an hour and a half in each direction, and Justin's was roughly similar.

So what does $3,000 a month get you in Silicon Valley? A swift kick in the rear! Well, no, really it gets you a pretty swell little 1800 square-foot house that would sell for $286,000 in any other part of the country. We've been told this rent is a "steal", and that similar houses rent for much more. My brain hurts just thinking about it. It doesn't help when your friends in Ohio gloat about renting two bedroom apartments for less than the cost of a meal at Chez Panisse.

Let's look at our new house, shall we?

Our new neighborhood

Little boxes, all the same...

Our new locale is in Santa Clara, near Homestead Road and the San Tomas Expressway. The development we've landed in is really pretty swank, all things considered. It's nothing terribly special, but it's ever so Bay Area. It just screams "1995 Silicon Valley". Each one of these houses would cost [brace yourself] upward of $600,000 to buy. Yes, for a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom home on exactly no land. That's why we're renting.

The homeowner's association won't let these people park in their driveways. Think about that for a second. These people paid over HALF A MILLION DOLLARS for their houses, and they can't even PARK IN THEIR OWN DRIVEWAYS. Takes a while to sink in, doesn't it? Well, now we can't either, because we live here. Which is fine, because my Saturn has a big scrape down the side and I'm embarassed about it being seen anyway. The garage is plenty big enough for two.

[Update, 3-11-2001: Recent reconnaissance missions to the neighborhood to move such embarassing items as a life-size cardboard cut-out of Pepe Le Pew have revealed that, in a flagrant violation of the homeowner's association rules, many people park in their driveways anyway. Way to go, people of Santa Clara! Tell The Man where he can shove your Lexus SUV!]

Look! It's our house!

That's a palm tree, because it's California, people.

Here's our house. Note the driveway. There aren't any cars in it. The homeowner's association would like to keep it that way, thank you very much.

The funny thing about our new house is that it's roughly sideways. "Where's the front door?" I hear you ask. Well, I'll tell you. The front door is right where the front door belongs, on the side of the house! Duh. That window in the front... sorry, side of the house looks into the ground-floor bedroom, which will very shortly be used as a library-cum-computer room.


Here's the scene from the front door, looking down the side... sorry, front of the house toward the "yard" (please note that here, "yard" means "twelve square inches of grass maintained by the homeowner's association"). You can just make out our new accross-the-street neighbor's house. Won't they be surprised the first time they see me and my Saturn! They'll think I'm a day laborer or a transient.

And now, inside...

It's all so... white.

After stepping into the house, you can look to your right to see a little hallway leading to the ground-floor bedroom. Next to the bedroom, on the left of this picture, is the third bathroom, complete with shower. Overnight guests have never smelled so clean as they will after using our patented new Guest Bathroom(tm)!

Lookit all the windows!

Standing in the same place, if you turn to your left you'll see the livingroom. Hi, livingroom! There's not much to see here yet. Later there will be luxuries like furniture, and a television.

Immediately inside the front door, if you were actually standing here (which you're not, but use your imagination for goodness' sake! Didn't you ever watch Mr. Rogers? It's just like the land of Make Believe, only I'm real, not like Mr. McFeely), would be the stairway leading to the second floor. You'll see more of that later, but from the top!

They sure like tile, don't they?

And here's the kitchen, right off of the livingroom. It's pretty nice, as these things go, though for whatever sick, sick reason, they have a tile counter top! I mean, come on, people, this isn't hard — tile is nasty and hard to clean. Even formica would be better. Plastic. Something, ANYTHING! Oh well, it'll do.

The important thing to note here is that the stove is gas, and the microwave was manufactured after the Reagan administration. These are marked improvements over our last house, which was styled in early 1970's avacado green nouveau trash.

If you look out of the kitchen and into the living room, this is what you'll see. Nice little archway thingy. I suppose it has a real architectural name, but to me it will always just be a nice little archway thingy.

Let's go upstairs!

There's that front door again!

The view down from the top of the stairs is kind of pretty, if you're into that sort of thing. Look at all the little nooks and crannies waaaaaaaaaaay up high that will never get dusted!

"But Seth, where will you sleep?"

It's ME!

Rest assured, gentle reader! I'll have plenty of space to call my own. Look, it's me, taking a picture of ME, in MY master bedroom, on MY mirrored closet doors! (Wait a minute! Mirrored closet doors? That is SO last decade!)

And if you look to your right...

Another shower! And a SINK, too!

...you'll see the master bathroom, complete with such modern conveniences as running water. That's where your extra rent is going, folks.

And finally, what you've all been waiting for. There's just one last thing to look at, and that's the SPACIOUS BACK YARD. You won't believe how big it is. It just goes on and on. Think of the wild cookouts you could have here! Let's take a peek...

Wow. Breathtaking, isn't it? I'd better get a RIDING LAWNMOWER!

OK, so I'm being just a tiny bit sarcastic. Actually, with a little bit of yardwork, a broom, and a little raking, come summer this will be a right decent spot to relax and grab a cup of coffee outside. It's got shade, it's got some sun, and it's got three pretty nice trees. This is the quinticential "California" backyard.

And that, folks, concludes the tour of our new home. I hope you've enjoyed it. Come out and visit us sometime! Bye bye for now!

Disclaimer: Do not come out and visit us sometime. Leave us alone. Go away.