I found a Houston apartment last week and have started gathering (lightweight) things with which to turn it into a home. It is a one bedroom unit at Allen House Apartments, close to Allen Parkway and in the area of Montrose, Midtown, and River Oaks. I’m not quite sure if there are specific boundaries to those neighborhoods. At any rate, I’ll be about 3 miles from work at First Unitarian Universalist Church.
Filled with advice from friends and an apartment locator, Jon and I drove to Houston to check them out. We learned quickly that a nine-month lease is both harder to come by and more expensive than a 12-month lease. We looked at multiple options. One of them was a high-rise with lots of amenities: granite countertops, washer and dryer in every unit, a cyber café, and a personal trainer who assists residents upon request in the fitness center. For all its pluses, it had an institutional feel–like a fancy hotel instead of a home. There’s not much of a neighborhood; it mostly serves patients and medical staff at the massive medical complex in Houston.
[A side note: I did my chaplaincy in Houston at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center back in 1990 as part of my ministerial education. It was a great experience with many strong memories. My ministerial internship was at Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church in 1992. I haven’t lived in the area since then.]
Allen House consists of the remaining apartment complex after ones across the street were demolished for redevelopment. Eventually these will be gone as well. Sigh. Prices fluctuate daily, so I managed to get 850 square feet for less rent than the 714 square foot unit. Big closets and built-in bookshelves are a plus. Gated perimeter and covered parking will help me feel more secure.
The walkable neighborhood is a draw. The Allen House entrance gate opens directly into a lushly planted courtyard with a gazebo and a couple of fountains that add to the ambience. My apartment faces the courtyard (not the pool–yea!) so I will likely open the front windows to hear soothing sounds of water.
I’m on the ground floor although I had hoped for 2nd or 3rd. Wrought iron stairs and railings along the balconies add to a New Orleans feel. Residents include a variety of age, language, and ethnicity. Some have lived there for decades!
Take a peek at the web photos: Allen House
Jon and I will both commute–he’ll drive to Houston early in the week and I’ll drive to Austin late in the week. We’ve done this before, so I trust the rhythm will soon become familiar and comfortable. For this nine-month run I look forward to change and I expect surprises everyday. Any advice? I’m all eyes!