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I have another question for anyone who has lived in an older home in the North End (or elsewhere in Boise):
Did you (or someone else) have to rewire the house for modern technology? Will a microwave, a hairdryer, and/or a few computers blow out the circuits? I've lived in (rented) older homes in Seattle and I have had minor problems... and the time period was well before PCs, printers, phone chargers, cable tvs, etc.
I love the look of older homes. I love older neighborhoods, but my husband is not a handyman type, so I would have to factor rewiring and possibly replumbing into the price of a North End house.
Any tips or pointers or hints or ideas? I'm an artsy type of person and I don't like cookie-cutter areas. But, my husband is just the opposite. He likes low-maintenance suburban stuff. (Hey, I don't even own a car anymore.)
Wiring can be an issue in the north end for the reasons you have described. Sometimes the problem is with the wiring itself, other times it is with the electrical service capacity or the electrical panel. There are homes that have been rewired for sure, but they come at a premium price. People are definitely willing to pay for the historic bungalow with modern wiring, plumbing, kitchens and bathrooms.
Dollar for dollar you pay more for less when it comes to the structure of your home in the north or east end, if you are looking at it from a purely practical, utilitarian perspective. (I should clarify that I think there is incredible value in the materials and craftsmanship from this era--I am speaking more about modern plumbing/electrical/hvac/etc.) But from a lifestyle standpoint, taking into account the value of living in a historic property with all of it's charm and livability, living in an older home has benefits you can't get anywhere else.
We live in an art deco home built in 1937 (and have been through completely rewiring the house as well as re-plumbing, insulating, adding master bath, etc) and I wouldn't live anywhere else. We have glass block and curved walls and when it snows it's incredible. With windows all around, it's like living in a snow globe. Our beautiful steel casement windows are also the least energy efficient things in the world. It's all trade-offs--we accept that we pay more in the winter but that's OK because we care about the historic integrity of the house. Certainly living in an older home isn't for everyone--for us, it's perfect and we wouldn't trade it for anything.
If you can find something older that has been restored and upgraded, you might find the best of both world. But will your husband survive without a large garage? That can be easy to find in suburbia but nearly impossible in the north end...
Thank you so much. That's what I thought. I'm in Boise right now and I really want to see the North End. The Bench sounds like something I would like, also. You seem like "my kind of people" so when I get a chance, I might want to "talk" to you privately about the Bench vs the North End. Hubby will have to live without a garage. I hate suburbs (having lived in OC Cali years ago). Actually, I don't even own a car these days.
I suppose you will know how I would find out about whether or not an older house has been rewired (properly) or not. I'm not ready to move yet, we still have a house outside of Seattle and would have to sell ours for a decent price, but I have a feeling you like what I like. (Older more established neighborhoods.)
Since you are a "Bench Fan," I can't get into my info that I hotmailed to myself...long story...about the Bench. Someone said the Bench is a large area and some parts are better than others. If you see this within the next few days (while I'm in Idaho trying to help my stepson maneuver his divorce), will you tell me something about the Bench. And, why the heck is it called the Bench.
Also, I want to be fairly close to the bike trail (I think). I just bought a "cruiser bike" and it's my first real bike (I'm a Baby boomer haha). How easy is it to get to the bike trail from the Bench.
The bench was practically a separate town when it was developed. If you look back in the old Polk Directories in the library, where all residents are listed by address, by phone and by occupation, you'll see Boise listings in one section and then in another section, you'll see residents of "The Bench." It was like this until sometime in the late 50's or so (going by memory here) when The Bench became part of the Boise listings.
It's called the bench because of the rise in elevation--look toward the Train Depot, the largest marker on the bench, and you'll see what I mean. That rim around the city sits like a bench, hence the name. As in, they live "up there on the bench." There is also a "second bench," the rim above the bench at Sunrise Rim, Hillcrest and Randolph/McMullen streets.
Much of the bench was developed in the 50's and 60's, a booming area at the time. The mid-century neighborhoods around Mountain View, Rim/Houston Road, Crescent Rim, Hillcrest and Randolph/Robertson are all very popular. I live in the Central Rim neighborhood where Garden Street connects to the greenbelt. Parts of my neighborhood were developed in the 30's/40's (around Garden St.) while the area closer to the rim was in the 50's/60's. We have a hill to contend with, but the access is great and we can be downtown by bicycle in 15 minutes or to the pedestrian bridge over the Boise River in just a few minutes. One thing I've noticed in the past few years is that there have hardly been any houses on the market in this area and in our other prime bench neighborhoods. These are very stable areas that don't have a lot of turnover.
Outside of these rim neighborhoods, there are other lovely areas on the bench in the Owyhee/Shoshone/Kootenai area and other neighborhoods. There are also several areas that are a bit more, well, scruffy. Very blue collar with some streets less desirable than others. In general, if you are looking at a map, the closer you are to the freeway, the less consistent the quality of neighborhood. Still, though, there are areas like the neighborhood near Hillcrest east of Roosevelt around Greenbrier & Catalina that is very nice.
What I love about the bench is the access to downtown and everything else. It's very central. There are many north end migrants here--folks who got priced out of the north end or who, as one person said to me recently, grew weary of "living in an REI commercial." I grew up in the north end and I do love it, but the bench today is way more like the north end was when I was growing up. It offers a lot of benefits of living close to everything without the level of status-consciousness of the north end. It can be challenging to find housing in the nicer bench neighborhoods these days--they seem to be in high demand.
I should note that there are many north end residents who would never, ever, ever live on the bench, or even in the north end south of State street. You'll run into this--lots of shock and dismay at the thought of ever, ever living anywhere but north end proper. I get that, but I've not met someone who made the move to the bench from the north end who regretted it. It's kind of a delightful thing living up here.
I liked the Bench. We drove quickly through parts of it. Problem: Husband is from the East Coast and thinks that older neighborhoods are a race riot waiting to happen. No matter how many times I try to explain it, he will not understand. (After driving through New Jersey and Pennsylvania...even Florida, I understand why he thinks cities are slums. However, in the West, things are quite a bit different...usually just the opposite.)
If I were moving to Boise on my own, I would live almost anywhere within the city boundaries. It all seems fairly safe and I hate suburbs. They will go all the way to the Oregon border someday and the city will be the only place interesting. You sound like my kind of person.
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