Tuesday, October 09, 2012

ms. barra-in-the-country seeks your vote


You have met candidate number 1. 

A house I have known off and on for five years.  Almost like one of those dates where things have not quite jelled.

Candidate number 2 has quite a different back story.  The blind date who once jilted me and is now back on the marriage market.

When I flew down to see property in 2007, I wanted to see the houses I had chosen in La Manzanilla.  But there was a house I had recently seen online in Barra de Navidad that had captured my full attention.

A man in Guadalajara had started building a house, but changed his mind.  At the time, I was looking for property that would accommodate my mother, my brother, his wife, and me.  We were all considering retiring in one compound.

And this property would have been perfect.  A large house with three bedrooms, a casita, and a pool.  All surrounded by a 12 foot wall.  The moment I saw it, it jumped to the top of my list.

Unfortunately, the weekend before I flew down, it sold.  I searched it out one afternoon about two years ago.  The way you do with relationships you thought held promise.  But all I could see was a bit of the wall and casita.



When I returned to Melaque last week and told my friend Lou I was in a house-hunting mood, he told me my dream girl was back on the market.

The next morning, I was in the realtor's office, and we arranged a visit with the current renter.

Let me assure you.  I am fully aware this contemporary house is not to everyone's taste.  It has a certain early trailer trash-late narco style to it.  But it somehow appeals to my baser instincts. 

And I have already come close to indulging in the cheesier side of my taste (a moving experience).  Remember the Greek villa I almost rented?

When I first saw it online, I had a notion to set it up as a bed and breakfast with the hook tag of "Live like a narco."  I would pick up guests at the airport in black Suburbans and whisk them through Barra and into the gate of their protected compound.

But, in person, it had a far more human scale -- with a few exceptions.

The casita is a nice touch.  810 square feet on two levels.  A kitchen-living room- dining area downstairs.  A bedroom, bathroom, and a sitting room upstairs.  I could be comfortable living there.



The main house is 2765 square feet on three levels.

A living room-kitchen-dining room makes up most of the lower level.  It would be a pleasant open space except for some bizarrely-placed pillars that chop up the room in odd sections.



There is also a bathroom (that services all of the first level -- including the pool) and bedroom on the first level.

The second floor has a huge master bedroom.  With a grand view over the property.  My writing space would be in that room.



The bedroom also has a dressing room larger than my current apartment and a bathroom to match.  There is another bedroom and bathroom on the second level.

The third level is a screened and covered sun room for the master suite.  It is also the access for the water and other utilities.

Like Joseph, this house has had a lot of deferred maintenance.  And, because of its size, it would be quite a paint job. 

One of the other drawbacks is water.  Not drinking water.  The water table.

We have had a lot of rain recently.  Most of the surrounding property is a former coconut plantation.  At the moment, it looks like a coconut plantation in the Everglades.

The road to the house is rather rough -- with raw sewage draining out of overflowing septic systems and sewer lines.  But that is an issue that this area of the coast faces.



The list price on this beauty is $229,000 (US).

With all of her warts, I like the place.  I fell in love with it online five years ago.  And seeing it in person, did not change my mind.  Even with its muddy road and scruffy exterior.

But, before I say too much, there will be a third contender tomorrow. 

Not as flashy, but with a good personality.


74 comments:

Kathe said...

As others have suggested, you must be saving the best for last...this one is even a worse choice than the first except it does allow you to have live in help and to watch the property when you are gone gallivanting. It is very difficult to leave a property unattended unless it has very close neighbors...the thieves figure it is fair game if you don't have a pair of eyes on it.

John Calypso said...

Steve - you, like me, must be a real estate agents worst nightmare! They always ask, "How much do you want to spend?" Then they will on;y show you things that cost more than that.  Maybe just a little more - but more. This is in the real estate salesman 101 class.

Now that as a given - how can we junior G.I. real estate people - out here looking for your best interest, possibly make heads or tails over an 80k casita compared to a 229k mini-estate? It is like which should I get a Ford Escort or a Cadillac Escalade?

Quite simply impossible to compare.

 I think you are going to have to decide what you want to be when you grow up - then we can all help you find a house ;-)

My vote remains with the stairway to heaven bachelor pad thus far.

What is your budget here? Can we get you pre-qualified?

Marc Olson said...

After seeing house number one, this is not what I expected. You're full of surprises. Can't wait for house number 3.

Steve Cotton said...

 We like to mix our choices.

norm said...

I like the natural air flow of this building, at least how it looks from the outside. I would hope that the builder set up the stairs to push the rising air across the different living levels. The direction of the porch matters, solar gain can be a problem with all of that glass. As to wet, look for water marks on the trees, high water always leaves a tell.  

Steve Cotton said...

And you wonder why I am single?

Steve Cotton said...

As you suggest, this house has no close neighbors.  Country living at its best.

Felipe Zapata said...

Far better than Joseph. With this one, I will come visit you. I like it.

Felipe Zapata said...

I don't.

barbara eckrote said...

NOW you're talking.  Rent out the casita for rental income and live in the big house. It can be wonderful - I'll help you with furnishings and things....a trip or two to Guadalajara and you'll be alllllllll set. 
Get a dog and you'll even have a yard for it!  Perfect!

Andean said...

Are those, "bizarrely-placed pillars" there, to be aesthetically pleasing, somehow, to someone? 
Or are they holding the house up? Hidden beams. If not, they'ed be gone immediately.

Christine Dubois said...

Say,have you considered Casa Vista San Bernardo in La Manzanilla?
I found it on line, listed by realtyexecutivesbarra.com  More expensive than the ones you have been considering--but "Oh that pool!"

Tancho said...

You can be sure they are holding up the house, to the terror of any licensed architect NOB, better keep them there, based on what I have seen, how they pur concrete in various batches and moisture levels, not even considering what salt dos to rebar enclosed in wet concrete next to the ocean......

Tancho said...

Gee, you can have a house like Felipe's, living behind 12ft high walls, kind of like a prison yard .....
Just kidding, doesn't look like a prison yard, just a well secured party pad.
Speaking of party pads, is that gaudy multi story Arabian sheiks house still on the market? Or is that your 3rd choice

kushnir said...

Tes

sparks said...

I'm sure they are structural.  3 stories or even 2 is a lot of cement to support

Irene said...

Perhaps the pictures don't do it justice.

Steve Cotton said...

The pool is rather inviting in this weather.

Steve Cotton said...

I am not certain how well the stairwell draws hot air.  The presence of air conditioning throughout the house gives me the impression someone was counting more on electricity than natural routes for cooling. 

 

Steve Cotton said...

But you had my pegged years ago.

Steve Cotton said...

I suspect they are structural.  That is the default building technique around here.  Instead of I-beams, builders will reconstruct what looks like a recreation of Atlantis.  I agree with you: they are not aesthetically pleasing.

Steve Cotton said...

Ij my spare time, I could direct amateur productions of Julius Caesar.

Steve Cotton said...

 And they would provide great cover during shoot-outs.

Steve Cotton said...

The photographs re pretty much as it is.

Steve Cotton said...

 ?

Steve Cotton said...

I took my friend Wynn along to see the house.  She suggested I live in the casita and rent the grounds and house for parties and wedding receptions.  She might have an idea there.

Steve Cotton said...

You are correct.  It is more money than I wish to risk with the vagaries of La Manzanilla.

NWannabe said...

For a sec I thought state pen then I saw that it was amarillo. Casita would be nice for a caretaker and I'm just about retired.

Cineguy said...

Far classier than the Greek corner pimp-estate.  

Steve Cotton said...

 It is the perfect place for a dog.  A big dog.  And that was one of the prime considerations when I first saw it online in 2007.

Steve Cotton said...

That place also had lots of internal columns.

Steve Cotton said...

The house has its own staff. But openings do occur.

June said...

Wow, Steve that's some house- seems like lots of upkeep and work!  Best of luck finding something.

Cineguy said...

I have to admit, Bin Laden's compound was the first image that came to mind, but his house wasn't nearly as neatl looking.  Having seen the third choice already I will admit this is my first at least for the space and party guest convenience.  Even with the dorky pillars.  If anything, you can install house-wide audio, decorate and wrap lady of Guadalupe lights across them to complete the trailer-trash image for those parties!

Steve Cotton said...

If I buy this place, it will be redecorated in an understated style that would please Mrs. Vanderbilt.

Steve Cotton said...

It would be.  But it would be a great place to get you and the Computer Family back together for a reunion.

Andean said...

Maybe with make-up, jewelry, and clothing--they could be.

Kirsten groener said...

I think the house with the stairs is a no. Too many stairs. The second house is awesome except the upkeep would be a nightmare. Maybe the third place will be the perfect in between. Remember you'll never please all of us so pick out what pleases you.

Cineguy said...

Having to look-up that reference...wow.  At least the pillars won't be so noticeable.

Steve Cotton said...

You are correct.  This white house would be like maintenance on a cruise ship.

Steve Cotton said...

 Perhaps dressed as the terra cotta soldiers of Qin Shi Huang.

barbara eckrote said...

 Ahh, they're not that bad and with the right furniture they can become a "feature" and not an eyesore, I promise.

barbara eckrote said...

 It hardly costs anything to get a house painted in Mexico.  Then you plant fig ivy along the base of the walls and in three years, you'll never see those outside walls again.  That along with palm trees, etc. and it would be a paradise.......

Steve Cotton said...

 Every difficulty is merely a chrysalis.

Steve Cotton said...

The garden needs the most work.

jennifer rose said...

No. The first house was bad. This one is worse. Where is your taste?

Steve Cotton said...

I came by it honestly in a trailer house.

al said...

Whatever you buy, please be sure to insist on a battery of jumbo air conditioners in perfect working condition.

al 

Steve Cotton said...

Two of the three are partially air-conditioned.  Te only one without is he small house above La Manzanilla. 

Andean said...

There you go--right up your alley...
Heard they were amazing.

Steve Cotton said...

I missed seeing them when I was in China.  But I did see the road show in The States.

Hmm.  China in Mexico.  Now,that is a thought.

Joe S. said...

I see by the high reply count that you've come to your senses by exploring a topic that we all love, The thrill of the chase.(chaise?) 

sparks said...

First thing I thought of with a place that large ... but if you do I have the perfect gardener/pool guy.   Mine is about half that size and work never ends

Steve Cotton said...

It certainly is an entertaining -- and informative -- give and take.

Steve Cotton said...

If I get this place, I will seriously look at installing the solar system Elke is installing.  The house is an electricity black hole.

sparks said...

I only saw one overhead fan

Steve Cotton said...

There are splits in each room.  Including the living room.  But it is too small for the space.

Andean said...

...but, maybe not in the capture? Houses are tough to choose, easier to chase.

Mommy with Commuter Husband said...

Yes to the reunion!

No to this house. Just No.

Steve Cotton said...

I am fascinated with the various reactions. I can hardly wait for the poll.

DonCuevas said...

We'll come visit. I'll cook.

Saludos, Don Cuevas

DonCuevas said...

No, OUR house is in a prison yard. You should see the great collection of broken glass bottles embedded in the walls.

In fact, I once did a photo essay called "The Big Yard", in which the prison like aspects were highlighted.
http://tinyurl.com/BigYard

Saludos, Don Cuevas

Steve Cotton said...

That is the best reason I have heard to buy this place.

Steve Cotton said...

Even though you cannot see them in my photographs, I would have a broken bottle collection to rival yours. 

Brian Saunders said...

Another good option - the romantic in you coming out. Looking forward to seeing #3.

Steve Cotton said...

 Well, the something in me.

Laurie Matherne said...

This house is far too large and flashy. I am renting a large house now. I regret it. I don't need four bedrooms and three baths, a double garage, three levels, etc. I am ready to downsize with room for the occasional guest. 

Laurie Matherne said...

I have broken bottles and curled barbed wire. Want electric wire for the next house.

Steve Cotton said...

Electric wire is common here, as well.  The best deterrent appears to be a big dog.

Steve Cotton said...

Everything you say is true.  But its size and location allows three activities:1) space for a big golden dog; 2) room for weekly Bible studies; and 3) the ability to play my music at filling-rattling volume.  I am ready to starting living my life here. 

Kim G said...

 I'd trust Barbara on this one. Not only does she have great taste, but spent a career being paid for that great taste.

Kim G

Kim G said...

Well, architecturally speaking the building screams "no architect was involved in the design of this building."  That said, it has a lot going for it, not least of which is square meter per peso. I also would personally love to have a pool, so that also gets my vote.  It's also old enough that you can feel confident that if it were going to settle or develop cracks and such, it would have already started. That's also a plus for a new-ish place.

But I'd hate to see the electric bills for cooling it in the nine months of the year you'd want A/C.

Flooding? I would check into that VERY carefully.  But this place is WAY better than the Stairmaster's Lair.

Kim G
DF, Mexico
Where we'd love to have a pool to use right about now.

Steve Cotton said...

I suspect I could do without air conditioning most of the year.  Of course, this week I would have given up my ATM PIN for a cool night of sleep.

Steve Cotton said...

You are correct, Kim.  You should see what she did with her casita without having a blockbuster decorating budget.  It s one of the most comfortable places I have rested my head.