Citizen Wausau

A Site About Life in Wausau, Wisconsin

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Common Goals bind Neighbors

by on June 3rd, 2009

This is a love story to my neighborhood. I feel like I belong, and I love the new dynamic in the area.

I don’t live in a “destination neighborhood.” (Did you know those even exist here in Wausau?) When we decided to buy our first house, our budget point was so low, we were only on the market for foreclosed houses or very small houses. We’re simple people with simple needs, so we chose the small house. In less than 1,000 square feet, we’ve made a home for ourselves and our kids. We plan to eventually add on to the house rather than move. Why? I love this neighborhood.

We’re about a mile from downtown and my husband’s work. We are just a three-block walk from our neighborhood diner (we love you, Blue Willow) and a 15-minute walk from a nice park (Scholfield Park). I love our house, and I love our huge backyard. We feel very lucky.

But more importantly, I feel accepted here. I feel like I belong. Yesterday I was sitting in the backyard watching my husband build a fence around our new garden plot, and I could see the newest neighbors down the street doing some heavy landscaping in their own yard. The house they bought was a joke when we first moved here. I called it the “pitbull house,” because they had a sign advertising pit bull puppies for sale years ago. The house was for sale for at least a year or two because it hadn’t been maintained properly. It was an eyesore.

When it was finally bought, I hoped for the best, and I quickly saw improvements. They renovated the front porch to give the house an instant facelift. They added potted plants. A few weeks ago, they cut down the huge evergreen tree that blocked most of the house from view, and the house had been reborn. Now they are working on their yard, and I feel so proud of them. In my head, I imagine they are like us… so excited to buy a home and so proud to care for it.

The house next door to that was for sale as well, and it wasn’t in as bad of condition, but it had some attractiveness problems. Last week a painting crew came and worked magic. Another house is in the “pretty” category.

We’re not a wealthy neighborhood, but most of us own our homes. I remember renting a house, and I itched to upgrade the yard and really do something special with the curb appeal. It was cost prohibitive to do anything other than keep up with the lawn mowing, and my landlord, though very kind, wasn’t going to do much with it. In a neighborhood full of rental homes with a bunch of people who weren’t responsible for the properties, there wasn’t much to look at, not much to bond over.

Here, we have something special. Alice across the street has a lavish display of her green thumb. Troy next door keeps his lawn very clean and well maintained. Down the street, there is a couple who spend many hours a week trimming hedges, mowing their lawn and tending flower beds. Broken fixtures are replaced. Yards are kept tidy. We may not be rich, but we care, and we are proud of our properties.

We’re trying to do what we can with our limited budget. This year we plan to reglaze our windows since we can’t afford to replace them yet. We need to tear out our front walkway and replace it with bricks. Paint touch-ups are on the list, with a complete repainting next year. We’re not flipping our house, we are putting down roots, and I think that’s the same story with our neighbors.

(Now if I could only get rid of my stranger anxiety and go and introduce myself to these people…)

What is it like where you live? If you rent, do your landlords do anything to upgrade the property other than the bare minimum? Do you care?

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