Summary: Ate breakfast, got a PO box, saw some houses and condos, then some sublets, and ate dinner. Drove home from dinner without the help of the GPS.
The long version: I drove to Crema Cafe in Monona for breakfast. The Lake Edge Eggs and Hash were good, but not enough to justify the 20ish mile drive. That, and the food took a while to arrive. Crema is only worth it for people who live in or near Monona, and are eating with other people, or a laptop.
After that, I drove to a Post Office branch, and paid for the smallest available PO Box. The helpful clerk sold me on paying for 6 months, and getting a partial refund if I cancel within the next 3 months. That way, I get a bit less than 3 months of a PO Box, for far less than paying for 3 months upfront. The man was by far the most helpful Post Office employee I’ve ever encountered.
It also turns out that you don’t have to reserve a box online. You can just show up, wait in line, request a form, fill it out, get back in line, show it and your two forms of government ID (one of which must have your photo), pay for the box, receive your keys, test your keys, and leave with your new temporary address. Reserving online, and printing the form at home, seems to save only the second wait in line compared to just showing up at the Post Office. It's good that the Post Office has the forms there. Sometimes your printer is over a 1000 miles away, and asking the AirBnB host to use their printer seems a bit inappropriate.
Met with the realtor, and she showed me some houses and condos. The drive up to Mazomanie was nice, but...one could feel the 25 minutes going by. It’s weird how 25 minutes of countryside feels different than 25 minutes of Interstate 45 in Houston.
Meanwhile, there are some great townhouses well within my price range, right in Madison. When you include the basements of these townhouses, or any house for that matter, the total square footage rivals or exceeds that of Houston houses. Combine that with the relatively low condo maintenance fee, which also includes insurance, one can begin to see the value of Midwestern real estate.
The realtor warned that given my price range, I am looking at about 30- to 45-minute rush hour commute, if I insist on having a single-family house. The questions are: what kind of a commute is most tolerable, and what are you coming home to? She advised living in a sublet for a few months, and getting a lay of the land.
Then, onto sublets. The prices seem reasonable, given the size and quality of the apartments, and their neighborhoods. What seemed weird was that there were no change machines anywhere with coin-operated washers and dryers. One has to “save your quarters,” or go to a bank. What?
The year 1997 called. They said that they ran off with your change machine because 1977 stole theirs.
But wait, there’s more! The laundry rooms also have operating hours. There are apartments above the laundry rooms, so the hours are posted to help keep the noise down. Seriously? I’ve lived in two apartment complexes in Houston. One had a 24-hour laundry room with a change machine. The other had a washer and dryer in the unit. If you wanted to start doing your laundry at 1:00 am Saturday morning, you went for it. Not so in these sublets.
Two of the sublets have in-unit washers and dryers. Not only that, one of them is cheaper by the square foot than the cheapest sublet with coin-operated washers and dryers. The ones with in-unit laundry also have friendlier lease terms than the cheapest sublet. The choice is becoming more obvious, but I’m going to sleep on it.
For dinner, I drove back to Monona, to the Waypoint Public House. Had a stout beer, and the tenderloin poutine. Instead of gravy, the tenderloin was seared, sliced, and layered on the cheese fries. Waypoint Public House is recommended.
I've now driven back to the AirBnB host's house enough times that I don't have to use the GPS to find the way back to their place. First the PO Box, now knowing the way back to a certain place. Eventually, I will earn the cheese hat.