Why Tucson can’t sell it’s houses

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So yesterday I wrote a well thought out and researched article on why owning a home is not an investment.  You can and should read this if you are considering buying or selling your house.  The downside of doing this though, is that not only do I have housing on the brain, but I really feel like being snarky.  So I decided to illustrate something my wife and I have noticed about Tucson.

When we moved here from Pittsburgh 5 years ago, we had a great realtor on that end.  He was professional, dependable, and knew what the hell he was doing.  It seems that none of those skills have translated here to Tucson.  Tucson has a problem selling it’s houses, and I know what that problem is.  No one taught these poor realtors how to take a picture that will actually sell a house.

A picture is worth 1ooo words, so lets try to take picture that don’t make our houses sound like that were howling at the moon for 10 minutes.  The pictures below were taken from a random sampling of homes over a 5 minute period using the TARMLS site.  I didn’t take more than one pic from each house, and I probably grabbed a pic from 75% of the houses I looked at.  This is our competition here.  The only pic I couldn’t find was one of dirty dishes in the sink, which I have actually seen before.  Think of the below as Mystery Science Theater 3000, but for homes on sale in Tucson.



Any realtor worth his salt will tell you to pic good, safe, neutral colours to put on your walls to appeal to the most buyers.  Apparently in this person’s word that means going for the mouldy zebra look.


Tone it down is a phrase that really should get used more around here.  Since teal and disgusting olive go together so well in the average home.


In addition to sleeping 75, this small field sized bed in this tiny room can be used as emergency helipad space.  (Camera perspective is everything)


What are your showing here?  You like to read?  You can screw rickety shelves into brick?  Your reading chair is a 5 dollar plastic lumbar liquidator?  Pack that crap up.


Ok, showing off built in shelves.  Good, packed up all his personal books.  Bad, left everything in a trash sack under the desk.  Dude?  You are making yourself look like a hoarder with poor planning skills.


I know some people like an exercise room at an apartment complex, but I think this is missing the boat.  Everyone hate’s home gyms because they get in the way.  Thanks for proving it.


This is the one area of the house where the baby can live in the heat.  Notice the play thing DIRECTLY in front of the AC, as well as the willingness to sacrifice light to prevent heat in this sweat lodge.


And when you are done with breakfast, you can load the dishwasher without even getting up.


Here is our formal dining area, It’s so formal we don’t even use it.  We put the chairs in, and never had space to pull them out.  It’s for dinner parties.


Don’t get me wrong, I totally respect a chicken coop and a shed, but when they look like they were lifted directly from the spare set of Deliverance, you should probably not include them.


This one comes with it’s own complete unabomber bench, which saves so much time when being an angry gremlin that builds things.

That’s is how Tucson sells a house.  I think the lesson here is just because the MLS lets you use 30 photos doesn’t mean you should, and owning a camera, doesn’t make you a photographer.


February Skills Update

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As some of you know, I have been using the 13skills website to help guide me in learning new skills in 2013.  Since today is a cold and rainy introspective kind of day here in Tucson, it seemed like a good time to refocus on my progress.  Admittadely, I have done a fairly bad job in the last few weeks about keep skills foremost in my mind.  All of the stress of getting ready to move has taken quite a bit of my brain power away from where it belongs.


Some sad news on this one at least.  I knew that I was doing it wrong, and I was right.  So granted, I have no one to blame but myself, but I didn’t really put enough thought into setting myself up for success the first time.  As I chronicled in my earlier pieces, I was trying to make some lacto-fermented sauerkraut.  Unfortunately, I didn’t use enough salt, and to top it off, I didn’t weight down the sauerkraut inside the jar.  So little pieces of it kept floating to the top.  Long story short, it started to mold, and not in the good way.  I did learn thought that in addition to being able to use rocks of some sort, you can fill bags up with water and set them on top of the veggies.  That will keep them below the water line.

I have to say, so far I didn’t like the taste of what I was fermenting, to which I conclude I was doing it wrong.  I think next time in addition to the salt, I will use a bit of either yogurt water, or vinager with “Mother” in it to start the fermentation.  Since I don’t have a garden right now, I can’t count on using natural veggies that haven’t been cleaned to get that starter bacteria.  I might try this one more time before we move, if we get some tasty veggies to play with.

Writing – This one I actually completed, which is excellent.  My goal as to make at least $1 from writing, and I have done almost 5X that good with the launch of my book.  So I marked it off as complete.

Moving – My goal was to execute the sale of our home by April 1st, and be gone.  This one is still a bit up in the air, but largely under control.  We did have the one showing of our house, and not a single one since then.  One made an appointment and cancelled.  Then we had one yesterday that called us at 8:30am on a Sunday, to show that morning.  Really?!  We were still sleeping, so we said screw it.  Little tip realtors, if you do your work sometime other than last minute, more stuff might happen.  Regardless, we are looking forward to going up there and exploring.

Sadly, many of my other goals rely on having already moved, so there is some inherent demotivation involved in starting something new.  I want to do everything on my list still, but it seems foolish to get heavily invested in something that I will just have to tear down in a couple months.

So my next goal to achieve is meditation.  I am a naturally high stress individual, so I think meditation will be good for me.  I tend to get a pain in my side when I am too stressed, and I am hoping that by meditating I can keep that stress level under control and hurt less overall.  I am a born again Christian, so I don’t ascribe to some of the more mystical aspects of meditation, but I think the very act of introspection and thought is good for all of us.  There is something to be said for calming the stormy tempest of your mind before you cast out from your safe harbour of the home.  It will allow me to take the world more in stride.

So, officially, my goal is to meditate for 10 minutes a day, preferably in the morning before work.  I think this will help my health overall, and allow me to be calmer.  I will keep you posted.

Our cheaper moving solution

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Today is officially my 100th blog post as the Tribal Future, I would love to say that I did that in only 100 days, but I didn’t.  My extended break in the summer put a crimp in that.  I have to say, right at this moment, I am somewhat proud of myself, and I have greatly enjoyed being able to reach so many people.

I suppose an entire post of me patting myself on the back is out of the question, at least for today, so instead I will give you something better.

With our move getting ever closer, we are investigating our possible moving solutions.  I think I know which way we will end up going, but I thought it would be a good time to talk about our experiences with cross country moving, on the off chance it can help any of you out.

Uhaul Truck:

The good news is that there are even more options than ever out there for folks looking to move across country.  Of course your most basic model is probably this.

uhualA big old Uhaul truck of some kind.  Now I would certainly say that for a local move of some kind, that’s the way to go.  It gives you the flexibility to meet your own schedule and make as many trips as you need, which is good.  Where that model breaks down in on your long distance move.

For the sake of demonstration purposes, I used Tucson, AZ to Spokane, WA for all price comparisons.  That falls into the realm of close enough.  To rent a 17′ truck from here to there, which is probably what we would need, is a whooping $1463 before fuel.  Those trucks get what, 8 miles to the gallon?  Then on top of that, I would have to drive that thing up there, and miss getting to see the sights with my wife in the car.  Doable, but not our best option.

A Big Semi truck moving company:

I never really considered this one as an option for me, so I don’t have any relevant feedback or price comparisons on this one.  I don’t like the idea of other people touching my stuff.  I don’t want a piece of equipment where my stuff is shared with someone else’s.  I also might very well end up living in a rural environment which might pose a challenge for a semi to make it.  Unless this was my only option, I would avoid it.



This is the option we used when moving out here to Tucson from Pittsburgh.  I have to say, at the time it was great.  They dropped the thing off at our house there, we took a couple days to load it up, then they picked it up and whisked it to Tucson.  during the entire process, the only damage was a lamp shade that melted in the heat at the top of the pod.  Not a big deal to us, but be warned, in the sun they get hot.

I was actually all set to use them again, but I’m not going to.  Why?  Two reasons, they are ungodly expensive now, and their sales process is outdated.

So I decided to get a quote on PODS.  I go to the website and fill out the zip codes and dates of our move.  A smart company would give me a price at this point so I can make a buying decision, but no, not PODS.  I get connected to a call center in Florida, where what sounded like a fat sweaty phone troll read a price off of a computer screen.  Hey PODS, I can save you some money.  If you let the customer see the prices, you don’t have to pay phone trolls.  So what should have been a 30 second quote process, actually took about 45 minutes, since the first time I called in, I had to leave a message.

I could actually live with that unpleasantness, if at least I was getting a deal.  I am not.  To move our POD up to Washington would be about $3000.  I would be more specific, but I don’t want anymore troll talk.  That’s just not gonna work for me.  So while I think they offer a solid surface, I can’t recommend them right now.

Ubox (Uhaul’s Pod option)


This brings me to the solution we have chosen, at least until we hear something better.  The U-Box from Uhaul.  I have not used these personally yet, although I will give you feedback when I do, but someone I know in the prepper community recently completed his move with these and had a good experience.  They are basically like PODs except cheaper and less frustrating with more flexibility.

So their actual boxes are smaller than pods, but you can order as many as you want.  I am hoping we can squeeze in one if we sell off some stuff, but two is worst case.  Best part is, you can have them drop off two, but if you only fill one, you only pay for one.  Excellent.

To get a quote, I go to their site, I pop in my date and zip codes, bam, I have a price.  To move one box to Spokane is $1356 plus $65 a month for storage.  Two boxes is $1960 plus $130 a month for storage.  To me that’s a no brainer.  It’s everything I love about PODS, with nothing I hate.

So if you are planning a long range move, that’s my feedback for you.  Right now, unless they completely screw the pooch, U-box is the way to go, and believe me, if they screw the pooch, you will all know about it.