Where I Live: Hillcrest

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Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

(From left) Katherine Ramirez, Bennie the dog, and David Ramirez sit in their Hillcrest living room.

During David’s last year serving in the Navy, we spent a lot of time trying to decide where we wanted to move when he was finished. We knew it had to be Texas – our three years in Maryland had made us wildly homesick for it – but we couldn’t decide which city we were more drawn to. We eventually chose San Antonio, David’s hometown.

There were many draws, including the lower cost of living, the availability of tech and Department of Defense job opportunities for David, the close proximity to family, and the deep-rooted unique culture of the city. For the first few years we rented in Southtown, and when we were approaching our fifth wedding anniversary, we decided it was time to buy our first home.

We started looking at homes last October with our realtors Adam and Natalie Kavulic. We needed to find a home and move in before our Southtown lease was up in March. Our main goals were to find something with enough space for overnight guests and to stay inside Loop 410. David and I were both hypercritical of every property we looked at, and Adam and Natalie were endlessly patient with our shower of questions. We were trying to be very cautious with our money. After all, how lucky were we to be millennials buying a home in our twenties!

We went through a couple rounds of thinking we had found “the one” and then having it fall through for one reason or another. In early January we made an offer on a house only to be told the owner had decided to pull it from the market and rent it instead. Running out of time on our lease, we started to become frustrated and desperate. We started to consider renewing our lease and trying again next year. I refused to give up and simply said we weren’t looking hard enough. We spent every spare moment scouring the internet for new listings. We looked at listings we had passed over previously, and even considered a few properties outside Loop 410.

In late January we had a trip planned to Dallas for a baby shower, and we decided to squeeze in some showings that morning before we hit the road. One of the homes was a three-bedroom, two-bath house off of Hillcrest Drive. We walked through and thought that, since it was the right amount of space and was in good condition, we may as well make an offer and see what happens.

Later that day as we drove up I-35, Natalie drew up the contract. We stopped at a Starbucks in Pflugerville to sign the offer digitally and then went on with our trip. The next day as I watched my friend open her gifts, I got a text saying the offer had been accepted. We were actually buying a house!

We got the keys to the house on Valentine’s Day. We brought two glasses and a bottle of wine, toasting to our victory and feeling overwhelmingly relieved.

It wasn’t until we had been in the house for a few weeks that we realized how much we actually loved it. We had been so stressed that we missed what a great choice we had made.

The house was built in 1955 and still has most of the original features. The pink and burgundy tile bathroom with chrome fixtures is a personal favorite, although the tiny blue soaking tub in the master is a close second.

We were told that the whole house was carpeted before our purchase. That carpet served as a protective shield for the newly revealed hardwood underneath. It is simply pristine. Not a single scratch or creaky board. There is plenty of space to entertain, with two living areas and a large covered back porch.

 

All of the neighbors have dogs, plus the plethora of squirrels and spiny lizards, so there’s always someone to keep Bennie, our dog, entertained. A few times a week a possum hangs out on top of the fence and she loses her mind completely. Some mornings (and afternoons and evenings) I can hear a rooster crowing, though I haven’t actually seen him yet.

There are several mature trees in the front and back, keeping the yard in shade most of the day. In the spring, day lilies popped up in the flower beds. In the winter we will have a large harvest of tangerines from two trees. David swore off lawn work earlier in our marriage but being a homeowner for the first time seemed to change his tune. He raked and watered and fertilized, and even bought a reel mower saying it provided the cleanest cut.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

The Ramirezes’ dog, Bennie, runs after a squirrel in the backyard.

After being in the house for seven months we can definitively say Hillcrest was the right choice for us. We’re practically walking distance from Wonderland of the Americas, perfect for an indie movie buff like me. The house where David grew up, and where his family still lives, is just across I-10 in Dellview. We’re a 3-minute drive to Simi’s, 7 minutes to El Palmar (best chilaquiles in the city), and 10 minutes to at least 15 different Middle Eastern restaurants surrounding the medical center. Our current favorite is Jerusalem Grill, but we’ve still got several more to try before making the final verdict.

This home with all its midcentury quirks is truly the perfect first house for us. It may only be our starter home but what a great starter we’ve been blessed with.

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