Yesterday, I wrote about Rich, who I shared a dorm room with me back in 1968 while attending the University of Michigan. He and his wife, Joy, had spent that afternoon visiting us at our campsite near Ann Arbor. It had been decades since we had last seen each other.
Today, the trip down memory lane continued as Mary Margaret and I decided to drive over to what is now the Colonial Square Cooperative to see where we lived during our first years of marriage. We were married in late August, 1971 and received notice the day of our wedding that our application for a townhouse unit had been accepted. Whoo Hoo! Just in the nick of time. We had submitted our application in March and it took this long for a unit to open up. Prior to receiving that notice, we had no idea where we would be living once we returned to Ann Arbor after our 1 week camping honeymoon.
We had been turned down by the University of Michigan regarding our application for an apartment unit in their married housing complex. We were informed that we were not poor enough. Our net wealth at that time was -$500 and we were not poor enough. Go figure!
Fortunately, we were poor enough to qualify for a 2-bedroom, 960 square foot townhouse unit in the newly opened low-income housing project called Colonial Square, located a few miles to the southeast of the University. Our notice of acceptance stated that we could move in during the first week of September, which was perfect. We would be returning from our honeymoon then and would have a week to move in before classes would start at the University. Whew!
We lived in the Colonial Square townhouse for 4 years. Our rent started out at $78 a month for the two-bedroom unit, that was two stories and had a full basement.
The unit also opened up to beautiful woods just behind our backyard.
After our first year there, our rent went up to $99 a month because the rent amount was based on our income. Once we were married, we decided that since I was a year in front of Mary Margaret, I would go to school part time and work full time, while Mary Margaret would go to school full time and work part time. That way we would both graduate at the same time and generate some income to live on. Our first year we made a whopping $7,000 and which allowed us to squirrel away a few hundred bucks in the bank. At that income level, we were moved into a higher rent level.
We ended up living in our townhouse for 4 years. During that time, we both graduated and then continued on with our Masters Programs. In 1975, I was accepted into the University of Delaware’s Ph. D. program in Marine Engineering and that summer we moved out of our beloved townhouse.
When we went there today, we were surprised to see it how well it was kept up. It was no longer a government controlled low income housing project but was now a cooperative. I believe that means that it is owned by those who live there and the cooperative’s governing board sets the rent requirements.
After seeing the old place and reminiscing a bit, Mary Margaret and I then drove to Tanglewood, an upscale neighborhood that is just to the northeast of Ann Arbor. Less than a mile from UM’s East Medical Campus, it is a nestled in a forest and each house sits on ample sized lots. We had made arrangements to tour a house that is for sale. We met the real estate agent. After inspecting the house, we shared with her that we are interested in finding a house in the not too distant future. Since we had loved Ann Arbor, it was one of the places we wanted to check out.
This particular house met all of our criteria: it sat on a 1.7-acre lot, was on a quiet col de sac, had 4 bedrooms and 3.5 baths that would accommodate visits from our kids and grandkids, was spacious and comfortable (this particular house has 4,600 square feet) and was close to the University. This last criterion was important to us because the University has great plays, musicals, concerts, lectures and sporting events throughout the year. Plus, being a college town, it has a forward-thinking attitude and culture but accommodates more traditional and conservative values as well. As we discovered later, Ann Arbor has been also listed as one of the best communities in the US to retire to.
We enjoyed our house tour and, if we were actually ready to buy, this house would be at the top of the list. However, we still wish to inspect other areas of the US before we are ready to give up the nomadic lifestyle we are enjoying now.