On September 9th, my landlord gave us notice that they were selling our house in Mill Valley and we had to move. The rent has been low and the place great, so I've been here 17 years. Lucky for 17 years. Of course, having a wonderful rental may have kept me from buying a place but them's the breaks.
We were worried about finding a place we would like without paying more than we are paying now. For good reason it turns out. The prices are $500 or more higher than we are paying now for an equivalent place. The solution we decided to go with is to get a smaller place. To downsize.
We found a new apartment in Tiburon with two bedrooms. We are going to pay the same amount for 1 less bedroom, a much smaller yard and patio and an apartment instead of a house. We are in a slightly more upscale neighborhood which was not a goal but some would consider it a benefit. The location is roughly as good otherwise.
The main thing I wanted to share here is that Craigslist used to its full capability really helps. What amped up the value for me was to subscribe to a custom RSS feed for the kind of place I was looking for.
I was able to see new listings as they came onto the market by simply checking my RSS feed regularly. Highly recommended. Each Craigslist page seems to have its own RSS button so you tailor your search and then generate your own personal RSS feed. Great way to go!
In my case, I also created a little FileMaker database for the candidate properties. FileMaker let me create a button that would take the street address to get to the google map for the place. I put a few container fields on the screen and some tabs to allow me to put screenshots of google maps in that were optimized.
I would do a screenshot zoomed out to see generally where the property was and then zoom in with the satellite view and get a close up of the neighborhood. This part was manual but quick to do. I would usually do one screenshot for a property and two or three if I was especially interested. I also could drag and drop photos of the house exterior and interior when available.
The cool thing was that once I typed in an address in my database, I could click a button to get to the google map. I've always wanted to be able to do this and it was when FileMaker Pro 8.5 came out with its web viewer that it's become super easy. FileMaker created standard code for google maps in the webviewer so I just copied and pasted that URL into my button and off I went.