I found a new place to live. While only four blocks east and one block north; It is nonetheless an entirely different neighborhood. It sits over a boutique on a side street in the heart of downtown. And because it is on a side street, it should be way quieter than the main thoroughfare that I currently live on.

The new place is pretty cool with another spectacular view; just like my present place (but different). So in this new place I’ve got the second, third, and fourth floors plus the roof. Cool, huh? That is if you can handle the stairs.

The second floor will be the office/workroom; it’s about 600 sf and has a half bath. The third floor is kitchen/dining/living area with a half bath. And get this – unlike my present house it actually has real useable counter-tops in the way of an island. Upgrade!

The fourth floor has two bedrooms and a full bath. And get this – unlike my present house it actually has built in closets with shelves! All three floors have glass/metal doors opening onto balconies.

And then there is the rooftop. Glorious! Another 600 sf – all outdoor living space – and it’s all mine. The views are 300 degrees. Total south view, total east, total west and partial views of the north. So I’ll still be able to watch those magnificent rainy season storms sweep across the valley to the east.

So why the change? It’s mostly the noise thing. The nonstop traffic racing up Victoria St. My neighbor’s penchant of loud banda music. And the early morning fireworks from the cathedral just a block above me have all conspired these past two and a half years to shred all my nerves into over-attenuated bloody ends.

And the place is a fortress. By renting the second floor office in addition to the apartment on the upper floors, I have the only key to the solid metal door at street level. And both buildings on either side are two stories shorter. So a potential thief would have to repel up two stories to attempt a break in through the rooftop metal door.

This is hugely more secure than my present ground level kitchen door. Although it did manage two years back to keep my then neighbors, the master criminals, Raoul and son from gaining entry.

Size wise the new place is smaller than my present place; kind of. I currently have 3 floors at 900 sf each for a total of 2700 sf. But not all of that is useable. Half the first floor is garage which I don’t use. I sleep in one back bedroom on the second floor. And my living has all been done on the third floor. Which is evenly divided between a southern facing living area/workroom/study and a north facing open air terrace. So only about half the space of the entire house is useable.

The new place has 3 floors at about 600 sf each; all useable. Plus the terrace on the roof which adds another 600 sf of important outdoor living. So that’s 2400 sf.

Do I need that much space? Heavens no. But the cost is the same as for the old place. Keep in mind this is Mexico. And I am in one of those towns that is so far off the gringo trail where the prices are ridiculously inexpensive. You couldn’t rent a broken down single-wide mobile home in rural Kentucky for anywhere near this kind of money.

And even in spite of the never ending stream of staircases I have to say I am very partial to the new floor plan. The office/workroom on the second floor should at the very least serve to act as a efficient sound barrier to some of the street level noise; which sits over what appears to be a mostly quiet boutique.

The bedrooms sit on the highest level and are situated back from the street. And I like the idea of the food and living areas being on their own separate level; in their own separate space.

Mexican residential architecture never ceases to amaze me. To a certain extent it’s much like Asian city residential architecture in that you never know what you’ll see when you open that street facing door and look inward.

It could be a hallway followed by sun drenched garden with the living areas sitting all the way to the back. Or it could be first some living areas then a garden followed by more living areas. It has been my experience that sometimes the ugliest damn street facing walls contain palaces within.

Using brick as a building material – not to mention the lack of mostly nonexistent building codes – tends to free the mind from conventional floor plans.

With brick, if you can imagine it, you can build it.

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