For the past 11 years, my family has lived in the little-known area between San Antonio and Bulverde on Smithson Valley Road.
When my husband and I got married in 2001, we bought a home in Blossom Park behind the airport. While we loved being centrally located, with a growing family, we knew that we would eventually want more indoor and outdoor space. I grew up in Joaquin, Texas (population: 805) and longed for the days when I could look out my window and not see into my neighbor’s house.
On Labor Day weekend in 2008, a realtor friend of ours asked if we wanted to visit some houses on acreage “a little outside of the city.” We certainly weren’t looking to move at that point, but we agreed to go, just to see what the market was like. Well, it was 2008, so it was surprisingly good. We toured three very different homes that day, but when we got to the third house, we knew we were home.
As we walked around the house, we each kept saying, “I’ve always wanted one of those!” There was the double-sided fireplace, the gorgeous limestone columns on the front porch, and the balcony where we could drink our coffee and tea in the mornings. When we saw the split-level sinks in the master bathroom, we knew it was built for us (my husband is 6 feet, 7 inches tall, and I am 5 feet, 1 inch tall). We made an offer that day, they accepted, and we moved in less than a month later.
Our home is in Bexar County but outside the San Antonio city limits. We are on our own for utilities, which sometimes presents its own set of challenges. We have had our fair share of water well outages, septic tank pumpings, and there wasn’t even an option for recycling services when we first moved here.
We are in the section of Bexar County that is routed to Comal Independent School District, which is experiencing massive growth. We had a new middle school open last school year, and there are two more high schools set to open in the next two years. Overall, we have enjoyed smaller, under-capacity schools in a great learning environment.
Our kids are enrolled in a Spanish immersion program and learn Spanish while attending an elementary school in the country. We have a 13-year-old son at Spring Branch Middle School and a 9-year-old daughter at Rahe Bulverde Elementary School, which both feed into Smithson Valley High School.
When people hear where we live, their first question is: How do you stand traffic on Highway 281? While it is most certainly a pain, neither my husband nor I work traditional 9-to-5 jobs, so we can usually plan our commutes to avoid the worst delays. Due to the highway expansion currently underway, every day is a new experience on the drive into the city, but they seem to be making progress at an impressive rate. It won’t be long until it is freeway all the way up to our cross street, and we will have to take an actual exit ramp to our house.
We absolutely love where we live. It is a small slice of the country just outside the city. I feel like I can somewhat realize my dream of living on a homestead (always in progress!) but still have all the conveniences of city living.
One of the things I especially love about our home is hosting parties. My kids’ birthdays are only five days apart in February, so for several years when they were younger, we would have one big party for both of them. Since we just had to do one party we would go all out – pony rides for the Toy Story party, wildlife petting zoo for the Wild Kratts party. And because we have so much room on our property, we were able to invite both of our kids’ classes and our friends’ children. There were usually 80 or more people there, but it was a blast.
We also like to host several events over the holidays. Every year, we host a pumpkin-carving party the weekend before Halloween. I can’t remember the last time a pumpkin was actually carved at this party, but we always have a good time. In December, I host a Christmas brunch and cookie exchange party so my friends and I can trade some delicious goodies for our families. Last year, my husband and I invited a few especially close friends over for a special Christmas dinner, which I hope turns into a new holiday tradition. And for New Year’s Eve, we usually have another family over to eat good food, play games, and watch the dozens of fireworks displays between us and the city from our balcony.
We currently have two dogs, three cats, and eight chickens that have the run of five acres and loudly voice their displeasure if they are ever not allowed to roam free. My kids have been able to learn to ride their bikes on our driveway without any danger from passing cars.
We’ve put a pool in the backyard so that we can enjoy our backyard all year – even amid the blazing summer San Antonio heat – and it is rare that there isn’t a breeze that blows in the evenings to help cool everything down. While there are certainly some hassles that come with “country living,” they are completely worth it when we pull into our driveway, see the deer grazing in our front yard, and let the city melt away.