Searching for the perfect home in East Nashville
It’s a well-known fact that Nashville’s housing market has been booming for a number of years, as more and more people decide to call our fair city home. Late last year, HGTV’s popular real estate reality show House Hunters did an episode featuring Nashville titled, “Tough Going in Hot Nashville Market,” and it featured dentist Suzie Stolarz and her wife Kelly in their search for the “perfect” home.
Suzie and Kelly aren’t exactly newcomers to Nashville, but when they were featured on the show they were relatively new returnees. “I first moved here in 2005,” Suzie said, “and pretty much took a year off, I left everything up north—several dental practices. I needed a fresh started, moved here and said, ‘I’m done with dentistry.’ I’d been a dentist for twenty-one years, and kind of got burned out on it….”
Though she wasn’t looking to make it big in the industry, Suzie’s experience here will be familiar to many young artists who come here for the music and have trouble finding … anything. “I couldn’t find a job doing anything! Literally anything!” Suzie said. “I applied at Starbucks, at a drywall position I found in the paper…. Starbucks didn’t even interview me, so I was kind of desperate. I found an ad for the Humane Society washing dogs in the kennel, no experience….”
This is where things took a turn for Suzie, but probably not the one you’d expect. “Some friends drove me to apply. I walked in with a plain resume that didn’t mention my education and the clipping, and the lady asked if I had experience in a dog kennel. She said she was sorry, but they needed experience: I pointed to the ad that said, ‘No experience necessary.’ She said that was incorrect…. I walked out and my friends said, ‘Oh my God, Suzie is a dog washer,’ and I had to tell them, ‘I didn’t get the job!’”
“They said, ‘I think this is the universe telling you that you should still be a dentist,’” Suzie said, laughing. “So I got back into it for a while and then met Kelly, who’s now my wife. In 2011 or so we decided to go back to Chicago to be closer to family.”
It was while in Chicago that they first applied to be on House Hunters. “Kelly had been on TV before so she’s comfortable doing that,” Suzie explained. “We watched House Hunters all the time, and she said, ‘I’m going to apply.’ I thought ‘I don’t ever want to be on television!’ But I knew our chances of getting on the show were slim-to-none, so I encouraged her to apply. Of course, we didn’t get picked.”
“Then an opportunity for her position brought us back here in 2014,” Suzie said, “and we decided all things considered, where we were in our lives, we actually missed the lifestyle here…. Now, back in Nashville, we were renting a house and our landlord decided not renew our lease.”
So in 2015, Kelly decided to apply to House Hunters again. This time, the couple got a phone interview. “So, they asked us a bunch of whacky questions,” Suzie said, “and I was just my goofy self and she was herself.” After a subsequent Skype interview, they were told that about 750 people apply each season, but that “they really liked us and thought we were funny!”
“When they called and said, ‘Hey, we really want to do the show with you guys,’ I panicked!” Suzie said. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, what am I getting myself into?’ It was basically five days of filming, and I actually had the time of my life. The first couple of hours was odd, because we had makeup, camera, lights, and microphones. I was out of my comfort zone, and they told me just to forget everything that was around and just loosen up!”
After she was able to let go of all that, Suzie said, “It was so incredibly fun that, when it was over, even the producer cried! We all cried because we got to be so close. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, for sure, and for sure! I’d never want to be a television star because it’s a lot of work!”
In the end, the couple also found a home they love, even if it wasn’t a “perfect” fit for everything they were looking for. “Basically we had a day to make a decision,” Suzie explained, “because everything we looked at had an offer on it immediately! We were renting in 12 South, which we loved, but we were priced out of there and there really wasn’t anywhere else we wanted to live besides East Nashville….”
In that tight market, perfect is sometime a fluid concept. “There were certain things we wanted that we didn’t get—all kinds of things! I wanted a garage—we didn’t get that. We didn’t want an attached house—we did get an attached house! But, all things considered, the space is wonderful, and we love our home, so it worked out perfectly in the end!”
It turns out that it worked very perfectly, since Suzie has recently purchased a dental practice in Murfreesboro. “When a buddy of mine sold his practice in Murfreesboro,” Stolarz said. “I’ve been at Blackman Grove Dental almost seven months now!”
That might not seem perfect at all—Murfreesboro to East Nashville commute and all—but Stolarz only practices on Monday and Tuesday, and her East Nashville haven helps her keep some distance—literally and figuratively—from work.