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Finding a good dojo is a lot like house hunting. You have a list of qualities and features that you must have, ones that you would like to have and a few that are "bonuses". You usually have a price range in mind and you also tend to know the size that will suit you and your needs.
When it comes to house hunting, sometimes you find your "home" right away. Other times, you search and search and search some more. Sometimes it is the unexpected "house" that catches your eye, or even better, it seems to find you. They always say that you will "just know" when you have found "the one".
I of course, have never been house hunting, but I have heard of the joys and difficulties of this process from family and friends. I have however, went dojo hunting before. With the first dojo I went to, it was the only one I could afford ($10 a month for two classes a week) and it wasn't too far from my house (though my Mom still complained about the drive). It quickly became a home away from home and I made some good friendships and found some new people that I added to my extended family. Eventually, life caused me to leave that home behind. I was sad at the time, but looking back, I think I needed to move on. I needed a different home; I had outgrown that one. I still keep in touch with those I became close with, but I have closed that subchapter of my life.
Without really planning it, a new home found me several years later. In a desperate attempt to get my grouchy husban