Project Downsize: End Result

We’ve been settling into our new home for about a week and a half now, and so far, we’re really pleased. It already feels so much more like a real home than our townhouse did. The townhouse was spacious and shiny and new, but it lacked warmth and charm. It was exactly what we needed after the antique money pit we’d previously owned, but we always knew it was a short-term place to stay.

We struggled with this home-buying process, due to some mind-changing and some bad luck. We went from looking at 1000sf condos to almost buying a 4000sf luxury behemoth. We found this house by accident, after needing to turn around when we drove past the house we’d come to view. We were worried that we were maybe just settling on this, after having three other houses fall through during negotiations, and after wasting more $$$ than I care to admit living in a hotel. This house didn’t come without its issues either; the appraisal came in low, and we had to deal with the removal of about two dozen bats from the attic (don’t worry – no bats were harmed, and as far as I know, no one became a vampire).

But here we are, living in my home town that I never once imagined I’d move back to. And as it turned out, we ended up downsizing after all. This house is about 1800sf, which seems pretty perfect for two people who both worked mostly from home and need to have separate spaces to do so. The neighbors are so friendly – they’ve brought over cookies and a pound cake, loaned us some tools, introduced us to their dogs, and even surprised us with some free landscaping. We’re close – but not too close – to my parents, which I know will be really helpful as they’re getting older and need our help more often. the town has changed so much in the 20+ years since I graduated from high school. It’s much more diverse, with multiple tech business bringing in a global population. There are tons of new restaurants and places to shop, and the park system is amazing.

At one point during the summer, when we’d gotten bad news on yet another house and I was feeling frustrated, a friend said something along the lines of don’t-worry-everything-happens-for-a-reason. It totally annoyed me and I just laughed. I really don’t believe in that line of thinking, but I do believe in making the best out of things. Finding this house, while not fate or “God’s will” or anything, was absolutely serendipitous. It was a happy accident (so far, at least!). It wasn’t something we ever would have imagined we’d want, but here we are, feeling content, and looking forward to lots of home projects (and hopefully not moving for a good long while).

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Hooray for a Three Day Weekend!

It’s Friday! And it’s a long weekend! I appreciate this more than ever with my new job. I can’t believe it’s already been two months since I started. It’s still super challenging, with a long, slow learning curve. And every time I get a little bit of confidence, a whole new slew of things comes along. #foreverhumbled

But that’s what I came here to write about! It’s Friday, remember? This weekend, I’m looking forward to:

  • Dog-sitting at my sister’s house tonight (it will be so nice to cook in a real kitchen after these past two weeks at the hotel)
  • Being outside as much as possible (and hopefully inside for a hot yoga session)
  • Getting a new ‘do in the morning (I have never hated my hair more since I cut it after my 40th birthday)
  • Pre-gaming, gaming, and post-gaming tomorrow in downtown Atlanta (Yay football! Yay day-drinking! Go Cards!!!)
  • House hunting on Sunday (revamped strategy here; more on that another time)
  • Cooking out with the family on Monday (one last pig-out before Jack and I hit the low carb bandwagon on Tuesday)

What are you excited about this weekend? Got any great Labor Day plans?

August in Review

Happy September! Happy almost-fall!

I always feel relief when August is over. I’ve made an effort to enjoy summer more the past few years, but the truth is, it’s just too hot and too long down here in Atlanta. Yes, September means it’s not that long until it’s getting dark at 5pm and we’re freezing when we get out of bed in the morning (to run in the dark, no less), but it also means the best month of the year (I’m looking at you, October) is so so close. It means there will be a break in the humidity, that it’s time for football, that we can start anticipating the holiday season. It’s that precious time right before the good stuff, like the last couple of days at work before a vacation. I love it 🙂

August was exhausting. A weekend trip to Indiana for a wedding, lots of packing and cleaning, trying to dig my way out of the total confusion that is my new job, moving, house hunting, and lots and lots of running (to keep me from going crazy). We’ve been in a hotel for 10 days now, and we have no prospects for a new house. I’ve been to hot yoga twice since we got here, and it’s been damn amazing. I had forgotten how good it makes me feel (and how challenging it is!). I’ll definitely be incorporating it into my workouts moving forward.

I’m happy to check my progress against my slightly-revised goals:

  • Learn to do a handstand: I think I’m going to have to accept that this won’t get done. My wrists are really weak 😦 I also need to work on my balance. The good news is that yoga will certainly help. Maybe I will be able to do a headstand or something instead…
  • Continue to pay down debt: We’re doing well here. The money we made from the sale of our townhouse really helped, for sure. We’re on-track here.
  • Continue running and possibly do another half-marathon: Also on-track here! I’ve been running a LOT. I’m doing shorter distance but running more often (like almost every day). I think we’re going to do a 15k trail race in November, so it’s time to start hitting some trails.
  • Sell our house and figure out what’s next (condo, cabin, lake house, who knows…): Sale = done! Figure out what’s next, um, TBD here. We were really close, again, to buying a house, but couldn’t agree on terms with the sellers. We’re considering buying a condo or another, smaller townhouse, something that we could live in for six months to a year and then rent out when we find something better. We’re going to look this week at some condo neighborhoods. I know we’re all over the place with this. I guess the moral of the story is, if we’re going to buy something closer to the top of our price range, we aren’t willing to make a lot of compromises.
  • Drink less: Fail, fail, fail. I blame the stress. And girls just want to have fun!
  • Go to counseling with my husband: Also fail. But we’ve been talking a lot, and being kinder to each other. And having at least half of our move finished is helping a lot 🙂
  • Continue to write here: I haven’t been writing as much, since I’ve been in kind of a lousy mood for much of the month. I haven’t wanted to bore anyone with that. And I haven’t had much inspiration; I feel more like I’m just getting by right now. But I’m enjoying reading all of your blogs, and I’m compiling lots of ideas for future posts, when I’m feeling more positive.
  • Eat better. (Lose 10 pounds.): Ugh, major fail. My thoughts are that between the chaos of my new job and our move, I can’t even deal with being on a diet (or drinking less, for that matter). It’s like that’s my reward for all the stress. I’m trying to be accepting of this and the fact that I’m just heavier than I want to be right now, but it’s not forever.
  • Volunteer more: Fail. Our weekends have been slammed with packing/moving/house hunting/working. Yes, it’s an excuse. I think I am also feeling like I need to protect my chill time as much as possible. I’ll get back on track with this once we’re settled.

So for September, I’m going to keep running, keep hot yoga-ing, keep trying to eat more healthfully, keep house hunting, keep learning at work. This weekend is football! I’m excited to go to the Chick-fil-a Kickoff game here in Atlanta to root for Louisville (go Cards!). Hopefully we can do a hike or trail run on Labor Day. I have two trips to Dallas planned, for work, so I’m looking forward to meeting my clients and my team there. I’m praying we’ll find a place to live that works for us. Hotel living is NOT good for the whole pay-down-debt thing. I’ll be working on staying positive and strong and healthy, and looking forward to October 🙂

How was your summer? What are your goals for the fall?

Hot Times in the Suburbs

Hellllloooooo!

You’ll be glad to know I am in a much better headspace today than during my last couple of posts. We moved on Friday and are settled in at our awesome little hotel. (Seriously, if you travel with your pets, this is the BEST brand we’ve found. They don’t do doggy happy hours or anything, but they’re super pet-friendly AND you get a kitchen and yummy free breakfast daily!) All of our stuff is in storage. I had no idea how much the move was hanging over me. I thought all my stress was from not having a house to move into and from work, but apparently a large part of it was being unsettled, with everything in boxes, and trying to get the townhouse ready for the move. Now that it’s finished, a weight has been lifted!

I’ve come to understand that now is not the best time to be on a diet, so I’m chilling on my Lose Ten by Summer’s End goal. Yes, it might be just excuse-making, but everything is too chaotic for me to be successful. I’ve found myself stress-eating for the first time in my life. It sucks. So I’m just trying to be gentle with myself, and make mostly smart/healthy choices. The good news is that I continue to stick with my running, I’m working out again, and today I’m going to hot yoga for the first time in probably three years.

My goal is to just enjoy the rest of the summer. We haven’t gotten to do much of that, since we were showing the house and then packing it up and looking for a new one. We are going to make an offer on another house today (fingers crossed that third time’s a charm!) so I’m hopeful that’s the end of the house hunting. Our hotel is really close to my family, so I plan to spend as much time with them as possible. I also plan to work from the pool, enjoy the greenway, eat tons of salads from the Whole Foods right down the street, and do some hiking on the weekends. We’re here for at least a month, and since chores are basically non-existent, I might as well take ALL that time for being good to myself 🙂

What are your plans for the rest of the summer?

Decision Fatigue?

I’ve been avoiding this space recently. I have written a couple of posts and ended up throwing them away, since they mostly ended up sounding really whiny. My thoughts have generally been pretty whiny as of late. I’m over myself right now!

We are set to close on the sale of our home this Thursday and will be moving into a hotel the next day. I’ve been well aware that this date is approaching, but the reality is sinking in and is starting to concern me. After the deal fell through on our first potential house, the search continues – we’ve looked at too many to count and were in negotiations on one, but things got weird and the listing agent was acting really shady. So we walked away from that one before wasting any more time (and money!).

It’s sort of been interesting, watching myself unravel a bit through this process. On the one hand, Jack and I are prepared for this move as we have been for no other. We could have moved out this past weekend, we are so packed up and organized. We have basically nothing to do this entire week, until the movers come Friday morning. Who can say that? I’m thinking it’s because this is the one thing we actually have control over, so we’ve been over the top with it.

But other than packing up, the rest of our lives feels up in the air. I think we are both suffering from decision fatigue, as well as feeling unmoored. As our home search has expanded, we’re starting to wonder whether we should buy an older home to renovate, so we can get closer to what we want. But if we’re already tired of deciding things, would that be a smart move? We have a friend who builds and renovates houses, so he would be a great partner and would surely help us to narrow down our choices. But can we handle six months in a rental, with our stuff in boxes? Would we destroy our marriage by having to choose the exact right backsplash or the most perfect paint colors? Is now a good time to even make the decision to make a bunch more other decisions? I don’t know! Work is draining me, not finding a new house is draining me, thinking of all the money we’re going to waste in our temporary quarters is draining me most of all…

What was that I said at the beginning, about being whiny? Ugh.

Have you had any experience with building/renovating a home? Is the process worth it? 

July in Review

just realized I didn’t do a review of my goals/progress for last month. It was a crazy month, but still, this makes me feel pretty scatterbrained.

TOO-MANY-TABS

{INPIRATION: momentarily tapped out}

Anyway. We didn’t get the house. The appraisal came in waaay under the agreed-upon price. There was no way we were going to make up that big of a difference with cash at closing, and the crazy seller wouldn’t budge. Good luck to him with that, btw. Now we are starting all over again, with the super fun difference that we’re moving in a week and a half. To a hotel. I love me some hotel stays, don’t get me wrong. I loooove hotels. But living in one, for at least a month, with three dogs and two people who mostly work from home (work from hotel?) — that is no luxury. It’s also a giant waste of money, as was the cost of the home inspection and appraisal we just paid for on the house we didn’t get. Good times!

I’m also pretty much failing on the lose ten pounds goal. I’m up, I’m down. I have a few really good days and then blow it all when my boss takes us out or I spend the weekend in Louisville. I’m struggling with balancing my eating while working from home. I mean, I’m literally five feet from my fridge. I need to be better about going into the office (or at least not working in my kitchen).

At least my running is going pretty well. I ran four days in a row last week, which I never do, and the second two were better than the first two. I have to say though: this summer is a bitch down here in Atlanta. The temperature got into the 90s in May and hasn’t gotten out. It’s suffocating. It’s sticky. It’s NOT FUN. It’s not even pleasurable to be at the pool because it’s pretty much been like bath water since early June.

We also had a reasonably frugal month. We’ve been really good about not going out and not buying lunch. We didn’t buy any clothes. We had our wine at home. We ate through most of what we had in the pantry and freezer and really limited our grocery budget. Good thing we did that, since this move is going to be much more expensive than we had planned. (Did I mention we have to live in a hotel for a month???)

This is much less formal review of my 2015 goals because I am not feeling very formal right now. I am feeling a little beat down instead. Remind me never to change jobs, go on a diet, and buy a new house at the same time again, ‘kay?

Project Downsize Update

This should actually read more like: Project Downsize Reversal. Gulp. After a lot of condo shopping, cabin browsing, neighborhood scoping, and house hunting, Jack and I came to the conclusion that our plan to sell our townhouse, move into a small intown condo, and buy a mountain cabin, just wasn’t going to work for us.

First, there was the issue with the type of condo we could afford on our budget. Since we were splitting the cost between two homes instead of one, we knew we’d have to compromise on both. But when it came down to it, we just couldn’t stomach the idea of living in a teeny-tiny, older condominium, that was also going to have hefty HOA fees and wouldn’t allow us to have more than two dogs. (We currently have three, and while we have no intentions of adding anyone, we are also hoping not to lose one of them any time soon!) Part of the appeal of our plan was that we’d get to live in one of Atlanta’s great intown neighborhoods. That meant we’d pretty much be stuck in a one-bedroom, one-bath place, or deal with a much older two bedroom (but still most likely with one bath). We had to admit that we just couldn’t do it. Even if we were escaping to the mountains every weekend, that would still mean four or five days a week waiting for the other person to hurry-up-and-get-out-of-the-shower-so-I-can-get-ready-too. Since I’m now working mostly from home, it was also going to be close-to-impossible to have a decent home office, something that’s suddenly become very important for my productivity.

Another issue was all the stories we were hearing about what a pain in the a$$ owning a vacation property can be. First there is the matter of two sets of expenses: mortgage, property tax, utilities, cable, security, etc. We had also been interested in renting it out now and then to help with the costs, but then we learned more about the hassles of dealing with guests, the potential damage to the cabin, the expense of using a property management company (less hassle, more $$$), the fact that we wouldn’t be able to use it whenever we wanted (and would therefore be stuck in our tiny condo in the city over the weekend). So the reality of all this began to sink in more, and the fantasy of our cozy, airy, mountainside getaway began to fade a bit.

We started to look more at homes in Atlanta. We’ve always loved mid-century moderns/California ranches, but our house hunting showed us they weren’t in very walkable areas, and they are obviously older homes. We’ve already had a 90 year old house and there is no way we would be up for dealing with any of those issues again. Yes, 40 or 50 is younger than 90, but it’s still old for a house. We also looked at newer homes intown, but they were either tiny (there’s that one bathroom issue again) or way too expensive or a townhouse. There’s no point in moving to another townhouse; been there, done that.

Our next idea was to try to find a house a little bit further out of town, but in a community with a lake or near the river. Those homes turned out to also be older than we liked, and worst of all, they were all DAMP. That’s the problem with living in a woodsy, shady area, close to water – everything is damp. Damp = mold and mildew, which is miserably hard to get rid of (and which I’m miserably allergic to). Damp also = roof damage and stinky basements.

It makes me feel better to write all of this out, because we’re still wondering whether the decision we’ve made is crazy. This makes me feel much less crazy 🙂 We are now under contract for a big ol’ house in what can’t even really be called a suburb of Atlanta; it’s more of an exurb. It’s also five bedrooms, which is most decidedly not downsizing. But here’s what it’s got going for it:

  • There is a deck off the master bedroom, so we can sip coffee and look out at the woods.
  • It has a full basement, just waiting for us to fill it with a ping pong table, pool table, music room, gym, media room, etc.
  • It has a creek in the backyard.
  • The neighborhood is so pretty and has swim/tennis/gym.
  • There is a ridiculously perfect spot for a hot tub.
  • We can walk to the grocery store and several restaurants.
  • We can ride our bikes to the Greenway and a fantastic park with a large gym.
  • We are six miles to the marina (hello, lake life!).
  • It has tons of room for entertaining and for our friends and family to spend the night. Did I mention it’s about seven miles to my sister’s house, instead of the current ~35?
  • There is room for both Jack and myself to have our own, private office, vital since we both work primarily from home.

Most importantly, it’s lovely and gracious and warm and feels like home.

We still have to do the inspection, and we’re both a little uncomfortable with the fact that we’re pretty much moving to the country. It’s one of those decisions that will probably never feel 100% perfect. We may find that we’re miserable way out there, and you’ll be reading here that we’re putting it on the market in a year or two.

But. I’m all about taking (calculated) chances and having new experiences. This could be a pricey mistake, or a very happy decision. Stay tuned!