last morning at home // moving and home-buying thoughts

November 13, 2018

We have lived in our current home for 5 years.  Today we are moving exactly 0.3 miles to stay with Josh’s parents until (probably) the end of the school year.  Once our home sells, we may start the buying/renting process* and spend weekends at our new digs, but the plan is to stay in Miami Beach until the end of the school year.

my morning happy place: coffee, an open blogger window, a (relatively) clear desk
not shown but often part of this scene: planner πŸ™‚
I supposed we could have stayed in our house and worked around tours/etc, but it’s so hard to keep a home show-worthy when there are 3 children in it.  We have painters/etc coming this week.  There is a lot of space at his parents’ house, so I hope we don’t drive them crazy.  We’ll just take it one day at a time to start.

I am not sentimental about this home, really.  I’m not sure why – we made so many wonderful memories here.  I actually think I’ll miss our general neighborhood (the great playground, the preschool) more than our house itself.  The layout wasn’t perfect for us – there’s not really a good private office space to work, and we never put a closet in our room (that’s right – we lived here FIVE YEARS and did not manage to have a closet or proper wardrobes installed).  I suppose I did learn some lessons, living here:
1) Our family is unlikely to want to spend time/money improving our home, so for us it is better to buy one that is mostly or completely ‘done’ at purchase.
2) We actually don’t need that much storage space (better just to limit the amount of stuff to store).
3) Kids sharing a room is fine (though might not be as ideal when they are older esp with the gender mix we have).
4) I still love IKEA (I think our demographic is supposed to have ‘outgrown’ this Swedish superstore, but . . . no).  We have a lot of their kid furniture, 2 couches, and our dining room table from IKEA, as well as many softer goods (sheets, drinking glasses, etc).  I actually love the freedom of not worrying about whether the kids will ruin something nice.  
5) You can host a decent-sized gathering in a fairly moderate-sized square footage — I think our largest party was Josh’s 40th, and I’ve also hosted some well-attended book clubs with ~15+ people in our ~2000 sq foot home.  
6) Neither Josh nor I want to spend a lot of $ on a fancy or large home.  I am not going to share specific numbers (this is not a personal finance blog!) but I will say we have no plans to spend anywhere near what Dave Ramsey says we “can” with this calculator.  Things I’d rather spend $ on:
– vacations
– adequate childcare/services to help life run smoothly
– experiences / activities, for adults or kids
– food / restaurants 
– planners (jk but . . . I like having a decent ‘allowance’ each month to play with.  It makes me far happier than extra square footage would)
– saving (for kids’ colleges, retirement, etc)
(also not on above list: high end furniture/decor and fancy/pricey cars)
I also am now wise to the costs that come with a bigger/pricier home, including high property taxes, insurance (wind insurance is insanely $ here), air conditioning costs, maintenance, etc.  We are not frugal/”FIRE” people, but I guess we sort of want to be relatively house-rich!  
* We are undecided – Josh and I love the flexibility that renting affords, especially since we are having trouble committing to a specific location to move (locals: it appears to be between Weston, Davie, and Cooper City currently).  However, there just aren’t that many rental options available in the regions we’re considering.
There is a lot in flux right now (Josh’s new job, some potential minor pivoting for my career, new schools, home stuff, moving).  I suspect the next 6-12 months will be challenging – I remember feeling pretty lost/anxious/lonely after our move to Miami Beach, and maybe it will happen again.  At least this time I can feel more confident that eventually, we will feel settled again.  

20 Comments

  • Reply Laura Vanderkam March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    So bittersweet to say goodbye! Even if there are many wonderful reasons to move. I would second moving into a house that’s mostly "done" as renovations are a total pain. And buying less house than you can theoretically afford is pretty much key to financial happiness.

  • Reply Gillian March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    There are some things you can ONLY get at IKEA. We have a "Shoe closet" (this is what my German Au pair said it should be called) in our entryway. It is a cabinet with flip out drawers to house shoes. I have never seen one from another retailer in the US (though above German Ai Pair assures me they are very common in Europe). They keep the shoes of our household of 7 corralled, mostly, and I would never be without one again. They also have the best dish towels for $0.79/piece. No need to abandon that!

    • Reply Beth C March 10, 2019 at 9:00 pm

      Ooo I was thinking of buying one of those! They look awesome! How many shoes fit in one?

  • Reply An. March 10, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    Now 30-ish, I did try in my new house to avoid Ikea and to put more money on important pieces (matresses, couch, bedding…), and to buy the rest second hand (simple antiquities or refurbished ones, very durable pieces for life). It was a way for me to feel more in my house than in every other formatted Ikea house and to be more eco-friendly doing so. BUT it was time-consuming. But I am happy with these decisions.
    Good luck with the move and the sell!

  • Reply Shelley March 10, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    Best of luck with the move! I grew up in Broward Co and happen to love it πŸ™‚ I’m curious how you manage play spaces with a "smaller" house. I happily lived in small spaces before kids, but now I find that relocating to a different place with books/toys (i.e. kids room, basement, living room) keeps my toddler from going stir crazy on days we’re home more. Maybe in south FL you utilize playgrounds, pools, and yards more year round or just take the kids out more?

  • Reply Katie March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    I’m right there with you! Met with a realtor today re: the sale of our house to decide what to fix/improve and what to leave for the new owner. I was surprised when the realtor said houses sell better when they’re completely empty. She said they use an app. that virtually furnishes the house for online viewing. Who knew? Good luck with your move!

  • Reply Kelsey March 10, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    Love this entry. It’s so interesting to hear what’s important to other people in a home and hear your priorities

  • Reply Alyce March 10, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    Also, we just met with a financial planner for the first time earlier this week, and it turns out that ignoring the calculators on what we could afford and buying a much more modestly priced home has made a huge difference in our financial health. Highly recommend it.

  • Reply Alyce March 10, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    I live in DC, where a lot of the close in housing stock is quite old, and thus, relatively small. My 1450 sq ft house is actually on the larger side for the neighborhood, so when you say 2000 sq ft, that sounds palatial to me. Funny how these regional difference create different expectations.

    The number one thing about smaller houses is that the layout absolutely has to be 100% functional for your specific needs. You can’t afford to have any space rendered nonfunctional because of a poor layout. I highly recommend Sarah Susanka’s Not So Big House book (as well as her other books). They really helped us think through how we used the spaces in our homes to carry out different types of activities. We also identified activities that could be carried out in the same spaces so long as the spaces were adequately designed to accommodate those different activities. The book totally changed how we determined what our needs were and how we evaluated the houses we saw, and we got a much better house for us because of it.

    For us, renting in our desired neighborhood the year before buying wound up being a serious plus. A lot of the houses in our neighborhood are either smaller than our house, have terrible layouts, or in need of repairs (a lot of estate sales where the upkeep wasn’t great). With being in the neighborhood, it was very easy to tour homes, so waiting for the right house to come along wasn’t a burden. We looked for a year, using Redfin. I would check new listings on the train into the office, put in requests to tour them and would see them that same day after work on my way home. Given that you don’t need more than 15 minutes in a house to rule it out, touring homes was minimally burdensome to our everyday routines.

  • Reply Hannah Olsen March 10, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    I”m totally an IKEA fan!!

    We moved out of our house before getting ready to sell, too. I couldn”t imagine making showings and such work.

  • Reply Callie March 10, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    Looking forward to hearing about the transition and what life with your in-laws is like! Good luck in what I’m sure will be a stressful time (though hopefully it’ll be worth it in the end!).

  • Reply Ann March 10, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    Wow, 2000 sq ft seems large from my Bay Area perch, where the "affordable" (HA!!!) homes are often about 1000 sq ft. Good luck with the transition.

  • Reply Sophia March 10, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    It’ll be a really full season.

    I wonder if rising sea levels give you pause about buying in FL? There’s a reason insurance is expensive.

  • Reply Kersti March 10, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    Maybe this would be a good time to work on your Kon Mari and decluttering goals. That always makes me feel more grounded and a move is an excellent time to shed some stuff.

  • Reply OrganisingQueen March 10, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    Such a pivotal time for you! I hope this transition and the next one is smooth.

  • Reply Brittnie March 10, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    Love this insight and so wise, in my opinion. I also agree with you in that our house is 2000 sq. feet and we have hosted gatherings with 20-30 people at a time and it. is. just. fine. Less house = less stress (at least for me and my type A personality) and is perfect for us. Having a huge home isn’t bad or wrong, just not for me. Hope the transition goes well!

  • Reply Lou March 10, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    I think renting before you buy is a really sensible option when moving to a new area you don”t yet know well. Gives you time to really get to know a place. And figure out exactly what you want. Also takes all the pressure out of buying – you can wait,poised, for the home that”s just right and move without strings / a chain attached, rather than having to get somewhere so you”re not homeless!!
    Good luck with the upheaval though SHU I can”t imagine moving just now (in the thick of things with #3 child 3.5 weeks old mind you, uk based physician so I do at least get some
    Maternity leave/pay, my hat still off for you for the last year I can”t believe how well you”ve coped nor how punitive US maternity law / rights are!!)

  • Reply Ali March 10, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    We also moved out of our house during the home sale process….made it SO much easier than it would”ve been otherwise! I did not feel sentimental moving out of our last home, which I think was mostly due to knowing (even when we bought the house) that it was not our “forever” home. Now we live inwhat I think of as our forever home, and I would be very sad to leave, so maybe that”s the difference? My only advice would be—if there are changes you want to make to where you buy, so it right away. Just last week we made a change we”d been talking about for the 2 years we”ve lived here, and our immediate reaction was “why didn”t we do this the day we moved?” For me at least, it”s hard to make a change out of nowhere but if you are ablready going through the moving process it”s easier. (Hence, why the rolls we had repainted before we moved in are the joy rokms we”ve gotten around to…and the other rooms still have paint swatches on the wall!!)

  • Reply Beth C March 10, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    We’re late 30’s /early 40’s, both consultants, 2 kids and still haven’t outgrown Ikea. I just can’t argue with the clean lines and the price point! We’ve had some Ikea furniture that didn’t last very long but the majority has been great.

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.