…to get where you want to be.
So we moved to Vermont.
The Northeast Kingdom, more specifically.
We finally did it. Years of vacillating between staying put and moving where we really wanted to live.
Actually, I wish I’d put it like that to myself years ago, but sometimes clarity comes in hindsight. Definitely, in this case. Obviously, we would want to be where “we really wanted to live.”
For us, that was up here, within easy driving distance of our northern neighbors. Out where there’s space, where the neighbors are nice, but far enough away for our hermit tendencies. No neighbors with crying kids or parties. Just the loons (there’s only one pair, the lake’s too small for more) and the occasional turkeys coming through to eat apples that fell from the tree in the backyard. Acres and acres of wildlife refuge with dirt roads barely suitable for cars, but perfect for Princess Penelope (the CB500X) and KLaRa (the KLR, of course). Sixty mile rides on dirt roads and under power lines where you only see three people – on a Saturday. In September.
We live here.
Every day, one of us says this to the other – and there’s a dazed giddiness, a feeling that we put one over on the man by managing to pull this off. So let me tell you how it went down:
Back in the spring. The Spousal Unit (hereafter referred to as SU because DH drives me up the wall and seems way too cutesy for me to use with a straight face) and I finally had that conversation about “where should we move to and can we afford it on our budget” and ran the numbers….and they worked. I’ve read that Gen Xers are the last of the generation that will probably benefit from this whole boom and bust cycle of home ownership that’s coming around again – and I’m the exception that proves the rule. Or maybe I’m not an exception. But either way, I realized I could sell the house we’d fixed up and sell it for more than I paid for it. And have money left over for moving and settling into a new house.
This led to over two solid months of tackling a slew of projects around the house neither of us had been motivated enough to complete (or even start, in some cases). We replaced a utility sink, a bathroom vanity, a bulkhead that had rusted away and the crumbling concrete around said bulkhead. I painted so many rooms – rooms I’d never painted since I lived there. I joked to SU more than once that our house would have been much nicer to live in if we’d done that stuff sooner.
We put so many of our belongings in storage – all those boxes of records and CDs, books, extra clothes, tools….so many things. We ended up needing a second storage unit after we filled the first. There were also two dumpsters that we filled – and I mean filled.
Then there were the house listings. Combing the ones in Vermont, this time. I started in the central part of the state, but kept not finding what we needed to find – a solid house, in our price range. Nothing fancy, but with a little bit of land. A few acres. Some privacy. Hopefully with high speed internet to the house. After a while looking there (and a couple of trips north in February and March), I realized we needed to look further north. SU concurred and we found a few possible candidates for our new home. I had a hilarious first call with a realtor who ended up getting us into our new house and even coming over to help me scrape the eaves on the garage when we were painting it….but I’m getting ahead of myself.
So, we wind down our activities in the house where we were living, and then picked a few houses that were likely. We cleaned the hell out of our house and got the pictures taken to put it on the market. Then we cleared out of the house with our dogs and put the house on the market while we went up to the NEK to look at our candidates. We weren’t sure any of the houses for sale would work out for us, but we were hopeful. We arrived in northern Vermont on Friday afternoon and stayed next to a river in a beautiful house with such a clear view of the nighttime sky that I could see the Milky Way.
On a Saturday in mid-May, we went to look at our first house. It was the one we’d felt had the best possibility of working for us, and when we drove up and saw the view from the yard in back of the house, we were amazed. It’s really a beautiful yard with a million dollar view. Only 4 and something acres, but so private. The house was built in 1968 by the seller’s father. It’s a solid ranch with an open kitchen and living room floor plan and a walkout basement. When we finished walking through, we got outside and told the realtor we didn’t need to look at the other ones.
But what we’d also just found out was that we had a full price offer on our house. It had actually come in on Friday night, and I think it was the first or second person who actually looked at the house. All those years of our game of “what’s the catch” when looking at all the real estate listings paid off in making sure our house was clean and set up and had nothing that “wasn’t in the listing photos” because we knew what we wanted to see when we looked at houses on the real estate listing sites.
We accepted the buyer’s offer, and the seller accepted ours. The next month was a crazy blur, but I managed to finish all my loan paperwork and jump through all the necessary hoops to get the loan done. I’d started the application process in February – so grateful to my loan officer and processor at NFCU for all the help, and a special shout out to the VA for their guaranteed loan with no down payment. I’m still surprised that there are so many veterans who don’t know about it – but if you’re a veteran (honorably discharged), you can likely get a VA loan. It’s not a benefit unless you use it, kids.
On June 20th, we sold our house in Massachusetts. Two days later, we bought our house in Vermont. That view in the header up there? That’s the view out our living room window. We’ve got a garage with the same footprint as our former house, and a house that’s even bigger. No stairs to the bedroom, and the bathroom’s on the same floor. It needs a metric fuckload of updating, new shingles and windows and a real bathroom because this tiny one isn’t going to do it for us. Who’s doing all that work? We are. With the skills we had and those we also learned making the addition on our last house (and all those repairs before we put it on the market), with a judicious usage of licensed plumbers and electricians for the things we’re not able to do ourselves, we’ll make this house our home.
But first, we’ll take some time to live and enjoy now that we can breathe again. So much rushing around, but we did it. We’re still not sure exactly how two people like us managed to pull this off, but we’re here and we’re staying. Come visit.
PS – everything here is under construction. on the website, i mean.