Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Instant Homestead Sale!

Dory: He says, "It's time to let go!". Everything's going to be all right.
Marlin: How do you know? How do you know something bad isn't gonna happen?!
Dory: I don't!

- Finding Nemo
As many of you guessed from my last post, we've more or less made up our minds. Oh in theory there could still be some dramatic last minute change of heart (or circumstance), but mostly we're just waiting for the Gears of Bureaucracy to turn. We're pretty close to the point of no return on this decision though.

But as a result of these impending events, our Instant Homestead has been significantly discounted from our original price. We're down about $20,000 from our starting point.

We did have four showings last week, including three in two days. That's more showings than we had from November through June. So we feel a bit better. We may end up dropping our price some more though if something doesn't happen soon.

Unfortunately, we'll most likely take a loss on this place. We put our money into things that just don't add to resale value - like really good fences.

But what can you do? We could stay put, and have my job disappear in six months. Or stay put and have my job move to Texas, which is almost as bad. (No offense to my Texas friends.) In my line of work, there are only so many employers to choose from in any given metro area, and none of the ones around here are hiring.

There is no obvious best choice here, and either direction could turn out to be a bad move. So you go with what feels right. A friend of mine advised that in situations like these, you should make up your mind decisively, and then do a Happy Dance. If it doesn't feel right, switch your decision and try again.

So here we go. We've come up with Plans A through at least G or H by now. We've got contingencies upon contingencies. We'll navigate it as best we can.

And as soon as everything is official I'll have some stories to tell. This blog will pick up again, perhaps somewhat sporadically at first as we do all the million things we need to do. But I can feel the writing piling up inside. It's just not quite time yet...


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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Standing on the precipice

We are about to be faced with a very interesting (and risky) choice - in fact, it's probably the biggest decision our family has ever made.

Option 1 is the Status Quo. Keep our current job and our current house. We really do love our home - nine acres, fenced pastures, pole barn, pond, and all the things we've put into it. But between a pay cut, rising health care costs, the addition of a new family member, and other expenses, our budget has become uncomfortably snug. The job that I've been with for almost a decade now requires me to work more hours than ever before, among other problems. My job security feels like it's eroded significantly in the last couple years. There are no real opportunities for career growth or change there. I currently work from home 4 days a week, but every Thursday I have a 100 mile commute - each way. Starting next year, I'd have five full weeks of vacation time.

Option 2 is The Leap. I'm about to be offered a new job, in the area we fell in love with while visiting some friends last summer: A beautiful, rolling countryside that is a mix of woods and small farms. Local food at every turn - heck, even the corner gas stations sell local veggies and raw milk. (The annual sustainable farm tours in this area include no less than 40 participating farms.) World-class autism programs. A great job market for my line of work. Lower cost of living. Good friends in the immediate area, and family in the region.

The new job would involve a pay raise, Federal benefits, four more paid holidays, 13 vacation days right off the bat and a bump to four weeks after three years. Working from home three days a week after six months of employment. Job stability. Regular training, and many more potential career opportunities. And good team chemistry.

We found an awesome house in the area, sitting on 3.5 acres, and we've actually got a contingent contract on it. It's significantly cheaper than our current home.

The problem, of course, is that we can't get our house to sell. It's been on the market since November, with very few showings. We've dropped our price several times, and changed real estate agents. Still nothing yet.

We can come up with all kinds of short-term plans and schemes that would allow me to take the new job. It would also give us access to some retirement money that could be used to drop our house price further, as well as putting a significant down payment on the next house.

But the short-term solutions involve things like splitting our family across 400 miles, or cramming 4 adults and 5 kids into a 1500-square-foot house with a slightly unreliable well. We could manage, but for how long?

If the house still won't sell... well.... we haven't come up with a viable long-term solution for that.

We've got an eight hour drive tomorrow to think about all this. But we've been thinking about this hypothetical scenario for months now, and haven't yet derived the answer. The only difference is that it's no longer hypothetical.

John Burroughs is credited with saying "Leap, and the net will appear." We might be about to test that sentiment in a very big way.



Wednesday, June 02, 2010


As a quick follow-up to my One Small Step post...

Top 10 Things that Amelia Suddenly Likes to Eat by the Pound:
(in no particular order)

Most kinds of soup
Stir fried bell peppers
Anything with lettuce or greens
Almost anything with pasta
Almost anything with rice
Sweet corn
English muffins