Tuesday, June 11, 2013

To Move or Not to Move

When I was a child I couldn't get enough Little House on the Prairie.  I wanted to BE Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I wanted to live in a cabin and churn my own butter and can my own preserves and run through tall grasses and go fishing in a creek.  No joke.  It was my fantasy.

When I met Jason I kind of knew we were destined because he shared my fantasy.  Together we dreamed of taking our kids and living like the Wilderness Family or Mountain Family Robinson.  You remember those {awesome, spectacular, cheesy} movies from the 70s where the family left the smog of LA and moved to the wilderness and met a scraggly mountain man and befriended a bear?  (Ah, to have grown up in the 70s!).  Grizzly Adams.  Across the Great Divide.  We had awesome movies to grow up and dream with in the '70s.
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After I graduated from college, Jason and I moved in together...as far out in the country as possible while still being close enough to get to work.

I will never forget the first time Jason's grandmother saw our first apartment, she asked Jason why he wanted to live "in the sticks"?

These were our neighbors in that first apartment:

Our first house was 2.8 miles up a mountain road and we loved it.  It was a 200 year old farmhouse that was built on top of a mountain.  We had an old foundation on our property and when we built our dog run, we found old, broken china cups and dishes that someone had buried.  More than half of our three acres were wooded and I used to lay in bed in the morning and watch deer jump up and pull down branches from trees in winter looking for food.  I saw a baby squirrel and its' mama from my bed one morning, too.  There were several horse farms on our streets and it was not uncommon to hear the clop-clop-clop of horses hooves going by--a sound I had grown up with and always found comfort in.

an aerial photo of our first home in New Milford, CT.

But, when Allie was a baby and my mom was diagnosed with cancer for the second time and Jason wanted to change jobs...we decided to move back to New Jersey.  At the time we had been soured on whole weekends spent on yard maintenance, hefty plowing bills for the driveway for winter and spending money just on maintaining an old house.  We wanted a home with sidewalks so little Allie could ride a scooter or Big Wheel or Green Machine or bicycle.  We wanted a low or no maintenance home, so we could have money for extras and time to enjoy them.  We wanted to be near family.  So we bought a house in a town with lots of mature trees.

We have great neighbors and sidewalks for the girls to play on and friends whose houses they can walk to.  Cutting the grass takes less than 2 hours on the weekend and a snowblower easily cleans the driveway.  We like being close to good restaurants and a university; we enjoy and take advantage of many of the opportunities of a more urban environment.  Jason and I are both involved with the town, I work at the library and Jason has set goals for our town's Shade Tree Commission and is working toward meeting them.  We have friends.  We have a great life.  We are very happy here.  Our mortgage is close to being paid off.

But lately - for about a year now - every once in a while we start looking to move to an area with more space, with rolling hills, where we can have a couple of acres.  Allie has proven herself a great "critter-keeper" and would love chickens.  Jason wants to not hear the neighbors cutting their grass, he yearns for peace and quiet on a summer morning, just sipping coffee and looking at trees (my husband is OBSESSED with trees--crazy man!).  I like the calm that comes over me driving up and down rolling hills, the peace I feel in nature, the freedom of having more space between us and other people.  And so we look for houses...

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Allie would like to move because she wants to care for chickens.  Piper just says, emphatically, "We are NOT moving."  Allie looks for houses on Realtor.com all the time.  We tell her all the time "Make Us Move" show us that house that will seal the deal and make all the annoyance of selling and packing and unpacking and settling in and learning a new house worth our while.

This one is in our price range and Allie thinks it would be "PERFECT!" (see the chicken coop back there?)  but I really don't want to have to maintain ALL those buildings!
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But I certainly would NOT mind having this view:

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I admit I love fixing up houses.  It's great fun!  But I also love that this house is almost exactly the way we want it.  We've finished the basement, added a deck, remodeled the bathrooms, installed all new windows and a new roof and we've done quite a bit of landscaping.  We are comfortable here, we really like our house, it's cozy and comfortable and perfect for us.  We like our neighbors a lot and for the most part our neighborhood is really quiet.  Our girls take classes at the university nearby and we love having theatre and really good restaurants and even Manhattan so close.  We chose this particular area 10 years ago because it has easy access to many major roads and you can get to a lot of places fairly easily and quickly (the beach & Manhattan in 40 minutes; the mountains in 45 minutes; Philly in an hour).  This easy commutability comes at the expense of being more crowded, more densely populated.  You have to move more than another half hour from all these things to get an area where you can have rolling hills and 2+ acre parcels of land.

The idea of selling a house, keeping it neat, having people look at it, the stress of that (I've done it twice and it's not fun!) is overwhelming.  The idea of packing, hiring movers, worrying about all the logistics.  We almost got sued the last time we sold a house and that had my anxiety at a high (fortunately the people did not have a case, but they were the type to try).

But, we feel called to a more rural area...and so we keep looking...we figure if the right house comes along we will know it.  A craftsman-style bungalow with lots of character on a couple acres would probably do it....