From Mansion To Crack Shack In 4 Hours Or Less.
I want it stated, for the record, and despite all evidence to the contrary, that I’m actually looking forward to moving to Virginia.
North Carolina, it’s been real. I can’t deny you’re a gorgeous state —
But it’s hard for a person to grow without change, and even a 4-hour change is better than no change at all.
Four hours, surprisingly, is actually affording more change than I’d originally expected. After all, we’re only moving one state away. In Europe, that distance could easily be the difference between country and currency and language. But here? We’ll still be south of the Mason-Dixon — still, I imagine, a land of southern accents and boiled peanuts and where I’ll definitely be a doodle. Of course, I already knew I’d have to do the typical annoying military spouse things like get a new driver’s license, find a new hairdresser, and spend hours manually searching for the perfect classic rock radio station. (What? The Tracker doesn’t have a “search” feature and I’m too cheap for satellite.) But now that I’ve had some time to absorb the news, some other changes have started to sink in.
1) Location, location, location!
We are going to be on the coast, guys. I mean, I know North Carolina is a coastal state too, but I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve packed up and headed a couple of hours to the beach. But soon? We’ll be living on an actual peninsula surrounded on three sides by the blue stuff. And while I’m not technically a “beach goer,” per se, there’s something undeniably peaceful about water.
Except. Does anyone know how much flood insurance costs?
2) Location, location, location! Again!
I hear they serve lobster on buns.
3) Business Opportunities.
You’ve probably guessed by now that I don’t make a lot of money. I officially started this whole “self employment” thing just over a year ago, and I’m just now getting settled with regular gigs. I have a small network of local realtors who hire me to photograph their listings, and I’ve been getting regular assignments from a local magazine for articles and photos. These things take time to ramp up — a friend tells a friend who tells a friend who tells a friend — and it takes even longer when you’re not really trying. Mentally, this whole time, I knew we’d be moving soon and that I’d have to start over. In a few months? I won’t have that excuse.
It will also be time to start focusing this blog a bit more. I want to do more food and travel (see numbers 1 and 2 above). I want to find ways to generate an income that justify the time I spend here. The time I love to spend here. Perhaps some sidebar advertising and finally linking up with Amazon Affiliates. I shop on Amazon like… all of the time. It saves me from going out into the world. And I’d love to start sharing some of these things with you guys, but in North Carolina I’m not allowed to participate in the affiliate program. But after a 4-hour move north to Virginia? We’re good to go.
For example, we’re the recent proud owners of this extra plush mattress pad supposedly used in Marriott hotels. I had to throw away our foam topper, which was about ten years old and disgusting because humans are disgusting creatures, and I opted for this because it’s rumored to be cooler than foam and my husband schwitzes like Richard Simmons after a leg lift. The verdict? Loving it. It’s still a bit warm, as any plush surface is expected be, but the price is right, it’s washable, and it’s made in the U.S. and supplied by a veteran-owned company called Exceptional Sheets Co. There was even a hand-written thank you note inside the box. And by purchasing through Amazon, I saved over $100.00 on what they’re charging on their website. I’d love to be able to tell you about these deals and get a little sumpin’ sumpin’ in return. Win-win for everyone! Amazon and Exceptional Sheets Co. did not compensate me for this endorsement. Thank you.
Never before have I lived so close to a place where people go on vacation. While my sister has lived in Miami and now Chicago, my mother lives in Colorado, my aunt and uncle have lived in Hawaii, and Justin’s aunt and uncle in northern California, I’ve always lived in places like Omaha. And Valdosta. And Fayetteville. And while there’s really nothing wrong with these places (Omaha has an incredible restaurant scene, FYI), they’re not typically places people go out of their way to visit when they have time off from work.
But Colonial Williamsburg has actual tourists. And I’ve always wanted to be a local who complains about the tourists.
5) Housing Costs.
I’m just now realizing the mistake I made in my assumption that housing costs there would be comparable to housing costs here. After all, I figured we’re moving from a “military town” to a “military town.” I hadn’t considered factors 1-4 coming into play and affecting home prices. And while there is certainly affordable and nice housing available in the areas immediately surrounding the Air Force Base, I’d kind of gotten my eager little heart set on Williamsburg because hello, tricornes.
But the reality is that factors like a desirable location and expanded business opportunities actually do affect the cost of living, hence —
What I thought we’d be able to buy in Williamsburg:
What we’re actually able to buy in Williamsburg:
And okay. I need to explain so you can see I’m not as shallow as you think I am. The second house is actually quite nice by world standards — and by my standards. Inside, it’s absolutely adorable. But the location is not prime, and it’s obviously cookie cutter construction, which is a huge peeve of mine. It’s priced way above tax value, which would make it nearly impossible to re-sell in three years. And that, kids, is the real deal breaker.
The first house, on the other hand, is a gorgeous brick ranch in a pretty suburban setting, just minutes though from great grocery stores and local attractions. It has a large backyard for the mutts, and plenty of space between neighbors. However, the inside could still use some cosmetic work. Unless you actually like dark wood paneling, that is. The first house would be our dream purchase in that area, but it’s already priced — and fairly — at the top of our budget, leaving us little money to spend on the fun stuff.
*Of course, the actual location within Williamsburg and the financial situation of the seller can skew this reality, so I’m staying optimistic that we’ll be able to find something that works for us and falls within the realm of affordability without making us house-poor. There are also compromises we could make, like perhaps considering a town home or moving outside of Williamsburg and closer to the military base. Because #1 and #2 in my list above are very — very — important to me, and I want to be able to take advantage of our proximity to some really cool nearby restaurants and attractions.
In the end, what’s important is finding that perfect balance of a comfortable home we’re not financially tied to in a location we’re excited to explore.
I whined about it on Facebook yesterday and Stephanie, who lives in Vancouver, put it into perspective for me by having me take this quiz called “Crack Shack or Mansion?” The object of the game is to guess, among a series of relatively small and mostly run-down looking homes, which cost over a million dollars and which are certified “crack shacks.” My first-time results aren’t surprising:
Thanks for the crack house upbringing, Mom.
But it was Jeannine who said the magic words I seemingly need to remind myself of about every issue on every day. She said, “It will work out, it always does.”
And you know what?
It always does.
Have you ever been in sticker shock about a move?