My last post was June 23rd, and I can't believe how many things have changed since then.
It was June when I had finally resigned myself to staying in our home in Laveen. My husband and I had tossed around the idea of trying to buy a small piece of land somewhere in Arizona, but the market was way too crazy. The huge profit we were projecting to make from the sale of our home wouldn't get us very far in the Valley. So I decided to throw myself into other projects...like this blog.
But then, one day, my husband texted me and said, "what about Texas?"
What about Texas?
We started looking at land. It seemed promising. There was a lot available, and the reality of buying a cute, three bedroom house on a couple acres for under $200k was entirely possible. I started planning, as I always do. I developed a 6-8 month plan, and we started crunching numbers. Moving expenses, travel expenses, new house...there was a lot to consider. But it was exciting. After just paying off over $25,000 in credit card debt at the beginning of the year, it was crazy to think that another big dream was within reach.
August 7th, Samuel and I sat at breakfast, celebrating our ten year anniversary. We made plans to move to move to Texas in February of 2022.
By August 29th, our house had sold.
After speaking with a realtor who encouraged a sale soon to ensure we got a good price before a potential market slump, and watching the prices of homes in Texas rapidly rising, we made the decision to go for it, and go for it now. I was happy...and nervous. I feel like everything happened so fast, I didn't really have time to process it, at the time. To be honest, it's been that way for the past few months now. As I drive down Texas streets, surrounded by cold air and trees and shops that are beginning to decorate for Christmas, it is as if I'm only, just now, taking a breath and realizing the huge change we've made.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
During the time that we were prepping our house for selling, and packing all of our belongs into pods to be moved a thousand miles, some difficult things were happening. Christopher (1.5yrs old) had developed a weird rash on his body that was causing him extreme discomfort. Also, Samuel's father had to be rushed to the hospital and ended up in a coma from West Nile Virus complications. Some exciting things were happening, too. We found a cute little home on 2 acres in a rural town called Fairfield. It was more than we originally wanted to spend, but it looked like the perfect place for our family. We made an offer, it was accepted, and as the sellers seemed eager to finish the process, we thought we could be moving in as soon as the end of September.
The sale of our home was made official on September 13th. The home we purchased in Laveen for $175k in 2017 was sold for $411k, giving us a profit of about $208k. It still blows my mind. We got that money into a high interest account quickly and prepared for the next steps. We were in a little Airbnb in town for a few days. We had received a diagnosis for our son (ironically, also a mosquito borne illness...also probably West Nile) and medication, and he seemed to be on the mend. My father-in-law was also improving and seemed to be more stable. We discussed staying in Arizona for a bit longer, but decided to go ahead and stick with our original plan.
We spent three days driving to Texas. It was actually a lot of fun. We saw so many cool things (so many trains!) and made some truly amazing memories. Our plan was to stay in a hotel in Dallas for about two weeks while the final arrangements were made for our new house.
Except...they weren't being made. We learned, halfway through our journey, that the home hadn't had an appraisal done, and that it hadn't even been scheduled yet. Apparently, appraisers are in short supply right now, and it didn't help that our new place was in a super remote, rural area. We weren't really sure what to do; we would definitely not be moving in in two weeks. But we were already here, and had to make the best of it.
Our two weeks in Dallas gave us lots of precious time as a family. We went to the Zoo in Fort Worth, visited with an old friend and her adorable family, and explored the arboretum in Dallas, which was ALL decked out for fall. We took way too many trips to the lobby of the hotel for coffee. We visited parks and freaked out any time we saw a squirrel...which was many times.
But there were more hardships. Christopher had finished his prescription of antiviral for his rash, and it seemed to be returning. Sleep was in short supply. And then, we received the unexpected news that Samuel's dad has passed away.
It was hard.
To make matters worse, we took a drive out to see the home we had under contract, and it was not at all what I expected. It was very old and very dilapidated in some areas. Samuel was hopeful that we could turn it into someplace beautiful, but I was only overwhelmed. Then, we found out that, while the sellers had told us there didn't need to be a land survey completed, the sale actually did require a survey. And the survey probably couldn't happen for another 8-10 weeks, or even later.
We backed out of the contract.
Now without a home to stay for, we decided to drive back to Arizona. We wanted to be nearby to assist with arrangements with Samuel's family, and to attend the services for his dad. Christopher was continuing to get worse, and I was happy to be back in a familiar area to have him seen again. Literally a couple days before we left, as we frantically scoured Zillow and Redfin and Realtor.com, we found an adorable home on the outskirts of Waco. WITH TEN ACRES. We weren't about to make an offer on a home we hadn't seen again, so Samuel drove the couple hours to view the property. He met the owner. It looked so promising. It was way more than we had originally wanted to spend (about $330k) but with limited options, and limited time, we decided the cost was worth the huge homestead we would be able to build on the land. We signed offer documents at rest stops during the drive back to AZ.
We did the trip in one day this time. 15 hours of driving, which was more like 22 hours counting the stops. It was rough, but we made it. It felt good to be "home", and staying in a really nice Airbnb, with a full kitchen and 2 bedrooms! A welcome change to a one room hotel.
But then more things began to unravel.
The cute home in Waco had a lot of issues, and the seller was denying (against multiple inspections) that they existed. There was a lot of back and forth, a weird conversation with a passive-aggressive grandson, and tons of exasperation. Literally an hour before our options period was to end, we thought we had come to an understanding and were ready to move forward. They decided to go with another offer.
Christopher was also doing poorly. We got him more medication, but it didn't seem to be working this time. Our third trip to urgent care and we discovered he had Hand Foot and Mouth, a common virus that results in just miserable itching.
The rest of our time in Arizona was spent desperately looking at houses and trying to keep Christopher comfortable and trying to entertain the other two kids with a bin of books and a box of Duplos. The market in Texas was changing rapidly, and quickly mirroring what we had left behind. Prices were going up, and houses were being snatched up before we could make offers. Lots of places we were hopeful about turned up tons of issues that we wouldn't be able to afford to fix. It was so discouraging.
We were faced with a dilemma. What we wanted...what we had started out expecting to get...was a few acres and a home, and we could see that this wasn't going to happen for less than $350k. We could get something that was a huge compromise, a smaller house with a "big lot", in the $200k range. Or we could abandon all of our "must haves" and just try to find someplace to live, with a cheap enough price tag that we could buy it outright and be able to save up for the kind of place we really wanted. We felt desperate. We needed a place to live. We needed some structure. We needed time to be able to find the land that would be perfect for us. We decided to try and buy the first, cheap, livable place we could.
And then...we found it.
While our initial interest was turned down (the realtor didn't like the fact that we weren't coming to see it; trust us, we didn't like it either!), our offer of $130k for a 1700 sq. ft. home on .25 acres in Hearne, Texas, was accepted. Because we weren't financing any part of it, we didn't need an appraisal. Because it wasn't a huge piece of land, we didn't need a survey. And because the home was so cheap, we had money enough to cover the myriad of repairs and fixes necessary to move in.
So, on November 1st, we went back to Texas. We made it just in time to close on our new home on November 3rd.
Right now, I'm sitting in another Airbnb in Bryan, TX, which is about 25 minutes from our new house. We have already started on repairs, and all of our things are expected to arrive from storage on Friday. We're hoping to have everything unpacked and set up by Sunday, which, incidentally, is our daughter Evangeline's fourth birthday.
(spoiler alert...we bought her a trampoline, since we have a backyard now!)
The past few months have been nothing short of insane. Christopher just now seems to be improving after almost nine weeks of struggling with rashes and reactions. I think my husband and I will have a lot of processing to do, once we have time to do it. I could write pages about how hard this has been emotionally, the depths I've sunk to spiritually, and the growth I have seen and felt come out of this experience.
But that's for another time.
Suffice to say, I'm already beginning to see the tapestry of redemption through all of the messy, hard, sorrow-soaked threads. After the upheaval and exhaustion and heaviness we've experienced, I cannot imagine moving into a place where we would have to immediately jump into growing and maintaining a farm. With the uncertainty of the economic state of our country, I am thankful not to have taken on a huge mortgage on top of the huge expenses of starting a homestead. After learning the things I've learned about land quality and area quality and agriculture exemptions, I'm glad we have the flexibility to actually spend time looking for exactly what we want.
And after seeing this adorable, quirky, crooked, delightfully green little urbanstead we bought in the small town of Hearne, I am so thankful we will soon get to cultivate our yard, and space, and family there.
I thought it was going to be hard, moving to a new state with our three little kids. I had no idea just how hard it would be. But I also didn't know just how worth it it would be.