“Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” ― Mary Oliver
We just moved into our new home, our third house since getting married less than eight years ago. After a few months on the market we sold the house we’ve lived in for the last four years, the house that won us over with its charm and historic appeal, and the house to which we brought our youngest home from the hospital that I thought would be our “forever” house, in which we would retire and grow old.Seems like a nice idea, right? We loved old homes, our first house was a 1930s Colonial in Southwest Minneapolis, but this home, built in Edina in the 1920s, was more like the one featured in the old 80s movie The Money Pit, starring Tom Hanks and Shelly Long (great movie to get on Netflix if you haven’t seen it)!
So why did we buy it in the first place? Well, it was in a great location – convenient to everything, part of an excellent school district, and in the kind of neighborhood that looked like a movie set, all protected under the National Register of Historic places to ensure its timeless appeal. Also, the world was different; we had just sold our first old home for a substantial profit and felt we could put that to good use in the form of a large down payment on our next home. We were merely following the typical American culture of “if you can afford it, you should do it,” never really asking what it would be like if we didn’t.
After many repairs and restorations to the home, entirely new furniture for the main floor (because my old stuff didn’t seem up-to-snuff for this home), and a lot of investigating with architects and debate at home about what would be done about our closed-off, less-than-functional, very dated kitchen, I was already having second thoughts about the house.
During that time, we had spent a week in a remote part of Alaska with my family for my brother’s wedding which led to a lot of reflection. It must’ve been fate that around that time I also was reading The Soul of Money:Reclaiming the Wealth of Our Inner Resources and The Power of Half: One Families Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back; two inspirational, if somewhat extreme, books which helped me put our lifestyle (and even specifically the path we put our lives on by buying that house) into perspective. So, upon our return from Alaska I proposed to my husband that we put our house on the market. Mind you, I was the one who was in love with it when we bought it, and now I was suggesting to sell it, at a loss no less!
Long story (a little) shorter… he agreed when I laid out the plan to sell our home and find a home that was better suited to our young family: with a layout that made more sense for the way a modern family lives, a back yard the kids could run and play in, a neighborhood more geared towards young families, and still in the Edina school district we both agreed we wanted. Most importantly, the home would be significantly less expensive, as it would need to be so that we could (1) afford to take a loss on our old place and still get our new mortgage to be smaller with shortened terms (to a 20-year versus the 30-year we had been in), and (2) so we could budget for the various remodeling projects we’d want to do to make the space our own. In our old homes we had always budgeted for a lot of cosmetic enhancements, redecorating, and repair work, but had never been able to do any bigger projects because of the resources needed just to maintain the houses.
Last but not least, I was inspired to think about how we could increase our charitable giving and community involvement to have a more positive impact on others. I’d been feeling that for a few years and knew that to do that we had to pare back on this one area of our life that, in my mind, drives so many other of life’s choices. Not to say by any means that we’re martyrs or depriving ourselves of luxuries. If you read my blog at all I think you know we are not! 😉 But all the more reason a few trade-offs can easily and somewhat painlessly be made in order to live our values beyond what we’re exposed to at church on Sundays.
I know that we were so fortunate to be able to sell our house and find our new home which seems perfect for our family. Maybe it was appropriate we ended up moving over Easter weekend because it does feel like we’re starting a fresh chapter in our family’s story and have moved on both physically and figuratively from our life in the old house.
Family room, adjacent but not open to kitchen — looking to remodel kitchen to open up this space a bit.
Living room, smaller in front of house, thankfully all of my furniture still works in this house!