This week we marked one full year since we closed the sale of our first home. That day was downright awful — gut-wrenching, exhausting, challenging, expensive, nerve-wrecking and long. Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20 and we’ve done a lot of reflecting on the moving experience over the last year. Today’s #FFF is devoted to those thoughts and our lessons learned.
- If you think you’ve done enough research, prep and planning for your move, you still probably have not. We created a packing schedule and ordered moving supplies well in advance of moving day, but still found ourselves making repeated trips to U-Haul, Home Depot, etc. and boxing items as the movers were loading up.
- We should have hired full-service movers. We didn’t do this for two reasons — the sticker shock at the price and the fact that we’d need to rent storage (and unload/load twice) since our new house wouldn’t be ready right away. Instead, we rented U-Boxes (U-Haul’s version of those big POD containers). They were delivered to our driveway to be loaded up, then transported for us to Harrisburg where they were stored until being delivered to our new house. That sounds pretty great, right?! It wasn’t. Between the failings of U-Haul’s online calculator and our own misjudgement of our furniture and belongings, we vastly under-estimated how many U-Boxes to order. This left us ordering more the day before our move based on the advice of the movers we hired as labor-only to load the boxes. When the movers left, there was still furniture and boxes with no place to go because they, too, had underestimated what we’d need. So at 8 p.m. the night before we were to drive away, Chris was arranging for a rental truck and a storage unit to unload it into in Harrisburg. We had to do final loading and cleaning without any help while keeping a toddler occupied. We had to push back the closing to late morning and then make arrangements for Chris to leave his car at our neighbor’s house because he now had to drive the truck to Harrisburg. Oh, and it was snowing.
3. Moving is more emotional than I expected, even a year later. I knew it would be hard to leave our first house — a house we built — that had virtually every milestone memory attached to it. It was the place we chose every door knob, floor tile, faucet and paint color. It was where I shared the news with Chris that we were pregnant. It was where we brought Kate home, where she said her first word and took her first step. Leaving it felt like losing a part of our story, even though the move was completely voluntary. The stress and exhaustion of the move are still palpable and I miss having a home where everything is new and clean and perfect. I miss our pantry and in particular, I miss our finished basement.
4. Buying a well-worn house that needs love is a humbling and gratifying experience. We were not prepared, by any stretch, for the amount of work that our current house needed. And thank God — we may never have taken on the challenge had we known! Something we missed out on, if you want to call it that, when we built a new home was the pride of transforming something and making it your own. Although we didn’t lay the new flooring or install the new sinks ourselves, we’ve done enough cleaning, scraping, patching, painting and loving to feel an incomparable sense of ownership. Chris and I talked about this last weekend as we sat in our master bedroom — recently painted and with new bedding and curtains. The room isn’t finished yet, but I wish I could have told myself last February where we’d be now and how everything would feel so much different in a relatively short amount of time.
5. Lastly, I found moving to bean exercise in understanding and accepting limits. If most housing transactions are like ours, there’s a finite amount of time to arrange and execute a million details in multiple cities — packing, moving, closing documents, inspections, repairs, banking issues, finding a new daycare and new trades-people, etc. For us, this means that we have a twinge of regret about some aspects of the upstairs bathroom renovation (although we’re still very happy with the finished product), but at the time, we had a limited number of days and a fixed amount of energy and attention to devote to the project. There are other lessons learned — you can’t control when flooring is delivered, for example — and sometimes there’s nothing you can change. We’re learning to accept that trade-offs are inevitable and that you can only do your best!