Out of the Old and Into the New

Since my ex and I decided to split up two months ago, I’ve been in a limbo of sorts–an uncomfortable place between my old life and a new normal. Patience has never been my forte, and I’ve been chomping at the bit to get through this transition. Hard to believe I’m almost there.

I bought my current house fifteen years ago this month. At the time, I owned a home in Lexington KY and was renting an apartment in DC. I decided to go ahead and buy, even though I wasn’t familiar with the Athens area, just so I wouldn’t need to move again. The house, yard, and price tag were all bigger than I wanted, but more desirable than anything else I looked at, so I bought it.

That move was stressful. Between the distance and that three locations were involved was bad enough. But everything was contingent upon the sale of my house in Kentucky which didn’t happen until the last possible second. I was sweating bullets.

In the intervening years, neighborhoods around mine have gone down hill–especially in the last five years. Nearly every home on my street was owner-occupied when I moved here. Now about half are rentals. My house is worth almost exactly what I paid for it fifteen years ago. The economy played a role of course, but I suspect I paid too much when I bought it. Throw in area decline and a re-fi at the top of the market and I’m so far underwater that I need one of those deepwater submarines to keep from drowning.

Of course, I had no idea I was upside down until after the house went on the market. I knew I didn’t have a ton of equity, but based on my tax assessment, I figured I’d have to pay a few thousand at the closing to cover real estate commissions–a small price to pay for peace of mind. Finding out the tax assessment was off by more than $20,000 was an “oh shit!” moment.

Rather than accept that I was trapped for the rest of my life in a house I didn’t want, I met with an attorney, a financial planner, and a realtor about my options. Thanks to the attorney, now even my contingency plans have contingency plans. Because of that meeting, even though my old house hasn’t sold, tomorrow I close on my new house.

The new house is the third I’ve owned, but the first I’ll be moving into without a partner–not counting Toodles. My first ex moved with me into my Kentucky house and got all of his decorating ideas from Fingerhut. My second ex moved with me into this house and was a borderline hoarder with more baggage–literal and figurative–than a fleet of cruise ships. My most recent ex is my third, moving in several years after I bought this house. He has impeccable taste. In his case, the issue was a few big pieces with sentimental value that took up more space than we could afford to give them. In every case, I lived with it because that’s what you do when you’re in a relationship. I admit, I may have grumbled…some…along the way.

The new house combines everything I liked about my two previous homes without any of the things I didn’t like. If it has one shortcoming, it’s that the windows are normal-sized rather than ceiling-to-floor. I’ll no doubt find other little things once I get settled in, but I don’t think any will offset my overall satisfaction with the new abode.

Before I move, the inside will have been painted from ceiling to floor. Tile will replace linoleum in the bathrooms. The bedrooms will have new carpet, and the rest (kitchen, great room, hall, and entryway) will be covered in hardwood. My new handyman will have fixed every little thing noted in the home inspection report, and the outside will have been pressure-washed. All I’ll need to do is clean the kitchen and bathrooms to be ready to move in.

Compared to my last move, this one will be easy. I don’t have that much stuff, and will hire movers for the big things. There’s also no rush. Nobody wants in my old house, so I can take my time moving things. If all goes well, I should be all the way in before the end of this month. As always, I’ll keep you posted right here on…

My Glass House



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