In March 2020, as we all know, a pandemic hit. Well, our second child came into the world at the end of March, just a week after lock down. My family lives in NY, and Mr. ODA’s family lives in KY. So living in VA left us without family, with limited visits, and only seeing some neighbors while hanging out in yards and the street, but no child care or help.
We had talked about officially moving to KY while we spent the summer of 2019 there for Mr. ODA’s work assignment, but we decided it wasn’t the right time. We loved our neighborhood and town back home, and we just weren’t ready to leave. Mr. ODA was offered a promotion in DC at the same time, and that sealed the deal for us to stay in VA. The cost of living in NY near my family (Long Island), along with the crowded lifestyle, was not something we wished to pursue after experienced a ‘taste’ of the traffic and crowds when we lived by DC, which is why ‘moving near family’ meant KY.
On a walk one night in June 2020, Mr. ODA mentioned moving to KY again. He was working from home indefinitely, so there wasn’t anything holding us to VA (except my Ob and the kids’ pediatrician…. gosh it was hard for me to leave them!). At this point, isolated from most people because of the pandemic, the logic was there to make the move. Additionally, our mortgage was a 5/1 ARM that was coming due in January, so selling our house a few months before that was great timing.
LISTING OUR HOUSE
We built our house and moved in at the beginning of January 2016. For a new house, we had a lot of little projects that had to be completed before we could have people walk through it. When we sold our first house, we put a lot of our things into our neighbor’s basement as storage. This time around, we had to do the same, but without a neighbor’s basement as help.
There were the typical paint touchups, wiping baseboards, and moving of furniture. There were just several small projects that needed attended to (like replacing burnt out light bulbs and buying a comforter that fit our new bed), which took me about two weeks before we could get the pictures done for the listing.
We had one room that was the catch-all for mismatched furniture. We were told to give the room a purpose. I was able to get the exercise bike, desk, bed, and bookshelf to live harmoniously.
For pictures, we chose to keep a full-size bed in one of the bedrooms, but I quickly changed it to our daughter’s crib. We were afraid that if people saw a crib, they’d think the room was too small for a bed. So while, functionally, I needed that crib, I didn’t mind if they saw it during the walk through because they could refer back to the listing photos to see the bed there instead.
SOLD QUICKER THAN PLANNED
It’s hard to manage the expectation of how long the house will be on the market against how long to wait for listing it. We knew our new house wasn’t going to be ready until November. I was too afraid to wait until everyone went back to school, especially with all the uncertainty of what school would look like. I pushed to list mid-August (central VA goes back to school after Labor Day).
We were under contract at the end of the first weekend listed. They asked for a 3 week close, and we denied that. There was no incentive for us to move that quickly. We asked how long they’d be willing to push it, and they agreed to 30 days because they’d be living in a hotel with their family of 5. That was exactly 7 weeks between leaving our house and our new house being ready.
We decided to seize the opportunity and travel with that time. Since Mr. ODA was working remotely anyway, we could explore new places where he could work during the week from our hotel or AirBnB. I had one rule – there had to be two separate sleep areas because our 6 month old required her room to be pitch black for sleep, and messing with a baby’s sleep hurts mama! Our options are also limited because we have a dog.
Here’s how we had to unpack and repack the car each time!
Week 1 – We went to the beach! We grabbed a beautiful little AirBnB in Norfolk, two blocks from a little beach and boardwalk. I took the kids to the zoo one day, and we played at the school playground across the street a bunch.
Week 2 – We went back to our old neighborhood and imposed on some friends. Our daughter had her 6 month pediatrician appointment, and I wasn’t about to give up an opportunity to see our wonderful doctor again. Their family has kids the same age as ours, but their youngest was still sleeping in the parents’ room, which left his crib available to our youngest. As a bonus, they went on vacation for the week! As a form of payment for our time there, I painted their first floor. I love to paint, so I enjoyed having an activity. Our oldest got sick at the beginning of the week and his fever wasn’t breaking, so we ended up at the doctor 3 times with an eventual ear infection diagnosis. Him being sick delayed my progress, but I got it all done.
Week 3 – Bristol VA and TN. Mr. ODA took more time off during this week so that we could go hiking and explore the area more. It’s beautiful down there.
Week 4 to 7 – We went to KY to stay with Mr. ODA’s parents. By the time I got there, I wasn’t leaving until we moved into our new house. It was a lot to pack up the car, unload it all, keep it organized, live with the minimum for the two kids, and then pack it all back up again. I ended up cancelling two of our trips that we had planned. I kept one where we went back to our old neighborhood for Halloween. I wanted our oldest to play with his friend for the holiday, but then we didn’t even really see them. Our youngest had her flu vaccine booster that weekend too.
In hindsight, our quick decision to move was great timing. We knew there were bidding wars happening over real estate (our Realtor fielded 16 offers on a home in Richmond, VA the same weekend we listed!), but we didn’t know it was going to get as bad as it has where inventory is so low and house prices climbed. While we may have been able to get more for our house a month or so later, we wouldn’t have found many options for what we wanted in KY.
House prices in KY are about 8% higher than this time last year, and our area’s housing prices are 11% higher, according to Zillow. Example: Our neighbor was under contract to purchase his house in July. They had a new job offer come in, and they sold their house earlier this month for $55k more than they purchased it. That’s a 14% increase in less than a year.