Turn and face the strange.
Have you ever laid awake at night unable to sleep because somewhere deep down you are being called to make a big change in your life? It might be with your job, or your finances, your relationship or your family, the stirring can creep in the same kind of way for a whole lot of change. Some nights you can push it far enough out of your mind sure, but over a period of time the feeling builds. And as it does the skeptic in you who first thinks the change is too hard or the dream is too big, gets drowned out by the growing certainty that it is more a matter of when or how rather than if.
That’s kind of where we’ve been finding ourselves, more and more sure that to live our best lives, we need to shake things up in a big way. Not because things are terrible, awful, or even bad, but because we are bold enough to believe that life holds more happiness and passion and freedom than we have been giving it credit for lately.
What the heck am I talking about?
Well for starters I am talking about where and how we live.
Nearly two years ago, we started chasing an opportunity to put down some serious roots in this town by investing in what felt like a forever dream home. The effort failed pretty spectacularly and if I’m honest about it, was a major source of some pretty serious blues for me for longer than I’m proud of. But when it didn’t work out, it lead us to start having conversations about what we would do instead. Could we make our current home into that forever dream home? Not without some serious work. So we threw ourselves into renovation and radically improved our upstairs floor plan, but still there were so many things we wanted to change or add, some of which would require investing a whole lot more money and might not be good for resale. And since we aren’t sure it’s what we want long term, we can’t justify major expenditures that don’t translate into resale value (like say, adding a pool). And let’s get real, owning a 3600 sq ft, 165 year old home is kinda expensive. Yes even in a “fly over state” with really reasonable real estate costs. The maintenance on this place can be steep at times, as can utilities. We started wondering, especially as this fall/winter required several maintenance investments, is this really how we want to be spending our money?
Talking about money is weird, even among intimates, so blogging about it is going to be awkward, but I feel compelled to try. Combined, we do alright. In terms of simple income we probably look like we are doing very well, lots better than most. But we are both carrying some incredibly hefty law school debts. That’s the ugly truth ladies and gents. Like the combined burden of our loan debts would require a 6 figure income devoted exclusively to paying them off to eliminate them in the 10 year “standard repayment” schedule. And even on the extended or IBR plans, debt servicing equals a mortgage payment or two for most folks in our area.
And even with a big, needy house, big, expensive student loans, and a hard transition with months of under-employment when Aaron made the career sacrifice to come to Indiana, we’ve kept it more or less together financially and even found room for some travel. But it’s been too tight too many times. It’s caused more stress than has benefited us and driven too many of our decisions. And it hasn’t left room for the anywhere near the kind of savings that prudence dictates is wise for a young family.
And maintaining any semblance of our lifestyle once baby comes would probably mean that we’d both be shackled to full time jobs and truly needing to chase big promotions and advancements to keep the status quo. Right now you may be reading this thinking, well duh Mary, most families need two incomes these days. And that’s true and it’s true for us. But we want more kids than a lot of our peers and we see that by the time even a second baby was in day care, we would likely be struggling to make ends meet on our current incomes, even after we cut out travel and dining out and my decorating slush fund.
Let me be clear, we both plan to continue working and working full time: but for now, we want the “have to” taken out of it. We want more freedom and flexibility than our current financial picture affords. So that we don’t have to wait two extra years or for another promotion to give Baby A a sibling. So that if after a couple of babies, one of us wanted to work part-time, or start a business, or attend a friend’s wedding in Tahiti, we could do some of those without crippling our family.
And so over time, as we’ve looked at how our needs are changing, our big, beautiful, historic home started feeling a little bit less like the dream and a little bit more like trap to us. I love this house, I really do and I love what we have made of each other (the house and me). I will miss it if and when we move on, and cherish it always, but I’ve been coming to realize that I might love freedom even more than I love this house. And for Aaron, who is a lot less attached to the house and has maintained it was too big for us from day one, the realization came even easier.
So we’ve started to look at downsizing. As someone who LOVES houses and decorating and playing hostess I expected I might feel sad about it. But what I felt, even before we made any decisions, was free! Unstuck! Excited! It was the chance to look at life with new eyes and ask myself and my husband about what we want really our lives to look and feel like as we enter this next phase.
So it sounds like we’re moving? We hope so! To where? That’s a reasonable question. Right now we are looking at the various pieces of our lives and discussing what we love, what we loathe, what we might like to change, and the what the best ways to go about those changes might be. I’m going to do my best to share as much as I can as soon as I can, about what we come up with. I’m sure on some pieces I’ll need to share a little bit less than would be my instinct, but bare with me please.
Are we maybe a little bit nuts for taking this on in my third trimester of pregnancy? Probably. But I love this kind of nuts. It’s the same inspiration and dedication that’s lead me to all the best decisions in my life, including my husband. And it feels just so right, I have to believe that it is right for us.
So we’re going to give this a shot and see what comes of 60 days on the market competitively priced. We may not find the right buyer, we’ve had that experience before. But that was in a different market, under different selling constraints (we needed a specific profit to upsize), and with a different floorplan, so I’m optimistic. And if we don’t sell, that’s not tragedy. We have a beautiful home that we love and we have other options to explore in making it more suitable or affordable for us in the long term. But it feels good to be trying. I believe at my core, that being open to big changes in pursuit of the our best life, we will surely bring them about, one way or another.