How did my family of 6 make the big move from California to Idaho? To recap, last year we made a spreadsheet comparing the different states (over the spring and summer), took a road trip (in early fall), and got our house ready to sell (in late fall). In December of 2021, the next step in our adventure was to buy a house!
The hunt began online as we searched for listings that matched our dream home. This can easily become an obsession. My husband and I would take turns being accountability partners, helping the other to see past the glow of the screen and remember to do other life things like sleep and eat. Other times, we were enablers, staying up for hours looking at “virtual tours” of homes way out of our price range. The hangovers were not pretty.
But once we pulled ourselves together and started a spreadsheet of our favorite houses, things finally took shape. We shared the spreadsheet with our realtor, along with a simple list of all the things we were hoping for: a quiet neighborhood, a big front porch, a fireplace, a home office, a quarter-acre of land… (we’re dreamers!)
Road Trip Back to Idaho!
Just one week after we accepted an offer on our California house, we packed our bags, filled the minivan up with gas, and drove the family back to Idaho. This time, we booked an Airbnb in downtown Nampa and what a charming pad that was! After all day in the car on a cold, wintery December night, we stumbled in and were enchanted by a glowing Christmas tree next to an elegant mini grand piano. Anxieties and fears melted away, replaced by wonder and excitement. All grace upon grace from God.
House Hunt: Day One
The very next day we attended church, dropped off our younger kids with friends (so thankful for them!), and met our realtor at the first of many houses to see. I lost count, but I’m certain we visited between 15 and 20 houses! We looked at it all – from new constructions that were still being built (streets felt like ghost towns), to established homes with funny quirks (large kitchen but the oven is the size of a microwave), to even one beautiful acreage property on a hill with a gorgeous view of the mountains (and a house that should be bulldozed and started over).
Somewhere in the middle of all that, we figured the older kids deserved a good-sport treat. This is when we were first introduced to Freddy’s frozen custard. There are just a few in Southern California, but we had never been to one. It’s pretty popular here in Idaho and we loved it! Frozen custard is definitely something special.
It became apparent as the night fell that we really wanted a new Hubble home with a particular floor plan. You might think new homes are more expensive, but in our experience they were the most reasonably priced! We stopped into a Hubble office and became more familiar with their different communities and got an up-to-date list of available homes. We ended up looking at one that wasn’t on our original list and it was love at first sight. It was dark so we didn’t look at the yard, but the house was perfect. The kitchen had that “wow” factor and there was even a “tech desk” built right into the wall, perfect for homeschooling. I followed the kids around with my phone and took a video tour – and so glad I did! (Spoiler alert: later on I would watch this video over and over as we waited for moving day!) The kids gave this house the name “Jelly Bean.”
There were just a couple of problems: the lot size was even smaller than our California house (which is why it never came up in our searches!), and it had a small garage. This was pretty crushing for dreamers who dreamed of elaborate gardens and light saber workshops. There was another house that was also in the running, which the kids named Sunflower. We decided to sleep on it and look at them again the next day.
House Hunt: Day 2
After a stressful morning (apparently giving your kids just ice cream, I mean, frozen custard for dinner will result in a tummy ache the next day, who knew?) and my husband doing some work for his new remote job, we were able to get back out there by late afternoon. This time we had all four kids with us and only planned on revisiting our favorites. With no decision made by evening, we got back to our Airbnb and the deliberations began.
Now Jelly Bean was the clear winner in the kids’ minds, but Sunflower rose to the top for us parents as we thought about the bigger lot and bigger garage… Around 8pm, we finally felt we came to a decision and called the realtor to tell him we’d like to put an offer on… Sunflower.
Highs and Lows: Did we get it?!
And then… meltdowns. They wanted Jelly Bean and they wanted it bad. Tears streaming down everyone’s faces. I can’t blame them. We were running on little sleep and it was an emotional, busy day. Hopes were high. Dan and I felt it was a good lesson for them to submit to our authority and trust us. We had hard talks and prayed. I even told them to pray for what they want, since ultimately God is in control. It was finally calm, kids in bed, and then the phone rang. It was our realtor – Sunflower had already sold and it was too late on that one. And Jelly Bean already had one offer just put in, but we could try! We couldn’t help but poke back in with the kids just to tell them their prayers may have been answered.
The only way Hubble would even consider another offer is if it was put in on the same day. So we had until midnight to get our offer in writing and submitted! We worked with our realtor over the phone and through emails to get everything signed (past midnight, to be honest!). And then all we could do was wait.
We did stay busy, however. Dan continued to work from the Airbnb and the kids and I had a fun Christmas cookie-decorating playdate. We explored downtown Nampa, including hot chocolate at Flying M, and caught the Winter Wonderland at Indian Creek Plaza in Caldwell.
We also had some business to take care of: a mobile notary came to the Airbnb so we could sign away our old house. And I toured an apartment complex as our back-up plan. If you are looking for an apartment in Nampa, The Farmstead Apartments are beautiful with a nice pool and workout room! I figured this might just be where we would end up for the next 6 months to a year if we had to buy one of those ghost town homes and build from scratch!
We got it!
After 4 grueling days of waiting and on our last day in Idaho, we finally got the call. We got it!!!! Jelly Bean was ours! I spent all day texting family and close friends to share the news. (You’d think I just had a baby…) The next day was Christmas Eve, and we drove to my in-laws to spend the holiday with them!
Everyone’s story is unique, and even though there were some stressful moments, overall, we feel very blessed in finding a house. I’ve heard horror stories of bidding wars, terrible inspections and failed escrows. But even then, God is working and closing doors just to open another. Everything that happens has a purpose. If you found this helpful at all, have questions, or would like to tell a bit of your story, please share in the comments below.