Hello friends. If you’re new here, I’m Lindsey and I, like millions of others, have recently moved from a blue state to a red state! I’ve shared with you my experiences of choosing Idaho (here) and taking the whole family on a fun-filled road trip to pick a town (here). Now I’d like to tell you what happened next! How did we go from what felt like just a pipe dream to listing our house in a couple of short months?
I can remember coming home from the road trip super pumped, like that baby in the fist bump meme. The fog of uncertainty was lifting, and the rays of hope and determination and adrenaline came shining into my soul. Like a nesting 9-month-pregnant woman, I worked myself into a frenzy. I started by snapping photos of the stuff we didn’t want to take, like the backyard playhouse and sandbox table, and sold them on Facebook Marketplace. (If you have an iPhone, use “portrait mode” to make your old, rusty bench look like a bargain antique!) All the cash I got was stashed in an envelope for mad money later!
I also began to tell my close friends and family about our plan to move to Idaho. Now that we were prepping our house to put on the market, I felt like I had actual news to share. For close relationships, it’s always best to share this sort of news in person or over a real phone conversation and to be sensitive to how difficult it may be to hear. Thankfully, I had many friends who shared in the excitement of it all and rejoiced with me, giving me a happy send-off. It wasn’t without tears, but even those were love-filled. I know that’s not always the case. This might be a topic you want more help with if you are moving. For now, I will just say, pray for God to help you handle the situation with love and patience, and give yourself and others lots of grace!
The measure of “adulting” required to sell and buy a house is pretty unnerving. Now is not the time to pretend you know what to do next when you don’t. My advice? If you’re not sure, ask someone smarter than you. It’s an honor for family members to help where they can, and it’s your realtor’s job. Again, I’m reminded of pregnancy & childbirth- a good realtor and family member by your side is just as important as a good midwife and doula! I’m so glad I didn’t go with just any realtor, but someone with tons of experience and knowledge of the market.
It’s mostly in hindsight that I know our realtor was perfect. When she first came to the house, I was reminded of how I felt at 20 years old walking into a jewelry store for my future husband’s wedding ring… are they even going to take me seriously? They probably think I’m too young to be here… It didn’t help that even at 38 years old I looked like a teenager in my Star Wars graphic T, ripped jeans, and messy kitchen. I kept telling her I could paint this, fix that, plant flowers, etc. Her reply, as little ones ran by underfoot, was that I was probably too busy. So I was worried she wouldn’t price the house high enough. But in the end, she knew exactly what was going to happen: a bidding war! (She made a great point that if you price too high, it’ll sit on the market and look like there’s something wrong with it!)
By God’s grace, my husband and I worked well together. His job was to keep bringing in the money, find a new job that we could take with us, and be around when I needed something heavy moved. (My job was everything else. Ha!) Even before our road trip, my husband was casting out his resume, like a fishing line, into the vast worldwide web sea. He got a couple of bites, and one catch was rolling up nicely when suddenly, four interviews later, it let go. Back to square one, we thought. Just days later, he received a text from an old ex-co-worker. Hey Dan, looking for a job? I’ve got one here I think you’d be perfect for! And just like that, he was hired and started his new fully-remote software testing job (with a raise!). Pretty obvious that was a James 1:17 kind of gift!
Meanwhile, I was working away at the three-step plan to get our house ready: declutter, repair, deep-clean.
It’s nice not to worry about stained sinks or dirty patios when you’re in the “declutter” stage. I threw myself into it and made a list of all the areas of the house I needed to tackle. If I only got to one a day, it was okay – a little progress is better than none! (After all, I was still homeschooling and coordinating events for my girls’ AHG troop!) We had stayed in many beautiful and minimalist Airbnbs while on our road trip, so I had fresh on my mind what I wanted my house to look like. We always had two big piles going in the garage: boxes for storage, and donations to give away. (Click here for more packing tips!) The bookshelves that once looked like we must’ve stolen the entire children’s section of the library and stuffed it all in, was finally so attractive, the cats wanted to become shelf decor.
Lucky for us, we weren’t on our own for this one. My beach-dwelling parents snuck out of retirement to spend a week helping us fix up the house. (Side note: this also happened to be the week of Thanksgiving, and I highly recommend Boston Market’s Family Style Thanksgiving Dinner! Order days ahead!)
We found a lot of little things, like door handles, sink faucets, and shower heads that needed replacements. There was also a broken side-door, water-damaged baseboard, and touch-up ceiling painting to name a few more. We spent about $1000 at Home Depot, which is “chump change” compared to the hundreds of thousands that we made on the sale. The house looked amazing! In a hot market, you really don’t need to do much. We just wanted it to look nice for that first impression walk-through.
One word: Shooter.
This stuff works miracles on hard-water stains. Just be careful, it’s probably toxic enough to kill 10 men. We found it at a specialty cleaning supply store.
Also, magic erasers.
Now you might be wondering how on earth we did this with 4 little tornadoes in the house. I’m sure there were battles with the kids, but overall, they did really well with helping to sort and pack their things. We talked a lot about how it would feel like Christmas when we finally got to unpack all those boxes, especially the ones with their names on them. Often, I’d bring up with them how this year’s winter holidays and birthdays would look different than usual. But I sought to “pack in” as much celebrating as I could handle, for their sake.
For example, we threw a big party for my two December birthday girls less than a week before we listed! Our cleaned-up, fixed-up, and empty-feeling house was filled with friends, laughter, music, Costco pizza, and homemade birthday cake. The kids sang karaoke and exchanged gifts (we did a Christmas-style exchange so we didn’t end up with too many presents to have to pack!). I remember stressing over whether or not to have a party, but in the end, I’m so glad we did. My heart is full just thinking about it. Don’t think for one second that just because you’re leaving, you have to break up with your friends. In those final days, you’ll learn who your closest friends are, and no distance between you can break that bond. As Christians, we can also know that we will see our “brothers and sisters” again in paradise.
In the midst of all the packing, cleaning, and partying, we were also thinking about how to buy a house in Nampa. We got pre-approved by a fantastic lender (more adulting!) and booked an Airbnb for a trip back out to house-hunt. With the market still being hot in California, but starting to cool in Idaho, our hope was to have an accepted offer by the time we were out there. Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened! We actually got 3 offers right away and were able to negotiate a month of free rent-back! This gave us plenty of time to buy and close escrow on a home in Idaho.
It was not all smooth sailing, however. Of course, everything went according to God’s plan and He has some pretty creative ways of working it all out! It’s too much for one post, so I’ll have to continue another time. I’m just so happy it’s over now and I can rest and relax in my house (my baby) after months of labor. And just like childbirth, the thought of the joy to come is what got me through the hard times. I never doubted for a moment that moving to a red state was going to improve our quality of life. That dream was always kept at the forefront of our minds, so that we wouldn’t be tossed by the waves of emotions and uncertainty or discouraged from working diligently.
Let me know in the comments if this story has helped you (use a fake name if you’re not ready to make public that you are thinking about moving!) If you already moved, I’d love to hear how it went for you!