Sean and I grew up in the country for most of our lives. We met at our small(ish) country high school and started dating in college. We got married and lived in the suburbs, despite always thinking of ourselves as the types to live out on land.
We became quite taken with the idea of suburbia, especially after hearing about the suburban mecca known as Westhaven. Westhaven was to be Mayberry reborn (on extravagant steroids) with neighbors hanging out on giant front porches and kids riding their bikes in the street. There would be parks to stroll to with our little ones and cafes in which to sneak in a lunch date or a little remote office work. We bought this gorgeous townhome there and made plans to move up in house throughout the years and eventually be buried in the Westhaven cemetery that would surely be built for lifers like us.
And for a while it was great. We enjoyed our luxury home with it’s gigantic garden tub and high ceilings and perfectly manicured yard that someone else maintained. We enjoyed walking to the grocery store and working out in the clubhouse and lounging by the most ridiculously elaborate neighborhood pool you’ve ever laid eyes on. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but we even enjoyed the prestige attached to living in one of our area’s most elite neighborhoods.
It was a charmed life. We were busy young professionals and we were climbing the ladder of what most would consider successful living rather quickly.
But then something game-changing happened. We had this guy:
Nothing makes your complete lack of space to roam freely more apparent than a playful 1.5 year old boy. He would go to the front door and knock and whimper to go play outside. “Sorry Buddy, we’ve already gone on 3 walks today and Mommy and Daddy have to get some work done” just didn’t seem like a fair response. But when your front yard is door to street in 15 feet or less and your charming (read: tiny) back courtyard turns into a dutch oven in the summer, that’s the only response you’ve got available to you.
Then one day Sean came to me and asked a question he’d heard from some podcast or audio book. (He’s pretty much always got one of those going in his ear.) He asked, if money was no object and I could do whatever I wanted, what would my life look like? My answer was “raising kids and vegetables” in a place with lots of room for our little guy to run. His answer was similar and that begged the question: why were we living this suburban life again? I mean, if our end game was to get back to our roots and live at a slower pace out in the country, why wouldn’t we just go ahead and do that?
We knew we would want to be close to Sean’s grandparents and we began looking for anywhere in the vicinity to buy or rent. Phone calls were made and within a couple of days we were going to look at this place:
Let me break it down for you. We lived here…
…and we were contemplating leaving that and moving here…
I don’t think I have to tell you that we were less than thrilled with the place. Actually we kind of hated it. Sean said that the ceilings felt like they were so low they were going to fall in on him. He said to make one of those rooms his home office would be like working in a coffin. He really has a flair for the dramatic when he feels like it. But there was this huge draw to make it work because not only was this house in the vicinity of Sean’s grandparents’ house, it had adjoining land. Six beautiful acres in fact, that backed up to the grandparental property. The kids could literally walk to Mema’s, and six acres is a lot of running space for a small boy.
So, after some very convincing mockup sketches by me and a whole lot of contemplating how quickly we could rid the house of brass, we decided to take the plunge and buy the little ugly duckling house in the country. Our plan was to live in it for a few years and then build in the woods out back, but a funny thing has happened. We’ve actually fallen in love with this ugly old house! Sure, there are lots and I mean LOTS of things we’d like to change, but it turns out that even with so much of it’s 1985 glory still intact (2 and a half years in and all that brass still stands), this is our favorite house we’ve ever lived in and the plan is now to stay put. The pace of life has slowed, we feel so settled and at ease, and our now 3 children have 6 beautiful acres to run freely on with their grandparents right next door.
We’ve got big plans, not a ton of money and even less time, but just add Home Renovators to our titles for the foreseeable future because we’re in this for the long haul! It’s going to be an interesting ride.