Thursday, April 16, 2009

Just A Year Ago

It was just about a year ago that we sold our house in Memphis and readied ourselves for the big move to Chicago. Ron and I are thankful how well everything fell into place – although the pace was fast and furious. Planning and execution are critical. Adding your energy and tenacity (sprinkled with a little luck) will help you achieve your goals.

We worked HARD to prepare our house to go on the market. You know how this happens… All the things you meant to do the years you lived in the house now must be done immediately. We refinished stairs, painted the hallway, renovated a bathroom, replaced the front door, added baseboard molding in the guest bedroom – and those are just the projects I remember off the top of my head. Personal clutter was packed away to depersonalize space, avoid distracting potential buyers, and make rooms look bigger. The house was carefully staged to help people imagine living there. We cleaned everything until the house was fresh and sparkling. The day of the Open House was beautiful and sunny, so we flung open windows to let the spring air in. The lawn was lush and green, azaleas and dogwoods were blooming, the birds were singing… You get the picture. We had a good turnout and accepted an offer on the house that evening. Planning and execution paid off quickly!

Takeaway: Sweat equity invested in house prep and staging is CRITICAL to a fast sale. (We watch a lot of HGTV.)

The next big step was divestiture! We planned to move from a 3200 sq ft home to a 1500 sq ft condo with a 500 sq ft basement. Simplifying our life meant brutally paring down our belongings, which turned out to be spiritually liberating! We sold most of our furniture to friends, the family that bought the house, and our housekeepers. There were numerous trips to Goodwill and the Hazardous Materials disposal center (for paint and old electronics), and a satisfying stop at the Memphis Music Academy to donate Ron’s trombone. Then, the Moving Sale extravaganza in our driveway, where we sold whatever was worth selling. When the sale ended, we had $1600 in cash and a pile of unsold items to put by the curb for trash pickup. Another step in the plan had been successfully executed. Exhausted, off we went that evening to the farewell party thrown by our friend Dave Byerly. Champagne, anyone?

Takeaway: Simplifying your life means letting go of “stuff” you don’t truly need.

Movers arrived just a few days later and helped us finish packing and getting out of the house. When we drove away for the last time, we breathed deep sighs – very cognizant of closing one chapter of our lives and stepping into a new and exciting one that we had to freedom to write for ourselves.

Takeaway: Be sure to budget for professional movers. This process is physically and emotionally exhausting, and you have a hard deadline to vacate your home.

Memphis looked good in our rear view mirror when we left on May 31, 2008. I was glad we had the 8+ hour drive to Chicago to decompress and let reality sink in. In a 6 week timeframe, we had quit our jobs, sold our house and many belongings, said goodbye to friends, and moved. Our heads were spinning, and everything felt a little unreal. Our carefully nurtured dreams had begun to come true. It wasn’t magic and it wasn’t all luck. It was the result of more than 15 years of planning – and it felt AMAZING!

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