Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Start of Our SnowBirding Adventure

For years we had dreamed of moving south.  Too many New England winters had taken their toll on us.  When we first listed our house for sale, our plan was to move to Tennessee and buy a mini-farm.  I thought I would be able to keep my job and telecommute.....others in my workplace had done it....and my boss seemed open to the idea.

Unfortunately, the economy was getting worse, layoffs were increasing, and selling a house was getting harder and harder.

We knew deep inside that we needed to sell the house - almost at any cost.  I'm not sure how we knew - but we did.   After a few months on the market with no serious offers (we had a few obnoxious low-balls) we got serious and went to work.  We stripped and refinished the deck, painted most of the rooms a neutral color, refinished the wood floors, painted any dark wood a crisp white, refinished the kitchen cabinets, removed the 70's style mirrored wall in the kitchen, etc.  After thousands of dollars and tons of hours, we finally had some good feedback from people viewing our house.  And then there was a bidding war!

Our plan was to buy a motorhome, drive down to Tennessee and live in it for 1-3 months while we looked for a home.  We figured that was easier than renting and would give us the freedom to look in a few different areas.  We found a 2001 Fleetwood Bounder that was within our budget (cash purchase) and started to plan our move.

I was a bit on edge from the time we had the offer.....we've never had a real estate transaction go smoothly.  It didn't help that this whole deal was dependant on the buyers selling their house.  When you have a deal that is dependant on another deal - it just complicates things.  In our past real estate transactions, we've had sellers who had massive liens on their house that weren't paid (definite deal stopper) and buyers who lost their job the day before (uh-oh!) and couldn't close because the mortgage company withdrew their commitment.  We had reason to be nervous.

Two weeks before the scheduled closing we got a call from the realtor that the buyers wanted to move the closing date up a week.   And later that day I found out that I was going to be on the layoff list at work.  I was a mess!  The stress of having to pack/move and then the reality that I may not have a job made me an emotional wreck.  Our hope of moving to Tennessee and buying a mini-farm was gone. 

We held a really big tag sale and tried to sell off almost everything we owned.  We kept a few key things and put them in storage in case we did end up buying a house down the road.  Everything that didn't sell in the tag sale was donated to charity.  We packed up the Bounder and headed to Branch Brook campground the day before closing and hoped for the best. 

We were so new to the whole RV lifestyle - we didn't have a clue how to do anything - including setting up an awning.  My husband and his best friend (a carpenter) set up the awning so that it was pefectly level.  We left the RV and went back to our house to get ready for the walk-through that night.  A big storm came through with very heavy rain and wind and by the time we got back to the motorhome, the awning was broken and covering the door to get in.  We hoped this wasn't a sign of things to come.  

The next morning, we tried to lift the heavy awning out of the way to get out the door and went to the closing.  When we got there, the buyers had just finished the closing of their old house.  We were so relieved!  (Although we later found out that it almost didn't happen because their basement flooded overnight and their walk-through was that morning)

With the closing over, we headed back to the motorhome to try to figure out what we were going to do.  When we pulled up next to the Bounder, we found the awning was rolled back up and tucked away like nothing happened.  Our new RV neighbor Gerry (a wonderful guy!) and Kip (the campground owner) rolled it back up while we were gone.  It was the nicest thing anyone had done for us in a long time! 

We were so blown away at how nice the other RV'ers were that we talked about trying out the full-time RV lifestyle.  If we were going to live in an RV for more than 1-3 months, we realized the Bounder probably wasn't the best option for us.  My husband convinced me that we needed a diesel pusher.  So we traded in the Bounder and bought a 2004 Winnebago Vectra.   We joined the Escapees Club and started our adventure. (to be continued)