Thursday 28 July 2016

So - what's been going on?

Last year was the year of happy contentment. We had the hottest and driest summer in something like half a century, and Richard and I enjoyed the heck out of it. I yogaed my little heart out, we raised a pet duck together, and went on little adventures like concertspartiesziplining, or roadtrips. Life felt like a never-ending summer's day, and we were happy and carefree.

Then 2016 rolled around. And with it, the mood changed.
I started a new rotation at work, and the adjustment was more difficult than I anticipated. In short succession, two of our dogs died - Sheila, our guardian angel of the sheep, and my beloved Snowy.

Rich struggled to nail down a new contract for his business.
The bills kept coming in.
We were both restless and on edge. I wrote several morose posts that reflect my mood at the time (herehere and here - only read if you want to feel depressed - on second thought, maybe don't read them), always trying hard to find the positive, to see the silver lining.

It was working, but only to a degree. Something just wasn't right. Rich and I both felt it, but didn't know what to do.
Until fate intervened.

Several times over the last few years, we have been thinking of moving. Our neighbourhood is getting busier all the time, and we have always dreamed of living closer to nature. My photos may look like there is plenty of nature around us, but in reality it's a little oasis with a busy road right in front of it, and new developments creeping closer from all sides.

Still, we kept thinking that we couldn't do it. Did we really want to start over somewhere new? Leave the kids, our friends, my work behind? What about money?
There seemed to be a million reasons against it, not least the sheer enormity of moving an entire farm, including horses, llamas, sheep, dogs, rabbits, and about a gazillion birds.
Nope, it didn't seem feasible. So we always abandoned the idea.

The housing market in the Greater Vancouver area is exploding right now. Houses are being put up on the market and sold the next day, often at a higher price than asking price. Wannabe buyers knock on stranger's doors, asking if they are interested in selling.
This has been going on for several months now. However, we kept saying that we wouldn't sell, that we liked where we lived, that we wouldn't get caught in the frenzy.

And then, two things happened.
Two houses down, a 'For sale' sign popped up on a property similar to ours: Same size, older house, a barn and several outbuildings. When we found out how much they ask for, we exchanged a startled look: 1.6 million dollars.
We don't live in a ritzy area. Far from it, it's all little acreages with some livestock. This was bananas. 

Then, the second thing happened. Our friend (and caretaker of the farm when we are away), decided to put his house on the market. His sign was barely in the ground, when the first interested party walked up with an offer: A million dollars. Our friend turned him down.
The next day, the next offer: 1.25 million.
This feels a bit like what I imagine the Klondike gold rush must have been like.
Totally insane. 

Curiosity piqued, we got a real estate agent on the property. She named a price, we couldn't quite believe it, and after several days and sleepless nights, we decided to put our house on the market.

But that was only the beginning. The more important question remained: Where should we go? Our first impulse was to stay close to home. Everybody has their safety bubble, and we were very reluctant to leave ours. However, it quickly became clear that there was a major problem: We couldn't find anything we liked in our price range. Contrary to the classic downsizing approach, we actually want more acreage, not less - we love our farm life and want to take all the animals with us.

For a couple of  days, we felt pretty discouraged. We got snappy with each other, and retreated into separate corners of the house, each wondering if this was all meant to happen.
On the evening of the second day, I decided that we needed some willow tree therapy. We sat down, and instead of going over the whole we-can't-find-anything-maybe-we-should-give-up cycle for the 100th time, we talked about happy memories. The "do you remember when?"-kind, that's so boring to outsiders, but improbably precious to the couple.

We reminisced on one of our favourite trips ever taken: A roadtrip through 14 states, back in 2007. Always having enjoyed dry desert climate, we were both especially taken with Moab, Utah.
On the road there, we passed by a place that was by a river, with high cottonwood trees swaying gently in the breeze, a pretty house in their shade and several horses grazing nearby.
We had both agreed that this spot right there would be the best place in the world to live.

I can't recall who yelled it first - Rich or I? Why don't we just pretend that we did it both at the same time, for the sake of the story.
We looked at each other, eyes wide, and proclaimed in unison (just go with it, 'kay?): "The Okanagan!"

The Okanagan is BC's desert. A desert that grows wine (hell-oo, who loves wine? *raises hand*), has a much drier climate than our rainy coastal one, and tons of sunshine. I looove sunshine.

It's also much quieter than our busy Lower Mainland, and best of all? It has affordable acreages for sale.
So we decided: We'll burst our little safety bubble and go property-hunting in the Okanagan. It's four hours away from our current home, which seems probably laughably close to many of you, but a HUGE step for us. As in waking-up-worrying-ceaselessly-every-night huge.

We don't know anyone there. I don't have a job there. There are hospitals, but if there is anything available for me in the foreseeable future is a complete unknown. Rich's business will retire if - when? - we move.
The future is uncertain, but also extremely exciting. I feel like this entire less-than-stellar year has been leading up to this, a huge change in our lives. An adventure.

Nothing is decided yet, but our place is for sale, we have several places lined up to check out, and who knows? Soon we may be moving like Noah's Arc into a new life!

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