Creating my happy life on the other side of fear.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Property hunting, vol.5: THE FINAL CHAPTER


It's early. I quietly get out of bed, pull on my jeans and a sweater, and head outside to let Lily out of the truck. We stayed the night at our friend's house in Merritt, and later we will head to Barriere to look at more properties. 

She greets me exuberantly, as she always does, and we start walking. It's one of those magical early autumn mornings, where fog hangs in the air, slowly drifting about, the sun is starting to break through, and the sky above is a clear, luminous blue. I take in a deep breath and smile to myself. The smell is indescribably lovely. It smells of earth that has soaked up many months of hot summer sun, of leaves getting ready to change into their brilliant autumn colours, of fragrant pines, and a hint of cool, delicious mountain air that promises the impending bounty of the harvest season. It's my favourite scent in the world, and I inhale it deeply.

As we are heading up the mountain, I gaze at the picturesque valley to my left. Soon, a house comes into view - one we looked at two weeks earlier. We liked it (a lot), but haven't completely made up our mind about it yet. We want to check out a few more listings, see if we might be able to find something that has a barn (this one doesn't). 
I stop and look at it from a distance, sitting peacefully in the morning sunlight. A deep sense of belonging envelopes me. In this moment, I have no doubt that I am looking at our future home. 

However, we have a plan, and the plan is to check out some places in Barriere. To be honest, I have never even been there, but we found three properties that looked promising online, so today we are going to take a look. 
After breakfast, I tell Rich about my gorgeous morning walk and the epiphany I had, but all he says is: "We wait and see what today brings."

The first two places are definite no's. One's interior is quite horrible, with cardboard-covered pipes sticking out of walls and ceilings in odd places, a shabby kitchen, and an overall neglected feeling. We stay less than 10 minutes before we move on. The second one has a yard so small, we could barely fit the dogs in, let alone the rest of our zoo, and the vast majority of the land is either covered in dense forest or on such a steep slope that it's unusable. 

Property #3 is different. It checks off three major requirements of Rich's wish list: A big, beautiful barn, more land than we'd know what to do with (157 acres of it), and an assortment of outbuildings he immediately starts to mentally assign his birds to. 
I'm more hesitant. The place is surrounded by mountains on three sides, making it feel enclosed and cramped. Ironic, considering how big it is, but that's the sense I'm getting. Besides, the house and barn are completely blue: Blue roof, blue siding. I know that this shouldn't be a big deal, but the blue colour makes it feel cold and uninviting to me. 
We spend nearly two hours there. Rich is excited, talking about the herd of cows he could have here, the water fowl he'd get to keep, and how much grassland there is. The inside of the house is really nice: Open and airy, with lots of windows letting light and sunshine in. I can't say anything bad about the house, and my mood brightens a bit. 

After promising the agent to call her the next day, we head into town for lunch. Barriere is tiny: You can drive through in less than a minute. Rich takes one look at me, and states: "You really didn't like it, did you?" I miserably shake my head, venturing, "Maybe I could get used to it?"
"No", he says, smiling at me. "We're going to find something we both like."
           
And we do. 

Oh, do we ever. 

A week later, we both become infatuated with a big, gorgeous, red house


It is stunning: The wraparound porch I've always wanted, a stunning kitchen and living room with a real stone fireplace, beautiful bedrooms. It's a custom-made home, with impeccable attention to detail, down to the doghouse that looks like a miniature version of the big house. I love it. We both do. It's by far the most impressive home we have seen, and I imagine the look of wonder and envy on the faces of our friends and family when they come to visit. I picture ourselves hosting elaborate parties in the spacious living area, having out guests sleep in the pretty guest rooms or the huge downstairs family rec room. 
"It's amazing, isn't it?", I beam at Rich, and he agrees. It really it. 

The barn is just as nice, with enough room for our horses, sheep and llamas. The landscaping is elaborate with lots of pretty details everywhere: Strawberries planted by the garage, a few stalks of corn by the back door, a spectacular bed of Black-Eyed Susans, and lush green lawns surrounding the house, making a stunning contrast to the red colour.
Oh, did I mention the custom-made campfire pit? Or the hot tub?
It's spectacular.    

We look at it a second time, as is our habit, and then we make an offer.
The two days we have to wait for their response are filled with apprehension, impatience - and just the tiniest seed of doubt. Do we really want such a big place?, is a thought that keeps popping into my head. 
The thing is: As beautiful as the house is, it is much bigger than what we are looking for. At over 2,800 square feet, there is a whole lot of cleaning to be done. The same applies to the beautiful landscaping: In order to keep it looking that pretty, we/Rich (I don't garden) would have to spend a lot of time maintaining it. Are we willing to do that?

The other important factor to consider is, of course, the cost. This place is listed for $795,000, and when we receive the counter offer, it is evident that the owners are unwilling to lower it by much: They still want $788,000.  
To be honest, the place is worth it. They spent more than that building it, and obviously they want to get their money back. The question is: Is it worth it to us?


The entire time, we keep coming back to the other place. The one we looked at four weeks ago, and have been unable to forget. 
It is located in the sunshine valley, which is an appropriate name for the amount of sun this valley is getting. The mountains surrounding it keep a lot of the rain away that can fall just 5 km away from it, making it uniquely dry and sunny. We have been going there for years, visiting our friends who live there. Our favourite camping spot is only 10 minutes away, which was the birth place of our original desire to move - exactly four years ago.

The house is completely us: It's the open concept with vaulted ceilings I love, with large windows letting lots of light it. It has a stone fireplace, a beautiful kitchen, and a deck that would be perfect for my yoga practice. The best part: It's only 1,240 square foot. The perfect size for the two of us! I've been fascinated by tiny houses for a while, and while 200 square feet are really small, 1,200 sound ideal. Less room to fill with stuff, less cleaning, a small heating bill? Sign me up!

I love the view, the peacefulness, and the fact that our friends live a 10-minute walk away from us. It already feels like we belong here, because we know people and we have been coming there so often in the past.


Two days ago, we finally made it official: We went back to "our" new home and signed the papers. The owner invited us for dinner, and we spent a pleasant couple of hours chatting, eating, and hanging out in our future home. It felt so good! So right. I could see myself sipping my morning coffee out on the deck; cooking and baking in the beautiful kitchen; having our friends and family over for dinners. There is a good writing vibe in the house, with inspiration floating around like dust particles in the sun.

The property has access to thousands of  acres of crown land, with countless hiking and riding trails. We can saddle up right at home and ride off the property! That's been a dream we've had forever, because so far we always had to load the horses into the trailer and drive to a park or into the woods. The people who live there are physically very active, going cross-country skiing, ice fishing and snowmobiling in the winter, and boating, hiking, riding, and ATVing in the summer. We already have an invite to go snowmobiling, because here is the very best part of all: If everything goes according to plan, we will live there before Christmas. We are so happy!!!

We started our house hunting adventures on August 1, and signed the papers on Sept 22. Seeing it written down like that, it doesn't appear to be a long time. Living it, however, was a different story: Those seven weeks have been the most intense, nerve-wracking, and emotional weeks in at least a decade. But they have also made us feel vibrantly alive and full of excitement for the future! We are closer than ever, and can't wait to start the next phase of our life together.

Cheers to the future!





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20 comments

  1. Miriam- your new place sounds perfect! I dream of having hiking trail right out the back door someday. It is so cool that you have that for your horses! Congratulations to the both of you. I hope you have many happy years together there. Best wishes and enjoy your new home!

    Ps- the color blue feels cold to me too

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    1. Thank you Mary! It still feels mostly unreal, but at the same time insanely exciting. We are envisioning a completely new life, but will it really happen? I hope so.
      P.S. The house is painted a warm cinnamon-brown, and I'll paint the (currently white) front door red!

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  2. It really does seem longer! But I am so, so happy for you guys that you finally found the one! I can't wait to see photos and hear all about living in your new home :)

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    1. Next time we're there I will take some photos. So far the current owner was always there, and I felt weird whipping my camera out. But next time I will!

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  3. Congratulations!! I am so happy for the two of you; as someone who has constantly moved (seriously, SO many times), I feel the need to tell you that when you find a place and know that it's "the one" that's an amazing feeling!! Here's wishing you two (and the fur babies) the very best!!

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    1. Thank you Katie! I'm a fairly inexperienced mover, but I'm already dreading it. It will all be worth it in the end, but there are a few hectic weeks ahead of us. How come you moved so much?

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  4. Congrats! It'll be a very sad day to see you go :( but more journeys await you!

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    1. And you as well - who knows where you two will end up?

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  5. I am so excited for you!!! I hope everything is smooth sailing and that you love your new place!

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    1. Thank you Karen! I'm sure we will love the new place, but I'm sceptical about the smooth sailing lol 😊

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  6. No. Not a very long time at all. Sounds like it was meant to be. Congrats. Hope everything goes smoothly.

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    1. Me too! We hope to celebrate Christmas in our new home - keeping our fingers crossed.

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  7. I am soooo excited for you guys!!! What a relief it must be to have reached this point - even though I know there is still plenty of stress ahead. You guys found this place together and it's yours! I'm delighted for you.

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    1. We are thrilled and can't wait to move! Unfortunately, there is still the little issue of money - we won't know until next Friday if our buyer's mortgage is approved. The waiting is SO hard - but when we get happy news (when, not if - positive thinking!), we'll get started on packing, cleaning, and trying to figure out how in the world we're going to move all our animals haha!

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  8. I have not so much to say except.... this sounds + looks amazing!! I can feel how right this place is for you two! And... I want to come and visit!! xoxo Congratulations, love!

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    1. How amazing would that be?! And you know what? It totally might happen. The world is much smaller than we think, and you are an adventurous girl!
      Through your blog and podcast I feel like I already know you. The Internet is amazing!

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