Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
So after nearly fifteen years of being settled into the same house, Winnie and I are moving. It’s not a big move, as these things go. We’re only moving across town so local rates apply. But we’re self-moving, one trailer load at a time.
I’ve discovered that fifteen years in the same place means a lot of accumulation.
The Moving Blues
Winnie and I moved to our present house back in February 2007. I had lived in my Mississippi home for twelve years and never planned on moving. Until I did. We initially settled here in Northern Virginia in a two-bedroom apartment while we looked for a more permanent house. Most of our belongings remained boxed up and stored in the extra bedroom.
Winnie and I lived in that apartment for five months then moved here, just a couple of miles away. Moving meant painting and deep-cleaning our new house, then hauling pre-packed boxes. It was a self-move but relatively easy.
We’ve now lived in this house for nearly fifteen years, which makes this the longest I’ve ever lived in one place. Given my senior citizen status, this will probably be my record for stability.
This Old House
The house we’re moving to is one we’ve owned since October 2008. Back then, when the Masters of The Universe crashed the world economy, Winnie and I were able to purchase a second house. It was in bad shape, and we spent about one year renovating it. But we turned it into a home we could be happy living in, then rented it out as an investment property.
The house is a 1954-vintage, masonry construction ranch-style house and was actually fun renovating. Just a lot of hard work. It’s also in an older part of town which is more “walkable,” then where we live now.
On Being Landlords
The years as landlords have been – tumultuous – at best. The first family that moved in, recommended by a mutual friend as “good people,” were nightmares. I knew we had a problem when I received notice from the fire department that our tenants were having night-time bonfires in the backyard and shooting off guns as fireworks. The house was filthy dirty and collecting rent was impossible.
This was our introduction to being landlords.
We forced this family to move out after the first year, breathing a deep sigh of relief. Then spent several weeks cleaning and making repairs.
The next family was “better” and stayed for several years. They seemed decent enough, but also seemed to think that I had an obligation to repair anything they damaged. At no-cost to them. I gave them the benefit of doubt the first few times for repairs that were not “normal wear and tear.” Then, I decided I’d had enough and started charging them. Suddenly, things stopped getting broken.
They finally moved out, but not before badly damaging the lovely strip oak flooring. We charged them for floor refinishing while they were still living there, which precipitated their desire to move. We cleaned up and rented the house again.
Over the years we’ve had five different families living in our rental property. The last family seemed to be OK at first. Then, we had serious problems collecting rent, and damages kept increasing every month. When the zombie apocalypse started, by mutual agreement I did not enter the house. I stayed away for eighteen months, the longest I’d been away from that house since purchasing it.
This family moved out at the end of September, owing rent, and Winnie and I went inside for the first time in eighteen months. What we found just broke our hearts. Every wall, door, and kitchen cabinet was painted with generous amounts of kids’ “artwork.” Cabinet doors were hanging off broken hinges, interior room doors had holes kicked in them. One bathroom had running mold on the ceiling, an apparent result of the vent fan completely clogged with dirt. And the damages just kept piling up.
Winnie and I surveyed the mess, and decided after twelve years we’d had enough of being landlords.
Downsizing Real Estate
After a lot of discussion about retirement plans and where to live, Winnie and I opted to sell the house we’re living in and move to our former rental property. We spent two months cleaning and renovating the house, getting it back to livable standards. Once finished, we shopped for a real estate agent and this past week contracted to sell our home of fifteen years.
Making The Move
We purchased a small utility trailer while still living in Mississippi, and used that trailer to haul some stuff up here. Most of our belongings from Mississippi went via commercial movers, the first time I’d ever had to pay for a move out of my own pocket. When we left the apartment, we used that trailer to haul everything to our present home.
That utility trailer has been used on a regular basis since living here in Northern Virginia, and proven to be one of the better investments I’ve made. Now, we’re hauling all our belongings across town in that same utility trailer, fifteen years later.
We started packing up and hauling stuff in the beginning of December. At this point, we’re about finished clearing out the house but still have to empty the garage. We’ve identified a considerable number of items we can part ways with, but no one does yard sales here in mid-December. I see a thrift store drop-off in our near future, and a massive yard sale sometime in the spring at our new home.
I don’t know how long we’ll stay at our new old house, but it will be a home.