So what’s next?

What’s next? Excellent question! I wish I had an equally excellent answer.

We are going to travel — that’s a given — and we know our first stop is San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. What we don’t know is when we get to leave. Because of some… particulars… about finalizing our temporary residence visa in Mexico (and a need to return to the US at the end of July), we either leave by May 19th or we cannot leave until Aug. 1. Whether we leave now or then depends on when the house sells. We need, at bare minimum, a strong offer by next Thursday, May 11, or we officially set the move date for August.

In the meantime, we’re moving forward like we’re leaving on May 19. That means we’re working hard to get rid of nearly everything we own. Initially I’d envisioned having a giant yard sale, but that was ultimately impractical because:

  • We don’t have tables to display everything in the yard, and renting tables would cost more than we’d make in the sale.
  • The house is too small to display things, particularly since the things we can’t get rid of until last minute would be front and center.
  • We can’t guarantee a sunny day for a sale, which means even if we got things into the yard, we couldn’t guarantee they could stay there.

I nixxed selling more than a few things online. That’s a LOT of work, and it means strangers coming by the house constantly — or constant trips out somewhere to meet strangers. No. In the end we decided to share some things with friends, and then to donate the rest. Honestly, after selling the house, the tax write-off would likely be more beneficial than the ready cash anyway.

I’d hoped to find a charity who would come in and pick up everything. There are plenty of those out there, but apparently only one — Habitat for Humanity — does pickups wayyyy out here in the boondocks. The downside is that they don’t accept everything. The upside is that they’re willing to make more than one trip.

Our final plan:

  • Go through everything in the house. Divide into donate, keep, give away, and throw away piles.
  • The donate pile we have to further divide into what Habitat will and won’t accept.
  • We’re gradually dropping off things Habitat won’t accept at places that will, and we’re meeting up with various friends to give them the things they want.
  • We recognize that we want to hold on to more than we can realistically take. So we’ve given ourselves permission to be lenient in the first cut, and then when we have the trailer, we’ll make another cut. Our hope is that we won’t have to store anything.
  • On the very last morning, we’re going to hire some guys with a truck to come get the last of everything. They’ll likely have two stops to make — one last donation drop and a final trip to the dump.

We’re not getting rid of anything we’re using yet, since we haven’t decided exactly when we’re leaving. (Although, to be completely honest, I’ve given some things away to friends that I’ve needed. I’ll probably need those things in Mexico too, but I should be able to replace them down there.)

I’m rather overwhelmed at the prospect of leaving in less than two weeks, but at the same time, I’m very, very excited and more than ready to start our traveling adventure. I really hope an offer comes in!

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The house is on the market!

The house is officially on the market! Hooray! It has been a hectic couple of weeks as our contractor finished up, we had two “open house” parties for our friends, and we got all the last-minute details taken care of.

Here is the link to listing — which will work only as long as the house is on the market:

https://www.windermere.com/listing/56718622/gallery

And here is a selection of the pro photos that were taken. There are more on the listing, but since the listing won’t be up forever, I wanted to grab a few photos to remember the place by. (Click for larger versions.)

Satellite photo, showing how close the house and barn are.

The house itself. That’s the front porch to the left, and the sunroom to the right.

The kitchen in the main cabin.

The great room on the main floor. Love that ceiling!

The master bedroom on the top floor of the house.

My office — counted as one of the three bedrooms.

The sun room. Tons of light, and it looks out on the pastures.

My gorgeous, gorgeous basement. There’s a 3/4 bath, a walk-in closet, and a room that is plumbed and could be finished as a kitchenette.

Our cute barn and the attached graveled dry lot.

Out gorgeous pasture, as seen from the back deck.

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San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende (SMA) is a lovely city of about 200,000 full-time residents in the high desert of central Mexico. (Sorry, folks, nowhere near a beach!) It’s nestled in the mountains and averages about 75 degrees year round. It’s also the place Jay and I want to start our travel adventures.

Why SMA?

  • First, climate. I live in the foothills of the Cascades; I need to ease into this warm, sunny thing. (LOL, as I told friends about our plans, every one said, “You know it’s sunny there, right?” Yes, I know.)
  • Second, I have a friend who owns a condo there. She told me enough about it to convince me that it’s the kind of place I would like.
  • Third, the locals are supposedly really welcoming, but there’s still a large population of ex-pats. We’re NOT moving to Mexico to hang out with Americans, but as we get our feet under us in our first foreign country, we will feel better if there are people we can ask for help. (And that ex-pat community has also been very welcoming!)
  • Fourth, fast internet. SMA has what we need to work reliably.

All that sounded good on paper, but we hadn’t actually BEEN to SMA. I, in fact, hadn’t even been to Mexico before! So we sent the dogs to “camp” for a week, and we took a vacation in SMA to check it out.

We took a red-eye from Seattle in order to arrive in Queretaro, the closest city, during the day. Queretaro is a modern city of 5 million people, but we didn’t realize that on the way in. We skirted the city and saw only a run-down industrial area. Jay was concerned when he saw it, thinking that was what SMA would be like.

He was wrong.

SMA is an UNESCO World Heritage site, and in 2013 Conde Nast Traveler selected SMA as the “Number 1 City in the World.” It’s a colonial city thriving with art and culture. And it’s breath-taking. I’m going to stop rambling and just post some pictures from our vacation. Enjoy!

View from the AirBNB we called home.

The jacaranda tress were in bloom everywhere!

Our accommodations were stunning.

Our lovely patio

The streets are charming. This is right down the road from where we stayed.

El centro — the downtown area.

Walking toward the jardin

La parroquia — the church at the heart of the town

Dinner at a rooftop restaurant in el centro

La parroquia at night from the rooftop restaurant

 

Can’t help it — this cracked us up.

After spending some time in SMA, our verdict is that the city is perfect for us. We absolutely can’t wait to move there for a few months!

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Before we move: Researching the options

Our hope is to move to Mexico — specifically to San Miguel de Allende. (More on that choice in a separate post.) The current US government administration *cough* seems determined to screw that up, though, so we’re creating a back-up plan. The goal isn’t just “Mexico.” It’s to move somewhere different and immerse ourselves in a different culture (for a few months at a time).

Moving to a new country requires a LOT of research and preparation. My first step was to create a spreadsheet where I could collect the information I was gathering. The high-level subjects I’m researching are:

  • Visa
  • Moving
  • Vehicles
  • Finance (banking)
  • Health
  • Pets
  • Housing
  • Phones
  • Internet
  • Taxes
  • Receiving packages/mail after moving
  • Miscellaneous

We have TONS of subcategories under each of those. I have great resources, though, so I’m actually pretty relaxed about the whole thing. There are several groups on FaceBook devoted to moving to Mexico, and the people have been really helpful.

Interestingly, my husband has been super chill about the whole thing. He’s… change averse… and so I thought this process would freak him out. However he has turned it over to me, and as long as I can answer his questions, he is happy.

We are, of course, doing more than amassing research. We have gotten our passports up-to-date. We have started the visa process for Canada (Nova Scotia — our back-up location), and we have a trip planned to San Miguel de Allende in March. Oh, and we’re studying Spanish.

We’re also working on a plan for getting rid of all our STUFF. We purchased a new car, got rid of Jay’s Prius, and will rehome my Outback next month. *sob* We’re going to buy a small trailer and whatever we can fit in it is ALL we’re taking with us!

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Before we move: Remodeling the house

We own just shy of 10 acres, about 40% cleared and fenced for horses, 60% heavily wooded. The house is ~2400 square feet, and there’s a barn and graveled dry lot.

That was our house when we moved in, back in 2004. I’d post a pic now, but I’m not ready. We have to do a LOT of work to get it ready to sell. I’ll post pics when it’s done though!

Remodeling the house to sell is a necessity, if we want top dollar. In order to do it, though, we have to get a loan against the equity in the house. A big loan — bigger than we want to afford long-term, which means once we pulled the trigger, the sale was a done deal. We couldn’t change our minds and keep the house.

We pulled the trigger in December, built an exhaustive list (with the help of our realtor), and hired our long-term contractor, Todd, to do the work. He started the work this month, with a goal of getting it on the market April 1. There’s a lot to do!

One of the biggest impacts of pulling this trigger was that Jay and I (and the dogs) had to move to a rental house. Could we have stayed? Sure, but it would have been hard on everyone, especially the dogs, and it would have slowed Todd down considerably. We want fast, so we moved out.

We lucked into a 6-month lease on an adorable house in Fall City, about 30 minutes away. The owner of the rental house is in college, and it just looking for someone to rent while she’s out of the state. We are hoping to be heading to Mexico by the end of May, so this was perfect. The rental house is small, but it has an awesome yard for the dogs, so we’ll make it work.

Jay and I have loved living in Duvall, and we love this house. Over the years we’ve made improvements that made it comfortable and OURS. We always knew, though, that we couldn’t grow old here. There’s too much upkeep, and the plethora of stairs make it a house for young people. I thought I would be more sad about letting it go, but the push into the rental house was so quick and busy that I didn’t have to miss the old house.

If there’s any regret, it’s that we didn’t get a chance to finish the remodel in a way that WE would have wanted. This last push will make big changes, specifically with the purpose of selling it, not to make us happy.

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