Working the checklist: Bought a trailer

Spent yesterday in Marysville buying a cargo trailer. It’s 5′ x 10′ — a couple of feet longer than we had originally planned. When we drive to Mexico, this is what we’ll transport all of our belongings in. The car is solely for people and beasties. So stuff either fits in the trailer, or it has to go!

As the main driver in the family, I drove home from the dealer. This was my first time pulling a trailer. (Nope, I’ve never pulled a horse trailer.)

I pulled the new trailer from the lot in Marysville all the way to our house in Fall City, which on a Saturday afternoon ensured I got lots of practice with starts, stops, merging, changing lanes, curves, straights, and TRAFFIC. (Also bumps. Lots of bumps.) It was an entirely successful trip, though, and I got lots of practice going forward.

I got a little practice backing up. Before we even left the dealer, we pulled into an empty area, and Jay taught me the principles of backing up and turning the trailer while in reverse. On the way home, we stopped at Safeway, and while he ran inside to grab a few things, I practiced parking (and using reverse to straighten the trailer between the lines.

When we got home, we decided to pull into the driveway, then back it into a spot at the front of the property. I nailed it on the first try. (Jay was very impressed. He was impressed by how well I had parked it at Safeway too, though that took me more than one shot.)

I’ll get more practice over the next month as we use the trailer to transport a bunch of stuff from the house to whatever charity ends up with it.

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Changing our address and forwarding our mail

As of June 28, we will no longer have the address we’ve had for nearly 14 years. We’re in a rental house right now, but in six weeks, we won’t have that address either.

So what to do with mail and all those other things that require an address?

The plan has always been to keep a Washington state address. We want a small (cheap!) home base here that will function as our permanent residence. Even so, though, it is, at most a physical address for those few situations that require one. We don’t plan to use it as a mailing address.

Our solution is to use a mail forwarding service for our mail. That name is kind of a misnomer, though. They won’t actually be forwarding the bulk of our mail. They will scan our first class mail, and we will look at it online and tell them what to do with it. Really, really neat service.

We drove out to Ballard yesterday and got that set up. On the way back, we ended up smack dab in the middle of Seattle Solstice Naked Bicycle Ride. Wish I had taken pictures, but honestly, I was annoyed because they seriously futzed up traffic.

In the upcoming weeks, I need to do a lot of address changes, including forwarding our mail at the post office, updating our voter registration, changing addresses at work, updating credit cards, and changing our drivers licenses. Jay can update his license online, but I’m going to go in for mine. I want to change from a regular license to an Enhanced Drivers License (which Jay already has). That will get us back and forth over the border more quickly.

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We got an offer on the house!

It’s official: We got an offer on the house last night — May 28.

This sale was not without drama. Stepping out and looking at the situation objectively, we went into the situation wearing rose-colored glasses. Both financially and to meet our travel plans, we needed an immediate sale. Since the Seattle housing market is so hot, I believed we would get that immediate sale, and so I didn’t really make a Plan B.

Last week, after missing our May 20 departure date and as we approached one month on the market, our realtor pushed to drop the price. This annoyed me for several reasons, not the least of which was that we had gotten ZERO push-back on the price of the house. The push-back was about distance from town, not price, something we couldn’t fix.

Jay and I talked, and we talked about what would happen if the house didn’t sell. What finally sunk in was that by doing this huge remodel, we had thrown ourselves from having a mortgage and no other debt to being BURIED in debt. If we didn’t sell SOON we would have to move back in. Could we afford it? Yes, but it would take all of our monthly income just to cover the debt and expenses — with nothing left for unexpected things, and that’s not a comfortable way to live.

The problem was lowering the price would eat the profit we were counting on — so much so that even going to Mexico was at risk. Basically, we were looking at drowning in debt or being broke. Not a great choice.

We lowered the price.

I wasn’t happy. This wasn’t what I had planned. I wasn’t trying to bankrupt my family. I didn’t want to give up our home and get nothing for it.

“Let’s pull it off the market,” I told Jay. “I want to go home. We’ll try again in a few years when we have more equity and have paid down some of the debt.”

He agreed. But it was Sunday evening, and we didn’t want to both our realtor at home. “Call him in the morning.”

We didn’t get a chance. That was yesterday, and last night he called us with an offer. Jay crunched the numbers. We could make it to Mexico. We would be close to broke, but debt-free, and we would be in a country where we could probably bank a lot of savings.

We accepted the offer. If all goes well, the house closes on June 28, and we leave for Mexico on July 28.

It’s… bittersweet. After deciding to go home, I was sorry to get the offer. (I know that sounds weird.) The excitement has gone out of the plan, at least for now. But Mexico will enable us to rebuild our safety net, and “debt-free” is very enticing.

There’s much to do, but I’m pretty sure we just overcame the biggest hurdle standing between us and our life of travel.

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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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