We are finally getting close to shifting to the next phase of our housing. It has not been easy. As I have written before, as much as we love our Bark House, it’s a bit remote, especially in the winter when our neighbors all flee to warmer climates – the last few heading out this week. We don’t mind being alone together, and if we want company we can always order something on Amazon so the UPS guy will come to our house. But it’s an hour’s drive to the Cancer Center for Kim’s scans and chemo, and that’s not always easy in the winter.
So, what we have found is a condo in the small town of Sutton’s Bay, about 15 miles from Traverse City and the hospital. How small? Population: 613 – but more in the summer. Our plan is to keep the house, buy the condo with a mortgage, and see how it goes living there during the winter months (up here there are about six of them). By “how it goes” I mean how well we are able to keep up with the work on our acre of woods, garden and beach, and whether we can get any help there. “How it goes” also depends on our health, which does not seem to be improving. It also depends on how we like the condo – neighbors, surprises, etc.
If you know Kim at all, even if only through these writings, you know this is not an ordinary condo. It’s part of an old stone school, built in 1906, and the walls are three feet thick. The room that will be our bedroom has two exposed stone walls. The condo is not big enough to hold all our stuff, but we will worry about that when we have to leave the Bark House. This might be when it’s too much for us. It also might be when one of us dies – an event that we are almost certain will happen.
In an attempt to be rational, I identified the factors that entered into the decision about our next home:
· Location – We like the small-town feel, and the main street, with its shops and restaurants, is only a block away, and it’s close enough to Traverse City without being too close.
· Livability – Some work is needed. We really dislike the television-over-the-fireplace look, and the stacked washer-dryer in a small closet. True, there are stairs down to the bedrooms, but exercise is good, right? And there is no garage – not ideal in winter months.
· Affordability – It will be a stretch. We asked our financial advisor to pull a rabbit out of the hat, and he said he would.
· Coolness – This is, of course, what sealed the deal. We have already started in on the schoolhouse theme. We bought a small chalkboard, we will use our library table for my desk, we picked up an old student desk we bought on eBay, and I am on the lookout for a Dunce cap that’s in my size. We may have some pictures later, but if you have any google skills, you can find the listing . . ..
Of course, we don’t own it yet. The state hasn’t quite approved the conversion into condos – that is expected in late November, but we have a “Reservation Agreement” and have paid our earnest money. We were involved in one of those “escalation clause” bidding wars, but in this case, it had a good outcome. We were actually outbid, but the seller, who we met during an Open House, sold it to us because “she likes us” according to our realtor. It probably helped that we wrote her a letter explaining why we liked our Stone School Condominium so much. (Thanks, Rand, for the idea.) When we do sell our beloved Bark House, we may ask prospective buyers to write us a note saying why they want to live here.
Of course, things could still go wrong before our expected early December closing, but meanwhile, Kim has furnished and decorated our place at least two different ways, and she decorated the condo across the hall, which we are not going to buy, as well.