So…here’s our story!
So why did we move?
Going back to the first of August, we had no thoughts of moving. We’ve talked about moving to North Alabama or St. Pete Florida for years, but never got serious. It always came back to the question of “Why would we leave Florida as we get older?”. It’s so well equipped to take care of old people.
For the last few years, however, our youngest son Tim and his wife had talked about wanting to leave Florida. They kept talking about moving to the Raleigh/Durham area. All the crazy virus stuff this year has had them working from home. When Tim’s company (a tech startup) decided to make remote working permanent, the kids decided it was time to get serious. They gave their landlord notice that they were moving when their lease is up. As we’ve talked with them about it, they’ve seemed convinced. They said that if they don’t like Raleigh/Durham, they’ll go somewhere else, but not back to Florida.
Our other son lives in Louisiana. Fay and I talked about it and decided that if neither of our kids lived in Florida, there was nothing else keeping us there.
How we picked the place
We thought we should be closer to the boys, but don’t want to live in Louisiana, and don’t want to be as far east as Raliegh if things don’t work out there for Tim. Fay grew up in Birmingham and has life-long friends there that we like to visit. I grew up in Michigan where some of our closest friends remain.
So we got a map and identified Lousianna, Raliegh/Durham, Birmingham, and Grand Haven, Michigan. We decided that eastern Tennessee is centrally located. But even more importantly, it’s within a day’s drive of all the people we like to see, including those back in Florida.
We wanted to be within 20 minutes of a Greek Orthodox Church and also since we are getting older, major medical facilities. Knoxville turned out to be perfect. We are even friends with the priest and his wife here. Fay’s dad was an Orthodox priest, and our priest here was a chantor for him 40 years ago while he was in college. The church is close to downtown, and just a few miles from the University of Tennessee medical center, so this met our two major criteria. As a bonus, another couple we are friends with are in a small town nearby.
We came and checked it out
After doing our research and deciding on Knoxville, we brought our little camper and came up here for four days in mid-August for our first visit. We really liked everything. A few key aspects are:
– It’s a much smaller city than Orlando.
– There’s beautiful scenery all around us, not to mention that the Smokey Mountains are only an hour away.
– After a lifetime in Florida, the idea of “change of season” seemed really appealing.
– Most everyone we talked with had that southern hospitality…much friendlier than what you typically find with strangers in Florida.
We drove around enough to zero in on areas we’d want to live. After we got back home, we confirmed Tim & Kristin’s commitment to not spend their lives in Florida, and made our decision.
Why we did it so quickly
With the real estate market as hot as it’s been, we decided that we should move ahead and not wait until next summer like Tim is planning. We didn’t want to risk a major slowdown and miss the chance to easily sell our home.
The market was just as hot in Knoxville, so we knew that it might be hard to find a new home. But we decided that it would be better to be there with only our little trailer than to be caught having a difficult time selling our existing home.
Finding our new home
The criteria for a new home was kind of strict. It had to be
– all on one level with no stairs. Being hilly here, single-story ranch homes are few and far between.
– in a good walking neighborhood for Fay to take her regular walks.
– have a place we could park the trailer, and be in a neighborhood without a homeowner association that would not allow it.
– It had to be no more than about 20 minutes from the church.
When we bought our last home in Orlando, we downsized from about 3,000 square feet to 1800. This time we wanted to get even smaller, hopefully around 1400.
We did a lot of research, interviewed several real estate agents, and picked one up here by the end of August. She was great, and really listened to understand what we wanted, and assured us she could do a great job without us being here. And she did!
Things started to get moving
Our home in Maitland was in great shape and in a very desirable neighborhood. There was no question it should sell quickly. We were hoping not to have to move twice, so we held up on listing it until we knew what we were going to do in Tennessee. By the first of September, we just got busy selling things and packing the rest. Fortunately, we spent the first half of 2020 doing a lot of great projects around the house. It was definitely all ready to be shown to potential buyers.
A few weeks later, on a Friday in mid-September, we got a call from our agent up here. A house that met all our criteria was going on the market that morning. She had the first appointment to go see it before anyone else. There was a good possibility it would sell on the first day, so we did a virtual tour of the home with her that morning. We made a cash offer to buy it “as-is” with a commitment to close as soon as they wanted. By the end of the day they had 6 other offers on the house, but we got it. We had 36 hours to inspect it and cancel if we found any issues.
Then it started to get crazy
Within a few hours we were in my truck and on our way. We managed to fill the back of the truck with stuff that we put in a mini-warehouse while in Knoxville. It was too much trouble to mess with the camper, so as much as we hated to do it during this virus, we spent a few nights in hotel.
The following day we saw the house. It’s 60 years old and needed some updating, but was really nice and in a great neighborhood. The only problem was, as I mentioned above, we wanted to downsize from 1800 sq ft to about 1400. This house is 2400. But we loved the house and it met all of our other criteria, so we decided it was a go!
The closing was set for September 30, just two weeks away. We listed our home in Orlando and had a contract on it within about 10 days after we got back home from Tennessee. The tentative plan was to close on it by the end of October.
The craziness got even more intense
Within two weeks, we brought our trailer back up here for the closing, parked it next to the garage, and stayed in it for the next week and a half. We found painters to paint the entire interior and started on the many projects we are still in the midst of. The people who had the home before us bought it new in the 60s and never left. (In fact, their ashes were sitting in two urns in the kitchen when we first saw the house.) While it had been a beautiful home at one time, things were not all maintained well as the previous owners got older. It needed a lot of work. This is all good though because Fay and I both enjoy working on projects!
One of the projects I did up front, was to install security cameras that could be viewed remotely and record any activity. When we headed back to Orlando, we left the trailer beside the garage in our fenced in backyard. The area has a motion light and camera, so we decided it should be okay. We also met a few of the neighbors while we were up here, all of which had lived in the neighborhood for a long time. They would be keeping an eye on things for us too.
When we got back to Florida, we had less than two weeks to finish packing. We lined up movers to come a few days before our closing there. Everything went well, and we ended up signing our paperwork early and headed back up here before the end of October. Our trailer was ready and waiting, so we moved back into it for about a week until all our furniture arrived.
We made it!
Since then, it’s been non-stop working on projects. It’s all coming together really well, and we certainly are enjoying being here. The fall colors were gorgeous a month ago, and now the cooler weather is a nice change. We had one snowfall which was all gone within two days. But most of all, we’ve met quite a few neighbors that have been so friendly in welcoming us to the neighborhood.
So there’s our story. Maybe I’ll write another one about all our projects on the house when we get a little further along.