Thursday, December 13, 2012

Life Changes

I have been putting off writing this post as I thought 1- no one would be interested and 2 - it is personal.

Until April I had been posting, more or less regularly, about decluttering. Funny enough, as I stopped posting about it, I began doing it more earnestly.

Last October we began to talk about how much we wanted to travel more but having a house in Toronto meant we couldn't leave it for months at a time. We also realized that we were sitting on prime real estate that we could make use of. We were watching House Hunters International and  we (my hubby) realized that we could live far more cheaply than we could in Toronto. It took me a month to get my head around leaving my house and garden and also to do the math and come to realize it made a lot of sense.
I finally told my husband in Hawaii that I thought it was a great idea to start looking at other countries.

We are subscribers to International Living so were very aware that there were places we could live far more cheaply.

My BIL invited us to spend New Year in Nicaragua where he had rented a house for the family.

We also added an extra week and booked a bed and breakfast in Granada which we had found in an International Living magazine. There we met a young American couple who had chosen to give up the bustling, hustling life in New Orleans to settle in Granada. We fell in love with the city and came home thinking it might be the place after we started looking at what we could get for $250,000.

We spent a lot of time online looking at real estate in various Latin American countries and decided in February to attend an International Living conference in Cancun. These conferences aren't cheap so it was a big decision. It was a great conference and gave us a lot of food for thought about where we would like to relocate. the speakers were amazing, provided a lot of insight and there was even a Canadian lawyer in attendance to provide any legal guidance that you might need.

Back home we were formulating our plans and getting the house ready. We had had the bathroom renovated last year and most of the house repainted at that time.

Old bathroom
Gutted bathroom - many more photos!
 Staircase being prepared for painting

In March we were to travel to Hilton Head for a golf vacation and my DH's birthday but this was cancelled when DH threw his back out and required intense physiotherapy.

 Around May/June we decided we'd rather downsize to a condo in Toronto or the surrounding areas as we weren't ready to make a full scale move to one place. We realized that we love travelling so settling in one place didn't make that much sense if we were going to want to travel to various other destinations. Also the idea of not having a "home" to come back to gave us pause as we realized we didn't want to be tied to one home in a foreign destination much as we love d the idea of it.

Also around this time we made several emergency midnight runs to the hospital as my husband was in excruciating pain which they kept saying was acid reflux.
This was after a year of my DH complaining constantly to his doctor that there was a problem.
Finally on another trip to emergency a doctor stated it was gall bladder and referred him to a specialist. Surgery was planned for July.

Our kitchen had been painted terra cotta for the longest time which we loved but we decided to paint it to a more generic colour that would appeal to buyers. You can visit our kitchen over the years in this post.

A friend helped DH take down the Florida lighting in the kitchen, you can see the green border that was there when we moved in and we simply covered.

 Our personal touches had to go. We had painted this door almost twenty years ago.

Our original plan for this year had been to entirely gut the kitchen, office and dining room and redo the area. Agents had told us this wasn't worth doing if we were going to sell as buyers would probably rather put their own touch on it.

We started decluttering and packing up items for the staging process. We were very lucky that we had good friends who were willing to store our items.

We freecycled some items and other items went to Habitat for Humanity.

In June we decided we would like to drive across the States and rented a condo in Las Vegas for two months. We used timeshare to book some weeks on either of the rental period.

We had to make a very tough decision as our beloved cat didn't travel well and we couldn't imagine him handling being in the car for long periods of time. Also most timeshares do not allow pets. We found him a good home in July and he moved to his new quarters and has settled in very comfortably.

We went condo shopping with a good friend  who is a real estate agent and only found one place in Burlington that we liked but the price was unreasonable.

After some thought we decided we would be more comfortable living in Toronto and our friend set us up with an agent.
After looking at many condos we found one we really liked and made an offer on September 19 for possession November 1. It is an older condo so it is much larger than the tiny boxes we had been looking at. It is also a very well-known established building in the city with more amenities than any other buildings offered. Instead of finding a condo that was move in perfect we ended up with one that will need work usch as painting, bathroom and kitchen renos plus some other maintenance which is our responsibility.  Oh well, we will have some projects ahead of us.
We took our very good friends back with us to visit our top two choices for an unbiased decision.
This is the view from the 46th floor on the day we made our final decision.

Before putting the house up for sale we met with the agent to stage the house. There wasn't much to do, she suggested we remove the decorative pieces in the office and we rearranged some lamps.

Around this time we also gave our dining room set to some friends who liked it. That was quite a job for the guys to get it moved as it was a very solid set!

 Hubby had his gall bladder surgery delayed from July to September 21 and we put our house up for sale in September 24. This meant we would have to keep the house as tidy as possible and be able to vacate on a moment's notice if perspective buyers requested a viewing.

We had booked a river cruise back in April before any of these plans had been set in motion when we were offered a 2 for 1 deal from Amsterdam to Basel.

While on this cruise from October 9 to 19 our house sold on October 14. We received an email from our agent and our friend who was acting as our power of attorney for the sale.
Champagne was in order as we sailed the Rhine.

Once home life moved in a blur, between packing, lawyers, banking, moving, selling or giving away items, organizing, change of addresses, paperwork etc etc etc.
We didn't have a moment to breathe.
Litle items we were not prepared for were contracts that were part of the house that ended up costing us money. We had a contract for lower gas/heating rates which cost us a penalty for breaking. We hadn't planned on keeping a land line but that was going to cost us a penalty as well so we kept our phone and number.

We took possession of the condo on October 31, Halloween and we went out to dinner to celebrate.
November 1 was to be our day to sign all the legal paperwork on both properties as well as getting the mortgages required sorted out.
As luck would have it the power went out in Toronto around 9PM on October 31. When we woke there still wasn't any power so now I could worry about whether there was power at the bank and the lawyer's office, being the perpetual worrier that I am. All was well in both locations and we signed our lives away.

We had the entire condo painted and cleaned before we moved in.

We went furniture shopping for the condo as we needed a new dining room table, and some bedroom dressers.

November 6 the movers arrived and packed up what was left, which was mostly the furniture as we had taken care of the other things.

We decided to cancel our first week of timeshare in Scottsdale AZ so that we could get settled in.

We were settled in record time, furniture was assembled and friends had been entertained (some had been put to work as well).

Sunset from our balcony

 The plan was to leave for our ultimate road trip on November 19. This got delayed to November 26 due to some unforeseen circumstances.

November 26 we left on our road trip! Follow our journey by clicking Newer Posts.


  1. Strangely enough my husband is also dealing with gall bladder problems.

  2. I am looking at our well-loved house and wondering when we will make a similar choice.

  3. Interesting Post travelling is a passion of mine . The house sale went quickly which was wonderful for you all. Here in the UK house sales are at a low . We are set to put our house for Sale next April Easter time.
    Best Wishes and I will catch up on your Journey soon.

  4. It all sounds so wonderful! You are living a dream!

  5. The new place looks great! I'm glad everything worked out the way it was supposed to.

    Gall bladder -- bitter flavours stimulate gall bladder "juice". Black coffee can help. If you're like me and can't take coffee, a couple of tablespoons of stomach bitters in a pint glass of water will work. Warning: the latter solution tastes absolutely awful. I try to gulp it down in about three gos so the ordeal is over with quickly.

  6. Sounds like a very intense year with a lot of changes in your life!
    The new condo looks great, love that old sewing machine table you have! My parents have a similar one (was my great-grandfather's), but they had the top redone with tiles.

  7. I really enjoyed reading this post. We have talked about doing something similar but love our home and the lack of homeowners' association telling us what we can do. I'm glad you posted this.


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