House Saga – Selling Part One (“Stuff”)

We decided shortly after January 20 to pursue the idea of transporting ourselves to Memphis. In addition to living in the same city as our now 1 and 2 year old granddaughters (as well as our eldest daughter and son-in-law), it was an economic decision. Hubby’s job of over 30 years had abruptly ended and retirement (the kind where no money is coming in) is at least 10 years off. Retirement (the kind where we kick back in our recliners) is NEVER happening.

Property values in Memphis are about half what they are around Portland, Oregon. Memphis is a tourist hot spot – or warm spot anyway. Our daughter and son-in-law had made some good money hosting AirBnB guests in their 3-bedroom townhouse about a mile from downtown. Their AirBnB venture was our introduction to it, and at first it freaked me out. They had guests in their extra 2 bedrooms, on the same floor as their own and they all shared the same bathroom – freaky. Then, over several visits I met some of those guests and found the experience to be absolutely delightful! Not all of their guests were perfect, but at least they had no horror stories.

Hubby and I devised a plan. We would sell our house on the Willamette River near Portland, Oregon

and use the proceeds to purchase AirBnB properties in Memphis. Managing those properties would be our new business. Hubby would not have to look for another J-O-B!

Hubby began doing all the “fix-it” projects around the house that we had put off, some for a long time. This occupied his time and moved us along toward our new goal. He drove around our area and got realtor names from other river properties that were for sale, and we interviewed two. It took us until early April to actually bite the bullet and sign with one. The fellow we signed with walked us through our house of nearly 30 years and explained how we needed to get the house ready for promotional pictures and for showing. Virtually everything on the walls, on the shelves, on the mantle, and on the counters needed to go.

As you might know, I’m a quilter. I ran a long arm quilting business that consumed one large room in our house. One entire wall of that room was a design wall. If you are a quilter, you might be drooling over that notion. The design wall had to go. I told the realtor that my long arm (12 feet long by 6 feet wide, floor to ceiling high) and my cutting table (4 feet by 8 feet) were both staying until the house was sold – this was business! In our office, my big Bernina embroidery machine occupied a large space. Realtor said it could stay, as he now understands how important sewing is to me.

The coffee pot can stay on the kitchen counters. A FEW books can stay on the bookshelves in the living room and in the office. There was a bookshelf in our master bedroom that I went to great pains to tidy up and largely clean off in anticipation of this walk-through. Realtor took one look at it and said, “That whole thing should go, there’s not much on it anyway.”

Anticipating a going “live” date of May 1, we began packing up. During a significant remodel in 2000, we gutted the living, dining, game room, kitchen of the house we had purchased 12 years earlier. In the process of spending about double what we originally paid for the house, we moved the kitchen to a different area, finished the ground floor and created a fabulous man cave, or as we lovingly referred to it, a teen lair. We created a gourmet kitchen and great-room, added 2 full baths and a laundry room, added an office, and created lots of huge built-in drawers. Those drawers served us well housing kids’ toys at first; we could quickly clean up before Dad came home from work. Toys are pretty much gone from our house, so what in the world is in all those full drawers anyway? We quickly discovered that a lot of storage is a curse; once something made its way into one of those drawers, it never came out. I found tax returns going back to the 1980’s. I wasn’t sure how long we needed to keep records, but I was pretty darn sure it wasn’t that long.

For every box we packed (to store in the garage until our actual moving day), we took about double that volume to goodwill or to the dumpster. We tried to be ruthless. During that first packing up process, we pretty much filled our garage with boxes – Realtor said that was fine.

Jumping ahead, we loaded the biggest U-Haul we could rent 2 days ago. Concerned that we wouldn’t be able to fit all our “stuff” into the truck, we were willing to leave most of those boxes in the garage – after all, we had lived without them just fine for nearly 6 months; we could probably live just fine without them forever.  In the end, every single one of those boxes is in the U-Haul.  I imagine I will be unpacking them and taking more to Goodwill in Memphis.  All of my sewing “stuff” made it, including my entire fabric stash organized in bins by color, and all of my unfinished projects.  I’m not completely sure that is a good thing.

I pray that my relationship with “stuff” is forever changed. I think that we will have much less storage space in our Memphis house, and that will be a blessing. I learned that I liked being in my quilting room much better with only the essentials left in the room. I could breathe; I could move. We discovered how much easier it was to clean the house without all the clutter. We joke that we have become minimalists. I hope it is true.

One thought on “House Saga – Selling Part One (“Stuff”)

  1. I’m trying to follow your lead and reduce “stuff”, but a lot of our “stuff” I really like. Maybe that’s the prescription: keep only the “stuff” you really like…

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