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Packing Up & Moving On

I am sitting at my kitchen table as I write, surrounded on all sides by boxes and boxes full of the stuff that fills my house. We have been in full-blown packing mode for at least two weeks now, and yet there still appears to be no end in sight. But moving day is next week, so we continue to pack and purge and sort.

While Tsh is selling her first home, we just bought our first home. Even typing those words and seeing them in print still seems strange to me. I’m 37 years old, and most of my friends bought their first homes long ago. Some have even moved on to their second home by now.

But for various reasons, we’ve been on a slightly different track for a long time. Home ownership was always sort of a vague, fuzzy possibility out on the horizon. I hoped for it, even longed for it, yet feared it.

I want to travel, live free, reject the consumerism of the American dream. But I also want a place for my family to put down roots, to offer hospitality, and to grow and thrive. It’s been an inner conflict for many years.

Eventually, we realized that for us, it’s possible to have both. And it’s okay to want both. We can strive to find a way to live in the middle, with self-awareness and wisdom.

Of course, there were also financial considerations. Austin, Texas, is one of the fastest-growing cities in America. It’s definitely a seller’s market here, and anyone that wants to buy in the center of the city is going to pay out the nose for it. We didn’t want to go to the suburbs – we love central Austin – but we feared that was our only option.

Simple living doesn’t always feel so simple. How can we live within our means, in a way that is non-extravagant, and doesn’t require us to spend hours commuting…somewhere we might even be able to walk and ride bikes to schools and parks and libraries? Is it even possible?

And then we found our house.

Not so close in, but not too far out. Walking distance to the elementary school, a fabulous park a few blocks away, a great big backyard for my girls to play. It feels like an amazing gift.

It’s not a large house by most middle-class American standards – just 1300 square feet. But we’ve been living in a 950 square foot, 2/1 duplex for the past eight years. Even though I’ve certainly longed for more space, we’ve gotten used to being cozy together.

When we were house-hunting, we looked at many larger homes out in the suburbs, but every time I tried to imagine our family living in a house like that, with so much room to spread out, I suspected it would feel a little too lonely for us.

And just the other day, my suspicions were confirmed when my older daughter, age seven, expressed a little bit of fear about her bedroom being “so far away” from us in the new house. Granted, we will be on the other side of the living room – a whole 15 feet away – instead of right next door.

Honestly, we are thrilled about our new house – and so grateful. Now we face the packing. The amount of stuff we own has definitely accumulated, despite regular trips to Goodwill and at least three major purges over the years.

We’ve gone from a couple of DINKS to a family of four during the time we’ve lived in this little duplex, and it will be a bit bittersweet to say good-bye. So many memories were made here. But the truth is that memories aren’t held in four walls, but in our hearts, and people are what make up a home. So, we’re ready for the next chapter, and we can’t wait to see everything the future holds.

Now, excuse me while I go pack another box…

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14 Comments

  1. Whitney @ Journey Mercies

    Love this – especially since my husband and five month old son are moving back into our 950 sq ft 2/1 home after living abroad for three years. Most of our friends have much larger homes. And I won’t lie – I do drool over the three story turn of the century homes near our neighborhood. But for now, our little shoebox ranch will be just fine.

  2. Fawn Carriker

    Congratulations on your new home purchase! Moving is fun once you are done, but the purging and packing part can be quite daunting. Best of luck in making the little shoebox ranch your own. – Fawn

  3. Sarah

    Congratulations! We are on a similar but opposite path. After 2 houses and 10 years of home ownership, we are taking a break. Renting was (initially) weird after all this time! But we went through the same thought process as you are. It’s about doing what is right for your family as the (life) seasons change, and it sounds as if you have done just that. I’m so happy you have found the perfect place for your clan!

  4. SusanDR

    Congratulations and enjoy your new home! We lived in Austin for many years – four different homes – from grad student to a family of four. Now, several homes and 2 additional states, we are settled, hopefully for good. I love Austin, and always thought we’d never leave. I would go back in a heartbeat, though life is good here. Though the moving process is hard, the benefits will soon outweigh this few weeks of upheaval. Enjoy and best wishes in your new home!

  5. Tina

    Congratulations! We are on a similar path to simplify and live with less. We have lived in our 1900 sq ft home on a 1/2 acre lot in a great neighborhood for 11 years. We just put it on the market last week. We are so ready to be debt free, that we are ready to take the plunge and do what we need to do to get there. We are also in the process of adopting a little guy with special medical needs and want more disposable income so that we are as prepared as possible for what may come. We are looking at fixer uppers and foreclosures. So ready to “live like no one else, so that we can live like no one else”. (Dave Ramsey)

  6. Lisa

    Kudos. You might be interested to hear a similar story. A friend of a friend has all the money one could want. They built their dream house and moved in. Shortly thereafter they moved out, back into a small home. They felt that everyone was too spread out and their family just wasn’t as close as it had been.

  7. Jill

    Thank you! We moved into our house about 4 years ago. I love my house and neighborhood. We live in an area filled with huge $300,000 and up new, custom homes. We couldn’t afford that, so we bought a very nice home that was built in the 60’s for less than half of the new homes. Our home fits us perfect and we have great schools. We are fixing it up and will be able to pay it off and travel more when the kids move out.

  8. Raji P.

    Welcome to Austin!!!

  9. Alissa

    I think you nailed it with this Katie: “I want to travel, live free, reject the consumerism of the American dream. But I also want a place for my family to put down roots, to offer hospitality, and to grow and thrive.”

    Congratulations on your first house. I often wonder if we could transition back into a smaller space. We bought a fixer with more square footage than we need, but now that we’re living in it, you kind of get used to the room. But the upkeep on a bigger space isn’t where I want to be investing my time.

  10. Lisa

    I’ve had some of the same exact thoughts about living simply and being free yet putting down roots. It’s not the right time for us – we will continue to rent our 900sqft townhome until we are in a bit more permanent place, but I long to have a home that I can invest fully in. For now, I am living well where I am. 🙂

    This was encouraging! Thanks for sharing.

  11. MD

    What a wonderful time of the year for a fresh start in a new home! By the time the holidays roll around, you will be settled in.

    I like the idea of buying a small home and perhaps adding on over the years. Living simply and small has so many advantages.

  12. young

    It’d be nice if moving didn’t involve packing, lol! We just moved into a house rental about 3 weeks ago, so I feel your pain. At least whatever you create in your new place is in your own home! 🙂 Good luck on the move.

  13. Kelly R.

    I just started packing today! So this post comes so timely. We just sold our house and we were that couple that bought out in the suburbs away from a major city. I lived in the city for years but longed for more space to create and grow our family. Being here 5 years I have felt that my house is an island. In order to do anything we need to get into the car. It is very quiet, spacious and we can’t see the neighbors. But life has changed! I want to see my neighbors! We are moving states, to a coastal community where I can walk to everything and get to know my neighbors. I couldn’t be more thrilled!

  14. Chris D

    Hi, Katie:

    Congrats to your new lovely abode! Austin is a beautiful town.

    I wish my family and I live there. My family of 4 moved from CA to Houston 3-years ago, and it’s been many blessings for us. However, living/having a big 2-story house is more work and can get expensive, so if I can go back, a comfortable 1-level house is ideal.

    Make great memories.

    Chris D

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