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Saturday, July 30, 2016

House Hunting--Not As Easy As It Looks by Suzanne Rossi

Hi everyone.

Two years ago my husband officially retired. At that time, we made a decision to move to the Memphis, Tennessee, area to be closer to my youngest son and his family. So we spruced up the house, did reno work in the kitchen and master bath, weeded out some of the junk we accumulated living here in Ft. Lauderdale, and put the house on the market last fall. We finally have a solid contract (three others fell through) and hightailed it to Memphis last week to find new digs.

We thought we knew where we wanted to buy--a smaller town outside the city and a home with some acreage for dogs and a garden. We've lived in the 'burbs or an urban atmosphere for so long, the thought of getting away from the crowd sounded wonderful. That bubble burst the first day our realtor took us to our preferred little burg, Covington. It turned out to be at least an hour's drive from my son. So it was back to the one place I swore I'd never live--Germantown, Tennessee, and suburbia. We lived there once before, but the city is just so stereotypical suburbia with a lot of rules and regulations. I don't like rules and regulations, however, since we're not getting any younger, it made sense. The city does have wonderful medical facilities.

We found two houses we liked and put in an offer on house #1. Another contract was accepted the day before our bid. Damn. On to house #2. Another offer was accepted two HOURS before we presented ours. Double damn! Houses in Germantown are flying off the market within days of being listed. Why? Schools.

About three years ago the Memphis City Schools and the Shelby County Schools merged. There are several independent municipalities within the county, including Germantown. They have their own mayors and city councils, police and fire departments, and so on. But the schools were under the auspices of the county. Residents of these cities were furious because they paid taxes--and a lot of them--to maintain county schools only. MCS is a mess, hence the merger with the assumption MCS would now have more money in the coffers. Naturally, taxes would go up substantially. So these cities formed their own school systems. Since Germantown is the closest of these towns to Memphis, people (especially newcomers moving to the area) are snapping up real estate like it's going out of style, which is the case in Germantown. The area is almost built out.

I consider us lucky to have finally found a house that suits our needs. Is it perfect? No. The kitchen is tiny, but what the hell, I don't cook much anyway. I'll want to unload the pergola on the patio and build on a screened in porch, but the pool and back yard are perfect as is the huge great room.

Along the way we saw a lot of houses. Some were in great condition, but more than we wanted to pay and out on the far eastern side of town. Others were in such bad shape, we didn't even go upstairs in one of them. I won't even describe the house where the owners ripped up the hardwood floors and painted the concrete.

So, in a month from today we'll close down here, pack up, and move back to the one area I've always liked. My next blog will undoubtedly be all about packing, moving companies, and the usual trials and tribulations of a major life changing event.

Needless to say, I haven't been working much. I just received the critiques back from my partners on the last chapter of a book I plan to submit soon, but for actually writing anything--nope. Not sure I'll get around to it until we're moved and settled in.

Have any of you moved lately? How did the experience go for you? Was it smooth and effortless? Or are you ready for an institution? I'll probably be in the latter category.

Hope you all are enjoying your summer. Talk to you next month.



  1. Suzanne, we "downsized" three years ago this weekend. What a job that was and we still haven't done all the updating we intend for this house. (Life keeps interfering) Living in the city is much more convenient for retirees. I enjoy where we live, but I do miss my bigger home I designed and we built. Sigh. This is much more practical at this stage of our lives, though. Within weeks of us buying this one, prices here shot up. We consider ourselves indeed fortunate that we bought when we did. Good luck to you!

  2. Like Caroline, we downsized our main residence 3 years ago. Actually, in square feet, it's almost the same as the house from which we moved, but it's a townhouse instead of a sprawling 1 story. You've got the worst--fixing up, selling, and buying again--over. Now comes the second worst: cleaning out, packing, and moving. Good luck. Wishing you good moving fortune!

  3. It sounds like you have done a lot of house searching. To submit two offers and have them turned down is super frustrating. I agree with your post that finding a house in good shape is really worth looking around for, and can sometimes be a challenge. Hopefully you will enjoy living nearer family members in your new home.


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