Last Thursday, the movers packed up all our belongings, and in the late afternoon, we hit the road. By Sunday evening, we had made it to our vacation rental in Tucson.
The kids were surprisingly well-behaved on the long ride out to Arizona. (I’ll share in another post everything we brought to keep them busy!)
Our Vacation Rental by Owner
Right now, our home base is a vacation rental by owner in a retirement community. The vacation rental is very nice; it’s two bedrooms and well-maintained. It’s a bit inconvenient because it’s 25 miles from my husband’s workplace and 40 miles from where we eventually want to live. However, we picked this place because it was $600 cheaper than any other vacation rental that we could find, and the owner was very flexible with our schedule. For now, it will do just fine.
Missing Our Conveniences
We’ll likely be living out of our suitcases for nearly a month here. One thing I didn’t anticipate is how much I would miss the conveniences of home. When we were in Chicago, I was able to buy food in bulk, so we always had a stocked pantry and freezer. I had all my cooking supplies, so I could make freezer meals to make life easier on busy weeknights. Now, we’re making do with a very small kitchen and no freezer meals. We have to buy everything at the store the week we need it, which does get expensive. I can’t wait to be settled in our own place and stock the pantry and freezer with yummy meals.
We also miss having a permanent address so we can do simple things like having our mail forwarded and getting a library card so we can check out books.
We Got a Place
Speaking of our own place, after much back and forth and indecision on my part, we decided to buy a house. (My husband has wanted a house from the beginning.) There were two main reasons why we bought a house.
1. Even though we only plan to stay here two to four years, you never know how life will go. We moved to Chicago with the intention of only staying there ONE year, and we ended up living there 14 years!!!! Of course, the houses and property taxes were too expensive for us there, so we don’t regret that we didn’t buy a house. Here, however, owning a house is much more affordable.
2. The market is on the upswing. I know the housing market can do anything, and we know buying a house is taking a risk. However, in Tucson, the market seems to have bottomed out in 2011 and is on the upswing again. That combined with the low interest rate makes us more confident about buying a house. Just to be sure, we also had several long discussions with our financial advisor who encouraged us to buy.
The day after we got here, we looked at eight houses. Two of them stood out.
House A: This house had every single thing we wanted in a house.
- It was 4 bedrooms;
- it had a large backyard with great mountain views;
- it had an open concept so when I’m working in the kitchen (which I do A LOT thanks to our food intolerances) I can see the dining room and the livingroom and even across the livingroom to the backyard. I’ll be able to see the kids no matter where they are (unless they are in their rooms).
The only thing that we didn’t like was the price. It was about $14,000 more than we would like to spend.
House B: This house was well within our price range but had a few limitations:
- It was only 3 bedrooms, and the third bedroom was very tiny;
- it did not have an open concept; when I was in the kitchen, the only thing I’d be able to see was the dining room.
In case you’re wondering why we need 4 bedrooms when we only have 3 kids, we wanted a spare bedroom for my mom when she visits. My mom lives in Michigan, and I am her only surviving child, and my children are her only grandchildren. She’s planning to visit us twice a year and stay for about a month each time. We wanted to make sure that she had her own room so that she felt comfortable staying for such a long time.
In the end, we placed a low bid on House A and were flat out rejected. They didn’t even counter offer! So, we decided to come back with one more offer that was $5,000 more than we had originally planned to spend, but $10,000 less than the owners had the house listed at. After some convincing on our agent’s part, they took the offer.
Even though House B was well within our budget, my mom wouldn’t be as comfortable staying there, and selling it may be tricky with the tiny third bedroom. House A has a better resale value, especially after we make some cosmetic changes like repainting the kitchen cabinets and replacing outdated lights and fixtures.
Looking Out for Monsoons
I have heard from many people to watch out for the monsoons in July and August. So far, we’ve had several days where it gets cloudy and threatening, but no rain has come. Just last night I woke up at 4:30 in the morning to a torrential down pour that lasted an hour. I guess that was a monsoon rain, but we couldn’t see anything because it was dark. Hopefully we’ll see a monsoon rain in the daytime sometime soon.
Getting Used to the Time Difference
The only other thing I’m struggling with here (besides the heat!) is the time difference. I’m used to central time, where the East coast is just one hour ahead, and the West coast is just two hours behind.
Tucson doesn’t take part in day light savings time, so we’re essentially on Pacific time. It’s hard to get used to the fact that when it’s 2 in the afternoon here, all the businesses on the East coast are closed. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but right now it’s taking some adjusting to.