Adventures in home buying 7: We’re finally in our new home

The final story in our series about a young family’s search for that first resale home.

As I write this, I am sitting on the patio of our new home watching our daughter playing in her own backyard. Seeing her happily digging in the garden — “No, Tilly, don’t dig up the basil” — or throwing water from the pool makes all the stress and work and money worth it.

First, a note about moving with a toddler: Avoid it. If you can. We couldn’t. So we packed as much as possible, while Tilly happily opened and unpacked the boxes we’d just filled.

We wound up taking her to my parents’ home for the last few days before the move to minimize the chaos in our apartment and to protect her from the trauma of seeing her beloved toys and books shoved into giant Tupperware containers.

Craig and I did a mad, final pack on the Thursday, two days before the move, sweating as we took down curtains and shelves and packed other last-minute items like duvets and pillows. Then we waited for the call from the lawyer telling us that the keys were ready to be picked up (we had been to the lawyer’s office the previous week to sign the piles of paperwork, a task that took precisely 30 minutes).

The anticipated call came at 4, so I hopped on my bike and rushed to the lawyer’s office. The keys came in a giant envelope with a bit of paperwork and a lovely surprise: A cheque refunding part of the property taxes that we had earlier, and mistakenly as it turned out, paid in full.

Cleaning and the move 

Once I got back to our apartment, we packed plants, computers, art, and cleaning supplies into the car and drove to our townhome, stopping for the dinner of champions along the way: Harvey’s hamburgers.

Between Thursday evening and Friday morning, I cleaned the new house: washed walls, cupboards, fridge, floors, bathroom. I also got the carpets cleaned, new couches delivered, and internet installed. Amazingly, everything went off without a hitch and was completed by 2 in the afternoon on Friday.

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The move itself went as smoothly as I could have asked for, especially given that it happened at the start of a heat wave. We had hired a small, independent mover who came highly recommended and was willing to let us help with the process. We loaded the truck starting at 8:30 on Saturday morning and were fully unloaded in our new house by 11:30 that same morning.

Two suggestions here: one, always book your movers for the first slot of the day — they are fresh and, in the summer, it’s not as hot — and, two, enlist any strong and loyal friends who are willing to help. These two factors, and my obsessive need for order, are what I credit for the fast move.

Still not quite done

Two weeks later, and even though I have the summer off, unpacking is ongoing. We are almost there but we still need to finish hanging all our pictures and organize the basement storage and garage, which became repositories for everything we didn’t know what to do with.

Our toddler, who is well known for her resistance to change (as are all toddlers), has managed very well with the transition. She had a few days of crying after the end of our first week in the house, and probably as the result of a visit to our old neighbourhood, but we have been able to talk to her about her feelings and that always seems to help her settle down.

We have struggled a bit as well with the transition. We went from being perpetual urban dwellers, with all the conveniences that offers, to living in a true suburb.

However, we have been able to find the things that we each need to make us happy: for Tilly, parks with swings and wading pools; for Craig, a place to write; and for me, biking and running trails and a decent gym with decent classes.

For Ruby, our poodle, who is now on her fifth home with me, we have established our walking routines and paths, so she is as content as a 12-year-old dog with increasing dementia and deafness can be.

Money — and being home

As for costs, I had budgeted for all of them, but here’s a brief run-down: the moving company ran us $600, the carpet cleaning $400 … I thought about hiring a cleaning company to do the entire house but I cheaped out at the last minute. I regret not just springing for it as I was pretty exhausted by the end of the move.

Then there were all the random, unexpected expenses that emerged in the first few days: garbage cans for the extra bathrooms, the kitchen and the garage, extra bath mats, shelves for storage (lots of those).

And there are also all the things we have yet to purchase, including a lawn mower, a barbecue, and patio furniture. But we are hanging on until the end of the summer for all three as we figure we will be able to get some pretty good sale prices come September. I would suggest having a big cushion for these sorts of expenses before you buy or move. I budgeted roughly $3,000, and that’s been about right thus far.

Overall, we are happy in our new house and definitely feel that we made the right choice. Mind you, ask me about that in January when our heating bills come in or I am struggling to clean the driveway after a snowstorm…

Still, the joy in Tilly’s voice when we pull in the driveway and she declares, “We are home” really says it all.

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