Sunday, March 18, 2018

Suddenly, we’re moving! And retiring!

Sometimes life just leaves you shaking your head.

Still dealing with jet-lag after my amazing trip to Germany, I found myself wide awake and on my computer  at 3 AM on Saturday, March 3rd. That’s when I saw that the price of the house in Gig Harbor that Tom had wistfully nicknamed “the Swiss Chalet,” had been reduced – and that there was an open house… today! As in, in a few hours!


Tom had suffered through a bad case of the flu while I was in Germany, so the plan was for the weekend to be a quiet one so Tom could recuperate from the flu and I could recuperate from a whirlwind trip.

This threw me into a bit of an early morning moral dilemma: should I tell Tom about the open house and suggest that we go – if nothing else, to finally rule out this house that he had fallen in love with, sight unseen - even though it was distinctly out of our price range? Or should I stay mum, knowing that seeing the house might be more of a tease, perhaps for both of us, but especially for him? (What if I fell in love with it too?!) Even at the reduced price, there’s no way we could afford this house, I told myself. I’ll let Tom sleep.

So I did.

Until 6:15, when I woke him up.

“There’s an open house at The Swiss Chalet today,” I said, the affectionate name rolling off my tongue as if we owned – or could own - the place. “Do you think we should go?”

He opened his eyes, just barely, and mumbled, “Why don’t you and Elisabeth go and let me know what you think.” (We’d been dog-sitting for Grace and would need to get her back to Elisabeth in Seattle, so I could pick up Elisabeth and we could head to Gig Harbor.)  “Well, THAT won’t help,” I protested. This chalet had become a bit of an obsession for Tom; he was the one who needed to see it!

It didn’t take much to convince Tom that we should at least see it. So a few hours later we were on our way, picking up Elisabeth and heading to Gig Harbor, all plans to take it easy dismissed.



I didn’t expect much. After all, the house didn’t even have a garage (only a carport)!

IMG_1824 (2)

And those rugs have obvious issues!


Who sells such a fabulous house with no garage and carpet in desperately need of replacing? My Redfin filters have the box “must have a garage” checked (doesn’t everyone’s?) , so I would have never even seen this house, had Tom not discovered it months ago.  (And swooned over it. Daily.)

And yet, here we were.

Less than two miles from downtown (if you can call a quaint harbor “downtown”), we drove down a narrow dirt road and turned into the long, forested, meandering driveway, past a large pond (or small lake) and up a small hill, where we saw this:

IMG_1822 (2)

And this:


Yep, this place has a rentable cottage. ‘Hmmmm… I might need to take this visit a bit more seriously,’ I thought. With income from the cottage, maybe we could afford this place after all, if we reeeeeeeally stretched.

Maybe? Probably not.

At that point, I was still thinking logically.

And then this happened:

MLS_kitchen-w-fireplaceMLS_dining-towards-kitchenMLS_dining-to-outsideMLS_from-front-entryMLS_kitchen-from-fireplaceMLS_musicMLS_master-toward-fireplaceMLS_us-from-master-doorwayMLS ds-bath

MLS_2 structures from backyardMLS_backyard-from-dining-doorMLS_cottage-closerMLS_just-house-from-backMLS_pogoda-wisteriaMLS_summer-flowers-char

And the cottage!


I would have loved to have lived in a cottage like this when I was younger! It’s absolutely charming! Not big, at under 1000 square feet, but it has everything a young professional or young couple might want: full kitchen, living room and bathroom downstairs and a loft (hello, writers and artists!) and bedroom with a good-size closet upstairs.

After visiting the cottage, I went back to the main house where I found Tom in the master bedroom:


Yes, he was mumbling “Fuuuuuuuuuck…!” He actually did love it as much as he feared thought he might.

And I was beginning to fall in love with this house, too, in spite of my very real financial hesitations.

And Elisabeth, who hadn’t liked any of the houses she’d seen in Gig Harbor so far, was beyond enthusiastic. “Well, you pretty much just HAVE to buy this, you know! It’s absolutely perfect for you guys!”

Dammit! Now what?!

We went outside to explore the gorgeous 2.7 acre  lot, and I made a phone call to Debra, our wonderful agent (and my ex-boss, when she worked in a completely different field… best business woman I know, and a dear friend, too!). IMG_1809 (2)

“Shit. We love it,” I told her. She knows us; she got it.


A few minutes later, Debra called back with the sad news that there was already an offer on the house.

Dammit! Dammit!

This was not the first time this had happened to us. Tom sarcastically joked that if someone wanted to sell a house, all we had to do was show some interest in it and BOOM – someone would buy it out from under us. Debra mentioned that we could always put in an offer right then and there.

And that’s when my dear departed mom and my dear departed dad had an absolute field day in my head.

‘Look at the ledger sheet!’ Dad warned. ‘Be logical. Can you really do this? On paper? Don’t listen to your emotions; listen to the banker in you… or rather, my father, the banker in you! Be reasonable!’

And then Mom chimed in: ‘You only live once. Take chances! Be adventurous! Take risks! Challenge those who say you can’t; you CAN! And hell, if it doesn’t work out, you can always… well, you can always figure it out as you go along! If you love it, DO it!’

Thanks, guys!

Omi, Opa and Carol Xmas 2000A

Opa Omi piano

My dad answered Debra first: “No, we simply can’t make an offer until we talk to our financial advisors.”

Mom interrupted: “But we love it, and we know there just has to be a way!”

We decided that we’d come back tomorrow and look at the house again with Debra, taking our chances on losing it to someone else. (Sorry, Tom… it seems that my dad won out!)

Tom and I returned the next day and loved the house even more. It just plain felt like home, to both of us.

Dammit. Dammit! Dammit! What to do?

That kitchen, with the fireplace! That dining room, perfect for large family gatherings! That great room, literally at the center of the home! That master bedroom, with another fireplace! That huge master bathroom (with carpet?) and massive master closet! That huge media room! Those two guest bedrooms! That bizarre bathroom, with the brick shower! (That must have a story behind it, we decided. And, as it turns out, it does. But that’s for another post.)

That adorable cottage!

We hadn’t spent much time in the front yard of the house the day before, so mesmerized were we by the house, the cottage, and the backyard. But the front yard, with the small lake (shared with a few neighbors) and the absolutely peaceful forested area, was just as great as the rest of the place!




“I have good news,” Debra told us on Sunday. “The woman who made the offer ran into possible financing issues, so she had to back out.”

“We’ll go to dinner and talk about what we should do,” we told her. 

A few months ago we’d looked at a house with Debra in Poulsbo that we also thought we loved (kinda like you think you’ve been in love till you meet THE ONE, right?!) and on that day, as we headed to get something quick to eat, Debra called to tell us that an offer, apparently a very good offer, had just been placed on the house.

This time, as we headed out to dinner, we also got a call from Debra. Deja vu – a full-price offer had just been placed on the house.

Dammit. Dammit. Dammit Dammit!

Dinner was quiet. Now we were now both in love.

As we headed home, Debra called again. “It seems that, although the offer is a full-price offer, there are some issues with financing, so if you want to submit an offer, I would encourage you to do so.”

Dad spoke: “Not until we talk to our financial advisors. And that will have to be tomorrow. We’ll just have to take our chances.”

(‘That’s not what I meant by taking chances!’ Mom insisted.)

After very little sleep, I called our advisors first thing on Monday morning. After the call, I texted Tom at work.


Good news on two fronts, it turned out: 1.) Tom  could would have to retire… because 2.) we could buy this house!

Yes, it would be crazy and convoluted and nerve-wracking and somewhat risky. But we could do it – thanks to paying off our Woodinville house last fall and taking out a large home equity line of credit, just in case we found the perfect house and had to make a cash offer – which is exactly where we were finding ourselves now. Only a cash offer would win out over the offer on the table. So we made one. And it was accepted.

Then I freaked out a little bit. Or a lot.

We will own two houses and owe a shit-ton of money on a HELOC! We need to purge like crazy (which, for this house, Tom is willing to do!), then pack almost 40 years worth of crap and move out of our house in just over a month! We need to make the maximum possible profit on our current house so we will need to spend more money making it perfect (re-finished floors, new carpet, new doors, etc.) before we put it on the market in early May! We need to put our Suncadia property on the market, like… now! We need to sell our trailer, which we just wont have a chance to use much for a while! (Update: it sold in less than a day.) Tom needs to retire because there is no way he’ll drive from Gig Harbor to Boeing Everett – about a 2-hour drive each way! Retirement is no small deal; he has looked forward to that for a very long time. Our daughter is getting married (in Woodinville, ironically)!

I have to constantly remind myself to breathe (and be more like Mom) while also project managing all the moving pieces (like Dad). Everything WILL turn out just fine and I believe that we will love our forever home from the moment we turn the key on March 27th till… well, till our kids remove us feet-first!

We’re not moving out of our Woodinville house till April 11th and then it will be given a loving facelift for a few weeks before it goes on the market on May 5th. In the mean time, we’re spending our days doing this sort of thing:image4image1 (2)image2image1image3

Stay tuned for the wacky adventures of Tom and Carol as we buy, sell, sell, retire, celebrate and, at some point down the road (certainly not yet!), relax and breathe it all in!

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