If you don’t know, Mrs. SSC and I like to watch home renovation shows, Renovation Realities, Property Brothers, and even home buying/selling type of shows like Love it or List It, House Hunters, and recently, Tiny House Hunters and Tiny House Nation. You’re probably thinking, “Thanks for sharing your TV preferences, but what does this all have to do with ER or finance or anything?” Well, recently Mrs. SSC discovered a new show called Living Big Sky, essentially a house hunters for Montana. It has amazing views everywhere you go, and people keep using phrases like, “we loved it so much during vacation, we decided to move here,” and “Every day we wake up we feel like we’re on vacation. Just look at these views.” Which led Mrs. SSC to ask me, “Are we setting the bar too low in the Appalachians? Will we feel like that when we retire? What if we got big views like that too?”
Yes, there are some impressive views, but we’re basically talking about moving from the Gulf Coast to Southern Canada. Previously, we’d investigated places in Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and the like, but ultimately found what we “think” we’re looking for in Virginia, North Carolina, Eastern Tennessee.
I say, “think” because, except for vacationing around those areas, hiking through those areas, and other short term type of trips, we’ve not gotten out there to visit for a week with the express purpose of house hunting, community snooping, and general poking around to get a feel of the town and surrounding area. The little things like, where are the closest grocery stores, is this area “too far” from town? We’re hoping to get there and do a recon trip in the fall, but that is highly dependent on if Mrs. SSC’s mom can cover the little ones for a few days. I’m not spending 4-7 hours in a car driving around with toddlers in the back. That sounds horrid for everyone involved.
Virginia is nice and has great properties with excellent views. It’s like we discussed, yes, I love the west and Rockies, and those sorts of views, but the Appalachians feel comfortable, and homey, and I find them beautiful. The mountain laurel, rhododendrons, streams, and green-ness of the landscape just brings me back to my growing up days of hiking and backpacking in Eastern Kentucky with my Grandad, and at Mammoth Cave National Park backcountry. I love the hollows and ravines, and rolling hills, broken up by some mountains, and most of all, Fall! I miss seeing leaves change colors, the smell in the air, the crisp bite of winter on the back of a warm fall breeze, reminding you that winter is coming. Almost as nice is Spring. Real Spring, where you feel warm air mixed in with the biting cool breeze, and see trees bud, bright blossoms emerge, and watch the brown landscape become green, lush and vibrant again. After 8 years on the Gulf Coast, I guess I really miss seeing seasons change, and realize that’s something I definitely want.
In the meantime, we started looking out west again. Except for some real fixer uppers that are already at the top of our budget (~$300k – with reno included) we would have to work another year for some out west living. With the experiences of fixing things in the last 2 homes we’ve lived in, plus the horror shows that unfold on Renovation Realities, and Love It or List It, I realize we could spend more than anticipated on a fixer upper. If we’re already at the top of our budget, it gets tight finding something we can afford, with land, etc… Nothing that warrants a whole extra year of working.
It reminded me of one of the couples on the Living Big Sky show. They bought a house at the top of their $600k budget, saying “We’ll find a way to make it work, because this is our dream house.” It was custom everything, and they both said, “We just love the uniqueness of everything being custom.” Before I even thought about it I blurted out, “Oh you’ll love it until it breaks, and you’re paying custom prices to fix it.” Side note – our shower door broke Sunday, and after 3 estimates, consultation with 4 companies, and about 5 hours online we found out, there is no repair – only replace…
Ultimately, we think we’ll end up on the East Coast though. The land is cheap, houses are affordable, and we love the views. We may end up somewhere else, but unless we find something amazing at a great price in 3 more years, we’re most likely East Coast bound!
What are your “Big Sky” ER plans?
Are you planning on moving or staying where you are when you pull the trigger?