On the Move

It’s no secret that Jen and I have been thinking of moving out of Macomb for a while now. The change in jobs has given me a much-needed kick in the pants to reorganize my life in general. Those interest rates aren’t going any lower until at least 2025, so there’s no time like the present.

So we’ve been on the hunt. But where to go? I want to abscond from Illinois on pure principle, but given the amount of family in the area, I can bide my time. Jen basically needs a place nearby a college or university to act in an advisory capacity. That means we can live nearly anywhere, assuming the prices of houses don’t act as too much of a restriction.

And there’s the rub. Out of all of our options, Eastern Iowa, Central Illinois, or Western Indiana were basically our best options. The sheer litany of complaints I’ve heard levied against Indiana made it fairly undesirable. Iowa would be fine, but the area surrounding Iowa City has probably the most unaffortable housing market in the state at the moment. Several communities in Illinois, despite its deeply ingrained corruption, are actually far more reasonable.

So alas, despite my ongoing crusade and several decades worth of attempts to flee Illinois, we focused our search around the Bloomington Normal area. It’s essentially equidistant from all of the inlaws, making it a prime location. There’s also a nearby airport, so no more two-hour drives to Moline or Peoria for business trips. In my line of work where a conference talk or consulting gig require an on-site presence, that’s a convenience that’s impossible to ignore.

Jen and I actually started this whole thing several weeks ago, and everything culminated with a trip to Bloomington last week to meet with a real estate agent to tour houses. We made an offer on a great house but it escalated into a bidding war we didn’t want any part of, and that was that. But I’m nothing if not persistent, so we kept Zillow and Redfin open to accumulate another list for the next attempt.

This week looked dour. We had a list of seven properties to tour, but two of them sold in mere days before we could even make the weekend drive. Another one was unavailable because the owner was traveling out of town, and since the house was for-sale-by-owner and unwilling to pay any agents, ours couldn’t show it. Was it even worth a two-hour drive to look at four houses? I figured why not, because even four is greater than zero, and as they say, you miss every shot you don’t take.

We made the trip again, met with the agent again, and he ferried us around town again. And something odd happened this time; aside from the first residence we visited, the rest were actually great examples in our price range. Our original trip yielded maybe three out of ten we’d feel comfortable buying. This time it was four in six. Our list of viewings had increased to six during the drive thanks to a couple units our agent found in the MLS and recommended. I was dubious, but open to the suggestions.

Our short-list included this devastatingly stunning house on Woodland Ave. It’s a classic yet updated home full of original wood fixtures, the expected vaulted ceilings, and a mostly finished basement with plenty of other storage. It was actually insane, and I would have bought it in ten seconds if I thought it would ever go at the listed price. Not everyone appreciates old houses like I do—thanks to my mother’s influence—but I fully expect that listing to sail past 300k into territory far too rich for my blood. Alas, we went with our second choice instead.

So we made a modest offer on Saturday which was gratefully accepted this afternoon. Assuming all the loan paperwork, inspection, assessment, and other steps go well, we’ll be moving in June. It doesn’t have dual walk-in closets in the master bedroom like our current house, but it makes up for that with almost 1000 more square footage of finished space and just as much basement storage as we currently have.

Now we need to coordinate getting our current house ready for its own pilgrimage on the market. Time to buy boxes, pack, get the house presentable, and more besides. Sadly we need to buy new boxes, as many of the ones we’d stashed in the basement became a casualty of Ash’s ingenuity. I suppose that’s what I get for bundling them up and leaning the stack against the wall with the corrugated side easily accessible. Bad kitty!

Still, it’s an exciting time for sure! 2024 has been a crazy year so far and there’s still no sign of letting up. New job, new town, new house, new beginnings all around. Wish us luck!

Until Tomorrow