So long, Toronto. Hello, Kingston. In my first post of 2018, I said the following:
We’re leaving Toronto. We have to declutter our house, do a major renovation and lots of touch-ups, stage the house, and sell it. Assuming it sells, we’ll then have to find somewhere to live in the destination city, pack, and move.
We’d lived in our Toronto house for 15 years, and before that, we’d rented a house. Moving out when you rent is easier than moving out when you own. Decluttering is optional. Renovations aren’t required. You don’t have a house to sell.
We were naïve. We didn’t realize how much work it would be, and thank god for our real estate agent, who kept us on track. Otherwise we’d probably still be in Toronto, still decluttering.
Phase One: Prepare the House
In January, we started preparing the house. I estimate that we got rid of about 70% of our furniture and possessions. Much of it was old, and we were brutal when it came to stuff we were hanging on to, “just in case.” We recycled, donated, and gave stuff to friends/family whenever possible. Everything else was junked.
We had a major renovation to do: replacing all the floors in the house except the bathroom. Gathering quotes takes time. It’s an important job, so we wanted to be careful. You don’t want new floors to look crappy. It took us a month to select a company. We chose well, but the house was pretty much unlivable for a week when the old floors were being ripped out and the new ones nailed in.
We also had a long list of handyman-type jobs. It’s surprising how many little irritations we’d put up with over the years: cupboards that didn’t latch properly, closet doors that dragged when opened and closed, etc. We found a great handyman who spent a couple of weeks at our place fixing stuff.
We painted the entire house, including the basement. Well, not us, but a paint crew. When I say “we” in this post, I mean the workers we hired.
We replaced some of the light fixtures.
We fixed up and painted the front porch.
We had the house inspected, to see if there were any problems we weren’t aware of.
This took us from January to early May, and life was never normal. At least one hired worker was in the house pretty much every day.
Phase Two: Sell the House
We had met with the real estate agent in February and were shooting to list the house around May 1. We missed the target by about two weeks. The house went up for sale on May 15. Because it was being staged, we had to move most of our stuff to storage.
As I said earlier, it was a good thing the agent was checking in with us to see where we were in the plan. He made sure things were moving along.
We did an offer day, meaning that we showed the house for a week and then accepted offers on a specific day. We boarded the cats for the week. We felt it would be less stressful for them and us. We didn’t have to worry about them getting out when strangers were in the house. It also let us remove all signs of pets.
We had more than 50 people through the house during the week. Our lives consisted of leaving the house, coming back, leaving the house, coming back, etc.
On the offer day, we had a good number of offers, and we accepted one. House sold.
Can we relax yet? Not quite. Now we have to find somewhere to live in the destination city: Kingston.
Phase Three: Find Somewhere to Live in Kingston
Why Kingston? We’d visited it a few times and liked it, it’s not too big or small, it’s situated within day-trip distance of three urban centres (Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal), and most importantly for us right now, it’s within day-trip distance of my parents.
Once again, we were naïve. We figured we’d make appointments to view apartments (we wanted to rent for at least the first year, in case we don’t like living in Kingston), sign a lease, and move.
We didn’t know how tight the rental market is in Kingston, or how difficult it would be to find an apartment that didn’t look like it needed major renovations and/or a serious clean. We could have signed a lease on that first trip, if we were willing to accept promises that “the carpets will be cleaned,” “a new paint job will cover the stains on the walls,” etc. Call use cynical, but we weren’t willing to sign a lease on the promise that an apartment would get a makeover before we moved in.
We returned to Toronto discouraged.
On our second trip, we saw more of the same. We decided to consider condos and houses for rent. Things started to look up. We really liked one house, but the rent was a bit more than we wanted to pay. We could afford it, but we weren’t sure we wanted to pay it.
We returned to Toronto discouraged.
But…we kept thinking about the house we liked. We planned to go back to Kingston and keep looking, but after two trips of appointments being cancelled on us because units were rented before we got to see them, apartments that looked like a bomb had hit them, plain old fatigue, and just wanting to get on with it, we decided to check whether the house we liked (with the high rent) was still available. It was, and the landlord knocked $100 off the rent for us. We took it—and breathed a sigh of relief.
Phase Four: Move
This was the easiest phase. Because of all the preparation work and moving our stuff into storage for staging, 80% of our packing was already done. We packed the rest, and the day before the house closed, we junked the furniture we weren’t taking with us.
We boarded the cats for two nights while we stayed in an Airbnb. The house closed with no problems, and the next morning we picked up the cats and headed down the 401.
Out of the Groove
From January to July, life was turned upside down. I haven’t written a word this year. I was overly optimistic to think that with everything going on, I’d be able to write. It just wasn’t possible with all the renovations, the stress, and the admin/paperwork related to moving. I couldn’t get into a writing groove.
They say that moving is a major life stressor, and it is. Add to that renovations and decluttering, and I was shocked when I had my annual physical and my blood pressure was okay LOL.
I’m sitting in my new office now. My goal for August is to get back into some type of routine, so that’s what I’m trying to do.
Life is settling down, so I’ll finally get back to writing.
Selling a house and moving is time consuming and stressful.
If anyone in Toronto wants recommendations for flooring, a great handyman, or a great junk guy, contact me and I’ll tell you who we used. We weren’t as thrilled with the paint job, but that’s a long story. Ask me privately.