In honor of our latest Open House, I splurged on some seasonal flowers to spruce up the front door. I say “splurge,” but I didn’t actually realize how cheap a pot of mums go for: just $5 at Home Depot. (I replanted them in a pot I already had.)
Definitely a lot of bang for your buck, don’t you agree? Nothing says, Come On In! like some fresh flowers greeting you at the door.
And they worked! Three groups showed, which is a 300% improvement over the last two Open Houses. This is also the first Open House we’ve had in several weeks: I’ve begged off the last couple or so that our realtor suggested. I’ve just gotten tired. Weary, really. And discouraged. I needed a mental and physical break from preparing for an Open House and being okay when no one showed any interest, or even showed at all.
Two of the couples that came today are currently renters, too. Which is huge. That means they’re not homeowners waiting for their own houses to sell.
The geraniums I had by the front door before? Are actually still thriving, just on our back porch instead. Where, reportedly, one of the couples sat today and chilled and talked amongst themselves for quite a while.
Can you hear the hope in my voice?
Flowers have good vibes, people. Such a simple, economical way to upgrade your home’s curb appeal. Or just your mood, as the case may be.
To Stay, Or Not To Stay
John leaves soon to start his new assignment in California: specifically, he’ll be going to school. (Yea, no deployments!) Our house is reaching the six-month mark on the market, with no more offers since that first one we received barely two weeks after the house first went on the market. (That contract fell through, as you might recall, which felt like a mixed blessing at the time as we were in no way prepared to move so quickly.) (Of course, now we’re ready!).
We’ve also decided that the kids and I will not be joining John in December unless the house sells. As in, soon. The original plan was for me and the kids to stay in Ohio just until the end of the year so Conner could finish up his first high school semester all neat and tidy. Then we’d head out to California to settle in and start homeschooling. However, the financial stress is just too great. Because John is PCSing to such an expensive area, his housing allowance will be quite high. The plan is for him to find some basic hole in the wall (but you know: safe and close to his school) that costs around $1000-$1200 a month, leaving the remainder for our continuing housing expense in Ohio.
In other words, we can float a small studio or one-bedroom apartment in California and our home in Ohio on the California housing allowance alone.
However, if the kids and I all go out to California, and we take a house on base there? No more housing allowance. Turned off. Zilch. And we’ll be left to cover the mortgage and other expenses of the house in Ohio out of the rest of his income, until the house sells.
To give you some numbers (which are all easily accessible on-line, by the way; I’m not giving up real secrets here)(except our mortgage payments, of course. But I’ve given up those secrets many times before):
- $1,695.00 = Ohio BAH (Housing Allowance) — This just went up after John’s promotion, from $1602. (An increase that was essentially wiped out by the increase in federal taxes coming out of the pay raise.)
- $2,928.00 = California BAH.
- $1,822.53 = First & Second Mortgage Payments for house in Ohio.
As you can see, the Ohio BAH hasn’t been covering all of our housing costs anyway. This is usually the case for military families. Once we sell this house in Ohio and move into base housing in California, if all goes to plan: our housing expenses will naturally drop by several hundred dollars, once you factor in utilities.
I’m kind of excited about that part.
Are Finances the Most Important Factor to Consider?
When John and I were discussing our options in light of the house not yet selling, we were having a hard time coming to an agreement: I wanted to find a way to bring me and the kids out to California whether or not the house had sold; John thought we should wait.
We finally decided to broach the options to our teenager. He’s 15, after all, certainly old enough to be consulted. Also, he was a big reason I was so reluctant to stay behind. What if we sell the house in January? Or February? He will have just started his second semester of his freshman year of high school. It just seemed like such a difficult way for him to transition a big move, right in the middle of a semester, over half-way through a year.
And I have to admit, a big part of me is daunted by trying to figure out how to start homeschooling (and record keeping for a high schooler) three-quarters of the way through the year — or two-thirds, or five-eighths. Whatever it might end up being.
But I will just have to cross that bridge when we come to it, because waiting we are, at least for now. We told Conner the options, then asked him to think about it for a while. After a few days, I casually asked if he’d given it any thought. He said, “Well, we might as well just stay until the house sells.”
It was very anti-climatic.
But we’re still hopeful that another offer will come, even before the holidays. There’s still time. In the meantime, I’ll keep putting out the flowers. Buyers or no, there’s still the mood upgrade to consider, after all.