“Our Gutsy Final Move”
“My Gutsy Story®” Barbara Hammond
Moving is daunting under any circumstances. I grew up moving, like gypsies, attending fourteen schools in twelve years, four of them in sixth grade.
When I married, my husband’s career involved moving regularly. With a young family it was stressful, but we managed ten moves in the first ten years.
We weren’t particularly savvy with money, but we made smart Real Estate investments over the years. Someone once told me, “Put your money in Real Estate. They’re not making any more land!” It was good advice.
We’ve lived up and down the northeast corridor of the U.S. for forty-six years. Being near the ocean was a priority.
In 1992 we moved to Philadelphia, which has felt like home to me since I first explored it in 1974. I’d never had such an emotional and compelling tug on my heart before. I literally felt I’d lived there in another life.
My first trip to the Jersey Shore was also 1974. Oh, how the ocean grasped my soul and said, “Welcome home.” I think I knew then I would live there one day. My husband always felt it would be out of reach.
The new millennium proved lucky for us. The stars aligned and we found the perfect beach house for our family in Ocean City. I envisioned it being the family compound for the rest of our collective lives. That worked for about ten years.
Our two sons met their mates and set out on their own journeys. They still visited, but as their families grew their time became focused on the children’s needs and activities.
In the meantime we were maintaining two homes. I’m not complaining. I know this is a ‘First World Problem’, but it can be costly.
When it was a friends and family every weekend OC was worth it. With only the two of us, most of the time, it became less so.
At the very tip of New Jersey is the quaint, beautiful, town of Cape May nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Delaware Bay.
We made day trips occasionally, especially in the fall when it’s less crowded and even more beautiful. We stayed in many charming B&B’s over the years and loved it.
In the fall of 2013 we spent a fun day in Cape May, walking down tree lined streets, strolling along the beach, and enjoying lunch at the Ugly Mug, a local restaurant that’s great for people watching.
As we headed out of town I said to my husband, “Why don’t we sell both houses and move to Cape May?”
Within seconds he said, “I like it! Let’s do it!”
And the adventure began!
We loved our home in Philadelphia. It was built in 1760. In a home that age there’s always something to fix. Historic charm doesn’t come cheap. We knew there’d be work ahead of us before we put it on the market.
We closed the shore house for the season and decided to wait until spring to put it up for sale. It needed work, too.
In the meantime we weeded out and donated things daily. We had lived in the city for twelve years, the longest ever in one place. It’s amazing what you accumulate over time.
We discovered wiring issues, and assorted other problems. It took time and money, but we had it ready for market by late April.
Our realtor in Philly was amazing. We sold in three days! Then we began the search for our forever home in Cape May. It was exciting!
We had driven around all areas and knew where we wanted to live. I spent hours on Real Estate websites searching.
We hired a great realtor to work with and as we toured homes I’d seen online we were often amazed. Photographs can be very deceiving. But, we weren’t deterred at all. I knew in my heart this was the right time and place for us, and the perfect house would find us.
We had seen so many homes and nothing seemed right. Finally we felt we’d found the one. We made an offer contingent on selling the OC house. Nothing went smoothly and the deal fell through.
As our closing date in the city neared we were working in earnest on the shore house. It looked so beautiful we wondered why we hadn’t made these improvements years before.
When we closed on the house in Philly we needed two storage spaces in Ocean City until we could sell there and make the final move. It was expensive and it was getting scary. I was concerned but never lost faith. My heart and gut knew the perfect home would appear. And it did!
I was checking my phone before I even got out of bed and saw a message from our Cape May realtor. She sent a photograph with one line…”Look what popped up overnight!”
I squealed, which woke my husband. I showed him the picture and he almost squealed, too! It was a Monet painting with an arbor over the gate and a picket fence all around, with a spectacular garden.
It found us!
We saw it immediately and began negotiating. The inside needed work, but the bones were great. It was a fresh canvas for us to paint our own dream home.+
The OC house sold the same week and we were on our way. We had to delay the closing in Cape May for a week, which meant putting our OC furnishings in storage. This made for the most expensive move we’d ever experienced.
We’ve put lots of work into the house and it is a labor of love. Many tell us how lucky we are, but I will tell you luck had nothing to do with it. We were focused, and never doubting. The entire process felt so right, no matter what obstacles got in our way.
Keep your eye on the prize and stay gutsy. You are the architect of your life!
SONIA MARSH SAYS: So true, Barbara, we are the architects of our lives, and I can tell that you found your piece of treasure in Cape May, a place I have never visited, but now that you’re there, I may have to stop by.
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