When I moved to the northeast five years ago, I didn’t have any expectations of moving back to Arkansas. It was bittersweet. After spending 35 years as a native Arkansan, I bid farewell to my native state and headed north. And then Covid happened. My life took several unexpected turns, not the least of which was the chance to move back to Arkansas. It was an opportunity that I could never have foreseen, but will always be grateful for. But this wonderful opportunity also meant that several hurdles lay ahead. Selling a home, packing, and moving cross-country are stressful prospects even during the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic with two small children. But now that I’m back home near family and friends, I can unequivocally say it was all worth it. I learned several important lessons during the process.
Listing Your Home
Finding a good seller’s agent is key when listing your home. I found that a glowing recommendation from a trusted friend was the best way to proceed. Our agent presented us with a market report on houses in the area, their listing prices, and when possible, their selling prices. I found that she was a straight shooter, never overselling the value of my house or her abilities. Scheduling showings during work hours, when so many people are working from home, can be tricky, so make sure to have good open communication with your agent.
I learned a lot from my Realtor and her home stager. They reiterated that staging oftentimes means purging, not redecorating. If they suggested I move a piece of furniture to another location, it wasn’t because it necessarily made the room look magazine ready. It was because it made the room appear larger. If they asked me to remove wall art or curtains, it wasn’t because I had made poor decor choices, but because they wanted to simplify the house and make it appear neutral and as big as possible. I boxed up books, cleared out shelves, packed excess items from closets, and before all was said and done the garage was wall to wall boxes. But the interior of the house was plain, spacious, and void of any distracting decor choices. I didn’t have to redesign, or buy new things, or do any major renovations. The name of the game was simplification.
I’ve moved several times in my adult life. Most of those moves involved moving to another house in the same city. Those were the easy moves. A cross-country move proved to be an entirely different animal. Everything had to be carefully packed and ready for movers. I made two very dear friends during this ordeal, one was the donation bin at the local thrift store, and the other was Bubble Wrap. Those pairs of pants two sizes too small? Donated. The wobbly piece of college furniture? Donated. The precious family heirloom sugar bowl? Bubble wrapped securely enough to withstand a nuclear blast, or an accidental fall off a moving truck. It was a tremendous amount of work, and an exercise in purging, but the end result was very satisfying.
The quotes we received from movers varied wildly. Some were thousands of dollars higher or lower than the rest. Getting multiple quotes saved a lot of money, and although it can be a hassle to have moving assessors walking through your house, it was worth it in the end. Moving cars cross-country can also be a costly add on, and most people (including us) ultimately decide to drive the cars instead of having them moved. And last, but certainly not least, don’t forget to tip. Movers work hard. It’s also considerate to have bottled water on hand, and if it’s a job that takes them all day, ordering a pizza is also an appreciative gesture.
The landscape of all careers has shifted drastically because of Covid. Jobs that once were relegated to desks are now taking place on the living room sofa. 9-5 hours are suddenly looser and less defined as people navigate their families and working from home. For some, it may be possible to move closer to friends and family, while keeping the same job in another town or even state. But there are very important things to consider. How often will you need to travel back to your home office? How feasible will that be given the current travel restrictions? What type of tax implications will living in one state and working in another have on your income? Will the move be permanent or just for the duration of the pandemic? These are all important questions that need definitive answers.
At the end of the day, choosing to move back to Arkansas was one of the best decisions of my life. Moving, especially cross-country, is trying in almost every possible way, but the benefits of creating a better life for your family and taking advantage of the current seller’s market outweigh the hurdles of moving. For more information on mortgages, contact First Security.