Downsizing: Limbo and Luck


The house was sold! The contract was signed! Contemplating the possibility of moving was strange and exciting when it was a goal, but now it was a reality. Our first question was, “When?” The buyers asked for a May 28th settlement, and we agreed. Our second question was, “Where are we going to live next?” We needed to find a new home quickly. The date for settlement was only 60 days away.

An unexpected heat wave forced us to head to the storage unit and fetch some boxes of lighter clothes. All this time we took things out of the house, and now we brought them back in. It felt like a setback.

To complicate matters, Bill had previously agreed to play four different musicals between February 20th and April 3rd: Heathers, The Musical; Footloose; The Full Monty; and The Who’s Tommy. When he scheduled them, he didn’t think we’d be moving so soon. Working the rehearsals and shows meant he wasn’t available to do much packing and moving on those evenings, but we made up for it by cramming our weekdays full of wrapping items, packing bins, and toting both boxes and furniture to wherever they needed to go. I still don’t know where he found the energy to do it all.

We continued to Throw Out and Donate. The master bedroom suite and the dining room grouping (golden oak table, chairs, sideboard, jelly cabinet, and corner cupboard) went to consignment, along with other furniture pieces from throughout the house. We donated box upon box of items we rarely used but were still usable: clothes, housewares, small appliances, duplicates of kitchen gear, and small pieces of furniture.

But what to Keep? What to Store?

img_6369At the very end of March, Danica, Ted, Bill, and I met at the model home to talk about the homes in the Olde Orchard Hill development, the one we visited the day of the open house. We talked money.  We talked about which unit might for us. We talked about how long it would take for the builder to complete a specific unit that interested us. It was under roof, but there were no walls, cabinets, or appliances. We talked finishes. By purchasing here, we could choose the flooring, cabinets, and paint.

Elated and terrified, we signed preliminary papers. We tentatively agreed on a June 1st “take possession” date. We knew now where our next home was going to be, assuming everything fell into place. We were concerned about where we would live from May 28th to June 1st, but our realtor suggested that we rent back our house from the new owners. This was not a new idea for us. We rented our house back to the original owner for two weeks when we bought it in 2005. Knowing that renting back was a possibility, we forged ahead.

Finances came next. We contacted a mortgage company that our realtor suggested. Danica knew from experience that they would make the process as smooth and speedy as possible. We started gathering paperwork and filling out forms.

For me, the financial process resembled a race on an uneven surface. Just when I thought I had img_6378things under control, just when I thought I had answered all the questions, a new priority popped up in front of me. I was Indiana Jones, running as fast as I could in front of that rolling rock, dust fanning out from my fedora.

Bill saw the house selling and buying process more as two clockwork wheels trying to interlock and align so that one house could be sold and another bought without stopping time altogether.

As the clicking wheels and the rolling rock bore down on us, we kept looking forward, hoping to find a finish line that wouldn’t crush us — or leave us homeless.


This blog post is part of a series called Downsizing. It is the chronicle of moving from a 2475 square foot home to one approximately half its size during the first six months of 2016. It takes place in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania.

Categories Downsizing

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