2012 was the year it all came together for us. We had a couple years of planning, thinking, and dreaming leading up to the move we made in January. The journey began in 2010 with a thought of living differently… of life without owning a house. I shared that thought with my wife while on a bike ride. To my surprise she was feeling the same as me. The house was holding us back, and we might be better off renting an apartment.
The first step was to see if we could fit into a smaller apartment. Thus began our Big Purge. The Big Purge started in October 2010 and continued through the end of the year. We did a little more purging here and there in 2011, but for most of 2011, we just sat and let the plan sink in. Did we really want to sell the house and go back to renting? During that time this blog sat with no updates for more than six months.
Then in October 2011 we finally decided to list our house for sale. We had a lot of anticipation while waiting for the house to sell. Then in December 2011 we received a cash offer on our house, and BAM – it was really happening. That last week of 2011 we started boxing up all our stuff and searched for an apartment.
We found the apartment we would soon call home, and moved in the middle of January. This year was a year of change for us. Prior to this it was all just planning and preparing. In 2012 we finally took action and moved into our new place.
The move went great. We purged so much stuff during our Big Purge in 2010 and a final garage sale before the move that we only took up half of the moving truck. The cost of the move was minimal due to proper planning, boxing everything ourselves, and hiring a great moving company.
Faith, a new school and a diagnosis
Faith had to transition to a new school midway through the school year, and that was hard on her. She missed her friends from her hold school, especially her best friend. Unfortunately she ended up with a not so great teacher and the remainder of her kindergarten year was a bit rough. On the plus side, that led us to look into more on why she wasn’t talking much at school, which led to her being diagnosed with Selective Mutism (SM).
Once diagnosed, everything became so much clearer. We worked with a psychiatrist to get her on Prozac. This has helped a lot with her social anxiety. With the anxiety issues in reduced, she is able to speak to other kids more easily. We talked with the school principal to get her placed with a better teacher for first grade. We were also able to get two of her friends moved into her same class (something recommended for children with SM.) This made the transition to first grade much easier. Her first grade teacher is fantastic. Faith is now talking to the teacher and with other kids in her class.
She even got up in front of the class and spoke on their microphone. We also signed her up for cheerleading, something she really wanted to do. We figured it would be good for her to practice vocalizing in a group setting, and that this might help with the SM. She loves cheerleading. It took her a couple of practices to get used to yelling the cheers, but now she is doing great. She likes it so much that we signed her up for a cheer class at a gym so she can keep in practice during the off season.
The move also placed us closer to her good grandparents and several of her cousins. She has loved getting to play with her cousins more. We often have sleep overs and she’s creating some great memories with them.
I haven’t updated on the toxic grandparents in a while, but after we got the diagnosis of SM, they wanted to give things another shot. Suffice it to say that nothing really changed and we don’t plan on seeing them again any time soon. That’s how it will be with grandfather, as he is the one that won’t accept Faith as she is. Grandmother, although she tries to cover for grandfather, isn’t as bad herself. We’ll see her less often than in the past, but will probably try to see her around Christmas. I’ll have to write a separate post on the latest development in this whole saga.
Overall we are happy with our living arrangements. The apartment we moved into was renovated just before we moved in, so everything was new. New carpets, new stainless steel appliances, and new showers with curved curtain rods. We’ve called maintenance a few times and they have been very responsive at getting things fixed. It’s really nice not having to do my own maintenance anymore.
We have much more free-time now that we moved. My commute is shorter by at least an hour every day, and with no maintenance activities our weekends are all ours to go on adventures and create memories.
We have had a few bad neighbor issues. One set finally got evicted. The other set aren’t too bad, but they have a teenage boy that likes to hang out in the hallways with all his friends. And they like to go to the grocery store and return with a grocery cart and then leave it in the hallway when they are finished.
We have also had a mosquito problem that likely comes from living near a pond. We had mosquitos in the house too, but with the house we would enter the garage, close the door, enter the wash room, close the door, then enter the house and close the door, and not many mosquitos made it all the way inside. With the apartment there is just one door, and it seems like every time we open it a mosquito or two makes its way inside.
I suppose there are ups and downs no matter where you live, but like I said, overall we are happy with our apartment. We like using a pool and hot tub that we don’t have to maintain. Shopping and restaurants are in walking distance. My commute is just 15 minutes. We freed up enough time that we have been able to focus on fitness and started the P90X workout program. Have I mentioned that I don’t have to do maintenance or mow the grass anymore… ’cause that’s pretty awesome.
We upgraded our computers after selling the house. We used some of the sale money to cover the cost to upgrade my computer to a new MacBook Pro, and Dream upgraded to an iPad.
We also upgraded our cell phones later in the year, switching to a great new carrier called Ting. With Ting we are able to have three smart phones for roughly the same cost as two dumb phones on Verizon. Plus they have no contracts, include wi-fi hotspot and tethering at no additional charge, and the plan cost flexes according to usage with no overage fees.
I started my quest to rethink our fitness with some pushups, sit ups, and running. After establishing the fitness habit, we stepped it up a notch and moved up to P90X. We also changed our diet to cut out the Cokes and other sugary drinks and cut back on carbs and sweets.
The results have been great. I feel much better. I no longer get tired at work, whereas before I would need a Coke half way through the day to keep me going. Now I’m wide awake and rested and rarely get sleepy at work.
I can also keep up with my daughter now. I’m able to run, play tag, and follow her around on all the playground equipment. Before rethinking fitness my arms felt like they were getting ripped from their sockets if I attempted the monkey bars. Now I can swing from them with ease.
One of my fitness goals that I neglected to mention was that I wanted to be able to carry my daughter anytime she wants. Kids love to be held and carried, and I want to be able to do this for my daughter as long as possible. My upper body strength has increased quite a bit, and I can now easily carry her for long distances. My back muscles are stronger too, so carrying her doesn’t cause the ache in my lower back that it used to.
In addition to all that, I’m looking damn sexy! My face is slimmer, my man boobs are perky, and my spare tire is much smaller. I went down nearly two pants sizes from a 34 to a 32. 32 is slightly snug still, but I think I’ll be firmly in the 32 region soon. Dream is looking damn sexy too. She didn’t need to lose much, but she has toned up quite a bit. Her thighs are smaller and no longer touch when she walks, and she’s lost most of her little pooch belly. Oh, and don’t tell anyone, but we can last a lot longer when we get romantic too. 😉
Time and Money
I mentioned that we have more time now. Part of that time is spent working out, but weekends are free for whatever we want to do. We’ve enjoyed taking in the local theme parks, visiting with family, weekend beach trips, a Disney cruise, bike rides to local parks, taking in movies at the local theater, and a bunch of other small activities and family fun.
On the money side we’ve been roughly sticking to the 50/30/20 budget. We don’t seem to have as much money left over as we thought. Some of this is because we are saving more now. I setup our bank account to automatically transfer money to savings after each paycheck hits the bank. We’ve also been eating out a bit more. Much of the eating out is cheap and (relatively) healthy. We usually split a meal, so two are eating for the price of one. Most weekends we’ll go somewhere to eat and spend a little more for a nice meal and maybe some drinks. All that eating out is part of our wants budget though, so although it’s not leaving as much extra as we initially hoped, it’s kind of nice to be able to do it.
Most of our move towards minimalism took place with our big purge before the move. After moving, however, we have continued to purge things that weren’t used on a regular basis. We’re not ultra-minimalists by any stretch, but we have less than the typical American family.
Faith has made some huge steps, at one point saying she wanted to have LESS toys than her cousin. She purged bags and bags of toys and clothes from her room. Since doing that, she has been spending a lot more time in room. She is really enjoying her space and will go in there to play with her toys, play on her computer, or watch movies.
Cleanup is easy. Dream tells her to spend five minutes cleaning up her room, and at the end of five minutes it’s pretty much done. She doesn’t run into cleaning paralysis anymore either. Before she would get so overwhelmed that she wouldn’t know where to start. Now since there is less to clean, it’s easier to pick a starting point.
I think that hits all the highlights of our year. What’s next for us? I’m not entirely sure. We are nearing the end of our 15 month lease, so in the next couple of months we’ll need to decide if we are staying here or looking for a new apartment. I think we’ll probably stay, but we might check out some other apartments in the area anyway.
We’re planning to jump into another round of P90X. We’re in our last week of the program and we’ve slacked a little at keeping up with the workouts, so we are planning to refocus our efforts on this area. I want to lose the last of my spare tire!
Dream started working a few hours per week while Faith is in school, so we are hoping to pad the vacation fund with her income. We’re thinking about another cruise, but we’d also like to visit New York. We’ve never been, and I’d like to see the sights.
I plan to keep blogging here. I’d also like to start hearing from others who have traveled, or are thinking about traveling, a similar route from home ownership to apartment rental. I had one guy email me the other day, and he’s about where we were two years ago, starting to think that home ownership isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. He asked some good questions which I’ll soon share the answers to. I’ve asked him to share some of his thoughts in a guest post so hopefully he’ll have some time to share. I’d love to hear from others, although I’m not sure how to find them. I’d really like to chronicle the path of a few people, much as I’ve chronicled my own path. If you know of anyone, send them my way, I’d love to share some posts from others that are Rethinking the Dream.
Thank you for reading and following our little journey. Thank you to everyone who has participated in one for or another, by commenting on posts, sharing your own stories, or taking inspiration and making changes in your own life. I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas, a happy holiday, and a fantastic new year!