Why We Just Sold Our First House and Moved Into A 735 Square Foot Apartment, And What I Learned About Life, Career and Marriage In The Process.
Life. It’s full of twists and turns. Never did I imagine when we moved into my dream first home that I would be packing everything we owned back into boxes only 15 months later. If there is one thing I now know about this labyrinth called adulthood, it’s that I actually know nothing, and oftentimes ideas and dreams don’t go as planned. What I’ve also found, especially when it comes to marriage, is that happiness can be achieved through the tougher times and challenges if your partnership supports finding solutions to the surprises life throws your way, correcting course and moving forward together.
This might come as a shock to a few of you who loved our recent Home Tour of The Morrison Bungalow, but those images weren’t actually taken for the blog. They were taken for our real estate listing. I reused them to preserve the memory of the space that, by the time I posted the photos, was already partially in boxes. The decision to sell our house was a recent one, and we came to the conclusion that this was a step we needed to take while we were on summer vacation.
Remember the story of our road trip gone awry? Well, before we started the drive home from Los Angeles that landed us stranded in the Arizona desert for 3 days, we were wasting our final day of vacation anxiously anticipating our return back to reality: the reality that almost one year after losing half of our household income, my next career move was still up in the air. The reality that our house needed upkeep that would put even more financial stress on us. The reality that I still had student loan payments that were keeping us from saving the amount we wanted. The reality that our reality, contrary to what I had hoped when I pushed Dan to purchase our house, wasn’t us living our best lives.
So, as a wife, sitting there looking at my sweet, stressed husband I realized that if society’s big check mark of stability via home ownership was causing the two of us to be unstable, I needed to commit to putting us first, regardless of whatever anyone else was going to think. I looked at Dan and I said, “That’s it. We are selling the house.” I will never forget the look of relief in his eyes after those words came out of my mouth, and the way his shoulders fell with the shedding of tension. With that reaction alone, I knew we were making the decision that was best for us. My little dream of owning a well-styled bungalow and having dinner parties was not only premature, but also selfish. Post job-loss apocalypse, this situation was neither sustainable, nor did it make sense. It was time to pivot, correct course, let go and move on.
Of course, on the road trip home, the Universe stalled us in Arizona so we could get our plan of action together. After making spreadsheets and combing through our finances in our hotel room, we realized that if we were lucky enough to get an offer on our house and make a solid profit, we could pay off my student debts, save what we wanted to, and move back to Pearl to a smaller apartment with rent that was considerably less than our mortgage. We started to put the wheels in motion, found a wonderful buyer (thanks to our dear friend and realtor Mark Chambers of The J Mark Group), and 6 weeks later…here we are. Back at Pearl. In the place we first lived together, completely debt-free (SHOUT THAT FROM THE ROOF TOPS: DEBT-FREEEEEEEE!!!), care-free, minimized, de-cluttered, settled into recent career developments and I’m currently on my couch looking out the window at Pearl Park and Hotel Emma. UPGRADE.
All things considered, it took exactly one year to trudge through the muck. Then the final stretch of the life-altering marathon took 6 weeks. Real talk: I now literally get to wake up every. single. morning. and create while I look down at Pearl. Dan is ecstatic with our new life – he never wanted to leave in the first place. Pudge is happier too – he grew up here at Pearl, and was missing the dog and people interaction at the house. As for me, I feel like a new human being. Like I went through a year of fire in isolation and now I’ve been blown into glass and I’m here, loud and proud: my best me. It was hard work though.
Here are 6 lessons I learned throughout this process. If you take away anything away from this article, read this:
- Stop listening to subliminal societal pressures and do what is best for YOU and your partner. However, what is best might not always be what is easy. You have to be strong enough to stick to your guns.
- It is never too late to change: your finances, your wellness, your career track, your living space, etc. Find your truth- what makes you tick – and live that. The right opportunities will then come to you.
- Set your eye on the prize and take. action. every. day. to get there.
- When you set yourself on a better path with good intentions to correct course, the Universe opens doors. It is insane.
- People enter into marriages or life partnerships from different backgrounds. Life events like this aren’t easy. When you decide on a compromise, step toward it together and let everything else go.
- Everything happens for a reason, in the time that it is supposed to happen. Trust in that.
Now that Dan and I have made it through the growing pains of last year, and have managed to get ourselves into a completely different and better place that we can build from, we realize how lucky we are that everything just worked out and we got a second chance at setting up our lives for success and happiness.
Of course, it took a lot of effort to get here. And we had to get rid of a lot of things and streamline the way we were living. To do that, I collaborated with my friend Catharine Klepac of Klepac & Co. to design our new *adorable* and glam space. I’ll be sharing that collaboration soon. In the meantime, we’ll see you at Pearl!
I love this post in so many ways.
My husband I were renters for many, many years before buying our first house. This was circa 2005, the real estate bubble when EVERYONE was buying house(s). We got tired of explaining why we weren’t ready, deflecting nosy questions, etc. When we finally did buy a house, it was much less stressful than if we had pushed ourselves to do it too early.
Best wishes to you and your family as you enjoy financial peace and security!
YES INGA! Amen. Thank you so much for the encouragement. Next time we buy, we know what will and won’t work for us. And we much prefer to live urban! All things we had to figure out by trial and error 😉 Thanks for reading! xx
It was great running into you last weekend, and I loved this post. Enjoy being back at the Pearl!
It was so nice to see you Margot! Thank you for the kind words! Looking forward to seeing you around more often! Xx
Great great post Ellie. Authentic and well-stated, so many millenials need to hear this message now and start putting the unseen ahead of the seen. Bravo, girl. Love!
Thank you so much Katie! The love is much appreciated! 🙂 Xx
Beautifully said and inspiring as always!! Cheers to a beautiful new chapter!!
<3 <3 <3 <3 Thank goodness I have you by my side through it all! #WORTHCONTROL
Absolutely loved this post. Your humility is an inspiration. It’s so easy to let subliminal societal pressures dictate so many of our daily decisions but living life more intentionally and focusing on what’s best for your self and your partner is really what it’s all about. Thank you for this great reminder!
Thank you so much Stefanie! So glad the article resonated with you!
Love this article! Congrats!
Thank you for reading!
Respect, girl! Good for y’all ❤️❤️❤️
Thank you Jen ❤️❤️❤️
Wonderful article with 6 great life lessons that we all need to hear. Thanks for sharing your story!
Thank you for your friendship and support. We love The J Mark Group!
I love the honesty and openness with which you share your many life lessons including this one. You continue to learn and grow from your experiences and it’s wonderful to share your journey. Kudos to you and your family for taking advantage of this opportunity to get out of debt and reset your life to a place that is more comfortable for the both of you. It is far easier to do that now than 30 years down the road. You seem to have a great partnership and I look forward to hearing more of your adventures.
Thank you so much for the kind words, Deborah! I appreciate your encouragement and your readership 🙂 -Ellie