This is #2 in a series of 5
The following advice was researched heavily. My husband and I moved our family of 5 + dog to the country nearly five years ago. We were keen to relinquish traffic, long lines for everything and a crazy pace. We also wanted a freer childhood for our sons and at school, smaller class sizes. While I was looking forward to the gorgeous landscape and my husband the fishing, I neglected to remember one important detail. I thought the country was suburbia.
It isn’t suburbia. It’s rural. As in everybody put your mailboxes on one side of the road and grab a flashlight because it’s pitch-black at night-rural.
Time for a disclaimer: Country living is not for everybody. If you are the sort who enjoys more pavement than grass and for whom taking a hike requires a hazmat suit to avoid mosquitoes, snuggle into your favorite sofa at Starbucks with your Espresso Macchiato and assume the following occurs in an alternate universe.
For the rest of you? Bookmark on your smartphone, pronto.
Tip # 2: House Hunting
Congratulations, you have learned how to navigate the hills and dales and are ready to choose your country plot and raise sheep! Well, if not sheep then alpacas. Alpacas are VERY popular. No? Well, at LEAST chickens. The ones with those little feathery feet are ADORABLE. You’ll get over all the pecking, don’t worry. Agway usually has a sale on band-aids and think about all those lovely eggs. You’ll be just like Martha Stewart. But without all those hair and makeup people.
As you house hunt, beware the listing that announces “Country Charm Throughout! That is realtor-speak for “Wow this house needs half a million to update, is mouse infested and is standing up due to force of habit.” Even said, it’s hard to resist those houses! I have referred to this condition before, I call it: Potential-itis. It’s a very expensive affliction. You will see soaking tubs where there is a bright pink hot tub from 1978 or a Viking stove where there is an exhaust fan from 1954. Occasionally its sufferers develop a nervous tic whenever the words “I’ll give you a price RANGE” comes from the electrician. We toured several farmhouses that had “charm” manifested as crooked floors, leaky roofs and asbestos. You must have VISION! My vision was for an extra-large dumpster.
One day I was watching TV in our bedroom and the Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell movie “Overboard” came on. There were several scenes that take place in the living room where the decor was early-ugly with rustic influences. There was a close up and I realized the wallpaper in the movie was the EXACT same as that in my bedroom. It was a repeat scene of pine trees, a dog and a house. The next day I rented a wallpaper steamer. True confession: I still haven’t painted the walls yet but the wallpaper is gone and that makes me feel better.
We bought our house for the redeeming feature of being on a lake and not needing structural work. I use structural loosely. My husband and father were in the process of replacing our front door and the original one essentially fell off the house and onto the lawn. They were bent over laughing when I ran to see what the noise was. My father said “The door wasn’t tied-in to the house. It was just RESTING there.” Apparently the trim held it in place. You will come to embrace these moments.
You’ve moved into your new house, there are flowers on the front porch, eggs from your neighbors chickens in the cake you’ve baked and the children get to run free in the adjacent woods. A Bob Villa look-alike is repairing your 1850’s crown molding and all is right with the world! You are even more elated because at the town meeting you hear that someone new has bought the oldest, most “charming” house in town. She’s from the city and used to work as a hair and makeup person. It’s A Good Thing.
Next Week…Tip # 3: Wardrobe