A year ago, after our realtor sent photos of our place to his client list, we sold our house in two days, before it even went on the market. Of course, it sold immediately! It is the perfect house, which makes me wonder why we decided to leave it.
We found another place just as fast. After visiting only three houses and talking to two builders, my husband announced, “We must decide. I hate shopping! I don’t like dithering around.”
“Gerald we aren’t talking about buying a pair of shoes! This is a house. We need to be sure what we are doing?”
But when was I ever sure what I was doing? Our reasons for moving from our old house… too big, too many stairs, too much yard. So what do we do? Build as big of house, with as many stairs, in the middle of a mountain.
We signed on a new place, not yet built in St. Cergue, Switzerland in the Jura mountains. Since our new house, a triplex like apartment, will not be ready until July 2022, we are living like vagabonds.
To make thing more complicated, we are guests in this country. I am American, Gerald French. We scramble to figure out details like how many days we could spend in the states without losing our C residency permit allowing us to live in Switzerland. Even harder to negotiate was how long we could hang out in America, especially since Gerald as a “foreigner” is required to leave the US within 90 days of entering.
What started almost as a whim, snowballed into a major life change and my head is spinning, still unstable from my brain surgery almost 2 years ago.
Is it from brain injury or circumstantial, from trying to pack 23 years of living into a dozen boxes and start over again on a mountaintop in my mid 60’s?
Where has my common sense gone? How did I get so caught up in my husband’s middle life crisis? Does everyone my age feel this urgency that time is running out that we must rush to do all the things we dreamed in our youth.
Nothing is working out as planned.
What can I be thinking moving into the mountains with my bad back and worn out knees, where every step out the door requires going up or down? There’s no pain-free level ground here.
Fortunately my husband, like a little kid with a new project, is in his element dealing with the architecs, builders, bankers, realtors and notaries. His enthusiasm and expertise keeps me going, because I am lost.
Our biggest mistake was buying a “virtual” home, which builders promised would be ready by June 2022. Last fall, the project manager met with my husband and told him that our house would be finished earlier, by April or May 2022. Then in December, we received an alarming email saying that we wouldn’t get the key until probably the end of December 2022 but June 2023 at the latest. Or if you read the contract’s fine print, it “clearly” states that the very latest deadline would be 14 months from finishing the foundations date, which could mean June 2023 as they started several month later than expected. Anyone following here ???
What went wrong?
In the meantime, we stack another load of wood to heat our “temporary” rental place, a medieval chalet the size of a trailer. To keep from going crazy, we go out everyday. We wander our around our new village, walk by our “plot” and worry.
Why haven’t they broke ground the foundation of our building yet?
Fake news alert folks !
Things needs to be put up straight here.
First: at 67 my midlife crisis is long gone
Second: it is Pat who decided it was time to move out as our neighbor friends just did it.
Third: she is also the one who brought up the idea of living up in the mountains for fresh air, for (good and real) health reasons. Me, as an ever skiing lover, just had happily to jump into the wheelbarrow.
Fourth: We did what I always swore not to do, buy a to-be-built home. I never trusted builders and had heard so many horror stories, but the prices in this country are such that we had to settle with that decision in order to be able to buy anything decent.
Pat, I hear your pain about deciding where to live! We lived in a number of condos in Minneapolis when we decided to live here in 2008. After several years dealing with assessments, rising fees and taxes, we decided to sell and rent a townhouse closer to two of our 5 children. Our “real estate” is now our cabin up north that we have slowly improved since buying it in 2017. We want to put more money into traveling to see our other 3 children in other states (with one grandchild in NY upstate), and spending considerable time abroad in the next 10 years. It’s truly a challenge that involves reprioritization and health considerations, as you know. I wish you the best in navigating your next residence adventure!! Fran
Nice to hear from you Fran. I think that sounds like a great plan! Do you still live part time in Minneapolis? Is your Up North cabin in Wisc or Minnesota? We share a family cabin with the McKinzie clan and it’s a great setting to tie a family together over time and distance. I think it is also exciting that you are considering spending time abroad. I wish you safe travels and hope you will keep in touch.
Thanks for your reply, Pat! Our cabin is about 2.5 hours north of Minneapolis, so it is convenient for even short stays. We spend most of our time there in the summers, but we will retain our rental townhome as “homebase”. You are right that the cabin is great place for family gatherings, which is why we added the bunkhouse during COVID! (We wanted to keep the tiny cabin intact and retain its character. ) We’ve done quite a bit in terms of “tourist” trips to Europe and Asia, but want to focus in retirement on longer, more residential stays. We spent 20 days over Christmas/New Years in the Algarve area of Portugal and loved it! Once Bruce is retired, we will look at multi-month stays in various places. Would love to look you up if we end up nearby sometime!
How ironical that your “home Base” is Minneapolis. Both of our children are living there presently, as well as my sister, Kare,n and her family, so we spend time there in the summer. You will have to let us know when you visit this area. Hopefully our house will done by then. At any rate, keep in touch. I am sure our paths will cross in the future.
Oh, my, you’ve been busy, Pat. I don’t envy you the proposition of starting to build from scratch in a foreign land. I did it here many moons ago and found it more expensive — and trying — than I’d expected. Here’s hoping it all turns out better for you. And hey, what an adventure, huh? And look at the fodder for your blog (or maybe another book?!)
Oh yes, Debbie it is very trying and they keep adding the hidden costs. I am sure it will all turn out eventually. In the meantime I will keep collecting wild tales to tell. ha ha
Ugh! Construction woes are endless over there. Very interesting to hear G’s take on all of this…Pat!
Oh yes, as you can well remember the construction woes. Gerald says he would expect this building in France, but never in Switzerland. Can’t wait until the project is finished, so you can come visit us & traipse around your old neighborhoods!
We would love to see you when you visit! Please give me a shout 🙂