Coming To Terms With Leaving Connecticut
It took 9 months of searching, losing 6 homes we bid on, and countless tears, but… we bought a house in Montclair!
No one is more surprised than me, truly. The whole thing happened quickly, which is comical since the entire house hunting process has been long, drawn out, and taken many more months than either my husband or I could have ever anticipated.
When I agreed to leave Connecticut and move to Montclair, it was with the understanding that we’d sell our home of 6 years and trade up for the dream house. That’s not to say our place in Wilton wasn’t nice. It was more than I could have hoped for a first home, but to get me out… to get me to leave… I wanted more. The light at the other side of the dark tunnel was that we would buy a place in Montclair that checked every single box without breaking the budget.
Plus, Montclair is much closer to NYC (a 30 minute drive versus almost an hour), boasts fantastic restaurants, and most importantly is extremely diverse, both from a racial standpoint as well as socioeconomic status. We love that about Montclair.
So we began searching (optimistically, I might add), but days later we received the first lockdown order of the Covid pandemic. Our situation was no more special than anyone else’s — like so many, we were stuck at home with young children, trying to adapt to home schooling, remaining socially distant from friends and loved ones, all while continuing our full time jobs and remaining somewhat sane.
Lockdown Orders 2 Months Before We Moved
I cried so much. I cried so much during the first few weeks.
I cried over the uncertainty of moving during a pandemic. Of uprooting our three young children — who wouldn’t get to say goodbye to their classmates and teachers in person before leaving. I cried because there were no homes coming on the market at all in Montclair, and we were running out of time before the closing date of our house. I cried because brands were putting a hold on their marketing budget, which meant little to no work for me during March and April.
We started to come to terms with the fact that we would not find a house before moving. Forget a dream house, we wouldn’t be able to buy anything! So few homes were hitting the market — people were terrified to have strangers (prospective buyers) walk through the door — but the real kicker was that anything coming on the market was selling for 20-40% above list price. That sounds high (and it is), but that number only continued to grow throughout the year. The budget we’d set out for our dream home was getting squeezed tighter by the day.
I remember sitting on the patio in our old home, days before we moved, staring out at the 2 acre lot we sat on. Was I excited to move? Yes. Was I excited about what was waiting for us on the other side? Not so much.
We were renting a townhouse until we could find ‘the one.’ My children would have practically no outdoor space (the townhouse is near an urban downtown), no street to ride their bikes on, and we would have no playroom. Two of them would share a room (admittedly, many families do this and it’s hardly an issue at all, it’s just not what my family was used to). And at the time, we had decided my husband would take the tiny den for an office and I would work at the kitchen counter. (This plan failed horribly — I now share the office with my husband.) Covid just made everything 100x harder since we were all on top of each other constantly.
Moving To New Jersey, Part 1
We put half of our possessions inside a POD, had it shipped off to Jersey, and assumed there was no way we wouldn’t be in a home by the time our 6-month lease ended in October.
The joke was on us, big time.
So now it’s the beginning of December, our lease has long since ended, and I have no winter boots in sight (they’re in the POD, because of course). Things were very quiet on the MLS, only a few homes popping up as we approached the holidays.
In one week, I received 4 messages on Instagram about homes hitting the market in Montclair. These were from other folks living in the town — people I’ve never met, I should add, but who knew we were looking. Three people suggested a house that our realtor was the listing agent on. Super cute, but not the right fit for our family. But the last person sent me a photo of the house across the street from him — from his living room window, no less! — and I decided to look it up.
It was smaller than what we had been looking for, and to be honest, based on the list price I wasn’t going to see it. Nothing in that range had been large enough or checked enough boxes for us to consider. But this house felt different.
It was modestly remodeled not that long ago, is on a fantastic street, has a great yard, and is about as perfect of a location for my family as we could possibly get. My husband wants to live close to downtown, while I want a tree lined street with families. This house meets both those desires. The downside? It has a small kitchen.
With absolutely nothing to lose, we met our realtor out there 2 days after it hit the market. Our expectations were low.
But guys, it checked so many boxes. So many! We immediately saw the potential and what it could be for our family: the dream home.
Winning A Home In Montclair
We bid aggressively. Not to be assholes, but because we kept losing homes and we knew what it would take to be the winning bid. And by some miracle (a Hanukkah miracle, perhaps?), we won.
I won’t go into the drama that ensued afterwards — this is already longer than I anticipated by a lot — but we got the house and we are in the process of interviewing architects to help us design my dream kitchen. We will also be making a few other additions: new family room, master suite, and perhaps if I play my cards right a luxe wine cellar!
I am so grateful to be in a position where we can swing this, and I will forever be indebted to my kind follower — now my neighbor! — who sent me a photo of our new home from his living room window.
I can’t wait to bring you all along on the journey as we renovate and build the house of our dreams.
And for the record, I hope to never do this again for the rest of my life.
Only here for the food? I get it! Check out Ari’s favorite recipes here!