I meant to document our moving adventures last year for my readers, but, well… unpacking and getting settled prevented that. Unlike our previous moving experience in 2009, this one was filled with remarkable displays of God’s providence that played themselves out in our encounters with both good and bad forces.
Back in 2009, our family of 6 had outgrown our 2 bedroom condo, and because gubermint was offering to let me keep more of my hard earned money via tax returns if we became new home owners, we decided to move into a new place.
Our options were limited. Everything we could afford was a fixer-upper. They were houses that had been foreclosed on, and before the banks repossessed them, the owners had stripped out all the plumbing, wire, and other fixtures. Many of those homes had un-permitted additions that would only be a legal and financial headache if we bought them.
After a few months of looking at a pathetic inventory of housing, we turned to looking at mobile homes, or what we call in the South, double-wide trailers. (Ours had a deck). The more gentrified term is “coach.” “How old is your ‘coach’?” a person would ask, “Oh, it’s a 2007,” we’d respond. We lived in our mobile home (coach) community for at least 3 years, the minimum time gubermint required us to stay at the same residence without being forced to return my money they so generously allowed me to keep.
Though our experience was positive living there, it was not without its drawbacks. Nearly every one of our immediate neighbors smoked, and because they were either retired or had an exaggerated “disability” that allowed them to stay home all day with a paycheck from gubermint, they sat out on their porches smoking morning, noon, and night. They lived literally one carport width away from our windows, so their smoking made it hard on my homeschooling family. They had to stay shut up in our house (coach) all day with the windows closed. And don’t get me started on the busybody spirit of our coach community. People think that because they live 15 feet from you, they are privileged to know everything that is happening in your personal life. Plus, how can I not mention the intrusive, nanny-state “rules enforcing” manager hacks who thrived on monetary bribes.
In essence, we had bought a massive used car (maybe that is why they call them “coaches”), and we knew we needed to find something a bit more permanent because our house (coach) was only depreciating in value every year.
At the end of 2012, we faced a similar problem we had in 2009: there really weren’t that many homes available to buy; but added to that was the fact there weren’t many people wanting to buy coaches, either. In order for our move to work we had to find a decent home in our price range that would meet our needs, as well as sell our house (coach) at the price we were asking.
The world of “coach” selling is a dark and sinister realm. There are entirely different sets of rules governing their sale and purchase, so no serious realtor truly wants to mess with them. Hence, those who make a living at selling them are what you call “shady.” Our first order of business was finding a realtor who could transcend both the coach selling world and the real house buying world.
We thought we would talk with the bubbly gal who sold us our coach back in 2009. She told us she only sells coaches, but she had a friend she worked with who bought and sold real homes. When we met with them, my wife and I knew something was up when the two gals got all weird after we asked simple questions like how much commission they were expecting to make. We further explained our needs and the various areas of the city we were wanting to look into settling, and immediately the two start giving each other sideways glances. As we ended our meeting, they claimed they would begin looking into our list immediately. After two or three weeks of not returning our calls and absolutely no communication we knew something odd was going on.
Well, my wife, being one of those Proverb 31 gals the ex-fundy types like Rachel Held Evans despise so vigorously, took the initiative to start looking into new homes on her own. It just so happened one day, while standing outside a house for sale in a neighborhood we were interested in that she ran into a real estate lady who was coming out. My wife and her started talking, and my wife tells her our saga with trying to sell our “coach.” When she asks her what sort of commission she would expect to make if she were to sell our house (coach), she told her on the spot.
Impressed, my wife set up a meeting with her and she came prepared with a full packet, including a detailed, personal resume that answered all the questions the previous two gals dodged and ignored. No weasel worded nonsense. We immediately made her our realtor.
Our first order of business was to find someone to buy our house (coach). When we originally bought it, we did so at a tremendously reduced, foreclosed price. We determined to sell it at its true value, which was at least 15,000 more than what we paid for it. All our neighbors scoffed and said we would never get that price. It was just an unspoken “fact” that no one ever sells their “coach” more than what was paid for it, ever; even if it was bought at a reduced price. Ah. But we have a God of providence.
The one coach salesman that came to us happened to be a notorious grifter type. He reminded me of Joe Biden for some reason. Neither my wife, nor I, nor our realtor gal, liked him at all because he just exuded a televangelist like slime. He had a reputation of smooth talking little old ladies into selling him their coaches when they were in a tough, financial jam and had to move out in a hurry and into a retirement facility. He would buy them for like half of what they were truly worth and once the little old lady was gone, would turn them around and make a profit.
He would always bring to us some clueless individuals who didn’t even look like they could make house (coach) payments. He and his “marks” would walk through the place, but none of them would commit or they would offer us a significantly lower price.
Finally, he brought us one gal who wanted to move closer to her work. She already lived in a mobile home, so the concept wasn’t necessarily new to her. She would just upgrade from a coach 12 years older than ours. But again, she needed to sell hers so as to buy ours. We needed her to buy ours at the price we were asking, or we couldn’t move. We in turn had to find a house we could afford that would meet our needs. That was proving just as difficult to find.
So while our coach selling saga was going on, my wife and realtor friend were feverish looking for homes for us to check out and tour. All of them, except for maybe one, were dogs. The one exception was way out in the country, though still close to my work. The folks selling it, however, didn’t take our offer. Crunch time was squeezing us, because the grifter was able to sell his mark’s mobile home AND, she agreed to buy our place at our asking price, which aggravated our frowning neighbors when they learned that bit of news.
We were now required to get out at a specific time, and if we couldn’t, we’d really be up the creek. (Believe it or not, the slimy grifter coach salesman wanted us out by two weeks, but we thwarted that attempt. That’s another story in itself).
My wife, by this time, had resorted to looking at homes that were in the process of being “flipped.” She’d find out who was flipping the place and inquire as to whether or not we could make an offer. It just so happened that she found such a house. It was 200 sq. feet smaller than our coach, but had a big garage and an enormous back yard. Plus, it was in a neighborhood we were interested in and it fell into our price range. Amazing, I know.
But the place had a sordid history. First, back in the mid-2000s, it was a notorious clown house. Meaning, when coyote’s brought illegal aliens across the border to work, this house was one of the thousands of places where the “undocumented” individual would get dumped. We were told there were at least 15 or more all living in this 3 bed room, 2 bath house at once. After the complaints by law abiding citizens in the neighborhood, the city was finally forced to evict the criminal illegal invasion.
Things apparently quieted down and the new “renter” was a well-groomed Chinese guy who – I am told – would stop by the house once or twice a week, warmly greet people with a wave hello, disappear into the house, emerge a few hours later, wave good bye and not return for a few more days.
After a while, folks began noticing that he left the air conditioning running 24 hours a day, and it was during the winter months. Moreover, a strange odor began lofting from the house. Finally, the sheriff was called about the odor, and the deputy discovered that the house had a half million dollar pot grow inside. See pics,
It was soon discovered that this Chinese guy had 5 homes in the Santa Clarita Valley he had converted into pot grows valuing at 2 million. He disappeared and his whereabouts are unknown.
The house was seized and red tagged because of all the illegal modifications it received to be transformed into a pot grow. That means city gubermint was involved in the remodel and flipping process. The current owner, according to the listing agent for the place, was on the verge of finishing up the flip and agreed to sell the finished product to us.
So, we have our coach sold, the new house is supposed to be ready by the first of June, and we need to be out of our place by the middle of May. There was two weeks of limbo as to where we would stay as we waited to move into our new place. Praise the Lord our gracious friends let us stay with them. We had to rent some containers to store our stuff, along with storing some of our larger items in the back yard with a tarp covering them. I was extremely grateful to live in Southern California where the rain is primarily concentrated during the winter months. At this point, it looked like everything was turning up roses for us.
Then the unexpected happened and we thought the whole thing would fall apart, but it was merely another move of providence.
The contractor folks remodeling the place were found to be cutting corners on important features. You know, important stuff like the plumbing. In fact, a local plumber guy was the one who discovered and reported the corner-cutting. That alerted the city management folks who put a halt on the remodel until the inspectors could look things over. They did a walk around and determined there were significant issues that needed to be fixed, including rewiring, replumping, and they wanted them to put on a new roof. Those were all items I was anticipating having to replace in time that was being taken care of now. Essentially, our old, 40 year plus house would be practically brand new.
We were elated with the fixes, but that only delayed our time moving in. (Sad trombone sound inserted here). What we thought would be a 2 week stay with our friends turned into almost an entire 2 months. But in spite of the extended stay that bounced around on everyone’s nerves, they are still one of our bestest friends. We still eat thanksgiving and Easter dinner with them.
One other wonderful blessing was the help we received from friends who offered their services with moving. We did two moves really. One that moved our stuff out of our old place and onto our property, and then a second move that emptied out the storage containers and brought our stuff into our actual home. I even learned the importance of spending that extra 15 bucks for insurance when renting that moving truck. Something I never do, by the way, but for this time, I was compelled to get it. Go figure.
BTW, They have those upside down U shaped metal bars at gas stations for a reason.
The last cool thing about our move was the help I got from a sweet gentleman who volunteers at Grace to You. We needed a storage shed built in our backyard. I thought about getting a prefabricated kit, but they were expensive and looked cheap for the price. There was an entire website I found that talked about shed building philosophy and one article warned against purchasing shed kits because they charge you extra for what is called optional add-ons which are necessary components for basic shed construction. For instance, a floor.
I was telling my volunteer friend about my shed research and he offered to look over the plans I had found and even to help me build it. Just so happens, the guy built houses in the Lake Tahoe area for 30 plus years! It was an unexpected providence. We built it from scratch using raw materials. Took us a month of weekends, but now we have a solid, well constructed shed for our lawn mower and other storage items that cost less than what I would have paid for a prefabricated one without the “necessary” components falsely called “add-ons.”
This is maybe one of my longer, rambling personal posts, but I thought folks would be encouraged to see how the practical workings of providence play out in one’s daily life. Even in things as aggravating and mundane as moving, God’s sovereignty is on display.