I apologize that it has been a while since we have blogged about our trip planning and preparations. The truth is...it has been A LOT OF WORK! Let me get you all up to speed and then I will continue our BLOG weekly after this.
February was all about downsizing! From what we've read, this is the most challenging part for most people. Even though we don't buy a lot of "stuff", we just naturally accumulate things as you go. We've been in Florida for 12 years now, which is as long as I've ever been in one place so I definitely own much more than I did when I up and joined the military, up and moved to Hawaii, up and moved to NY, or up and moved to Tampa. For me, leaving behind non-sentimental items comes fairly easy, but over these last 12 years we definitely have increased the amount of sentimental items that we need to keep as well.
It took about 2 weeks to sort through and create piles of "stuff". Over here is a pile for donations, over there is a pile for items we are keeping that can go into storage immediately, over there is a pile of items that can go into storage, but not until we leave, and finally there is the pile for items that we are taking with us....the smallest pile yet, of course! Sorting and packing and sorting and packing. That is what we did through February. It wasn't very exciting and left us very little time for trip planning or fun stuff, so there wasn't much to write.
March came and we finally closed on the property that we had been wanting to purchase for years. We have been renting this property for about 7 years. It is the home of our business and a great investment property. The property has 4 units in it, 2 commercial, 1 apartment, and 1 house. Fortunately, the apartment was currently empty so we decided to stay there and save some money while we prepare for our trip. Around the same time we had a friend that was moving back to Tampa, and we were able to hire her as our Personal Assistant. She agreed to live in the other bedroom while she trains, and when we leave she has agreed to rent the apartment and take care of our cats while we are gone! SCORE!!!! Things were finally starting to come together!
Now, it was time to move. We loved our beautiful rental home with the pond in back. We would feed the birds each morning and the cats loved to watch them. We called it Dove TV. Now, it was time to say goodbye to the home, and our life as we have known it down here for the last 12 years. We would be downsizing from a 3000 Sq foot home into a 1200 Sq foot apartment that we would be sharing with our friend. We held a few garage sales and we were able to sell almost all of the furniture and large items that we were not planning on putting into storage. The rest was transferred to a room in our office for future sales. Moving took an entire week. We usually hire movers, but we were only moving 5 minutes away, and with all of the downsizing we didn't think it would take all that long. We were wrong! It was a grueling week that didn't seem like it was ever going to end. Finally, that last box was loaded and it was time to say goodbye to our wonderful neighbors. We were very fortunate to have an entire block of great people that took the time to get to know each other and looked out for each other.
The new investment property is from the 1950s so there is definitely some work to be done. It will be nice to know that our business has a set location while we are gone though. Can you imagine getting the call while in Japan that the landlords have sold and we have a month to be out? That would have been a headache. Now, we have a secured office space, and three rental properties...two that are already rented! The location is excellent for a business, and with the way our area is growing, we expect the property value to skyrocket soon. The lot is fairly large and zoned for Mixed Use. This area is exploding, changing from tomato farms and cow pastures to spas, beaches, and retail...lots of retail. We are not going to invest a lot into fixing the property up because we are hoping that some large corporation is going to offer us enough for it so we can truly retire in the next 5-10 years, but we do have some projects that need to be done so we will see how handy we are next month! Keep your fingers crossed for us!
All settled in, and we finally had some time to head back to NY and our new Grand-Godson :) A road trip back home to see family allowed us to try out the van and see what we like and what we need to change. Overall, we were very comfortable, the gas mileage was pretty good, and the ride was fairly smooth for a cargo van. We had some things to deliver back home so we weren't able to use the platform in the back, but even taking a nap in the front was fairly comfortable. The biggest drawback we found was the cup holders. We definitely need to find some alternatives to the ones they have installed. Other than that, with a few minor tweaks, our ride is ready to go!
So, here are a few things that we learned in Feb & March
1. If downsizing or planning a world trip, start packing a few months ahead to give you time to sort through everything.
2. Stop buying stuff NOW and use your money for experiences. It will save you lots of headaches later.
3. ALWAYS use a Title Company to close on a property! This saved us $18K on a bad loan from a previous owner!
4. ALWAYS hire a mover. We used a mover last time and it was a breeze. I honestly don't know what I was thinking!
5. To do lists are never done.