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I said it a thousand times as of late – “I can’t believe we do this to people for a living.” Although it is a necessary evil, it is cruel. It is exhausting, strenuous and stressful all rolled into a giant ball of “holy shit”.
As you saw in the title, I’m talking about moving.
We had spent the night at my place to celebrate Mishe’s birthday with the crew. As we awoke tired and a little foggy from a three-day mixed golf tourney in Sean’s honour, we were trying to rally to get back to Jennie’s place. A friend, who was swinging by her soon to be "old place" to pick something up, called and I hear him say to Jennie, “you’re moving when? This year?” This is 48 hours before the movers arrive.
The house was utter chaos. Tiny pathways through piles of boxes and “stuff” that a Shih Tzu would have difficulty navigating through. Stools stacked on stools with pillows on top of blankets on top of the stools. This pile going to storage, this pile going to my place, this pile being donated…… Wow.
In the fall of 2022, we were putting Jennie’s yard to bed and we did a bang-up job on reorganizing the garage….. again. Her dad had done a bang-up job in 2021, but it only takes a year in the life of a garage to become a giant cluster fuck all over. Ignorantly, we thought we were in control.
During the long, snowy winter months, Jennie and I ventured into her basement where there was 20 years’ worth of “stuff” that had accumulated. Outdoor activity gear, a mess of tools, drawers of pics, baking stuff, appliances, etc. etc. etc. You get the picture and, when you picture it, double the amount of shit you’re picturing.
Not unlike Jennie, and probably 95% of the people reading this, Mishe and I accumulated “stuff” and my basement was a similar disaster. With emotions rolling after the loss of our spouses, it is nice for us to have each other to be honest about what to keep, what to donate and what to toss. When your emotions are in control, you question throwing out the one sock that’s missing it’s partner because you remember them wearing them golfing that one day ten years ago. Having each other to say, “let it go” in our positions is an asset beyond description.
And so began the attempt to organize and be honest, and we did pretty good. We got a pile of Yard Sale stuff ready to go in the finished portion of the basement that Jennie and Sean never used except as a landing spot for “stuff”. Beside the yard sale pile was the donation pile – they were nearly equivalent in stature. We were proud at what we had accomplished, and I know Jennie felt better about her basement going from an absolute shit show to a more organized shit show.
Mother’s Day weekend is approaching, and we see the weather is going to be beautiful. With shockingly no plans for the weekend (shockingly because Jennie has plans for us every weekend, normally six months to a year in advance), and with her location basically across from Freskiw’s, we knew that plenty of moms out there were going for brunch and then the good kids would drive mom out to Freskiw’s to buy some flowers for the garden. If you didn’t do that, you’re not a “bad” kid, you’re just a “meh” kid, I guess, but you sure missed a Mother’s Day gong show in Jennie’s front yard.
How we made it through two days from 8am-2pm without having a rear-ender on Skead Rd. or a fender bender in Jennie’s Sudbury Airport Super Econo Lot is simply amazing. You’ve got an 80km/h highway where people are jamming up the binders to try to squeeze into the full lot to browse someone’s basement junk.
We just kept putting “stuff” out there. $20 here, $5 there, a package deal for $150 and by Sunday afternoon Jennie had turned her pile of shit she wanted out of the house into $2000. But we were exhausted and earned it. We were sore, we were burnt – both externally under the hot sun for two days and internally with moving all that “stuff” up from the basement, onto the yard, into the garage, back onto the yard, helping load into someone’s car, blah, blah, blah. We were done and the exorcism of “stuff” had worked. Little did we know the task was only partially complete…..
Jennie and I had spent the winter of 2021/2022 in Cabo. When we both got back to Sudbury, we were now embedded in a long-distance relationship. My house is central on Robinson Drive (aka Robinson Raceway) whereas Jennie’s place was holding up the end of the runway at the airport. Depending on who’s driving, we were 20-30 minutes apart, constantly packing overnight bags, loading up Zeke (her Bernadoodle) into the car to drop him off at the other house, planning on what house we’re going to stay at and for how many nights based on “the plans” for the next few days. Then there’s doing groceries for two houses, two hydro bills, two property taxes and two lawns to cut (Jennie’s took me three hours on a riding lawnmower – shoot me).
Anyone who’s been in a long-distance relationship knows the stress and how it can be a pain in the ass as time moves on. Sure, it wasn’t actually a “long-distance” as Jennie still thinks her house was actually in Garson – I guess officially it was - but to me she should’ve been paying taxes to Timmins. She loved her house, but the realization that it was in the wrong spot was taking a toll as we both started getting back to work and back into our new reality.
We decided it was time. As two widows at the age of 46 with plenty of life to go, it was time to try to move past our pasts and start looking forward. It was time to sell one of our places and it made sense to keep mine seeing as it’s two minutes from Jennie’s office versus the 30mins to South Gogama through the Paris bridge and the Kingsway/Barrydowne gong shows.
Summer is busy, especially with Captain Planner (aka Jennie), so we were targeting a September list date. We had tons of time to get ready as it was only June at this point. I had told Jennie during the winter that I thought her place was, surprisingly, worth $500K in these markets. Three months later, I wasn’t struggling to put a $550K tag on it, although it was still shocking that the market value for this three-bedroom bungalow with basically an unfinished basement in the boonies had shot well over $500K.
As we’re enjoying some cocktails at a friends’ camp on Manitoulin, I see a house get posted to the system at $575K on the same road with similar stature and property. We were able to get back in time to check it out, but it sold quickly even at that price. As not only her boyfriend (still weird as hell to say), but also her Realtor®, I told her we should go to market asap while there might still be some buyers sniffing around the area. It’s almost like fishing – if you’re seeing fish all around the boat, you cast the line in.
All of a sudden, it’s on. Was she, or were we, ready to go to market? Not really, but no one ever really is. Jennie always kept the house clean and tidy, but you could barely open a closet door without an avalanche of golf skorts landing on you.
I’ve always said, “there’s how you live and there’s how you sell.” Living – you brush your teeth, spit out the mouthwash and turn off the bathroom light. Selling – you brush your teeth, spit out the mouthwash, wipe down the taps/spout, rinse and wipe out the sink, make sure the toilet lid is down, take a quick peak behind the shower curtain to make sure everything is clean and leave the light on as you exit. It truly is a pain in the ass to prep for showings, hence the importance of pricing correctly to minimize the disruption to your life and get the house sold.
The photographer is booked and she’ll be here in two days…. AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!
The scramble is on. Tidy, stuff, scrub, clean. Up on the ladder I go to finally save Zeke’s frisbee from an errant throw that landed on the roof two months ago as you can’t exactly get quality drone shots with a green disc on the roof! Scrub more, make the beds, straighten the chairs at the table, organize the Yard Sale leftovers in the basement, sweep the garage, pull the weeds, cut the grass…… soaked, sweaty and exhausted and all we’ve done is prep for pictures.
As I always recommend to clients, if you can get out for a few days during the onset of coming to market, do it. It’s so much easier to have the house tee’d up and ready to go without having to go through the “living versus selling” rigmarole every time a showing request comes in. In this case, you’re house is ready and the access is unlimited for buyers and their agents.
So, off to settle in at the Robinson Raceway while Jennie’s place is exposed to the world. We got plenty of activity and tons of good feedback, but ultimately the road noise kept coming up to haunt us. That said, in less than two weeks, Jennie’s place sold for $585K (this is public knowledge, so I’m not infringing on anyone’s rights here). This is $85K more than I think it would’ve sold for six months earlier and $35K more than I even thought it was worth around the time we listed it. That is a big chunk of change and makes the showing prep work all that more palatable after the fact. I often say to clients, "would you clean and organize your house for $20K?" Of course everyone would, but now even $20K seems low in today's market conditions.
Although I don’t believe it had sunk in with Jennie, her place was sold and we could get back to our three days in – three days out routine bouncing back and forth between the houses. We could leave the mouthwash in the sink and dishes on the counter again. Hell, we had tons of time as it wasn’t closing for seven weeks. With a little laissez-faire attitude, we went on with our summer plans (and there was plenty of plans!)
Oh shit, it’s August and closing is now three weeks away. We really haven’t done much – chipped away at a box here and there, started a pile for here and a pile for there, stopped buying groceries for the house in an effort to move less when the time came.
And holy fuck did the time come…. and fast!
Here we are with one week to go and the three-day Sean Dowling Memorial Mixed Tournament at Timberwolf right in the middle of it. The time of digging through closets and taking two minutes with every little thing going, “hmmm, what should I do with this?” has quickly turned into, “just get in a fuckin box and get it out the door!!!! We’ll deal with it later!!!!”
Back to the start, our buddy is blown away at the disaster with 48 hours till the movers arrive. We’re coming off a three-day bender, sitting at my place, so we’ve kind of forgotten what lies in wait a 20-30mins drive away. We had cut the grass at Jennie's on the Thursday as we knew the buyers were coming for a walk-thru on the Monday evening after the tourney. HOLY SHIT – IT’S MONDAY AFTER THE TOURNEY! Of course, I have showings that afternoon, so Jennie races back to start “organizing” (reads – trying to create wider pathways for the buyers to get through the house they last saw looking immaculate). With the buyers warned of what they were walking into, the walk through went ahead with no issues, however it did take an hour and we weren’t feeling too productive afterwards.
36 hours till movers arrive. I wake up and say to Jennie, “I wonder if little gnomes came into the house last night and packed everything up for us!” Spoiler Alert – they didn’t. I cannot be more blunt when I say the house was a complete fuckin disaster. Near an unfunctional state. This is easier to just show you the difference with my new saying – there’s how you live, there’s how you sell and then there’s how you move.
Here’s some listing pics and pics taken in the final day before the movers arrived – it’s kind of like the exact opposite of the before and after shots on a weight loss commercial.
Living Room listing pic.....
Living Room moving pic (note Zeke's look of "what the hell is happening right now?")
View from Living Room to Dining area for listing pics......
Same view moving style.....
Such a beautiful, bright entry way....
This was how we were living. Table gone, so eating lunch standing at the counter. Make lunch? Holy shit, no. When you’re in the final lap of moving, it’s a diet of Subway, Topper’s Pizza & beer for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Taking the time to make food, or the time to find the stuff you’d need to make it, is a luxury you do not have.
Sitting on the couch? Only if you move three boxes and are going to pack another. Lay in bed – not when you’ve got to dismantle and unplug a Tempur-Pedic electronic puppy. Have a nice, hot shower? Good luck finding a towel…… ugh.
We awake on Moving Day with plenty of stuff still to do. Thankfully, the movers call and advise they’ll be two hours late due to their morning move being more than they were told. At this point I’m thinking, “wait till they see this shit show”. That said, we had it relatively well separated and had mapped out a packing order so the first stop would be at storage, then a quick stop at Jennie’s mom’s and the rest to finish up at my place. I thought we had this nailed until the movers arrived.
“Um, this is going to have to be two loads.” Oh shit. We have a 10 foot x 25 foot storage unit and they have an 8ft x 33ft trailer and they think just the storage stuff is one load! Thankfully, the boys at Smooth Moves were absolute pros. The three of them never stopped. They used almost every square centimeter of the storage unit. These guys must be so advanced at Tetris. They head back to Jennie’s and I head to my house to try to make room….
When you’re combining two houses, you have two of everything. Jennie loves her “stuff” and apparently Mishe and I bought all the wrong stuff for our kitchen. Add to this that my house is about 1100 sq ft on the main floor with already a shit show for a basement while Jennie’s place was 1500 sq ft on the main, so there’s an extra 800sq ft of stuff when you add the basements that has to go somewhere.
The trailer backs in at 7:30 pm and the gate comes down. I’ve been doing my best to make some room, but it’s late and we instruct the movers, “we’ll show ya where the big stuff goes, everything else you can drop wherever you can find a spot”. Oh my fuck – it was a disaster. The boys finish up doing a magnificent job and they head off after a long day to their homes where they can have a hot shower, make a late dinner and relax on the couch. I am sooooo jealous, and now we remember both our cars are full of stuff to unload before heading back to Jennie’s for the final night there.
ECHO, ECHO, ECHO…… as we arrive at 10:30 pm, absolutely exhausted with our late-night pizza in hand and only the box top to use as plates, Zeke’s bark is echoing through the house. It is so empty. Although we were severely rundown, there was a feeling of elation that we had actually pulled it off, with a side of confusion as to how the hell we actually pulled it off. But, when you’re moving, there always seems to be still more shit to go, and this situation was no different.
As we awoke, we’re out of boxes, but there’s still more stuff – cleaning supplies from making sure we hand off the house looking great to the new buyers, gas/propane tanks that movers won’t take for insurance purposes, the one towel that I was able to find for a shower, the bedding, a couple lawn chairs, our clothes from the day before that we should’ve burned instead of keeping, the garbage/recycling and, of course, the food.
No one really understands how much is in that fridge of yours until you try to move it. “Grab another cooler bag, Sweets!” kept echoing through the empty house as I’m trying to cram 13 different half empty bottles of marinades and three bottles of ketchup into a six-pack cooler bag. And, again, no one really understands just how many beer and coolers can actually fit in one of those little wine fridges until you have to unload it. Funny though - when you have people over, you can never have enough in it. When you move, there’s too much in it……
With both cars fully jammed with stuff, we have a final toast to Sean and Jennie's life togther on Skead Rd. while playing their song on the deck. I think, at this point, it really begins to sink in for her that the view she’s been looking at for 20 years will be someone else’s to wake up to tomorrow. For anyone, it’s emotional, but when you’ve lost your spouse and this was the life you had together, it’s even moreso. We had some laughs and tears, and I thanked Jennie for being the one to take the first leap for us. We close the door, blow the house a kiss and head off for our new future in the South End.
As we’re in separate cars, I’m thinking, “just gotta make Jennie feel as comfy and as ‘at home’ as possible at Robinson”. Then we open the door…… WOW. It’s almost as though, for that brief drive and saying farewell to the house, we were done. Apparently, the joke was on us.
We open the door to my place, and it is, quite simply, a massive minefield of shit. There are boxes, bags, baskets, cooler bags everywhere. It’s like we’re right back where we started, but we have to do it in reverse order this time. Imagine running a 10km marathon, get to the finish line and the starter goes, “ok, great job, now do it again backwards!” Jennie tried to start, but I asked her to just sit on the couch and live to fight another day tomorrow with a fresh start. The bedroom was the only sanctuary, the rest was as though Jennie’s house had vomited all over mine.
We awake on Day 1 of Jennie’s full-time living in my place and we had to just chuckle. Where the hell do you even start? But, deep down, Jennie knew where we had to start – we had to start getting my shit out! Here we go again. As a side note, if you’re looking for anything, or everything, I’m having a Moving In Sale on FB Marketplace these days. What’s a Moving In Sale? It’s a “my girlfriend is moving in, so my shit has to go” sale….
Surprisingly, within 48 hours, we had the main floor resembling and functioning like a place where adults live while the basement will likely maintain its gong show status for awhile yet. After a GRUELING week, we made it.
Moving sucks – again, I honestly can’t believe I do this to people for a living and I sincerely apologize to all clients for doing this to you. That said, change is good and moving is just one hell of a big speed bump on the road of change. If you don’t like change, try not changing your underwear for a week (especially if you’re moving that week) and then you’ll appreciate change a lot more.
Moving always takes more time than you think, more boxes than you believe you’ll need, more money on fast food and more chaos than you’re used to living in, but it is temporary, and we all get through it at some point.
Thankfully, after what we just went through, we won’t have to move again until this time next year…. shit.
Realty Executives of Sudbury Ltd, Brokerage
Cell - 705.561.8767
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other salespersons, staff or affiliates of Realty Executives of Sudbury LTD. Brokerage, Realty Executives International, the Sudbury Real Estate Board, Ontario Real Estate Association, Canadian Real Estate Association or any of their subsidiaries. For any concerns pertaining to the content herein, please contact me immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org.