It's definitely not a conversation you expect to be having on a Sunday afternoon with your wife. "Hey, let me ask you a question, how do you feel about moving in with your parents? Hear me out...." Yet there we were, standing in our bathroom as our 9-month old napped in the room next door. I'd been thinking about the idea for a few minutes and couldn't for the life of me figure out any holes to it.
The housing market in Grand Rapids was red-hot, we knew the house we were in was not our "forever home", and we had 80k in student loan debt that would be weighing on our shoulders for the next 12 years. We were essentially paying two mortgages to pay back what we borrowed for school; between the interest and deferments, we owed more than we'd borrowed even having paid on them for the last 8 years.
So, I approached my wife and said, "I really don't want to pay back loans until I'm 45. Let's get aggressive with it. How about we sell our house, take the equity and pay off as much of your private loans as possible, combine the amount of our actual monthly mortgage towards her loans until they're gone, then take her monthly payment, our former mortgage and pay off mine completely...all while living in the house that you grew up in. It's foolproof." The way I estimated it, as long as we stuck to the plan, we could be done, paid off, and debt-free in about 14 months. On paper, it sounds easy. But in reality, that means 14-months with an infant, my wife, and her parents, in the same halls that she once ran through. Keep in mind, it was my idea. And don't get me wrong, I love my in-laws, they are wonderful, kind-hearted, generous people who jumped at the idea of having us live with them but it's not our space.
I am much more of the plan guy than the process but this has all happened so quickly, there's been little time to dwell on the process. On a Sunday we asked her parents about our idea. By that following Wednesday
at noon, our house was on the market, listed with professionally done photos under the stipulations that there were private showings only between Friday at 6 pm and Sunday morning with all offers being due by 4 pm Monday -- This was only three weeks after we had the idea, two from when we talked to her parents.
That weekend, we had 20 private showings. And by Monday we had 7 offers all over our original asking price. I credit my cousin, our relator, Jacob Rolf with Keller Williams, for the immense success. We knew the market was hot but that was overwhelming.
From there it was a race to get packed and get out. I knew the sooner we moved into the in-laws, the sooner we moved out. My wife was masterful, working and mothering by day and packing up rooms by night. It's amazing how much STUFF you accumulate. We've really only ever moved 1-bedroom apartments - a house is a different story.
We had 14 days from closing to be out but after those first few days, we wanted to be out in a week; living out of a box is no fun. We had been so busy with the plan that we never paused to soak it in. Until those final few days.
This house had done so much for us; when we spent a month backpacking through Europe, we couldn't wait to come home to it. When on a random November night, on a whim, we adopted a dog, we gave her a safe space to play and live. We had cried in the kitchen and laughed in the halls; spent sleepless nights and spent too long in bed on weekends. We brought our son HOME for the first time to that house. We became a family there. That got me. Our son. This was all he knew. Nine and a half months of learning the halls, the corners, and where the dog dish was (we used to spend all day peeling him back from the dog dish). He loved the private backyard and thick grass. He knew where his bedroom was and ours. He would stand in the big front window and talk to the cars all day as they whipped by. Were we taking that away from him?
By Saturday night, those were no longer worries. We were making the right call. For his future and ours. We packed our final box, left the grill's propane tank behind because it couldn't fit, and took a few more deep breaths in the kitchen. We will miss it. It became a part of us. There were some good bacon and better coffee brewed on the weekends in that place.
My wife welled up as she thought about what we were leaving behind, what we were abandoned in search of what we wanted to find. And then, we got in the car. Strapped in our son. And headed to grandma and grandpas. Headed towards a life free of the weights of debt. Headed to our next great adventure - A theme for our lives that we've grabbed by the horns. Determined to find the thrill in it, to overcome the obstacles of it, and to learn every day by living it. We're now all moved into the in-laws...let the journey begin.