I grew up in a suburb of Ottawa in the late 1960’s and 1970’s, at a time when it had a small town feel to it. In its infancy, our tiny subdivision offered the best of both worlds: the amenities of city living as well as the space for young families to grow and thrive. At the time, it was small enough to have its own sense of community and identity, separate from the city a short drive away.
Even though my memories of “village” life are from the perspective of a young boy, I have often entertained the idea of returning to that calmer, quieter, gentler pace as I got older and as life got more rushed and complicated.
Today, my forehead is chronically bruised from the number of times I smack my palm to my forehead for the idiotic things city dwellers do, whether on the commute to or from work, to deal with the daily reality that common sense is not so common anymore, or for the need to repeatedly set boundaries with certain neighbours (i.e., “No, your dog poop in my yard is not acceptable!”)
This is not to say that moving to the country will completely eradicate these problems, but with less density in population, I’d like to think that my forehead bruises will get a decent chance to heal.
When we went to look at the house in the country that seemed to check most of the boxes of what my partner and I were looking for, I admit that my heart started to flutter.
Upon noticing that reaction, I did my very best to regain a business-like, Teflon-coating to view this objectively as a property we are evaluating. Falling in love with a house too quickly can be the rose-coloured glasses to miss something glaringly wrong.
Just the same, I felt giggles inside, with visions of becoming the next Erma Bombeck with an updated version of “The Grass is Always Greener over the Septic Tank”. And for some reason, the theme song from the TV show “Green Acres” was the ear worm playing over and over in my head.
After a very thorough look through the house and asking our agent an endless stream of questions, with no showstoppers that we could see, we decided to put in a conditional offer. This would give us the opportunity to bring in some inspectors to check out the aspects of a country home for which these city boys needed expert opinions.
That was when the learning curve began. In preparation for the inspections, we were directed to a series of videos to understand the basics of septic systems, as my Erma Bombeck gleeful giggles started again.
And truly, if they identified a problem with the “baffles” or the “effluent”, wouldn’t it be better that I know what they are talking about and have a point of reference to ask more questions, rather than freaking out inside? After about half an hour of instructional videos, I realized that the septic system isn’t that complicated. I felt much more in tune with knowing what to do for preventative maintenance and for troubleshooting.
And after our inspections, I enthusiastically performed research on sump pumps, wells, electric furnaces and generators just to get a better idea of how they work. My pride of ownership was already kicking in and I was really getting into it!
It was in that moment that I realized how fortunate we were to have all this information at our finger tips through the Internet. And with retirement just around the corner, the time and headspace will be there to get better acquainted with each individual component, in the same way that I gradually learned about the “infrastructure” pieces in my condo townhome over the last twenty years.
By the end of our week to waive the conditions on the property, we were both satisfied that the house was in good shape. There were things we would need to monitor over time, but that would be the case even if we lived in a house in the city.
There will be work to be done, but it’s not like the to-do list will need to be accomplished overnight. Plus, along the way, we had established contacts with trusted, knowledgeable professionals who could provide technical assistance should a situation arise.
With all of the expert opinions on the table, we were confident that there was really nothing scary about the prospect of moving to this country property. Sure, there were things to learn, but I was proud to see that I wasn’t remotely overwhelmed (as I might have been as a first time homeowner). I was wholeheartedly happy with the new journey before us.
When the deal was signed, sealed and delivered and the house was officially ours, my partner and I were thrilled.
But we were only half way there.
The next step in our transition from city life to country life was to buckle up and to quickly prepare our own houses for sale.
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