So much has happened since last we spoke, the biggest change being our location. We are officially residents of Pensacola, Florida! And boy, do we have a lot to discuss about our PCS (permanent change of station) journey. Between almost renting a house in Pensacola and deciding to buy a house instead, almost renting our Jacksonville house and deciding to sell it instead, packing and unpacking, living out of a suitcase with family and friends for over a week, closing on our house in Pensacola and putting our Jacksonville house on the market, and solo parenting (while unpacking) for 10 days in Pensacola while Adam wrapped up our affairs in Jacksonville, so much has happened in the last two months.
Renting a House in Pensacola
Our original plan was to rent a house in Pensacola. Knowing that we will only be stationed here for about three years, it just didn’t seem financially wise to purchase a house nor worth the headaches of home ownership. Or so we thought. We made a trip over to house hunt in late January thinking we were behind the curve. As it turns out, we were way ahead of the curve for a March move in date and were told that if we did find a house, most landlords would only hold the property for a maximum of two weeks. Not a huge deal. If we found a house we really liked, Emme and I would just move over a little bit earlier than anticipated.
We looked at so many houses that weekend. We were matched up with a realtor, Barbara, by happenstance who was so patient and helpful in our search. We ended up finding a house we really liked in a favorable neighborhood. The rent was a little bit higher than we wanted to spend but we decided the price was worth the piece of mind and amenities. The property had recently been renovated and featured brand new and luxurious decor features and plenty of space for our little family. We put in an application for the home with the property management company and became first choice for renting.
We were excited about our new house and began to prepare ourselves for an early move. The property management company sent over the lease agreement for us to sign and we read through the fine print. Among the dos and don’ts of the house were some pretty strict rules. No attic access. No permanent structures in the backyard (ie swing set). A nonrefundable $700 pet deposit for our two tiny dogs. Regular home inspections. No motorcycles. (The kicker for Adam.) And many more seemingly absurd rules that I’ve blocked out. We were not under the impression that renting would have as much freedom as home ownership but we decided we were not willing to agree to these strict rules and declined the lease. Back to the drawing board…
Buying a House in Pensacola
Since we’d decided renting was not for us, we discussed our options. We could live in base housing or buy a house. Quick research on base housing convinced us that the only favorable option was to buy. So, we talked with Barbara and scoured the Internet trying to find the perfect house that fit our budget. We planned another trip to Pensacola and spent two days with Barbara looking at houses all over the city.
At the end of day one, we still didn’t feel like we’d found The House. There was the family home that was older but welcoming and told a story. There was the home by the high school football field where we imagined a lot of Friday Night Lights. There was an immaculate albeit overly decorated home owned by a sweet grandmother that we found out had flooded a few years prior. Each home was unique and liked by us for different reasons but as cheesy as it sounds, we didn’t get the warm fuzzies from any of them.
I called Barbara that night and discussed our remaining options. We’d narrowed down our search to a particular neighborhood so the next day we looked at all of the real estate in that area within our budget. I wanted to look at this house with the open floor plan and carpet. Barbara hesitated knowing that we’d originally hoped to find a house with mostly hardwood flooring but agreed to show us. We walked into this house first that day and immediately felt like we were home. The carpet was brand new. The entire house had recently been repainted a neutral beige color leaving it a blank canvas. The bedrooms were large. There’s a TON of closet space. The floor plan was open and airy. There was a back porch and an easily managed yard. We looked at more houses that day but came back to this house for a second showing and decided we’d found The House.
Barbara submitted our offer and we waited to hear back from the owner. On our drive back to Jacksonville, we got a call from Barbara that our offer was accepted. Long and boring story short, we bought The House! While we didn’t necessarily get a “deal” on the house, we bought the house for a very fair price. About 30 days after we’d walked through the house, we signed our lives away and were given the keys to our new home.
Renting… wait, no… SELLING our House in Jacksonville
Along with our original plan to rent in Pensacola came the plan to rent our house in Jacksonville. Due to unique circumstances, I bought our house in 2014 from my family for a really, really good deal. We’d hoped to keep the home as an investment and rent it out once we’d moved. But during our drive back to Jacksonville from our second trip to Pensacola, Adam and I tossed around the idea of selling the house instead.
When we got home, I had a conversation with my dad catching him up on all that had happened on our trip. Without prompting, he suggested we sell our Jacksonville home. And after a quick conversation with my family, it was decided we would be putting the home on the market.
We contacted our realtor friend Mike who stopped by the house to discuss our selling options. He was pleasantly surprised by the condition and features of our little 1,100 square foot home. Considering I had lived in the home for almost nine years (four of those years shared with Adam), our house was in pristine shape. He left us with a short list of repairs to make and scheduled our listing date.
Our house was officially on the market as of March 6th. By the 9th we had received multiple offers, a couple of which were OVER the asking price of the house. Wow! We were apprehensive of the high listing price Mike had set and shocked when potential buyers wanted to pay more than expected. By end of day on March 9th, we were under contract with buyers and we are currently in the process of selling our house in Jacksonville.
Moving to Pensacola
Military moves are different than your average move, mostly because the military schedules and foots the bill for the movers. This was our first military move experience. Adam has spent his entire career in the same general area and, up until this move, could fit all of his belongings in the back of his pickup truck. We scheduled our pack and move dates around the closing of our house in Pensacola. The movers showed up the morning of March 1st and started putting all of our belongings in boxes. The following day they showed up to load the boxes and furniture into the truck.
Meanwhile, we were responsible for moving any important or valuable items as well as items the movers cannot move such as aerosol cans, cleaning supplies, and other miscellaneous items. We spent a few nights with Nana and Poppie before loading down both of our vehicles and heading to Pensacola on March 5th.
Once in Pensacola, we spent two nights with our friends while we did the final walkthrough and closing on our new house. On March 7th, we closed on our new house and spent our first night there sleeping on an air mattress.
The movers showed up on March 9th with our belongings. After spending a week living out of a suitcase, we were so happy to see that moving truck. The movers placed everything into the house as we marked off each numbered item on our inventory sheet and after a few hours, we were officially back in possession of our belongings. Now the arduous task of unpacking.
(Temporary) Solo Parenting
Adam headed back to Jacksonville the morning of March 10th. He spent the next nine days living on an air mattress in our empty house in Jacksonville coordinating showings and appointments for the sale of our house. He met the buyers and was happy to find out they are a young Navy couple buying their first home in hopes of starting a family. On March 19th, he finally checked out at work and loaded up the car to make his final trip to Pensacola.
Meanwhile, Emme and I stayed in Pensacola to unpack and settle into our new house. This long distance arrangement actually worked out pretty well. I was able to organize the house and explore the city a little before Adam showed back up. But I was definitely happy to see him when he finally pulled into our driveway in the wee hours of the 20th.
We are almost fully settled into our new house. There are just a few remaining boxes that need unpacking. We’re starting to make small modifications to make the home ours and making lists of bigger projects to work on. We’re even planning our first party – a triple birthday and housewarming party in April. So far we’re really loving our new house and looking forward to the next few years in this Gulf Coast town.