We’re coming up on the one year anniversary of being in our new house and looking back on these pictures from our “transitional housing,” I hardly remember the 8 month season in my parent’s basement.
Quite frankly, at the ages of 31 and 32 we didn’t expect to be cramming ourselves into my parent’s unused, lowest level for a year. When we moved into our town home two years prior, we knew that it would just be for a season. Our goal was to get out of debt and then to buy our forever home in the country.
That was the plan.
What I didn’t expect was for my husband to come with this idea (OUT OF THE BLUE) to make a stop back at my parent’s in between selling our town home and buying forever home.
The prices in our town home development had sky-rocketed and we didn’t know if it would be a temporary increase or if it would be the new normal. And while we had achieved our goal of getting out of debt while we were there, we hadn’t yet gotten to the point of saving a downpayment for a new house.
However, with this new found equity in our town house, we would could now have the downpayment. The only problem: there weren’t any properties on the market that fit what we were looking for.
What made the search difficult was that I hoped to be within five minutes of my parent’s farm. We wanted at least ten acres and were ok with some projects in the house, but didn’t want another gut job like our first house…with four kids now that just didn’t sound fun. And at the time there wasn’t much…actually, anything that even came close.
So my husband proposed moving into my parent’s basement. I was hesitant. Mostly, I didn’t want to put them out. Moving in with FOUR kids ages 9 months to 6 is a BIG ask. I know they would do anything for us, and ANYTHING for the grandkids, but I didn’t want to take advantage of their kindness.
But as we sat with it and talked about it more, we had peace and decided to see what my parents would say. My mom’s instant reaction was “well yes, of course”…I had to clarify if she really understood what she was agreeing to (we truly expected her to push back at first). We asked them to take some time to think about it and talk about it between themselves, but they both agreed that they didn’t need more time and the next day we made plans to list our house.
I forgot to mention the other catch: their basement wasn’t finished yet. This is what it looked like:
So, we agreed that the benefit to them would be that we would pay to finish the basement (Tom would do all of the work to keep the cost down) and then we’d live there rent free for a year or until we found a house, whichever came first.
The next thing we knew, our house was listed, it sold quickly and Tom had six weeks to get the basement done. So while he worked at my parent’s, I packed and before we knew it we were moving in.
THE BENEFIT OF MINIMAL LIVING
Praise the Lord we had already discovered living simply or I don’t believe we could have done this all in six weeks. We didn’t have to rent a storage unit or stage our house to sell because it was already stripped down (ironically, we thought about adding a few things in so I bought some throw pillows and decorations that I then took back as soon as it was under contract ;)
I donated about 1/3 more of our stuff while packing and we sold our couches and dining set on Craigslist before we moved. Furniture-wise we kept everything that we could move into the basement, but we didn’t know if the rest would fit or work in our new house “someday” so we decided to part with it. (Since all of it was from Craigslist in the first place, it made it an easier decision.)
In the end, what was left all fit into one trailer. As Tom pulled away from the town home with the trailer he said “isn’t it a little depressing that we’re pulling ALL of our possessions behind us right now???” I thought to myself: “are you kidding, I think that is AWESOME!!!” But I knew he would think that was insensitive, so instead I said “that may be true, but at least we don’t owe a penny on any of it :)”
THE NEW SEASON BEGINS
The kids loved every second of living at my parent’s. Like I said, they live on a farm so there is endless room to play and explore. They couldn’t get enough time helping grandpa in the shop or riding their pedaling tractors while my brother worked on real tractors.
Here’s our little entry way:
The view facing the other direction…fortunately there were big windows off the back of the house so the space didn’t feel closed in (although the lighting wasn’t the best for pictures, please excuse my poor photography!)
My makeshift office:
You’ll notice that we didn’t have a kitchen in our space, but we did have a little fridge. Tom and my dad leave extra early for work, but the kids and I would try to stay downstairs in the mornings until my mom was ready to go, usually having cold cereal at the little table in disposable bowls. My mom would come down for hugs before she left for work and it quickly became a ritual they looked forward to.
Our “bedroom.” The storage bed from IKEA was a huge help along with the wardrobes, we had MORE than enough storage and probably could have gotten by with just one wardrobe.
Our bathroom…you can see the vanity in one of the construction photos, it is from IKEA as well and I loved it so much that we just put the same one in our new house. The drawers make SO much more sense for storing bathroom items and I like that it sits up a little taller than other vanities (my 6’2″ husband REALLY likes that aspect of it!)
We even had our own laundry (which was paramount with four kids).
And the kids’ room. We decided to let them have the actual bedroom since they would be going to bed before us each night and hopefully waking up after us ;)
At the time our youngest was 9 months so he slept in the co-sleeper next to our bed. However, this would be the first time all three of our older kids would share one room, but the transition was almost seamless. We put a baby monitor in the room so that we could hear if anyone was talking and within two nights they were going to bed fine and sleeping through the night.
Fortunately there was a nice sized closet in their room so we could continue using our “laundry system” from our previous house (although, you can tell that the sides of the boxes were not seen in their last closet, they look a little shabby) but none the less, the system functioned great while we were there.
And here is our youngest playing with the noise maker in their room, this was also key to everyone sleeping well through the night.
Looking back, I realize that we never finished the trim or the ceiling and the sheets hanging on the kids’ window were something we threw up the first night there but never got replaced. But it didn’t matter. We were warm and dry and surrounded by lots of love!
Were there any times of tension? Yes! I also didn’t mention that my brother still lives there, helping with the farm and my sister had moved back before her wedding. It was a FULL house and not everyone always appreciated hearing kids at 6:00 in the morning or us asking them to be quiet at 7:00 at night. But, honestly, I hadn’t even thought of any of that since we moved out until just now.
And the best part? We only ended up being there for eight months before we moved into our new, forever home and every minute was worth it!
Would this make sense for everyone? Of course not! But hopefully it helps you to think outside of the box if your current financial situation feels hopeless.
Best wishes to you friend! :)