It’s official! We sold our house. And we were lucky because the closing was delayed by two weeks. That gave us extra time to move the rest of our things to the storage unit after our awesome trip to Longmont, CO.
We are excited to put our snowbird housing plan into motion, but you might remember that we were having a hard time finding contractors to work on our lake house this summer. I explained that we had to start DIY’ing many projects and managing some others – even though we had money to spend!
In the last three months, we gutted the lake house to the studs and improved drainage. We are hoping that water won’t flow through the kitchen after a hard rain next year! We had the electric service moved underground, a new shed delivered, and three large (dying) trees removed too.
But we’re happy to report that we have a contractor now and construction started today! We know tons of decisions are ahead on this renovation – but we’re happy to have someone else taking the lead now!
I’ll detail the renovation more in a future post because we did have to make some major decisions before we signed the contract with the builder. But one of the other big decisions we had to make was where to live during the renovations! We needed to find a temporary “home between homes” once we had a purchase offer on our house.
And when a decision like this comes along, it’s a great time to pull out the decision framework and follow the steps. This is the same framework that I use when I do decision coaching with clients!
Here we go!
Determine the Decision Question. (Make sure you don’t limit your options with the wording of your question.) Our question – What temporary housing situation will best meet our needs during the renovation?
Determine Your Goals. We looked at the timeframe of October-December and decided on the following goals:
- Minimize Cost – Extremely Important. Without getting regular paychecks anymore and having a renovation that could uncover extra costs, we wanted to do everything we could to minimize the costs of our temporary housing.
- Proximity to Lake House – Very Important. We didn’t want to have to drive a long way every time we had to meet the contractors to discuss an issue.
- Privacy & Kitchen – Important. We didn’t want to share a space with others for an extended period of time. and we don’t like eating out. We wanted our own place with a small kitchen.
- Comfort & Extras – Somewhat Important. Our kids are away at school and most of our things are in storage. Having a small living area is fine – and anything extra is just a bonus during this transition time.
Generate Creative Options. It’s important to really brainstorm here. Ask for feedback from others too! Here are the options we came up with, along with some information on each one. Don’t give up on an option until you’ve explored as many as you can think of!
- Extended-stay hotel. The only ones we would consider would have cost more than $100/night – even with a discount. $3000+/month? Ouch.
- Month-to-month apartment. Hard to find in our area (where we would agree to live) and that would require moving furniture again…
- Staying in one of our own rental apartments. We would have had to not renew a current tenant’s lease, it’s hard to find renters as winter approaches (when we would want to move out). It would require moving furniture again too! And they are 25 minutes from our lake house.
- Long-term AirBNB/VRBO. Some are available in our area, but not at much of a discount. Many stop renting in the winter or look for longer term winter tenants (Sept – May).
- Furnished corporate housing. A nice option with a big price tag ($2200/month) and a 3-month minimum.
- Winter vacation condo rental (min. 6 months). Lake condo’s are available for rent in the off-season but the minimum rental is 6 months. At a minimum, this option would have cost $6000.
- Head to Florida and Stay in our Own Condo. A great option but difficult when it comes to being here to make decisions about the lake house.
- Stay with Family or Friends. A fine option for a weekend or even a few days. NOT a good option for a project that lacks an end date!
- Rent a family vacation house from an acquaintance. A great option but they wanted to use the house for a vacation before our house renovation will be finished.
- Stay in a Travel Trailer in the Backyard. There’s room in the backyard and we have access to the house/bathroom for most of the project. And it’s certainly a step up from a 2-week tent camping adventure in Colorado! (From the title of the post, you know that we chose this! Let me explain how we got to this decision though!)
Before I show the results table, we could eliminate some options based on our extremely important goal of minimizing costs.
- We eliminated the extended stay hotel, the long-term AirBNB/VRBO, the furnished corporate housing and the winter vacation condo rental for all for high costs.
- Taking over one of our own rental units wasn’t a good option for a number of reasons and heading to our Florida condo was out due to distance.
- We couldn’t find a month-to-month apartment anywhere in town where we would agree to live (and we’re not snobs!)
- And family and friends weren’t a good option because we’d like to keep those relationships!
Create a Results Table. The two options that were “in the running” were to rent a family vacation house from an acquaintance (knowing we’d have to move again at some point) and stay in a travel trailer in the backyard.
The travel trailer was an expense up front, but we know that we can sell it eventually (likely for close to what we paid for it.) It is on our property and we still have access to our house. It has a small kitchen and living area and it meets all of our needs. It is a SMALL space, but that is at the bottom of our list of what is important.
Compare Your Options. The family vacation house was very nice and it was a reasonable distance to our house. We thought the rent was reasonable too for the one month they would have let us stay there.
Determine Your Best Option.
We definitely would have had a harder decision if we could have stayed in the vacation home through the entire renovation. The idea of having to move again and find temporary housing for a few weeks to a month or more wasn’t something we were excited about doing. We could have ended up in an extended stay hotel for a long period of time at a huge cost.
We found a beautiful (older) travel trailer in great condition at a terrific price. It had everything we needed for the two of us – without a lot of extras. BUT – it was still very comfortable. (We didn’t even have air conditioning in the house we just sold!) We are trading off space and some comfort for some hassles and inconvenience.
But after a week, so far so good! We do live in upstate NY though and colder weather is ahead! We have had an amazing fall so far – but it won’t be long until that all ends. We have back-up plans ready in case what is good now, becomes NOT so great!
- We will be in Dallas for five days this week for FinCon! Hopefully when we return, there will be a new roof on our house!
- We can use our Southwest Companion Pass and head to Florida to our condo once plans are more on track. At that point, there aren’t so many day-to-day decisions to be made.
- We can use travel points to book a hotel for a day or two and take short day trips to break up the camper stay if needed.
- We can bug our friends and take a chance on them wanting to leave town soon after our stay too 😉
So that’s how we came up with our temporary housing plan! We are hoping the renovations go smoothly but we are prepared for whatever happens. There is no way we could have done this if I was working full-time anymore! Our downshift from full-time work has allowed for us to make some interesting and fun decisions over the last few months.
I’ll share more details of #camperlife, our lake house renovation, and our trip to #FinCon17 in upcoming posts! As always, thanks for reading and have a great week! If you are in the Dallas area – let us know! We already have a few reader meet-ups set up for later this week! And if you have any questions about camper life – ask away!