Saturday, May 22, 2010


We sold our house.  In FOUR days.  Full price offer.  Not only is that pretty unprecedented right now in this town for houses in our price range, but the other houses in town with the same square footage, etc. are going for less.  Sometimes a lot less.  We feel really, really blessed.  Like things are finally falling into place for us after a year of stress and anxiety.

Here's the story:

(First a disclaimer.  I'm not totally sure who reads this blog, but if you are not LDS or religious/believe in the "supernatural" or something, you may not totally appreciate this story. It's also a very long story I am mostly recording for myself so you may get bored really fast.)

A little over a year ago at our church's semi-annual "General Conference" (where our church members gather worldwide via satellite/cable to enjoy a weekend packed with gobs of speeches/talks/addresses on tons of different subjects given by the leadership in our church), my husband and I both had the strong impression after hearing this particular speaker that we needed to move.  Not so much the stuff about addiction, but this paragraph about being in a position to help others really jumped out at both of us:

"All of us are responsible to provide for ourselves and our families in both temporal and spiritual ways. To provide providently, we must practice the principles of provident living: joyfully living within our means, being content with what we have, avoiding excessive debt, and diligently saving and preparing for rainy-day emergencies. When we live providently, we can provide for ourselves and our families and also follow the Savior’s example to serve and bless others."

It became instantly clear to us that if we were going to save the kind of money we wanted to for a myriad of reasons - not the least of which was to be able to help others if needed - we would have to move to a place where we could make more or at least live on less.

When we moved here four years ago, we came for Brandon to practice urology with his dad.  We also thought it would be great to have the chance to live by his side of the family after spending nine years of med school and residency in Iowa City, IA living by my side of the family.  We came straight out of residency with nothing, and while we knew this was a crazy expensive place to live (emphasis on crazy), we still overestimated how practical it would be to make it here on a "real" doctor's salary.  (We thought we were positively loaded after living on a resident's salary.)

My sister-in-law found this house in their neighborhood for us, and we signed a lease to rent without even seeing it.  It turned out to be an okay house that needed some work, but in a fabulous, gorgeous, quiet and private neighborhood where our kids could walk to school or carpool with my sister-in-law.  After a year, the owner's wanted to sell the house and offered it to us first.  We were a block away from family, going to school and church together, living on one of the most beautiful streets in town - surely we would be able to make it work financially over time, so why not?

So we bought the house, and over time we made it our home.  We replaced the twenty year old "white" carpet with laminate flooring, painted over the rusty red paint in the living room that backed up to the lavendar paint in the kitchen, took out the four mismatched chandeliers and put in recessed lighting, replaced the leaky roof and pipes (out of necessity), hooked up to the city sewer system (this entire town was on septic tanks until like ten years ago when they started going street by street creating main sewer lines which people then pay to connect to if they don't want to keep having raw sewage seep out of the manhole covering the septic tank under their driveway because they are using too much water - yep, happened more than once), painted all three of the kids' bedrooms, put a little kitchen office in where there had previously been random cabinets, and painted the exterior of the house.  There was also the kitchen mold fiasco, the broken sewer pipe under the kitchen fiasco, the furnace that was replaced after a month of freezing our tushies off in the middle of the night in January . . . we have paid a pretty penny over these four years for the "privilege" of living in a quiet, safe, beautiful suburb of Los Angeles with excellent schools when all we really wanted was to be near family.

The crazy thing is, we had a feeling when we moved here that it might not be permanent.  We always said that after three or four years when Kate was nearing Jr. High we would need to make a decision about whether or not we would stay here permanently.  A lot of people are really surprised that Brandon isn't going to take over his dad's practice.  It seems like such a no-brainer, but even his dad said that if it were him starting over again, he wouldn't come here. Practicing medicine in California now is nothing like it used to be.  (Especially this part of Los Angeles.) There are LOTS of issues that I have learned more than I ever wanted to about, but this isn't the place for that.  Needless to say, the possibility of moving sometime was with us from the very start.

But who wants to live like that?  So we've been living/working/planning like we would stay here forever, and I quickly grew to love this place my husband has loved since childhood - wildfires, illegal immigrants, high taxes and all.

But then we got that feeling after listening to those words, and we discussed it at length on a little anniversary trip a few weeks later, and then we started looking.

There are a shortage of urologists nationwide.  From the very beginning, we were getting job advertisements in the mail from all over the country.  All we had to do was call one physician recruitment company and we were on "the list".  The calls started coming like mad and we literally could have gone anywhere.  A mixed blessing for two people who spend twenty minutes agonizing over what to order at a restaurant.  After a few months we settled on staying in the west because we both hate humidity and love the sun, but we are also big on trees and green so we went for eastern Washington. We took three separate trips up there for two different towns and jobs and finally settled on Spokane.  Gorgeous place, good job.  But when it came right down to it, we just couldn't feel settled even though everything was perfect on paper and fit our criteria so well.  Back to the drawing board.

We started thinking California again since the Seattle to Portland strip didn't have enough sun, both Nevada and Arizona were too dry and barren for us, neither of us was too keen on Utah because of all those white Mormons (funny, I know), and nothing was coming up in Colorado because I guess everyone and their dog wants to live there. (Including me!  It's where I wanted to go before we came here.) That's when Brandon remembered a really great job advertisement for Fresno.  Off we went to Fresno with the kids over a three day weekend and were thoroughly surprised to find a beautiful, affordable place within 2 hours of Yosemite/Sequoia Nat'l Park and not much further to the coast.  We started getting excited about it.  Even though California has it's issues, we just love it here: the weather, the culture, the people, the trees and plants, the ocean . . .

Then we went to Utah for spring break to go skiing and Brandon felt obligated to visit three different practices during our family reunion just because we were there.  St. George was beautiful and I have my good Power of Moms friend that lives there, but the job wasn't so great.  The American Fork job looked really good actually, but . . .  it was American Fork, Utah.  (Come on!)  Then Brandon actually drove like six hours to some rinky dink town in Idaho on the last day of our trip because he just could NOT give up the dreamy idea of the idyllic life in small town America without at least going to see it for himself.  He had toyed rather seriously with the idea of going to either Kalispell, Montana or Minot, North Dakota pretty early in our search, but I told him I didn't think I could do it. And guess what?  His wife was right!  I'm not always and don't claim to be, but in this case - boy, was I ever right.  He realized he could not survive in a town like that any more than I could, but he just HAD to go see it for himself and I get that, that's fine.  He got it out of his system.

So now it's April and we still have no answer.  Summer is looming and Jr. High after that.

The day of our 15th anniversary my mom flew into town and we headed to Fresno for the weekend.  This was not an anniversary trip, though.  We were trying to make our final decision about Fresno and the people up there were working it, HARD.  They sought out the place with the best sushi in town (for Brandon) and all the docs and their spouses came and just talked up that place like nobody's business.  We had yet another realtor tour and saw all sorts of beautiful homes with pools that were infinitely more affordable than our home here, Brandon sat in on some surgeries and talked numbers with all the doctors and administrators . . . blah, blah, blah.  It was all fine and dandy until we tried to go to sleep.

Okay, seriously, it's way too late and I've GOT to go to sleep.  Grand finale tomorrow.  (I really do need to go to bed, but this is kind of fun messing with my friends who I know read this and want to know where we are moving.  Tomorrow, really!  I feel compelled to explain the whole story in all it's glorious detail before "spilling the beans".  Hee hee.)


  1. Allison I read this and I'm now and the edge wanting the rest of the story and the "where". I'm waiting for the rest.

  2. The anticipation is KILLING me!

  3. Why do you torture me so?!?! Finish the story already! And, we want to have you over before you leave. We'll miss you guys!

  4. Oh, Allyson, what a roller coaster! I'm really happy for you guys, though!


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