This is will be a short two part series on our transplant journey to Arizona from the Bay Area.
Happy House-iversary to us!!! As we end year two of living in Arizona, I reflect on what brought us here and the current status of our lives. This move was a long time coming and honestly, the husband and I always had a nudge from God that we would leave the Bay Area one day. We just didn’t know when and how it would happen but God knew and he moved mountains for us.
I am going to prematurely give you the conclusion of this post because I think it’s important to state that our lives here in the desert aren’t stress free, perfect or magical. While our financial status has changed for the better, we are still in a state of getting everything in order. Our marriage still has its ups and downs. Our kids still think we are so uncool and struggles they are working through. Friends, life still happens and even if my social media posts look amazing and beautiful in our gorgeous backyard – we still struggle with anything and everything you can imagine. I will expand on that later on in this post. Let’s go back to the beginning and how the move happened.
Something’s got to give
Realistically, a family of seven should have a difficult time moving out of state but we generally didn’t. Our move was as stress-less as it could get. I know that sounds impossible and believe me, we did too. Once I layout how everything came about, you will see that God was making a way for us in probably the quickest timeline ever.
2017 began with quitting my job because my depression and anxiety became unmanageable. It was one of the darkest and lowest times in my life. To make matters worse, our financial situation was also become unmanageable with the rise of expenses and my loss of income.It became increasingly unsafe in the neighborhoods and the community around our home. So much so that the husband had given me strict order to not frequent certain grocery stores, gas stations, and any parks close to our house.
This was no way to live. I felt like a prisoner in my mind and now a prisoner in my own city. I knew we had to make a drastic change or we would drown in debt, live in fear of our community, or even lose our home. The straw that broke the camel’s back was a conversation I had with a teacher our daughters’ elementary school. She informed me that at the end of this school year, 12 teachers were leaving and the librarian was retiring. When a drastic change happens at any school, it’s not good. The acting principal also left after only one year – red flag. So I brought up moving out of the Bay Area again with my husband. He agreed.
Around that time, one of his cousins reached out and invited us to Arizona to take a look at the community they lived in. She spoke about how the town was ideal for young families and it is significantly more affordable than the Bay Area. Obviously. The statistics she gave me that really peaked my interest in checking out Arizona was that the town she lived in was just dubbed the safest town in the US. Ding-ding-ding! The husband and I planned to make the drive during Spring Break while we were in LA.
When we arrived in the East Valley, the husband and I just fell in love. We loved how wide and clean the freeway was, we appreciated how clean the town was kept, and get this – people were nice and talked to you. They allowed you to merge into their lane, minimal honking, and people always yielded or allow you to go first. I remember thinking – Are we in Leave it to Beaver? – obviously not but I was amazed there was a community that existed like this. I wanted into this community like yesterday. I prayed about it in the deepest part of my heart. Thankfully she also arranged for us to meet one of her really good friends who was also a realtor. Well played cousin. Well played. So we talked shop and we were off to plan how we would actually accomplish this.
Nothing is impossible with God
Where do we even start? It was so overwhelming to think about all the moving parts that needed to take place perfectly in order for this to even be possible – job, house, schools for the kids, and a home church. Those were our top priorities and we had a timeline of moving before school started at the beginning of August. It was now the end of April.
First things first, the husband needed a job. We knew there would be a possibility that he would take a pay cut since we were moving to an area with a lower cost of living. We adjusted our house budget to also reflect a 25% pay cut. He refreshed his resume and began to apply for as many positions as possible and also sent his resume off to his cousin who basically knew everyone in the Valley – like she is a networking machine. He didn’t hear anything back for almost 3 weeks and once he did, well the phone interviews kept rolling in.
The husband would strategically take phone interviews on his lunch break, in his car, while at work. Once he secured in person interviews – a totaled five – he booked a flight to Phoenix. He made the trek to the desert solo with a laundry list of things to do in a short five day time period – secure an offer letter, look at potential schools for the kids, and find us a house. I stayed behind to keep our house running as smoothly and as normally as possible. I was also purging and cleaning our house for our potential move. Who trust their husband to choose their house for them? Me apparently.
My husband is a banker by trade and has been in the business basically since our oldest was born. So he has a unique skill set and apparently it was sought after in the Phoenix metro area. SCORE. Soon he was wheeling and dealing with three potential companies – salary, annual commission, amount of vacation days, benefits start date, and a signing bonus. He was shooting for the stars, friends, it was impressive to watch.
Guess what – HE GOT WHAT HE WANTED.
I was shocked and even more so when he told me his base salary would be more than what he made in the Bay Area. What!?! Once he received his offer letter, we sent it off to the lender and we settled on a house budget. We purged and cleaned and donated probably 50% of our belongings.
Looking back, I wish we left more things behind but that’s near nor there. Our Arizona realtor recommended a realtor in California that was in same brokerage company to make the transaction smoother. We met with her and we knew she was the perfect agent for our situation. She was very knowledgeable about the market and basically guaranteed that we would sell our home for at least 5% above the asking price. The cherry on top of the cake was that she was a Christian. We prayed with her at the end of our meeting and did exactly as she told – no questions asked. Purge more, cleaned more, minor repairs, and deep clean the house.
At the beginning of June, we put our house on the market. We decided since it would be difficult to do multiple open houses we would do private showings during the week, a broker’s tour, and one Saturday open house. All unconventional to the normal tactics of selling a home but she knew what she was doing.
The Monday following our open house, our realtor wanted to meet with us first thing in the morning. She had a serious look on her face and told us we had a big decision to make. She handed us a stack of papers. It was ten – YES 10 – offer on our house: two at asking price and the rest above asking. We cried. How is this all happening so quickly? We narrowed it down to two offers and let them battle it out. We ended up picking an offer that was 15% over asking price.
Tears of joy were shed by us and our realtor. Our God is so good.
The same day we put our house on the market. We put an offer on our dream home. When we first looked at the listing, I told the husband that it was way above our budget – which is wasn’t – and there was no reason for us to have that much house – it was 3,700 square feet. He reasoned with me that it was the only house he saw that was move in ready with a backyard that was completed. Ok fine, let’s do it. We learned the next day that the house had three offers two above asking and ours at asking price. I was heartbroken. I knew the drill because we just accepted an offer. Our realtors both agreed that we should write a letter to the homeowners on why they should pick our offer. So the husband wrote the most heartfelt letter anyone could write. It worked.
So many tears again. I can’t handle this God. Its too many blessings all at once. Our realtors worked their magic and closed on both houses in 22 days. If you’ve ever bought and sold before, this timeline is unheard of. Yup, that’s God working again folks. So if you look back at the timeline, this all started in April; we put the house on the market at the beginning of June; and at the end of July, we moved 50% of our belongings on a moving truck and shipped our cars to Arizona.
See where we are today
I have met many other families that have attempted to move out of California with less children, financially more stable than us, and in a better position overall but their moves were so much more difficult or they never happened. The more I reflect on our transplant story, the more I can see where God made a way for us to move here. This one instance in our life has changed our relationship with Christ forever. We believe He has a purpose for us in Arizona and we are eager to see what he has in store for us.
I will conclude this series in two weeks with a two year status update on where we are today. How our marriage is going, the kids, acclimating, and our overall general status in the desert.
Please join me next week with a special interview with an amazing Filipina therapist. You won’t wanna miss it!