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How to Move to a New Address Without Leaving Your Aging Mind Behind
by Marjorie Dorfman

Does just the thought of moving at this point in your life give you a massive headache? Do you put off packing and making all those decisions that are destined to bring on more headaches? Read on for some light at the end of the middle-aged relocation tunnel.

Are you ready to move? Will you ever be? Does the entire question remind you of Dorothy Parker’s famous retort "how can you tell?’’ when informed that Calvin Coolidge was dead? I ask you, dear middle-aged reaper of strange oats and greener fields, how indeed can you tell if you are ready to relocate? What are the signs and symptoms of someone who needs to get out of town permanently? How can this syndrome be fine-tuned, postponed or otherwise acted upon with alacrity? Read on for some answers.

You are ready to buy a new house if you can answer the following questions. Do you have a steady, reliable source of income and do you know who your boss is? This is important in determining both which side of the bread the butter is on and how much of it you will get to eat! If you have a good record of bill payment and few outstanding long-term debts, you increase your chances for success with the purchase of a new home. Do you have a down payment and enough to pay a monthly mortgage bill plus additional costs? If you do, these are qualifying factors as well.

If you are getting the impression that this article is going to be based more on first-hand experience than hard-nosed research, you are absolutely right. I am in the process of "The Big M" and I am losing my mind, which in the end is not going to cost me less. It’s a hassle and a pain in an area I’m hesitant to mention. Let me try to make it easier for the next person, for it is already far too late for me. In my case, the money spent has not exceeded the effort spent, but I feel just as bad. Follow the following, if you dare.

Before you move into your new home you must get it inspected. Inspectors focus on the structure, construction and mechanical systems of the house and are supposed to make you aware of any repairs that are needed. Unfortunately, inspection of the inspectors is not a possibility. I have had two experiences with this: one bad and the other worse. At the moment I would recommend neither, unless it were for a hitman’s list of most preferred clients. In the one case, I bought a house ten years ago and within six months I had to replace both the roof and the heating/cooling system. I would have fared better had I inspected the house myself (not to mention saving 500 dollars to boot). In the second case, the man deemed everything to be working properly and I had to replace almost four pounds of refrigerant when the air conditioning mysteriously died as soon as I moved in. His four hours of training also qualified him to inform me that the stove worked properly. I had to replace it immediately after I moved in. (Seems I had the nerve to turn it on.) Home inspectors have to cover parts of their own anatomy (that same area I was hesitant to mention before) as well as tell you the truth about what works and what doesn’t. Personal recommendation from a realtor seems best, but watch out. I got both of my inspectors that very same way. In short, be careful. Look before you leap and always remember at the same time that he who hesitates is lost!

After they explain the "earnest" money that has to be put in escrow once you decide on the home of your choice, (usually from 1 to 5% of the purchase price and no one bothered to tell me, I might add), there is the physical aspect of the moving process. Calling the movers, arranging for estimates and boxes, boxes and more boxes! If King Richard would have bartered his proverbial kingdom for a horse, mine is even cheaper: the price of cartons, bubble-wrap and significant doses of aspirin and Valium. At the moment, the need for more and more boxes overwhelm me and I don’t know if the sensation of encroaching cardboard will ever go away! For every box I seal there are four or five empty ones screeching my name. If you are a collector like me or worse, a pack rat, the situation is truly a "mission impossible." What should I take with me, leave behind or sell? (It’s easier for me to make a decision about saying goodbye to a relative I don’t like than a knick-knack that has won my heart in a way no one else will ever understand.)

Besides the boxes, you need wrap, wrap and then some more wrap. Whether you choose newspaper, bubble wrap or anything else, prepare for trouble, especially if animals are about and watching your every move. Cats will jump into empty cartons and try to puncture bubble wrap, as it makes a popping sound when they walk upon it. (Dogs can chew it and I can only imagine what birds and other creatures might do.) Cut off sections of the wrap and work with it that way, hoping and praying for the best. I have wrapped almost all of my fragile things as of this writing, but I have not yet dealt with wrapping encounters of the bulky kind. I am sticking to smaller boxes that are easy to handle; for fear that I might drop one and lose the family heirlooms! Stay tuned however, for coming attractions.

Then there’s the sticky matter of selecting a moving company. One of my close friends had merchandise delivered to her new home that did not even belong to her! This is not very encouraging to someone like me who is already nervous about transporting my mother’s precious and very breakable antiques. Will someone else get them? Will I then become the proud owner of someone else’s mother’s antiques or worse, someone else’s mother? Only time will tell. But I can offer a few words of advice that were passed down to me by this same friend who has already purchased four or five homes in her lifetime. Never use a sub-contractor to move your furniture. They don’t care what you think of the job they are doing and don’t have to maintain repeated business. They do not come well recommended, unless you consider fly-by-night a desirable reputation.

Use reliable bonded movers and shop around, even if you don’t have a great deal of time. None of them are cheap, but there is a great deal of competition and many are reasonable considering the loads they are asked to carry. Get three estimates and use the middle-priced one.

Once you are there, vow never to move again. The experience will be fresh in your mind and if you make that promise to yourself at that moment you will probably never renege on it. Owning a home has many benefits that might not seem visible during the moving process. They may only become clear after the dust has settled, the phones and cable are installed and the movers have left town, so to speak. Remember that whenever you make a mortgage payment, you are building equity for yourself and your family. Owning a home also qualifies you for tax breaks that assist you in dealing with your new (and by this time overwhelming) financial responsibilities, like insurance, real estate taxes and upkeep. Given the freedom, stability and security of owning your home, they are worth it!

Now that the nightmare is almost behind you, take a look at all those boxes that you still have to unpack. What’s that odd shaped sort of green one over there in the corner? Do you remember packing that one and why did it just move an inch or two over to the right? If you think that’s your biggest problem, look out that new living room window of yours. Do you see that strange looking man in the black cape with a hunk of garlic hanging around his neck? He’s waving to you with a fanged down-home, friendly smile. He’s your new neighbor and if you think he’s strange, I’ve heard his family is…well…worse. Maybe its not too late. My house is still available. Are you interested? I can call my broker before 7 tonight. I can’t do it any later because after that time I can't make any outgoing calls from the asylum!

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