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Celebration!

Wow! After four years of dreaming about it, we officially have a Florida address! This Saturday we take possession of our new home in Celebration! Other than winning the lottery and getting a place in Golden Oak, having our first home be in “the town that Disney built” is beyond anything we hoped for.

Due to the speed with which my wife found her new job, we’ve been extremely busy over the last few weeks setting things up. Hopefully any of your reading this who might want to make the move one day will have the luxury of time. But all things considered, everything worked out very well for us. Here’s how it went down.

After accepting her new position and giving her thirty days notice, my wife and I immediately started discussing living arrangements. I’ll be staying in Tennessee until my son finishes his last few months of high school and we sell the current house. And until that happens, we won’t have the money for the down payment on a new house down there. So that meant our options were a hotel, an Airbnb type arrangement, an apartment, and a rental house.

Due to the previously mentioned time crunch, we started with hotels and Airbnb’s since they wouldn’t require long application processes. However, despite both saying they offer longer than usual rental options, neither is apparently really made for anything other than shorter vacation stays. The extended rental rates were almost always more than the cost of an apartment, so we quickly ruled them out.

Next we looked at single-family houses. As I’m sure most of you are aware, rent is at ridiculous highs right now. The least expensive place we found was a small one bedroom mobile home in a trailer park for $200 more than our mortgage on a four bedroom house is here in Tennessee! And we’d have gladly taken that if the landlord had ever returned our calls! (Something that would become a bit of a theme.) The other houses we looked at were all much more and were either not in the best shape or not in the best area.

So we turned to apartments. If we were going to have to pay the high rents most of the houses were asking, why not do so in an apartment instead, which would require less upkeep while providing more amenities? The first issue we ran into (besides the already mentioned high rents!) was that most apartment websites were providing their rates for people who would be signing 12 month leases. Our hope is to be in a house later this year, so we need the flexibility of a shorter contract. And it turns out shorter leases mean bigger rents — assuming you can find a place willing to even give you less than a year!

We found several complexes that allowed for short-term leases and a few of those gave those rates online; the others we had to contact directly. That’s when we ran into our next problem: waiting for responses. Again, we’re on a timeline here, so having to wait even a day or two for apartment management to get back to us was nerve racking! Then there was the back-and-forth replies, most of which required even more waiting. But a least that was better than waiting for replies that never came. I’d estimate about a third of those we contacted never responded.

We ended up with four good options. All were within a fairly short drive of my wife’s new job. And all were within about $200 a month of each other. (Though all were also more than $600 a month more than our current mortgage!) But one stood out — an apartment in Celebration. It wasn’t the cheapest or the closest option. But it kinda felt like the most magical one. We’re never going to be able to afford to live in Celebration permanently. But after all those years of wanting to make this move, having that be where our first home could be, even if only temporarily, felt like too good an opportunity to pass up. And when they gave us a choice of available units and one of them was listed as featuring a view of Disney fireworks… we were sold!

That was a week ago. And we’re moving in this weekend! As I said, things are moving fast!

Now that this dream is quickly becoming a reality, I again want to thank you for following us on this journey. Things are a little stressful around here! And that feeling is only going to grow! Thanks for letting me use this blog as part sounding board, part stress relief, and part diary.

Now time to pack! We’re moving to Disney in five days!


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