It’s official. It’s really going to happen. We’re moving to a ski town! We’re moving to Stowe, Vermont, in August.
While this isn’t really new news for most, it’s now official with the signing on a lease for a condo in Stowe and the signing of a property management agreement for our house in Salem. I’ve been talking about this move for many months, but it almost didn’t happen despite being part of a longer term plan since we left NYC.
Melanie and I love NYC, and living in Manhattan was definitely one of the best things either of us have ever done. But skiing - for Melanie - and snowboarding - for me - was becoming a bigger part of our lives. It may sounds strange, but I got into snowboarding while living in New York. People think of New York as a big city with tall buildings, great food, wonder entertainment, and people everywhere. But New York has something to offer everyone including snowboarding. The closest slope is Mountain Creek in New Jersey, and there are buses that run from Grand Central to Hunter and Windham mountains in the Catskills. During the winter of 2000/2001 I spent many a Saturday and or Sunday at one of these “local” mountains snowboarding. I may have never become obsessed with snowboarding if not for living in New York City.
Fast forward a few years, Melanie and I bought a “city car.” It was a Subaru Impreza that we paid $1500 cash for. I call it a city car because it sat in a parking lot most of the time and the body would get dinged up from other cars. But we didn’t care. The car served one purpose and one purpose only - to get us to and from Killington, Vermont.
Like many living in Manhattan, we would leave the city on the weekend during the winter. Our weekend journeys took us up to Killington, Vermont, where Melanie’s parents have a condo. We would spend the weekend snowboarding with the crowds. At the time I wasn’t bothered by the crowds like I am today. I was just happy to be out on the slopes. The problem, however, was the drive. Depending on traffic it could take us up to 7 hours to drive from the West Village to Killington.
Melanie and I realized priorities for us had changed since getting married, and living closer to the slopes was one of those changes. Plus the drive was starting to drive us crazy. We decided to explore for places to live in New England. Because Melanie would be working out of New York City, we knew we needed to live near an airport. And we weren’t sure how Melanie’s commute each week to JFK would be, so we settled on Salem, Massachusetts, as a “temporary” place to live while she tried out life as a commuting flight attendant. The plan was: If the commute sucked we would move back to NYC, but if the commute was okay then we would start looking for a more permanent New England town closer to the slopes to call home.
But something distracted us from this plan. Melanie got knocked up. It was a planned knock up, but it caused more changes in our priorities. Instead of finding a new town to call home, we found a house in Salem to buy. Nesting, gotta love it.
Despite becoming more settled in Salem we keep snowboarding (and skiing) a priority for our family of three. Rowan has made numerous trips to the slopes over the last five years of his life, and he has become quite the good little skier. And now he is learning to snowboard.
Having Rowan in our lives hasn’t limited our time skiing and snowboarding. Sure, there were seasons early on were we didn’t get to hit the slopes as much as we would have liked, and we had to make compromises such as me snowboarding in the morning and Melanie skiing in the afternoon so one of us could watch the kid. But we tried hard to make sure having a kid wouldn’t distract us from our love of being on the mountain. We were also not limited to riding only the hills of New England. Rowan has joined us on trips to places such as Breckenridge, Colorado, and Ogden, Utah. But now we face another distraction that would limit our ability to play on the snow as much as we would like.
Rowan starts kindergarten in September.
Having Rowan in school five days a week will be a change for us, but not being able to pull him out of school regularly is an even bigger change. Rowan has been signed up for pre-school and daycare three days a week for years, but he doesn’t always go three days a week. Instead we take him on fun trips. While pulling him out of pre-school is okay, in fact probably better for him than being in pre-school five days week, pulling him out of kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and so on on a regular basis isn’t going to fly with school officials. And we ain’t no teachers so home skooling the kid ain’t ah option fur us. But having Rowan in school five days a week does not mean we have to cut back on our time riding magic powder, as Rowan likes to call it.
Knowing that Rowan is starting “real” school soon reminded Melanie and me of why we left NYC - to live closer to the slopes. Salem was supposed to be a temporary stop, but it has become more permanent especially with the purchase of our house. The fact that we might have to drive 3 hours to Killington to ride with weekend crowds (we tend to be on the mountains week days only to avoid crowds) wasn’t something I was happy about. So last year Melanie and I started talking about our original plan to move closer to the slopes and possibly live in a ski town.
Planning this move has been an emotional roller coaster ride. We would get excited about the possibility of living the dream only to hit rock bottom when it looked like it wasn’t going to happen. One of the biggest challenges has been finding a suitable place to live. Finding an apartment in Manhattan is a cut-throat process but at least new apartments become available daily. The same isn’t true for Stowe. There are not as many places available, and making matters worse is that many of the available rental properties, especially houses, are seasonal rentals where the owner can earn a lot of money renting out the place weekly during the winter months.
We were able to find apartments and condos available for long-term rental (6 to 12+ months), but most came furnished. This also bothered us. Living in a place for a year with someone else’s furniture doesn’t feel like home. The other problem was the size of most places. Unless we were willing to pay three grand or more a month in rent, we would have the settle on a 2-bedroom place. For someone who works from home this is a problem. Before we bought our house we lived in 2-bedroom apartments while I worked from home, so I can make it work. However the difference this time around is the kid. We didn’t have the kid before, but now we do. Still, it should work out since the kid will be in school five days a week.
So over the course of the last four months finding a place in Stowe to live has looked grim. We’re were close to giving up.
You are probably wondering right now why we didn’t just look for a place in one of the surround towns. There are certainly many more affordable options including houses. But we want Rowan in the Stowe public school system, which means we must be a resident of Stowe. There is an option to pay a crap load of money to get your kid into the Stowe school system, but that’s not something we can afford to do. So finding a place to live in Stowe was a must for us.
As I said, we were close to giving up. In fact, in my head I had already given up. I started making plans to be in Salem for at least one more year. I decided I would be in San Francisco for WWDC. I even volunteered to help with labs at AltWWDC. But as luck would have it, a large 2-bedroom condo that we liked became available in Stowe. It didn’t really become available as much as we helped it become available by sparking an idea in the condo owner’s mind.
In May, we placed a wanted ad in the local Stowe newspaper. The ad was simple.
“Family of 3, no pets, looking for a long-term (12+ months), unfurnished house for rent in the Stowe public school district. Prefer July or August move in date.”
I don’t remember who gave us the idea to post an ad in the local paper. I think it was my sister-in-law Brooke, so that’s who I will credit for the idea. Thanks Brooke.
We received only one reply from the ad. It was from a retired couple living in Stowe. The couple did not have plans to leave Stowe anytime soon, but the ad got them thinking. They knew they would leave Stowe within the next couple of years to live closer to family. They called us to chat and explore the idea of leaving Stowe sooner. Long story short, they liked us, we liked them, and their family liked the idea of them moving closer sooner than later. So last week we made it official.
Just two weeks ago I was resolved to the fact that we would be in Salem for at least one more year, then few days later it looked like the move was back on. Melanie even said me excitedly, “This is really going to happen.” And yes, indeed it looked like it was going to finally happen. Melanie asked me not to say anything publicly last week, which is why I couldn’t share the details of why I canceled my trip to San Fran. But now that the lease is signed and we have a move-in date, I can tell the world.
We move in August. For the moment we take possession of the Stowe condo on August 15. However we’re hoping we can move up the date to August 1.
As for our house in Salem, we’re not selling it. Instead we’re going to try our hand at being landlords. But we will be silent landlords. We’ve hired a property management company to manage the house for us. Renting our house is part of the reason we hope we can move into the Stowe condo as early as August 1. We want to make our house available for tenants looking to move in before the school year starts in Salem.
And as for canceling my trip to San Francisco, as well as a visit to Memphis, I decided we need to hold on to as much cash as possible. The next few months are going to be expensive, and how expensive will depend on how quickly we can rent out our house. It’s great that I work for myself, but the indie income is itself a roller coaster ride. And while I’m bummed that I will not be in SF for WWDC, I’m not bummed about getting to snowboard almost daily this upcoming winter season.
So that’s my big announcement and the reason plans for this summer have changed. We’re moving to a ski town to make living the dream even better.
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