• Chane Brown

Our Big Move

I have been quite quiet on here for awhile and there is a big reason for that. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to go up to the snow and show Ryton all the fun things to do in it but things definitely went from 0-60 in our lives and time flew away from both of us.

I started thinking about home buying and thought that 2 years down the line, this would be a possibility for us. Living in California, it definitely isn't an easy task. The task is daunting, the prices are skyrocketing, and there is always 10 other buyers all trying to outbid everyone. Prices are going for 50k to 100k over asking. All in all it is a shit show to dive into home buying but the risk is worth the reward.

I began our search by determining what areas I like the most. I couldn't move outside the state as my job doesn't allow me to, however, California is a big state. You can choose all kinds of places to live. Want the desert? We got that! The ocean, the mountains, major cities? Yes to all. For me personally, I wanted a life near to a city that had lots of activities for myself and Ryton, but to not be IN the city as that was simply something that I couldn't afford. I looked near Sacramento, but that was the same weather as Redding and well NO THANKS! Bay area was well beyond my price point of a single parent and LA is just a no.

I finally settled on San Diego as there were a lot of positives that I couldn't ignore. Firstly, there are a lot of South Africans there and I wanted to embed my culture and background into Ryton. I never got that opportunity and I always felt a bit out of place and I think it is because the area I grew up in didn't have any people with the same background as me, the same humor, the same experience. I didn't want that for Ryton because I always felt misunderstood. There are a lot of children's activity around San Diego that Ryton would love when he is a bit older and I would love as well. The weather is constantly at a beautiful 70 something degrees, and lastly outside of San Diego, the housing prices are affordable.

Our journey started by us travelling to SoCal in January to look into the areas that we liked on a map. We wanted to see the difference between the map and reviews to our own reality. I got a realtor (who was also South African) to show us around and we definitely were able to dwindle down exactly where I would like to buy a home. Now keep in mind that the drive alone is about 10 hours one way, and we did this all in 3 days...with a toddler.

Now every time we try and drive to Southern California, Ryton decides to cut his teeth. Back in August when we vacationed in San Diego, he dropped all 4 of his front teeth within a week. He got a rash on his face and I thought that somehow he got sunburned even though I was super careful with him as it was bright red. He constantly wore a hat and had sunscreen on him but alas, the rash did happen and his 4 front teeth made their appearance soon after. I was able to connect the dots that he was not, in fact, sunburned.

Now, fast forward to January where we drove throughout the night. Ryton was a bit agitated leading up to our adventure but nothing that properly concerned me. He hasn’t cut a tooth since August, so why would he cut one now, right? WRONG! He decides that this was now the perfect time to cut his 2nd set of bottom teeth. It is difficult to see when Ryton is starting to cut his teeth. He doesn’t normally get a fever, he’s just extra grumpy and wants to nurse more during those times. For this trip though, he got the fever, was agitated, and worst off he was basically stuck in a car for 3 days. This trip from Redding to Temecula isn’t an easy journey for a little one as it is. Add a fever and teething and it just made it exhausting. We arrived at our hotel at 2 am and we’re so wired by this point that we still couldn’t sleep for at least another hour.

We did see this beautiful sunset on our drive. There are literally ZERO edits on this photo and it was done on my cell phone from the back seat.

I allowed Ryton to walk around but finally we were both exhausted from the trip and crashed on our cheap hotel bed at 3 am. The next day we enjoyed just roaming around old town Temecula. They had so many restaurants that it was hard to decide what to go with. I can't remember exactly what restaurant we chose as I am writing this 5 months later but we did explore the candy shop that had a great little international section. We had to stock up on our favorites like Flakes!

We went to bed quite early as our next day will be filled with driving...the whole day...again!

So we woke up, we had breakfast at Denny's which is where I met my agent. From 10am till about 2 am, we looked at houses. There was this beautiful house on a golf course which was our first tour. The rest of the houses we looked at weren't up to our standards so we made a hard pass on the others but it did help us get aligned with our realtor on what we wanted. I definitely had a list of items I wanted in the house and I wasn't going to be swayed. I knew that the house I wound up in was going to be a house I will be in for a very long time. I couldn't be unhappy in that home for years. Now if you know me, you know I am a very introverted person. I like my home. I like my video games, my books, and my photography. My home is my sanctuary and I needed something that I would love to be in for either most of the remainder of my life.

I also had a cap amount that I was going to pay for a house. I didn't want to drown myself in debt and even though I was preapproved for a lot more, I settled for my comfort zone. I put a bid of that limit on the golf house but I was outbid. It is definitely disheartening being rejected but I lived with the mantra that the house wasn't meant to be.

Now after a day of driving around looking at houses, my plan was to drive half way up the state to the Harris Ranch for the remainder of the night. Ryton wasn't running a fever and slept most of the way so it wasn't that bad of a drive. He was actually really good for being in a car for most of the 3 days. Obviously, I drove the rest of the way home that 3rd day and that was the start of our house hunting journey.

Now, I wasn't going to drive 9-12 hours every time I wanted to see a house so my agent was my eyes throughout this assignment. I chose an area I liked that was in a good school district and we looked at Zillow and Compass every single day. Now my list was very detailed but I broke it down to 3 main things: I wanted high ceilings, a big kitchen with a pantry as we love to cook, and an outdoor area for Ryton to play.

I found a house that I wasn't really in love with as there was going to be a lot of work that I would need to put into it but I liked the layout and the bones of the house. I threw out a bid that wasn't aggressive because it wasn't my favorite listing and I am glad that I did that. I didn't win that house either and my mantra that it wasn't meant to be saved me from that house. I knew that I wasn't going to be happy there.

There was a house that did come on the market and I absolutely loved the layout of the house. However, there was 1 drawback and that was the yard. It was all woodchips. There was zero landscaping! Just all woodchips! So obviously I use to call it the woodchip house. The owners decided to withdraw their home from the market and therefore...the home wasn't meant to be.

So my third time was a charm. This house came on the market. There were no pictures yet as it was listed as "coming soon" but I already loved the satellite image of the property. It was backed up onto a main road which wasn't ideal but the property line was huge. It was .35 of an acre which is super rare nowadays. It was awhile before pictures came on and it had the same layout of the previous house I put a bid on but this house was just maintained so much better and looked like a upgraded version of the other one.

I sent my agent out to look and we put an offer on the house. I loved everything about this house and I prayed and prayed that this house was for us. My agent came back saying that he thinks we need to up our offer. Now this house was listed for 50k less than my maximum amount. So I bid for this house at my absolute cap and then prayed some more.

As my mantra was guiding me throughout this process we found out that this house was definitely meant to be! I was so excited about everything for 1 day and then the work truly started. I had to move a house in 25 days with a limited budget across the state. We lived with towers of boxes all over the house that Ryton could barely walk in. The drive down was 14 hours alone and we were exhausted, irritated, and not in the best frame of mind approaching our property but all that stress melted away when we saw our home.

Buying this property basically blind was a risk but I absolutely love it! The garden looks like a park. The home has the high ceilings that I love. Archways are all over the home that separate the rooms but still leave an open concept. It has a bonus room off of the master which has become my office as I work from home. It was perfect for my family.

This is our forever home and I love this home more than I ever thought I could. Ryton has been so incredibly happy. He loves walking (guided) up and down the stairs. He looks out the window at all the cars that drive by. The garden, he is obsessed with. He constantly wants to go outside and play with the woodchips.

My takeaway from this whole stressful experience is that what was meant to be will be. Have faith and trust and things should naturally work themselves out. I was never truly disheartened nor was I stressed during the buying process. The stressful part was during escrow but we made it out of it alive and in my forever home. Having this foundation for Ryton means the world to me. This is where he will grow. Where he will go to school for the first time and this is where he will probably obtain his first memory. Nothing is better than watching him grow in this house and I am so happy with how my life has truly turned out.

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