“I’ve always dreamed of raising my family in the suburbs.” <- a very unfancy thing to say. And a lot of people won’t understand that, but when I’m following my own north star, it’s always led me to the suburbs of Austin for my years with young kids. I grew up in the sweetest neighborhood in the suburbs of Dallas with my mom, dad, and siblings. We had block parties, barefoot summers biking up to the neighborhood pool, play dates with friends (we turned our attic into a 4-bedroom playhouse and spent hours and hours up there in the autumn months) and endless hours making up pretend story games in the the treefort my dad built for us in the backyard greenbelt. I’ve envisioned something similar for my own family.
Nate and I bought our home about 2 weeks after we got married. (Read all about that here.) We couldn’t believe that something so perfect could be both in our dream neighborhood AND in our budget, and then we were literally speechless when we found out our offer had been accepted and we got that house.
Cue the next 3.5 years: we kicked off our marriage in that house. Living in a walkable neighborhood near downtown was just as much fun as I always imagined it would be! We were just a 20 minute walk from downtown, so we walked everywhere: ACL Fest, downtown Austin for date night at cocktail bars, South Congress with our visitors, Food & Wine Fest, and the list goes on and on. We were a block away from Elijah Wood’s house in Bouldin Creek, and Nate claims he saw him at a coffee shop once (I never did), but the major selling point for me was living just a few houses away from Polvos: the air always smelled like Tex Mex. 😉
Our Bouldin Creek home was gorgeous. It was designed well and had been updated several times before we bought it, so it was ready for us to move in with great floors, walls, and light fixtures. Easiest. Move. Ever. This house had a giant random light in the dining room that you saw right when you walked in. It had a great kitchen with a lot of cabinet storage for all of our appliances. And one of the funnest things was finally having a master bathroom! Our first house had 4 bedrooms that all shared one bath (oh, 1960s…) and so a master suite felt extra fancy-schmancy to me.
Umm…but isn’t this blog post about how you sold that house and moved? Yeah, so we decided to move away from our dream house in our dream neighborhood. And it was hard, y’all! It was a very emotional move. But ultimately, we knew that our days in Bouldin Creek were numbered. When we bought it, I thought we would live there until my oldest kid turned 5 or 6. But after all of the events with Nate’s car crash and hospitalization in April, everything changed. I know that might sound dramatic, but the car accident really was such a traumatic, life-altering event that it caused my family to reevaluate where we are in life, where we want to be, and how we’re going to get there. Because life is not certain, and none of use are guaranteed anything past the breath we’re taking right now.
Here’s why we decided to move:
- Buying real estate is a balance of 4 things: location, size, price, and style. You can’t get all 4 of those (unless you’re Oprah.) This move was simply reevaluating which of those 4 things were the most important to us at this stage of life.
- The big reason that we knew we would need to move in the next few years is that the open floor plan of our Bouldin Creek home, which is the thing that initially drew us to it, came to be the thing that made it hard to live there! The house is essentially one big room, with a Master suite off the kitchen and two small bedrooms upstairs..and that’s it. No attic, garage, laundry room, backyard, office, flex space, entry, walk-in pantry. The house is perfect for a young married couple, but much more difficult as a place to have young kids. Haha, for the past three years the downstairs half bath has been Storm’s litter box room. It’s officially “her” bathroom because there’s no where else to put the litter box. And remember when I made my tiny office in the Master closet? It worked for a while, but it was clear to us that this wouldn’t be the house for us longterm.
- Bouldin Creek is a magical neighborhood for us as a young married couple, but it wasn’t where I envisioned raising my family long term. Our street was always packed with Polvos traffic, fast cars whizzing down South First Street, and tourists. We lived next door to a permanent airbnb, and so we were kept up until 1 or 2 am most Saturday nights from noisy bachelor parties. (I can’t tell you how many times I went over there in 2019 as “angry pregnant lady” in my bathrobe to tell them to keep it down! No shame.)
- The things that didn’t matter to us pre-kids (no garage, no laundry room, no backyard, no attic) all of a sudden matter LOTS! My initial thought that we didn’t need a backyard because there are so many public parks nearby quickly dissipated when I had a baby and realized it would be sooo nice to be able to have a fenced-in area for kids to play while I’m working or cooking dinner. Funny the obvious things you never notice until you have to, right?
- We had so many sweet neighbors. Bouldin Creek is pretty eclectic with lots of single home-owners, parents of older children, and retired couples living on our street. I really craved meeting some moms with babies, and there weren’t a lot in the close vicinity.
You never realize the annoying things when you buy a house. It’s not until several months in when things started to matter like that airbnb next door, or how much we missed having a backyard.
So, why did we decide to move now, in the midst of a pandemic and while Nate’s leg is still in bad shape? I think it’s mostly because my husband and I both made up our minds that this wasn’t going to be our home for very much longer. And as soon as we decided that, it stopped feeling like our home. We didn’t want to mess it up by drilling holes for baby gates, and we didn’t want to invest in any home improvement projects. It just started to feel like we were living in someone else’s home.
The good thing about this is that we weren’t in a rush to move – we only have one baby, so we fit just fine in a 3 bedroom 1990 square foot house. So in that sense, it wasn’t stressful to move. We got to move in our own time. We could have stayed there for a few more years, if it took that long to find our next house.
But let me tell you: looking for real estate in summer 2020 was a frantic chase! Houses went on the market on Thursday, had multiple offers on Friday, and would be sold for wayyyy over asking price by Saturday. It was madness. We would see something we liked, text our realtor, go look at it later that day. Then we’d write an offer letter, make an offer (always over asking price), cross our fingers, get our hopes up….and then find out we didn’t get it. Haha. Buying a house is a very emotional roller coaster.
We were looking for a house in two neighborhoods: Shady Hollow or Circle C. These are both family-friendly neighborhoods in far south Austin with good school districts, big houses, safe streets, and an area that’s close to Nate’s work and pretty easy to get to downtown Austin. (PS: if you’re looking for family-friendly neighborhoods in Austin, there are also lots of them in north Austin! We just wanted to stay south. Also, I think that any neighborhood can be great for families; there are a million “right” ways to raise kids, and it just comes down to personal preference. When we were living in Bouldin Creek, I kept telling myself that lots of kids are raised in little apartments in NYC, and it’s no big deal to not have a backyard.)
We were only interested in some very specific spots within those areas, and we also had a few other non-negotiables on our checklist: we wanted a backyard that didn’t back up to another house (trees/greenbelt preferably), rooms for 4 bedrooms + office (WITH A DOOR THAT CLOSES THANK YOU), a pool or space to build a pool in the future, an open kitchen/living floor plan, and no structural renovations necessary. I’m all for doing cosmetic updates, but I didn’t want to have to move walls or add on rooms. So with all of that, there was typically only one house a week that would go on the market. It took awhile for us to get this one, but we finally did and we’re so happy to be here and starting this next chapter of life! And with all of those must-haves, we realized that we were going to end up with a house that wasn’t really decorated in our style and would need some renovations. Which is why we’ve been doing lots of upgrades on this house since September.
When I showed pictures to my mom back in August, she said “it’s nice, but definitely doesn’t look like your style.” Correct, mother dear. It’s very early-2000s suburban. But that’s ok, because we plan to be here for all of our kid-raising years, so we have plenty of time to update it how we want it.
A few FAQs:
Are you still going to be able to walk downtown/on SOCO? Nope! That beautiful, wonderful chapter of life has come to an end. I’m so thankful for all those lovely walks in the touristy parts of Austin and I’ll hold the memories near.
Are you sad to leave Bouldin Creek? You know, I was for a few weeks in August when we found out we were officially moving. But I said goodbye to the house and thanked it for holding us and keeping us safe. I feel really peaceful about this move, and my intuition has guided me so beautifully to where we are now. It’s the type of peace where I was able to hear differing opinions and still hold true to what I knew to be right for our family. I have a million happy memories wrapped up in that house, like this weekend. When I get to the end of my life, I’ll look back at hosting that 2018 Thanksgiving with my whole family as one of my happiest moments, and it took place in our Bouldin Creek home. I have nothing but gratitude for that house, and I’m excited to keep floating on through life.
Did you think about buying new or building? It wasn’t something that interested us very much! Most of the new houses in this area aren’t exactly our style, either, so we decided to just buy an older house and do some updates to it so it fits our personalities better.
Nate loves midcentury modern decor, and I don’t have a certain “style” that I identify with, just that I like things to be clean, tidy, and simple. So we painted nearly everything white, ripped out all the floors and polished the cement, and we’re currently replacing all of the doors, baseboards, and door trim to a simple, white, clean look. It’s been so much fun to see it all be transformed and turn into the house that we’ve hoped for! We’re using this Austin painting service (we love them – we’ve used them multiple times and they always do such a great job.)
This house is nearly twice the square footage of our Bouldin Creek house, so it feels HUGE. Also, I will never take a laundry room for granted. It’s super fun to be able to put clothes in the washer and shut the door and watch tv without the loud whir of the laundry room drowning out Emily in Paris. 😉 Also super super pumped to have a backyard and a garage! I’m absolutely loving this transition and so thankful that I have my two boys here to enjoy the new house with me.
I’ll share plenty of house updates in the future (I have a polished cement floor Q&A post coming soon!), and of course I’ll keep you updated on my instagram stories as well with some before/after renovation updates. We got a lot of work done in September before we moved in, but now that we’re living here things will move a bit slower. But like I said before, that’s ok. We’re here for the long haul, and I’m enjoying the renovation process instead of rushing through it. After all, the reason I want everything to be renovated in the first place is for how I think it will make me feel. So I’m trying to go ahead and feel those calm, thankful, happy feelings that I’ll have when all of the renovations are finished right now. Because those feelings are way too wonderful to save for after all the construction is finished.
Ok friend, thank you for stopping by and reading all my thoughts today! I’d love to know if you’ve gone through a similar move in Austin, and how you felt about it. It’s such a special journey!