It wasn't supposed to work out like this.
When we lived in Ottawa from 2000-2005, my wife and I worked our tails off fixing up the old (1930's-vintage) house we had in the Woodroffe North area of Ottawa. We painted basically every surface of the house, added wood doors and French doors and walls, changed out most every light fixture, added wood floors to the rear bedrooms, added a side shed and kayak rack, fencing and did extensive landscaping including bringing in river rock for side walkways, perennial gardens and a patio. We also had someone come in a completely re-do the electrical system, add new countertops, install hardwood floors and more.
It was a ton of work and after five years when we were done with most projects and could enjoy it, we decided to sell and move here to Burlington.
So we decided to do things differently here in Burlington. Our plan was to get as much done on the (1960's-vintage) house as we could as soon as we could so that we could sit back and enjoy it all. We figured we'd be here for a long time- so we went with that plan.
So once again we set about working hard... replacing all the doors with solid wood doors (and a French door) and new hardware, painting all of the walls, installing new light fixtures... and of course extensive landscaping including probably 100 wheelbarrow-fuls of river rock for side walkways, extensive perennial gardens, raised garden beds, a large natural play area for kids... We had someone come in and completely re-do the entire electrical system, install ceiling fans, kitchen counter lighting, new switches, etc. We also had people come in and put in new tile throughout out the kitchen, front foyer and bathroom and new (beautiful!) granite countertops. We just had the upstairs bathroom redone to go from 1960's to a modern spa-like appearance. We have new moulding throughout the first floor, new sinks, new toilets... and, oh, yes, new appliances. Plus we had a fence installed around the entire property with appropriate archways, arbors, etc. And we just last fall had a beautiful walkway put in leading up to the front door.
It's been a ton of work and now.... after 2.5 years of doing all of this, when we're basically done with most projects and could enjoy it, what are we doing?
Yep... we're selling the house and moving to Keene, NH!
In fact, we've already entered into a purchase agreement on a house in Keene and will be closing on the property in June as school winds down (or possibly earlier in May). We're in the process of getting our house here in Burlington ready to go on the market next month.
Why move? And why Keene?
Well, it really comes down to one reason... driving time:
- DISTANCE TO SCHOOL - Right now we drive 25 minutes down to the school our daughter goes to in Shelburne. Basically it means that my wife and I are spending two hours of our day commuting to/from the school. With our move, we will be a five minute WALK from the same type of school in Keene. (How two children (my wife and I) of public school teachers, one of whom (me) was going to go into public teaching, decided to send their daughter to a private school is a good topic for another post someday, probably titled "Leaving All Children Behind", but I digress...) So we're exchanging a 25-minute drive for a 5-minute walk (and we can't wait!). This is the year for us to do it, too, as our daughter enters first grade in the fall.
- DISTANCE TO FAMILY - The main reason we moved from Ottawa to Burlington in 2005 was to be closer to our family in NH, VT and CT. We loved Ottawa but just weren't having fun with all the trips back to New England to see family. It's been great in Burlington... we've made day trips to some of our family. But the death of an uncle back in December brought home to us that as close as we are, we're still too far away from some of our family. This move to Keene will basically cut in half our travel time and make it so that now we are in day trip range for all of our immediate family.
We have thoroughly enjoyed living in Burlington and there are many aspects - and many people - that we will definitely miss. (I also won't be able to drive to Quebec to get my curling fix!) Burlington was great also because I could easily drive the 4.5 hours back to Ottawa when I was working for Mitel. Now that I'm no longer needing to go to Ottawa, we had more flexibility with where to live. (And if I won't move to Orlando, where Voxeo is headquarted, they didn't really care where I live.)
Why Keene? (See also the city website and the chamber of commerce ("The way life ought to be"))
Why not? It's a great small city. We can walk to our daughter's school. We can walk to downtown. We already know people there, including family. It's got multiple colleges. It's got a burgeoning tech scene (as fellow Keene resident Jon Udell discusses in a podcast). It's got plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. It's got relatively easy access to Boston.
About the only thing it doesn't have is a decent airport, which is the one bummer for someone like me who travels 1-2 weeks a month. Instead of a simply 15-minute cab ride across Burlington, I'll have to be driving most of an hour over to Manchester, NH. However, that's definitely balanced out by the quality of life we'll gain in other areas.
Our timing could have been better, too... this isn't exactly the best market to try to sell a house. The good news at least is that the neighborhood we live in here in Burlington is a very desirable one. We'll see how that all works for us.
So that's the scoop... we're returning back to the Granite State that we left in 2000 to head north to Ottawa. (In an amusing bit of irony, back in 2000 we were living in Hooksett, NH, and thinking about moving either to the Portsmouth area or to Keene... but then I got that fateful call that took me north to Ottawa!) It will be a crazy couple of months ahead of us... wish us luck! :-)
P.S. Anyone want to buy a house in the New North End of Burlington? Drop me a note as we're certainly open to talking now. (We're just waiting to put the house on the market until this <expletives deleted> snow melts so that people can actually see the landscaping we've done!)
danyork, dan york, keene, burlington, vermont, new hampshire