Rural Relocation: Worth the Wait

By Dawn Baker on August 29, 2016

Rural Outreach and Ministry

Editor’s Note:  This week’s submission comes from Dawn Baker, who writes about the unique housing market struggles facing those in the countryside.  Low inventory and sometimes uneven market value make finding a new home- let alone saying goodbye to your old one- hard.  But this event, like all others in our lives, is guided by the hand of God.

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Pulling up stakes to relocate is hard. For rural folks, it’s not just the domestic dwelling that holds memories, it’s the barns, outbuildings and sheds; it’s the ponds, creeks, and springs; it’s the special oak tree, the open fields, the dirt paths.

When my husband accepted a new job a year ago, I knew it meant saying goodbye to our beautiful home on seven mostly wooded acres in northeastern Ohio. Our two daughters were comfortable with country life and I couldn’t imagine us anywhere else.

We didn’t mind being out in “God’s county” as a friend called it. Our parish church and school were in a urban/suburban area about half an hour drive. When we would arrive home from work or school, it was comforting to navigate back the long gravel driveway through the trees and reach our place of peace and seclusion.

But with faith and trust in God (and a St. Joseph statue buried in the yard) we put our house up for sale and hoped for the best. Our efforts scrambling to clear clutter, repainting worn surfaces and replacing commodes were fully rewarded. We had a full price offer within a week of listing. We were excited we had overcome a major hurdle.

On to phase two…the fun part; find a new house. We had almost a three month window to secure a new property. Plenty of time!

We were moving to another rural area, about an hour and a half south of our current home. The area was more rural than we were accustomed used to. Cell phone and internet service was not a given. We also discovered the area had experienced a boom in oil and gas production, driving up real estate prices. We were shocked to find out that a middle class 3 bedroom/2 bath house on several acres was an enigma.

We would spend an entire day looking a properties only to be disappointed and car sick (we were not used to the new terrain – twisty roads with roller coaster hills). Home inventory was low. We would look at one house then spend forty-five minutes driving to the next.

We realized our window of time to find a new home was quickly disappearing. And of course, there were the emotional melt downs along the way. The last time we celebrated my younger daughters birthday in our crowded dining room. The most volatile crying jag came when a piece of mail came addressed to the new owners. It made it very real we had to move and we had no place to go.

There were lots of prayers along the way, some dramatic, “Why, God, why?!?!” and others were more noble. Lots of time was spent reflecting of what God was asking of us and how we should respond.

We were due to be completely moved out of our house on Halloween. As that day got closer, my husband and I attended an auction in a last ditch attempt to take immediate possession a home. It didn’t work out.

A family friend and snowbird that knew of our situation was due to head south for the winter. She very graciously offered us her home as temporary living quarters. We had averted our short-term disaster. Off our belongings went to a myriad of different locations; big furniture went to a storage locker, toys and playthings were stored at grandma’s. An overflow of miscellaneous stuff that couldn’t be crammed in anywhere else went to my dad’s barn. Clothes, everyday items and four legged family members went to our temporary home about twenty minutes away from were we had been living.

Did I mention I was home schooling during all of this? Since we knew we wouldn’t be settled in a new community to begin the school year we decided to home school to give our girls time to adjust. It was ironic that I suddenly had the opportunity to home school. It was something that had been in the back of my mind and tugged at my heart. It was a scary undertaking but it went surprising smooth, and even felt very natural at times.

We didn’t want to overstay our welcome at our friend’s house but we still didn’t have anything on the horizon. Through a friend of a friend we located a rental that was closer to my husband’s new job. It would cut his long commute down to about twenty minutes. We packed up again and squeezed what we could into the small duplex over Thanksgiving weekend. We hunkered down in the duplex for the winter hoping the house of dreams would magically appear.

Finally, a breakthrough. My husband’s coworker told him about a property her neighbor was selling. We saw it, we liked it, we had an accepted offer soon after.

We moved in as the promise of spring was approaching. We were back in the county where we belonged. I was overjoyed when daffodils appeared in the flowerbeds surrounding our new home. Our own little Easter miracle.

That is the happy ending…sort of. I still miss “home”. I miss my parents being close by and my former parish and the community it provided. I miss the numerous trivial things that provided familiar safety.

I am reminded that when God wants growth, he makes us uncomfortable. How loss is what teaches us about the worth of things. That in the waves of change, we find our true direction. I have repeated these and many other Pinterest worthy quotes to myself over and over.

Amazingly, I am slowly reprogramming myself for happiness in my new surroundings. Being a good old-fashioned introvert makes it hard to dive right into new social circles but I know I have a quote to psych me up for this too.

I’m coming to find rural is rural. The country offers so much life-giving peace. I am forever thankful to be immersed in the wonderful natural surroundings of God’s creation.  

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