Our Move to Florida…..A Grandpa Tale

20 Mar

On July 17, 2002, we bought our home in Florida.  It’s a beautiful Florida Ranch, with 4 bedrooms and 2 baths, tall ceiling and plant shelves and my favorite area, the kitchen/breakfast nook and family room.  This is a post how this move came about.  For your viewing pleasure and envy I have included a picture and the floor plan for our home.  The hand drawn part shows the pool and screen covered pool.  But enough about that now, I will come back it later. 

This is a story on how we got here.  It begins on January 3, 2002.  My wife went to work at 8am as she had been doing for years.  She worked in the Hi-Tech industry, for an extremely large and profitable company.  She was doing very well and had worked her way up the corporate ladder quite well.  But rumors had been floating for months that reductions in workforce were coming. At noon that faithful day they stopped being rumors, my wife was one of hundreds laid off that day. She was caught in the 1st wave of massive downsizing of High-tech companies in the Washington DC area. 

Her severance package was very good, and would allow for her to take some time off, do some project in our home in Alexandria VA, and just relax before she started the search for a new job in earnest. 

In was very neat coming home each evening to find what new project she was working on. Like refinishing the hardwood floor in our den, doing decorative tile work leading down to the basement, and not mentioning all the work she did in her beloved garden. Our home had become the poster child for “Better Homes & Gardens” it was beautiful. 

During April of her efforts my annual golf trip came around.  I and 5 friends were meeting in Orlando Florida for a week of golf.  I was flying back on Saturday early afternoon, and upon my return was immediately driving to Fredericksburg VA to pick up our daughter and her friend so we could go to the NASCAR night spring race in Richmond VA.  When my wife picked me up, she told me she had been busy that week, and had accomplished a ton of stuff around the house, and she when into all the things she had accomplished, and drum roll please!!!! That she had decided what she wanted to do next career wise.  This really perked my interest, and I began to drill her seeking as much information as possible.  Smiling my wife told me it could wait until the next morning (Sunday) because she knew my schedule was extremely tight that day, she went on to tell me she thought it was a good direction, and for me not to worry about it until Sunday.  Trusting my wife, I took her at her word, and shoved the million questions I had to the back of my mind.  I picked up the girls as scheduled, we when to the race, and had a GREAT time.  After dropping the girls off at their dorm, I proceeded back to Alexandria, getting home at 2 am. 

Sunday morning over coffee and breakfast the story began to unfold. I must say that there had been a plan in progress for my wife.  While my wife was redoing the re-beautification of our home, she was spending hours and hours on the internet scouring the Washington DC area for potential employment, in her field at an acceptable salary level.  She understood going in there was a general industry wide layoff of folks with her specialty and especially at her salary level, but she was making had been making every effort for 2 months and to date had come up with zero, zilch, nothing she found acceptable.  She had even considered going to Kelly Girl, a place she had worked years and years before at the beginning of her career.  

But while I was playing golf, she had a flash of brilliance.  Realizing I was close to retirement, and that we fully intended on moving to Florida when we retired she renewed her search efforts looking in Florida for employment.  She almost immediately found that Florida has/had a significant shortage of teachers, and were hiring, and it fact were searching the entire country for qualified individuals to teach.  Steph immediately filled out a “pre-qualifying” job application.  Within hours of submitting that application, she was asked to attend 2 job fairs being one the 1st being conducted in Tampa FL a few weeks down the road (which would have put it in the last May time frame), and a second very shortly after.  We didn’t know what to expect except that if hired (and she was verbally advised that she would get multiple offers). They would have an expectation for her to be available to start the 1st week of July for new teacher training. 

In anticipation of Steph getting a job in Florida, and in her general choice of areas, and understanding the time constants, we enlisted the aid of a friend to put us in touch with a realtor on the East Coast of FL in the Cocoa Beach area.  We had a house hunters East Coast of Florida weekend.  We flew into Orlando Intl Airport, got a room there for the weekend, and met the realtor bright and early Saturday morning. Over the next several hours we viewed numerous houses, and I mean a shit pot full.  And pretty much like the show the agent showed us a ton that came nowhere near our list of demands.  It was like she never paid any attention to our requirements at all.  But come the end of the weekend we found a place that was okay, it didn’t have the required pool but the lot was large enough and the price low enough that adding a pool would not be an issue.  We signed a contingency contract and left $5,000 in earnest money. Flew home Monday morning thinking it was a good weekend. 

Two weeks later we are once again flying to Florida, this time so Steph could go to the Hillsborough County Schools job fair. (Hillsborough is on the west coast of FL).  We departed Friday evening (at least we tried).  We were scheduled on a 6pm flight out of Dulles Intl Airport, but because of weather (surprise surprise) our flight was delayed and then delayed again, not departing until after 10pm with us arriving at the hotel after 1am.  Steph at to be at the job fair by 7am, we had no clue as to where it was or how to get there.  The folks at the hotel were quite helpful, and after about 4 hours sleep I was driving Steph to this all day event.  She was to advise me on a regular basis how it was going (which she didn’t) at least not regularly. But Steph being the trooper she is, managed to get her dance card filled with interviews that morning.  I believe all told she had 4 or 5 interviews that day.  She ended up getting three job offers while attending the fair, 2 of which would sign her to a contract that moment, and she accepted the one that she felt best suited her skills and abilities.  This job required her to be in Tampa, for pre-school training by the 10 of July. 

We were forced to cancel the contract we had for the home on the East Coast and have yet another House Hunters weekend in Tampa.  The realtor in Melbourne FL recommended a realtor in Tampa, and we met her the Saturday of father’s day weekend.  Over the next 30 hours Steph and I visited between 30 and 40 homes, and pretty much rejected 30 of them in moments.  Of the 10 or so finalist I wasn’t really happy with any of them.  And I asked that we be shown just a touch of new construction.  The realtor took us to some model homes of a style that Steph really liked.  They had 4 home that were spec homes that would be ready in early July.  Of these homes we found them to be either too small or without a yard big enough to have a pool built.  As we walked back towards the model, the sales rep said she did have one other spec home in another neighborhood that might meet our needs.  She took us over there, and I fell in love with the house the moment I saw it.  It had the only curved drive in the neighborhood, and just captured my heart, and the backyard was large enough to support a nice pool.  Steph loved the house as well, but maybe not as much as me, but it was by far, head and shoulders, above any of the other 30/40 homes we viewed we immediately agreed.  We when back to the sales office, filled out 2 tons of needed paperwork, and left 5K in earnest money. We returned to the hotel knowing we would be flying back the next weekend to finish the paper work and make all of our selections for rungs and all those items. We were guaranteed the home would be ready for occupancy in a time frame that met our needs and the job was complete.  I am enclosing the floor plan and a picture of our home. We closed on the housed pictured below on 07/17/02, and immediately began the moving in process.

 As it is 10 years after we moved in

As it is 10 years after we moved in


I drew in the Pool and covered area, as well as  the Driveway.

I drew in the Pool and covered area, as well as the Driveway.

Because this has become a marathon I am going to close it out now.  If you want to hear about the experience of selling our home in VA, and the actual move itself, you’re going to have to ask LOL. 

As always if you have any questions, comments or concerns please feel free to ask.  Take care, Bill


Posted by on March 20, 2014 in Grandpa Stories, Pictures, Ramblings


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35 responses to “Our Move to Florida…..A Grandpa Tale

  1. kanzensakura

    March 20, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Nice digs!!! How nice to be able to have such a pleasant place to live and be at home in. My mom moved to Florida last Summer and loves it. I visited her in the fall and truth be told, I don’t. too hot and moist for this old girl. I loved in the Alexandria area for awhile until I was able to escape to Richmond. the weather here is bad but it’s where I met my husband and where we have a home and life and I am content with that. and finally, the daffodils are blooming in our yard.

    Happy first day of Spring to you and yours!!!! Keep well and take care.

    • FlaHam

      March 21, 2014 at 8:24 am

      Kanzen, While I admit that Florida isn’t for everyone, it works out very good for me. I was so tired of winters in the DC area, and couldn’t get away fast enough and this past winter re-affirmed my position. But I can understand you enjoying Richmond, it is a very beautiful city and the folks I have encountered there always nice. Thanks for the comment, I hope you have a great day, and please take care. Bill

  2. Helen Devries

    March 20, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    That was particularly interesting to me as we are just building a new house on the hill above our existing one and we spent a lot of time on looking at floor plans before deciding to adapt one to suit our needs.
    Lovey house..I can see why you fell for it.

    • FlaHam

      March 21, 2014 at 8:28 am

      Helen, Thank you, my wife picked the 2 homes we had bought prior to this one without me getting much of a vote LOL LOL. But I was so taken by this place, I don’t think she had much of a vote when we decided. But she has grown to love it as much I do. Though we both wish it had the 3rd car garage, and a touch more storage. I wish you much love for your new home, with your input it should be as perfect as you can make it. Take care, Bill

  3. barbarafranken

    March 20, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    Beautiful home Bill… IAM sure you are going to have a happy ‘retirement’ here in Florida… (we are now staying on the east coast with our son and grandchildren)… take care… Barbara x

    • FlaHam

      March 21, 2014 at 8:32 am

      Barbara, It is a beautiful home and will be the last one I live in. We orginally we wanted to live on the East Coast of FL because we had so much experience there. My wife’s folks had moved there and for close to 20 years we visited the East Coast on a regular basis. But we have come to really enjoy it here on the West Coast. Take care, be safe. Bill

  4. Chatter Master

    March 20, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    LOVELY home Bill!!!!!! What a wonderful set of circumstances. All for the best it seems. I’m kind of scared to ask about the sale of the other home…… 🙂

    • FlaHam

      March 20, 2014 at 7:23 pm

      Colleen, We sold our home in 1 day at 5k over asking price, but it looked better than most model homes. Should I do a follow up that will be part of it and how I had to deal with the movers and packers because the wife was already in FL at the time. Take care, Bill

      • Chatter Master

        March 20, 2014 at 8:57 pm

        I look forward to the follow up. That was some luck with the sell. It took us over a year to sell, while paying on 2 houses. And we took a huge hit.

        • FlaHam

          March 21, 2014 at 8:45 am

          Colleen, Smiling, my wife had used her time wisely and really made the home in northern Virginia look like a model. It sold before it was officially put on the market. But remember this was 12 years ago just at the height of the housing market. If it hadn’t sold we wouldn’t been able to buy this place. I can only begin to imagine what you went thru having 2 house payments. My heart goes out for you. Take care, Bill

          • Chatter Master

            March 21, 2014 at 10:36 pm

            Thanks Bill. We made it through. It wasn’t easy. And just didn’t let us get as ahead as we had wanted to be. But in the process we made new friends and a new home. 🙂 Thank you for always caring. 🙂

  5. The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

    March 20, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    What a great home, Bill. Makes me happy to envision you in it. And, just read the answer to my question about the sale/move of the other house. From your answer to Colleen, that was fantastic that you sold it for over asking. Okay, let us know about the movers and packers.

    Have a great weekend. Hugs, Paulette

    • FlaHam

      March 21, 2014 at 8:35 am

      Paulette, LMBO and smiling, sure I will tell about that experience. Shaking head, I can’t help but giggle and cry as I think about it. LOL I hope you have a super weekend as well. Please take care, Bill — btw yours was the 1st to ask for the “rest of the story” LOL

  6. writetowag

    March 20, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    That is one fabulous house!!!! Happy Spring to you and yours, may your day be blessed!!!!

    • FlaHam

      March 21, 2014 at 8:37 am

      WritetoWag, Thank you Write that is so sweet. I truly hope you have a blessed day as well. Take care, Bill

  7. Marlyn

    March 20, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    The house is beautiful but I loved the fact you felt well enough to write about it Grampa:) Still stalking:)

    • FlaHam

      March 21, 2014 at 8:41 am

      Smiling at my Stalker, Some stories just slide right off the finger tips, other you need to chew a bit to get out. This came easy. My wife has done a great job ensuring it has stayed lovely. The place actually looks tons better than when it was brand new. Thanks for your kind words. Take care, Bill

  8. huntmode

    March 20, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    Dear Bill, great story with a great fortuitous ending – YES! Good for Steph! Your house looks – oh darn it! I had the military term all set and it vanished during the scroll. lol – Squared away – is that the term? Beautiful and the drive truly sets it up.

    Having been a realtor, I empathize with the 30-40 house viewings… Mine were never done that way – I did an intensive interview of the buyer and had to warn them that if they were looking, that was just fine, but their hearts would break because we’d find it and they would have to be prepared to bid or break their hearts in the first 24 hours. Grin. Truth.

    I’d love any story you want to tell, so bring it on re the sale and moving pangs.

    • FlaHam

      March 21, 2014 at 8:53 am

      Hunt, Squared Away is in fact the term. The circular drive had me from the moment I saw it. Of the 156 homes in the community, only about 10 have that semi-circle drive. What surprised me about the process, was how little folks seemed interested in selling, many of the homes neither Steph or I could see beyond the mess, or the odor that hit you the moment you stepped into the house. I know in may cases we were at a home no more that a minute because of some glaring issue. Or at least glaring to us. But it also taught me that I couldn’t be a realtor. Well I will soon be sharing my story about the actual move. Take care, Bill

  9. jmgoyder

    March 20, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    I love these adventure stories – more please!

    • FlaHam

      March 21, 2014 at 8:53 am

      Julie, Big Smile, your wish is my command. Please take care, Bill

  10. Wanda

    March 21, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. I never knew all this detail before. The house you bought was nice enough when you looked at it, but the personal touches you and Steph have added over the years, plus the gift of hospitality you share, has made it into the beautiful home it has become.

    • FlaHam

      March 21, 2014 at 9:50 pm

      Wanda, Our house is our home. Our friends make it warm and inviting. We want to thank you for your help making it so welcoming by your visits. Take care, Bill

  11. benzeknees

    March 22, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    What no part 2 to this story? You should definitely do the follow up post so we know how things progressed from this point on! I’m asking for the follow-up Bill!

    • FlaHam

      March 22, 2014 at 7:20 pm

      Benze, Part 2 the story about the actual move is still in my brain and will come out this week. Take care, Bill

  12. DeeDee Granata

    March 23, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Great floorplan for so many reasons. I can see why you like the breakfast nook. Sitting there looking out on your lovely pool. I also want a part 2. I wonder if you have any pictures of your home that Stephanie fixed up so beautifully before selling. It sounds amazing.

    • FlaHam

      March 23, 2014 at 9:43 am

      Dee Dee, Somewhere among hundreds of pictures randomly scattered about the house I know I have several pictures of the gardens she installed outside our home. I am not so sure I have pictures of the inside that really do it justice. But I will look. Part two about the move itself will be published sometime this week. It’s been a while since you commented, it is so nice to have you back. Take care, Bill

  13. Clowie

    March 24, 2014 at 9:05 am

    That does look very nice. I keep telling my bipeds we need a pool!

    • FlaHam

      March 24, 2014 at 12:10 pm

      Clowie, Keep working on them, maybe someday you will have a pool. I love ours and we get to use it about 8 1/2 months a year. Your more than welcome to take a dip anytime. Biped Bill

  14. Brenda

    March 27, 2014 at 11:29 pm

    Bill, Very charming picture, and looks like a great layout. I grew up with a pool, and it is pretty awesome when it gets hot. Your wife sure is a smart one!! I hope she ended up liking teaching. Warmly, Brenda

    • FlaHam

      March 28, 2014 at 6:37 am

      Brenda, Thank you for you kind note, I do love this house and the layout, and like I said, it was love at 1st sight for me. Yes, my wife is quite smart, way smarter than me, and she has become an outstanding teacher. She is great in the classroom, and is forever changing her lesson plans to reflect current situations. Smiling, she claims her favorite vacation spot is right outside the door. I believe her. Take care, be safe Bill

      • Brenda

        March 28, 2014 at 7:46 am

        That’s a lovely story right there. I wish you both much joy! Cheers, Brenda

  15. haddyism

    April 3, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    That’s a lovely house.


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