Less than a year to go before the Big Moving Date…

Since we returned home in mid September from our 3 week sojourn in Cuenca, more than ever, I am ready to go. I’ve begun seriously cleaning out drawers and closets. Whenever anyone comes over, and admires or even mentions an item, my reply is: Do you want it? take it! The hard part is going through everything. Many items make me think of when I got it, what I used it for, something that happened….and then the memories flood back.

Someone told me to clean out a closet or a bunch of drawers with 3 grocery bags and music. Put on a favorite music CD, get 3 bags and as you look at each item, put it in either the bag to keep, the bag to throw out, or the bag to donate. Only spend as much time in the closet or drawers as the CD plays, usually about one to 2 hours. Once the CD is over, stop. The music on the CD will help your thoughts stay with the music, instead of with the items, and you won’t get sidetracked by going to put stuff away or trying it on, or thinking too hard on each item. Force yourself to not go back into the throw away or donate bags, but get rid of them. Later, deal with the “keep” bag.

I’ve started stashing items that I know I want to keep and bring with me to Cuenca in the 2 top drawers of a dresser in a guest bedroom. Stuff I know I will need when we go, but don’t need now: a collapsible lightweight laundry basket (new), small, light, decorative trinkets that I can’t bear to get rid of, a small collapsible umbrella that I always take with me when traveling as it fits in my purse. As the next few months pass, and I clean out more stuff, I plan to stash even more items in there. But not too much! can’t take it all with me.

Friday, I posted 4 pieces of furniture that I can live without right now on a local “neighborhood” email digest. Today, I sold one of the pieces. I really wish I had been able to sell all 4 (2 bookshelves, a buffet and a highboy) but at least it prompted me to clean them out! To get ready, I culled through our books in the bookshelves and all the junk that was in the buffet in the corner. The highboy was already cleaned out. Now I have 3 more boxes of stuff for the October garage sale and 2 boxes of books to take to the book exchange. My son and his friend came over and they wanted quite a few of the books, so less for me to have to carry off.

On the subject of getting rid of stuff, I’ve become much more disciplined about letting go of things.  What has helped me is the decision to take some of my pictures and framed items with me to EC. I’ll just take them out of the frames and pack them in between some cardboard in my suitcase– then later, I can get them framed in Cuenca.  All the other stuff, if my kids don’t want it, then I don’t want it. The frames I can sell at a garage sale.

That leaves my big antique steamer trunk full of mementos and treasures going way back to before we got married in 1977! I’ll have to tackle that, along with all my photos and slides, next week.

How have my readers handled leaving your stuff behind and getting rid of possessions before moving to EC? I know that there are some of my readers who didn’t bring all their stuff in a container. I’d love to hear your experiences. And even those of you who brought a container, how did you decide what to ship, what to get rid of, what to leave with family?

Part of me loves the idea of starting out fresh, shopping and buying everything new and having the experience of starting out all over again, somewhat like when I was young and had nothing. The other part of me, the frugal and the sentimental part, screams NO!!! when I try to throw away or donate an item that I have saved for a long time. It’s as if – maybe I won’t be able to find that in EC, or, maybe I’ll need that, or I just can’t bear to get rid of it.

Meanwhile, here’s what the weekend storm left in my Texas backyard:


The tree limb must have bounced off the roof before damaging only the gutters and falling on my patio. Probably weighs (with all those pecans and the limb being about 8 inches diameter) 600 pounds. Somebody up there was watching over us, it could have been MUCH worse, the roof could have been seriously damaged. As it is, however, this has made me think: do we really want to rent out our house? what if something like this happens while we are miles away? Yes, we have insurance, but someone would have to be here to oversee repairs, work, etc., and that’s not what we had envisioned our “retirement paradise”. Our son (who had planned to move in to rent it out and share the rent with 2 friends) is having second thoughts, too. He came over to help me saw off some of the heavier limbs and move them away from the small brick fence to the right. The fence is damaged and leaning because of the weight of the limb and was threatening to fall over onto our air conditioning unit, which you can’t see to the right. That would be really bad. He’s thinking that maybe staying here as landlord would tie him down (and might be some work for him!) and if he wanted to move somewhere else (following HIS dreams) he would be stuck here since we would be depending on him. Hmmmm.

Hubby and I are going to have a serious talk about this in January, after he has officially retired. Maybe we should just sell it, take our stuff, lock the door and go. I certainly don’t want to tie down my son, and I’m not sure that we could manage a rental from far away. I have a few clients who own rentals and they all tell me that letting a rental agency take care of your place is a waste of money and that they rarely “take care” of much of anything.  Selling it would be more permanent than I am ready for, at this point, and the sales market hasn’t come back to where I would like it to be, but it may be easier for us all around. Anybody want to give us some advice?


14 responses to “Less than a year to go before the Big Moving Date…

  1. I’m not a friend (yet), but we live in Calif. (my husband was born & raised in Texas and almost all of his family lives there still), and have rental houses in the same rural community that we live in. We have a property management company who does an excellent job renting them, gets more rent that we would have asked on our own, and keeps us up to date on things. If we did move to Ecuador, the only thing that I would ask is that neighbors keep me informed about needed repairs as the property management’s maintenance dept sometimes thinks that I’d rather have more bottom line than the homes maintained properly.
    I’m enjoying hearing about your process of moving. Good luck!!!

  2. Pingback: Morning Update – Monday, October 1, 2012 « South of Zero

  3. We came down with 15 footlockers, dog and crate, and 2 eight year olds. I cried over many items before sending them on to a new home. I did bring all of my Christmas ornaments though. They were too precious to me to not take with us. Pictures too. I weeded many out and kept the rest. We were going to scan all of them, but ran out of time. It’s a process and maybe a time of grieving. I let myself feel all of the emotions, good and bad, and then moved on. Good luck with your journey.

    • Wow! I admire your courage in moving with 2 eight year olds and a dog, too! What kind of footlockers did you use? Did you ship them or bring them with you on the plane? I am having an emotional time weeding out much of my stuff, and we are hoping to “scan” the pictures, too. I am afraid we may not have the time to do that, either. I’m trying to be harder about everything as sometimes, the emotions I feel about a picture or an object do not evoke the best emotions, and I think I would be healthier if I just let them go. Thanks for your comments. I hope to meet you when we get there next summer!

  4. We are in exactly the same situation. After two months living in Cuenca we have returned to this massive clean out project. Thanks for the tips on using a CD to get through the stuff. I love my home in the US and would like to rent it out. I have been renting other properties in the US from a distance (*FLA and SC) it has worked out really well for the past 7 years. We have been lucky with good tenants. Using the computer has helped us find workers to go in in and fix problems when they arise. One property has a property manager who we use because she finds us renters that I could not vet and schedules maintenance as it needs it. However If I could get my own renters I would not use her. I think you can do this on your own.


  5. Regarding your home, I think you shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Why don’t you try renting your home to your son for awhile (maybe a year) and see how it goes. Then, reevaluate at that time as to your next steps. Maybe at that time, your son will be ready to move on with his life, and the real estate market will be in a better place for you to be able to list your home. Or maybe the rental situation works out better than everyone thought and you can evaluate on a yearly basis. Also, not to dash your hopes and dreams, but there are a lot of people that after several years, move back to the States. Not saying that will happen to you, but if it does, you’ll have a home to move back to.

    • Good advice, thank you. The main issue is that he may not want to be here for as long as a year past next June, when we are planning on moving, and with the visa process, we were not planning on returning that soon to the states right away, which we may have to do if he moves. Our desire is not to stifle any of his “dreams”. I’d rather rent to strangers than do that, Which we may do, but we will decide that next spring. The neighborhood where we live is a good rental neighborhood, due to the school district but we’ve had a rental in the past and hated the trouble it caused. We’ld like to be “free” so to speak from coming back here to deal with issues. Utopia, I admit, but it’s my dream!

  6. We are in the same process as our planned move in after the first of the year. It is gratifying to have someone going through the same process. Perhaps we’ll meet in Cuenca. Best of luck with everything.
    Diane Hall

  7. Julian loves the Jesus sign you gave him. He has it proudly displayed above his bedroom door and shows everyone who comes to the house. Thanks! It’s hard to get rid of things but they bring joy to others. Speaking of which, when’s your garage sale?

  8. My husband and I are also planning to move to Cuenca soon – 2 years before retirement. At first, we were going to ship a container, but the more I read about all of the headaches, the less inclined I am. Are you getting your visa before you actually make the move? We would like to go there under a 6 month tourist visa, start the process and find the place to live, then go home while it is being handled. Is that possible? Lots more questions but not the right venue. Sounds like you are much farther along then us. OH, are you using an attorney or are you using the new office in Cuenca which is almost free?

    • Congrats on deciding to make the move! To answer a few of your questions, we are using the office in Cuenca for the permanent visa, not a lawyer. We are going to go to the Consulate in Houston, to request a 6 month tourist visa, just in case we need the time to apply for the permanent visa, but am not sure if it will be needed. As I understand it, you must wait until your permanent visa has been approved before you can ship personal belongings without paying any duty. You must ship these household belongings within 90 days of receiving your cedula, which you apply for (and should get) soon after you receive your permanent retirement visa. As I figure, to “start” the process and then leave the country may not work well for you as many things need to be timely, such as the police reports from the US being fresh and not too old, and the police report from when you arrived in Ecuador being very recent to the date you apply for the residency. Also, there are limits to the times you can be out of the country both before and after applying for the visa, and this may not coincide with your travel plans. I believe that the people with container shipping headaches either did not follow the rules regarding timelines or they don’t have good enough spanish to understand the issues. Those who used a reputable shipping company (Gringo tree has a recommendation) did not have these headaches, but those who wanted to do this on the cheap and do it themselves without Spanish, I’ve heard, may have some of the headaches you’ve mentioned. Others had no issues at all. You are not retiring until 2 years, do you plan on working in Ecuador? Or are you one of these lucky people who can work from anywhere? I look forward to meeting you in Cuenca!

      • Thanks so much for your quick reply! I would love to keep in touch and know your results with the office in Cuenca for acquiring your residency. We plan to retire there, not work, but I have a few websites that make some money so I will be doing that from there. My husband wants to write a book – so who knows. Are you willing to provide your private email for continued contact with your process? Also, are you shipping any containers? I am very intersted. I also see that there is a candidate running for President that wants to change immigration rules to make it much more difficult to enter the country. Just heard about that . . . We are coming back for a visit again soon. Hope to meet you in Cuenca as well!!

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