Seattle circa 2010
I leave home about 7:40 am and head towards Interstate-5. As I get to the on-ramp the line-up has already formed. I wait my turn, alternating green lights let one car from each of two lanes enter I-5. Finally it’s my turn and I accelerate into the slow moving traffic. Everyone is careful to leave a minimal gap in front of the car so others don’t cut in front of you. I’ve been doing this for years and have an audiobook on in the car so the time isn’t wasted. This also keeps my blood pressure down when traffic comes to a crawl. Eventually I arrive at work at 8:15 am. A 35 minute drive that takes 15 minutes with no traffic.
We live in the burbs and have a large backyard but there isn’t much privacy. Four other houses face into our back yard so whenever you are outside you assume someone may be watching you as you mow, garden or try to relax. It would be great to have some privacy and we have planted some trees but that will take awhile. There is also noise pollution. In Seattle when there is a nice sunny day in the Spring, everyone gets out their power tools and there is a constant droning from a lawn mower or a leaf blower. Our next door neighbor loves power tools and talking loudly on his cordless phone on his deck. It’s time to leave the rat race.
A position becomes available in a university town in Eastern Washington on the Palouse. It is an area with rolling hills that are farmed for wheat, chickpeas and other crops. The area looks promising. The winters will be colder and longer than Seattle but there will be more sun, no traffic and many rural properties with privacy. The dear wife (DW) and I move east.
The first week
We move into a rental house in town. It’s a nice little house and will be our home base while we try to find a place in the country. The DW is out of town for an event and I am on my own for a week. I drive around and do some hiking. The Palouse is beautiful country. I am used to trailheads near Seattle where you pull in and see 30 cars. At these trailheads there are no other cars during the week. I start to decompress and realize I really like low population density. This area is going to work for us.
Finding a place in the country
We start to look for houses. It seems that every rural property has a dealbreaker; bad well, sketchy neighbor, bad foundation. Most property listings don’t include the one picture that shows you the dealbreaker, so we find an approach that works for us. Once we see a property we drive by on our own. If there are no external dealbreakers we call our realtor and set up a time to look over the house. This goes on for a year and we look at over 30 properties. We haven’t found a place and are starting to get a bit antsy.
I see a property listed on Craigslist. It’s an old farmhouse, not something we had been thinking about. I talk the DW into making an evening run. The owners show us the house and property. It’s in the middle of wheat fields and the views are spectacular. We have a view of an entire valley, yet cannot see another home from the property. It’s quiet. After looking through the house DW and I look at each other. We both want it. We make a strong offer as we don’t want to lose it, and we get it. The fun begins!