Four months ago we decided to move to Georgia.
Three months ago we gave away almost everything we owned, set aside a few bare essentials to get us through 2-3 weeks of “minimal living” and packed up the rest into a moving truck.
When it was time to leave California and drive across the country, those bare essentials were packed in the cars.
Two months ago we moved into a one bedroom apartment with those bare essentials.
As of this writing, our moving truck has still not been delivered and those bare essentials make up the majority of the items in our one bedroom apartment.
Yes, my husband, myself and our two kids have been living in a one bedroom apartment since we moved to Georgia.
The apartment has a loft, one bathroom and size-wise it’s only 50 square feet or so smaller than the townhouse we rented in California. Except there’s no furniture, and the only doors inside are to the kids room, the bathroom and to the laundry room, where we keep our trash and root vegetables.
Why We Chose to Live in a One Bedroom Apartment
We looked at homes in Georgia before we left California and in general, we thought housing was extremely affordable. For example, the going rate for our 3 bedroom townhouse in California was $1725/month when we left. Last week I saw a 3 bedroom house in Georgia that was 200 square feet bigger than the townhouse for $1100/month.
That’s quite the difference for sure.
My husband had been to Georgia often as a child, but neither one of us had ever been as an adult, seeing the area through adult eyes that consider neighborhood safety, the quality of schools and the proximity of the grocery store. Because of this, we decided to rent before buying a home.
We really wanted to rent a house. We’ve shared walls with neighbors for 8 ½ of the 9 ½ years we’ve been married and we were finally in a position where we could afford to rent a home that DIDN’T share walls with anyone.
The catch was, renting a house meant signing a one-year lease. This directly conflicted our goal of buying a house after moving to Georgia.
So we looked at alternatives and finally decided on renting an apartment for 3 months. This would allow us to get to know the area we were moving to before buying a house and committing to something we weren’t sure of. After all, photos on MLS can be very misleading.
While rent in general is very affordable in Georgia, not signing a one-year lease comes with a premium. Take any of the rent prices you see and add about 20%. That was the cost of a short-term lease.
Knowing the monthly rent would be higher and that there would be unforeseen moving costs, we chose to live in the smallest unit available that met our needs so we could continue to save our money each month. That is the one-bedroom apartment we’re in right now.
Why We Chose to Delay the Moving Truck Delivery
In the first draft of our plan, Mr. Crumbs would arrive in Georgia late on a Saturday night. He started work on Monday and we would have the moving truck deliver our things the following weekend. He had packed everything he needed for work in his car, so there wasn’t a concern there.
Then Mr. Crumbs was told he had to go to California for training. He would leave the following weekend – the same weekend we planned the moving truck to arrive. Since he wasn’t going to be home to unpack and use what was in the moving truck anyway, we decided to postpone delivery for one week and schedule it to arrive the day after the kids and I got to Georgia.
And then we started thinking… once the kids and I arrived in Georgia, we’d be together as a family for 2 weeks before packing up and spending the Christmas holidays in Delaware with Mr. Crumbs’ family.
By the time we got back, we’d have only 8 weeks left on our short 3-month lease. If we had already gone 4 weeks without our stuff, surely we could go another 8, right?
Besides, our apartment was on the 3rd floor. The moving company will deliver our stuff up those 2 flights of stairs, but when we’re ready to move again, we would be the ones taking it all back down 2 flights of stairs.
So we postponed the delivery of our truck until we had a more permanent living arrangement established.
Where We Are As of Today
We both honestly thought we’d be living in a house by now. After seeing how affordable homes were online last fall, we thought we’d find one within a few weeks of moving here, have the realtor start the paperwork as we left for Christmas vacation and we’d close after we got back home.
This white picket fence couldn’t have been further from reality.
We have looked at no less than 40 houses. I have driven by at least another 15. We’ve put in offers on 5 different homes, and for one reason or another, they didn’t work out.
What we’re finding is this: There only a handful of homes on the market at the moment and there is a good-sized pool of people wanting to buy. Demand is higher than supply, and asking prices are above the estimated value of the home. In order to buy a house, you have to be the highest bidder.
As much as we want to FINALLY own a home, we’re just not comfortable buying a house under these circumstances. So once again, we’re choosing to rent.
Our apartment lease is up next week, and we signed a lease over the weekend to rent a home in this area for the next year.
Is it ideal? No. We had our hearts set on being homeowners. On planting roots and feeling settled and being able to paint the walls whatever color we wanted to.
But like many of you know, God’s plan is not our plan.
We knew moving to Georgia was the right thing to do from the start. God had given us peace in our hearts, in our discussions and ultimately in our decision.
God hasn’t given us that peace with buying a home, and with 5 offers that didn’t work out, I’m taking that as a sign that it’s not what we should be doing at the moment.
So instead we’re just finding a place to live. It’ll be a roof over our heads to call home for now, where we can invite new friends over for a meal around a table and send the kids to get dirty outside in the backyard.
We still hope to own a home one day, but it’s just not right now.
Q&A: Our Living Situation
So many of you have asked questions about our living situation for one reason or another, that I thought it would be easier to just write it all out here in one spot. If you have a question that’s not answered here, let me know in the comments!
What “bare essentials” did you pack in the cars?
I detailed everything I packed for the kitchen in this post. Beyond that, we have:
- our computers and TV (we thought they’d be safer in the cars rather than the moving truck)
- a comforter (used to cover what Mr. Crumbs packed in the back SUV)
- two throw blankets (for the kids comfort during the road trip)
- 3 bath towels
- 1 hand towel
- 2 washcloths
- 10 days worth of clothes for the kids and myself
There are other random things too, like the printer (although the cables are in the moving truck), our bicycles (but no one rides in the winter!), crayons and coloring books and such. If I’ve missed anything, it’s likely unimportant.
What did you buy when you arrived in Georgia?
- 10 pack of hangers
- shower curtain & rings
- 2 ½ quart Dutch oven
- 1 mixing bowl
- 4 plates & 4 bowls (after seeing the cost of disposables add up so quickly)
- air mattresses (more on this below)
- laundry basket
What are you sleeping on?
We’re all sleeping on air mattresses – Mr. Crumbs and I are in the loft and the kids are in the bedroom.
The kids also have their sleeping bags, while Mr. Crumbs and I have our comforter and a few smaller blankets.
Do we have other furniture, like a couch?
No. There’s no other furniture in the apartment!
We’re using a suitcase as a nightstand and have our clothes neatly stacked in piles on the floor.
For dinner, we spread a blanket on the floor and eat on that as a family. At breakfast, the kids sit on the kitchen counter and eat while I make their lunches.
How do you make your small space work for bulk shopping and batch cooking?
I don’t! Right now I’m cooking and looking ahead only to the next few days. I don’t have storage to keep whatever I make in bulk, and I don’t have multiple bowls for multiple recipes at a time.
The biggest “batch” cooking session I’ve done is making a pot of French onion soup right after we finished a pot. My saucepan is 2 ½ quarts big, so anything I make is done in succession (like two batches of soup) rather than one big batch.
Do you have any kitchen appliances?
We have two: a coffee pot and a slow cooker that a local friend is graciously letting us borrow until the moving truck is delivered.
Looking back, packing the immersion blender would have been handy for numerous reasons, but blended soup and homemade smoothies come to mind first.
What are you eating with?
We brought plastic utensils with us from California, so we’ve been washing and re-using those. Two weeks into moving here we realized disposable plates were going to add up fast, so we bought 4 plates and 4 bowls.
What are you cooking with?
The 2 ½ quart saucepan and slow cooker I mentioned earlier, plus a cast iron skillet and a ceramic cookie sheet.
I also have a spatula, flipper, can opener, vegetable peeler, measuring cups, measuring spoons and two small steak knives we brought from California.
Do you have a pantry?
I have cabinets to store food, but if you mean a well-stocked pantry with plenty of items to make plenty of meals, then no – I don’t have a pantry.
Has there ever been a time when your plans aren’t God’s plans? I’d love to hear about it! Please share your story in the comments.
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I know your post is old but our situation and very similar to yours currently. We had a one bedroom apt in place for my husband and then we decided that the kids and I would move in with him and just stick to the one bedroom apt. But they wouldn’t let us because of the occupancy law? Unless laws have changed in a year, how did ya manage to do this in Georgia as a family of four?
I’m not really sure Judy! Our apartment was “one bedroom + loft,” so maybe they considered the loft a bedroom? Although really, bedrooms deserve doors, LOL.
Thank you Julia!
Wait, so where is the moving van now? If you’re going to be in the house for a year, why not actually move in? A year is a long time to be in transition, especially if God is telling you to be patient because this isn’t the right time to buy. I applaud your minimalism, but it seems like things have changed from the “it’s only a few weeks” period.
Hi Laura! The moving van has officially delivered! We held off while at the apartment, knowing we wouldn’t be there long (3 mo). Now that we’ve moved into a rental house for a year, we had our stuff delivered. 🙂 I hope that clarifies!
Thanks for sharing your story! I love following along with what you guys are doing – you seem like such a neat family. Our family of four lives in a 920 square foot house and people around here (WA state) are so weird about wanting big houses. People are always surprised that we don’t plan on moving to a larger house. We have WAY more space and more stuff than people in many other parts of the world, so I don’t see what the big deal is. We like having less stuff and a simpler life. Plus, what we don’t tell people is that we paid off our house last summer, after living here for only 8 years. On a teacher’s salary (my husband) and a part-time teacher’s salary (me) – we don’t tell people that we paid off our house because we don’t want people to think we’re bragging, but I’ll say it here since nobody knows me 🙂 Good luck with your new town, home, and your journey wherever God takes you!
I don’t understand you, American people… The flat you live it would be called 3 bedroom flat in London, and rented for at least £1200 per month depending on the area (1700$). So when you name this post like this – really makes me smile 🙂
They call it one bedroom because only one room has a door. 😉 And this same square footage would be $1700 in California too – which is why we moved! 🙂
Janell in Georgia
You can always move to Perry, GA. 🙂
Going through a very similar situation here. My husband got a job in MO in June, so our little family moved up from our home in OK to a little 800 sq ft apartment. We thought we would be in a home by Christmas, but unfortunately we have found the market here similar to that in GA– very few (overpriced) properties currently on the market. At least now we have a good idea of the neighborhoods we want to live in. Sadly, we are not saving as much as we would like since we are paying rental on storage units in OK for the furniture and things that didn’t make the trip here with us. Also, there’s no yard here, no where to unleash the two older of our kids (3 1/2, 2, and 5 months) and let them get some sunshine. But, as my husband and I keep reminding ourselves, God has the perfect home in mind for us; it’s just not on the market yet.
A few things I’ve found helpful for young families stuck in apartments– invest in some doorknob child safety locks. Since you can’t put safety locks on your kitchen cabinets, you can create a “locked” pantry closet instead where all your not-so-safe things for kids can go (everything from scissors and dry goods and games with small pieces to essential oils to cleaning supplies). Get bed risers for your bed to get maximum storage space underneath. Thick energy-saving curtains are not that expensive and can save a lot on utilities if the apartment has old, inefficient windows. Think “upward” for storage– stack cube shelves on top of dressers for even more kid-protected storage space, and cheap over-the-toilet shelving units for extra storage in the bathroom (not so pretty, but in a tiny space you have to maximize what you’ve got!) Also, a doorknob security bar pays for itself in peace of mind at night that your door is secure (especially if your neighbors cause suspicion! And it makes the door difficult for little hands to open from the inside as well,) Hope that helps anyone going into “tiny apartment living”, especially with littles!
Welcome to Georgia! I am a Georgia native and I live between Atlanta and Athens – closer to Athens. What area/city did y’all move to or are looking to buy a home in?
Your move and general attitude of using what’s available without going out and replacing everything for this “temporary” time is commendable! It seems that although this arrangement is inconvenient at times, you are demonstrating to your kids (and all of us “watching” online) that having everything you want isn’t NECESSARY to live life and do so with a good attitude! You are doing what is practical, affordable and what works for your family, even if it may not be conventional! Well done! Your decision to rent rather than buy right now is another confirmation that you are listening to the Lord’s guidance and being practical. It’s not your “ideal”, but it will work for now.
Wow! So neat to hear more of the behind the scenes of your journey. I so respect your commitment to follow the Lord’s lead, even when doesn’t seem to match up with your expectations. I know He will show more and more of Himself and His perfect provision to you guys as you stay in step with Him.
Oh man! Reading this made me sweat! (Only a little!) Here’s the story.
My family is moving to Kentucky,from Idaho, sight unseen. My hubby leaves on Saturday with a moving van and my car. My sons (13 and 15 ) and I are staying with friends for 10 days so we can wrap up some doctor appointments that are necessary because the boys were hit by a car as they crossed the street on January 9th. And also get medical records together and get referrals and appointments in place before we leave the state.
Our plan is a short term rental (3-6 month) so we can maximize our equity. We expect our home to sell here in a week, or less. There is that sellers advantage you spoke of. However, hearing that you looked at so many homes-that is the part that made me sweat! 🙂 Like you and your family, we are sure this is the right move for us. We have made our plans, and I suppose we hope our plans, are God’s plans! I hope that we can manage to hold our plans loosely and with as much grace as you have! Thank you for sharing your story-I am bookmarking this one!
God bless you and your family – especially for trying to be attentive to His will. I think you will find that these will be some of the happiest moments in your lives when your kids look back and remember that “fun time” they got to eat picnic style everyday or they were able to be so close to mo and dad. But mostly they will remember that mom and dad were there and that you worked as a family.
I think so often we forget that we really don’t need that much. Yes, it makes for an easier time sometimes, but this is a great lesson that we can all do without as much as we think. I have a feeling you will be amazed with the amount of stuff that will come out of that moving van and probably be happy to get rid of a significant amount of it.
My husband and I are in a house right ow that we literally pushed our way into even though God was saying “no” so clearly, but he let us have our way and well, let’s just say we are waiting and working patiently for Him to let us move from this place – which is not as wonderful as we thought it would be. Many blessings have come our way, yes, but those started when we started letting God lead our lives and stopped trying to make our will God’s will.
Often our “ideal” is not what God has in mind I think, so prayers are with you as you journey through this next phase of your life. Until then, thank you for taking the time to post. I have come to this site often as I am working to revamp our food budget.
Wow, Tiffany, I really don’t know if I could do it for 3 months! Aren’t you worried about the state of your belongings once you get them back? I would have a REALLY hard time trusting all my stuff to a moving company, much less LEAVING it with them for that long! Are they charging you ‘rent’ on the truck??
Autumn – our items were packed in a cage that only we had the combination too. It was like locking them in a POD, rather than an open storage truck. 🙂 Yes, they charged us to store our items, but it was worth it for those 3 flights of stairs!
Congrats on your move! I lived in GA for college (in Athens) and there are some great communities. Sounds like you guys have a lot going on right now!
We are a family of 4 who just finished our first year of living in 1000 square feet. It is a ‘fixer upper,’ which was he only way we could afford to live, even in a small house, in the community we’ve always dreamed of being in.
When we moved from an hour away, we put most of our non-essentials into storage, and I will say that we don’t miss them! The plan was to give ourselves space to work on the house then get them, but we’ve rarely missed any!
Our kitchen, especially, has almost no storage, and while we’re adding some, I’ve become a kitchen minimalist: crockpot, immersion blender, coffee maker are my only small appliances, and I have no specialized kitchen gadgets. Just the basics!
We love ‘living small.’ We have outsourced much of what we used to keep in our house. Books (we did keep some) can be found at the library, we go to local parks and children’s museums for entertainment, and we live a life not so centered on our house.
Bonus: it’s very inexpensive to heat and cool, and our home improvement projects are relatively inexpensive as they are so small scale.
There’s really something to be said for a small house, even when you can afford more! :).
Thanks for all your great posts. I recently discovered your blog and it is one I keep returning to!
I loved reading about yalls journey, so powerful and inspiring!
We fell in love with a house before we were married and tried to buy it but it didn’t work out. A year later it was demolished by a tornado. Last year we tried to buy a small farm and that didn’t work out either. Still haven’t figured out what the reason was, but that “no” was much easier to accept.
We are a family of 5 living in a 2 bedroom 1200 sq ft home. It is an old family home that we are restoring and will eventually build onto. We also have a garage which helps. I lost my job right at the time we were going to start the addition so we have just learned to live smaller. I’m actually enjoying having less places to store things because it just fills with junk I don’t need.
I agree with smaller space less junk! Right now our family of 5 lives in a 1200 sq ft ranch with 3 bedrooms 1.5 baths. I am seriously considering moving (to be closer to schools and add a bedroom), especially since we will likely have one more addition to our family, but the ore I think about it – it’ll just be more space to clean, heat, etc. I am seriously considering staying and possibly just adding on if needed, but basically downsizing all our collective junk and finishing the basement 🙂 I’m sure i’ll thank myself when I retire.
My husband was in the army for 28years. We would move every 18 months to 24 months. I know how you feel. We once rented a home where our 3 eldest sons were all together in the Master bedroom and we were in a room just large enough for our bed. We have also given our sons the bedrooms while in transition and bought a futon for the living room . We slept there.
He has retired from the army and has a new job where we are now. We have purchased a lovely large home. We wish we had rented. The company he now works for is laying people off. Not sure if he will be included in the layoffs. But if he is we will be moving as well. So knowing what we know now. If God has another place in mind for us we might just rent there. We have two out of five sons still home full time. One in college that is home occasionally and in the summer. But your idea to rent until it feels right makes perfect sense. Good luck with your move.
Our family moves every 2-3 years, so I understand a lot of this post! We most recently moved our family of 4 (plus the dog and the cat!) from the States to Germany, about the time your family was moving, actually. We brought two suitcases a piece (which included a couple of suitcases of random things like pet supplies, school supplies, towels for when we moved into our place, alarm clocks and the like) For almost two months, we lived in a hotel room that had one bedroom, a sleeper sofa, and a “wall” of a kitchen: a small fridge (full-sized by European standards–about twice the size of a dorm fridge). a TINY sink, a small dishwasher, about two feet of counter space, a two burner stovetop that didn’t work half the time, and a microwave. The room came with a set of dishes. pots and pans and utenstils and a tiny amount of storage space. We had no car, so we had to walk to the grocery store, which meant not only lugging groceries several blocks, but having to shop/meal plan just a few days at a time. The week we moved into the hotel, a local store had a sale on crock pots–$9!!–and that was a lifesaver! I also eventually bought an electric skillet, because my half-functional stovetop took over 30 minutes to make pasta. Also, the week we moved here, there was a cold snap that took temps into the low 30’s and we actually had a little snow! So we had to buy everyone some extra clothing, becuse we’d expected it to be warmer longer and to have our own things sooner. Twice a week, I loaded up two roller suitcases with our laundry and went to the laundromat across the street and down the block to do laundry. It was a hard 2 months, but it was a good two months.
I bring this up in the context of how God changes your plans, because we NEVER saw Germany in our future. We’d lived here from 2005-2009. and then moved back to the States. In those 6 years, we had a “surprise” baby, had our oldest move out to go to college, and a lot of other life events take place. My husband is now just a few years from retirment eligibility with his job, so we never dreamed they would go to the trouble and expense of moving us back here. When we got the news, we were both delighted and shocked. All summer we asked “God, are you SURE???” As much as we were looking forward to living in Europe again, all the logistics involved in retiring from Germany back to the States were overwhelming to consider. But *every time* we started to get overwhelmed with things, God would work out some detail with our move, the arranagements, the timing, something–the kind of thing only HE could have done.
One example: when we’d been in the country about 36 hours, still jet-lagged and bleary-eyed, we were told his job was changing, and instead of moving to one city to do one job, we were being, sent to another city a couple of hours away to do a completely different job. This particular job within my husband’s work was something he *never* wanted to do and felt completely unqualified to do, yet, here we are. Again the question came,”Are you SURE, God??” Especially because we were having a hard time finding a hotel room that could take us and our pets, and couldn’t find even a kennel that had openings. When my husband’s new boss showed up to help us move to the new city, he said, “Oh, by the way, I stopped at the hotel to get some paperwork you needed for the expense report, and they mentioned that they’d had a pet-friendly room open up a few minutes before, so I booked it for you.”
Just because things don’t work out the way you expect, doesn’t mean God’s not in the move; sometimes that can even be evidence that He IS in the move–because if we could look ahead and know all the answers, would we need to rely on Him so much?
Blessings to you and your family in this transition time, Tiffany. And I’m sure when the time is right, you’ll find the perfect house at the right price and have your offer accepted.
I loved reading your story, it’s very inspiring! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Thanks so much for sharing your story. It is very inspiring.