This year has brought so much change to the way we live and interact with one another and for some, that change is permanent. With so much going on in the world this year, it’s been so easy to focus only on the negative. I’ll be the first to raise my hand and say that for a long time, I was guilty of this to a point where it made me close off from the world entirely.
For about three months, I didn’t blog, I barely cleaned the house, I almost closed my business for good, I didn’t cook or even take very good care of myself. It was hard to bring myself back from that dark place. When I did, I started to see it all very differently. Maybe I needed to go through the darkness in order to see the light because once I was on the other side, I had a very different perspective. I even wrote about it here.
At the beginning of June, I was feeling much more optimistic and that was helped even more by realizing that our vacation plans didn’t have to be cancelled because DE was allowing out-of-state travelers back in. We didn’t want to be the reason for more COVID spread but we knew that our travel plans were very solitary and would involve almost no interaction with anyone else so we cautiously decided to go.
We were so blessed with the most amazing weather. We had the absolute best time on the boat, fishing, relaxing, cooking out on the grill and trying some super tasty take-out. I kept thinking that it was one of our best trips ever. And, as usual, we spent some downtime checking out real estate listings (like we do every time we travel there) just dreaming about having a place we could come to any time we want.
If you know anything about the southern coastal areas of DE then you know that a good portion of the housing there is on leased land unless you are a millionaire and can afford the $3M+ homes along the coastline. For years, B and I always seem to spot the vintage cottages that are still untouched that most people tear down. The character they so often have is unmatched by even the most extravagant modern home and we have always said that if we ever bought a beach house, we wanted a small, vintage cottage, and not some huge, brand new house.
A couple years ago, we discovered an adorable little neighborhood along the bay that was lined with small vintage beach cottages. B said immediately that if we ever bought a beach house, he wanted it to be in this community. It’s on the water but not part of the tourist / vacation towns of Rehoboth and Bethany Beaches. It’s quiet but still close enough to all the restaurants and shopping.
Per our usual, we spotted a couple places for sale online in this neighborhood so in June we took a drive to check them out in person. On our way back out along the water, B slowed down by a cottage on the main road, one house off the water. It wasn’t for sale but what caught his eye was how sad it looked. The grass was three feet tall and the screens on the porch were ripped and falling off. There were pine needles piled on top of the roof and it just looked sad. He slowed to a near halt as we drove by and told me how sad it was that people have these places and don’t take care of them and we want a place of our own so bad and would be proud to have a place like that. I agreed but never gave it much thought after that and B and I both continued to look at listings until we returned home.
Not a full week after we got home, I checked my daily updates on new listings and was shocked to see that very same cottage for sale! Something in me knew right then and there it was going to be ours.
What we didn’t know from the drive by was that the inside had been fully gutted. That was reflected in the price but unlike renovating a place room by room as you have time and money, this place would require the work all at once before it could be used.
B’s initial reaction was a bit all over the place and I think for him it was more about the logistics of taking on a project of this scale 5 hours from home. It’s also in the coastal flood zone which made him a little hesitant at first.
We’d talked about it endlessly weighing all the pros and cons and by the weekend of July 4th, we’d kind of unexpectedly made the decision to call a realtor and set up a showing and start moving forward.
July 7th, I drove to DE by myself to see the cottage in person. B had meetings all day and couldn’t get away so I did what I could to inspect every inch I could see, taking tons of photos. B was obviously very anxious because he called me several times between his meetings and I think his mind was made up before I even got home that evening.
A day later we made a solid offer, got a counter that was the asking price all over again and walked away. A week later we decided to try again with a slightly higher offer though still not full price. This time it was accepted with a few contingencies which were fair.
The closing process took almost two months but looking back now, I’m glad it worked out the way it did because closing ended up getting scheduled for the week we were in DE in September. Poor B bought this place sight unseen (minus photos) so it was fun to drive out there after closing with keys in hand and walk through it with him for the very first time.
This little cottage has been sitting gutted and unused for almost ten years. It’s dirty beyond anything I’ve ever seen and we’ve had tenants of the furry critter variety for quite some time as we discovered when demoing the last of the drywall.
It’s going to be a lot of work and the logistics are going to be complicated, but I can’t remember seeing B this excited about anything for as long as we have been married.
This year has been challenging on so many levels but it’s also made us so much more aware of what is most important to us. We love spending time in Southern DE. It’s where B grew up vacationing and where generations of his family have vacationed so it’s like a second home and now we have (actually it’s just studs with siding right now) a second home there too.