2,459 Miles Away – Again

It takes time to decorate a 4 bedroom house, especially when you’re moving from a 2 bedroom apartment. After 7 months, we finished the major decorating and painting projects. Our house is now reflective of our personality and lifestyle, and just in time for another move. Here’s a tour:

Our New Home

DIY Dining Room Projects

Office

Kitchen

DIY Living Room Projects

Master Bedroom Design

Laundry Room Design

Guest Bedroom Design

Guest Bedroom Design

Nursery Design

Media Room DesignMaybe we could have finished more quickly if we just went to a store and bought everything, but we wanted to make several furniture and art pieces. It took longer, but the end result is more rewarding.

Surprisingly enough, we’ve decided to put it on the market. Are we completely insane? Didn’t I just say that we only moved in 7 months ago? Didn’t I just say how happy we are with the end product?

When Darren and I decided to leave our home in Canada and move to the US three years ago, we never faltered. We were living our dream life. We moved to southern California and put our bucket list lifestyle into action. But pregnancy and envisioning a family life changed my idea of the perfect location. Rather than seeing the consistently ideal weather and the dreamy beaches in Orange County, I started to see the high cost of living and the absence of strong family bonds. A television commercial with big, community homes and friendly neighbors was all that it took. We packed up our life and were off, again, to North Carolina for the southern charm and family environment.

We built a house where I could envision Athena walking down the stairs in her prom gown or opening Christmas presents near the fireplace with stockings hung on the mantle. We found the family community setting that pulled at my heart strings.

Living Room Fireplace

When we go outside to check the mail or go for a walk, neighbors say, “Good day” and chat as if we’d been friends for years. We have regular dinners together and roast marshmallows by the fire. I am humbled by the goodness of our new family. The children are polite and, although a little older, take care of Athena like they are her brothers and sisters. It’s more than I ever thought possible and I have an amazing imagination.

But I want it all. Is it too idealistic to believe that having it all is possible? My daily life in Orange County included relaxing on the beach in vacation mode. I always said that I wanted my everyday life to be better than vacation and it was in California. My daily life in North Carolina is more home and friends focused with the opportunity to be surrounded by the most amazing people every time I step outside my front door. I’m torn between the community we can have in North Carolina and the outdoor life we can had in California.

I believe that our life can be full of great happiness as long as we don’t settle. It wasn’t a mistake moving to North Carolina and I’ve accomplished more in the last year year than I could have accomplished anywhere else, but I’m 100% fulfilled here. Should I be “trapped” in a house because it’s new? Should I stay longer because I just moved in? Should I settle because I made the decision to move here? The answer is NO! Our life is a constant journey and I’m in search of what brings the most happiness and laughter to my entire family. I’ll make mistakes along the way but that’s the best part of the adventure.

We think that moving back to southern California is the best choice for us so… we’re going to do it. There are no mistakes; only new adventures.

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135 thoughts on “2,459 Miles Away – Again

  1. Wow!! Big change. Look for that same kind of community in So. Cal. I grew up there, and know that amidst the traffic and the business…there are lots of people and places that will help you to feel “at home” again. The home you have is beautiful, and you should not have any trouble selling it. I’ve lived all over the country and learned to make a home in a house starts with love! It’s ‘just real estate’ …pack your love and take it with you!

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        • I loved Irvine and it has the best of both worlds – quick access to highway and not too far from the beach. We’re thinking about Aliso Viejo and Laguna Niguel more though. Why did you leave Aliso Viejo? (I ask because we are considering that area. If it’s too personal, I’m sorry. Just disregard.) πŸ™‚

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          • I love both Aliso and Laguna Niguel. I had some lifestyle changes over the summer and needed to be more central in the county for my consulting firm and my sanity. San Juan Capistrano and the coastal communities in that area are super nice too. Just takes extra time to get to the freeway but if you’re not always commuting then it doesn’t matter

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          • I would suggest south O.C for sure just for the mix of beaches and hills, as well pleasant family oriented neighborhoods. We lived in Huntington Beach for a bit but it was flat and drab away from the hustle and bustle of downtown H.B. Honestly, I prefer North County San Diego (Carlsbad, Encinitas, Del Mar, San Elijo Hills) over south O.C but both are nice.

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  2. Why OC? Even though I’m a Brooklyn boy who settled in New Orleans, I grew up in Long Beach. If I could pick anywhere to return in CA to it would Long Beach, specifically Belmont Shore and Belmont Heights. And, you are about ten minutes from the LA-OC county line.

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    • I enjoyed living in OC but I’m not closest off to other options near the beach… in California. I like the southern weather though and wouldn’t go north of LA. Is Belmont Shore a family-friendly area?

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      • Belmont Shore might be a little youngish for families, but Belmont Heights sure is good for families. Good biking, local mom and pop restaurants and a great beach for young children since it is very clean and the breakwater keeps the waves pretty mellow. Also, a big park in walking distance. What have I said? πŸ™‚ Maybe It’s time to go home.

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  3. Oh you say it so well. I too moved to NC and I too found the same thing you did in NC. Fabulous people but something was missing. Within a year I felt this urge stirring, but I stopped for the same reason you laid out. Finally I could not silence the compelling feeling I needed to go and I listed my home. I hope you are successful in selling I am still trying to leave.
    Thank you for putting my feelings into words that I understand and why I too am not wrong feeling this way.

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  4. Beautiful house. But move (back) to Southern California?!?! Uhh… uhhhh… You don’t like Carolina beaches? You noted ‘high cost of living’. That’s putting it mildly. I spend some time in SoCal. You pay HUGHLY for gas, groceries, dining, housing, property taxes, crowds crowds crowds. It’s called sanction of the victim. You pay megabucks to put up with so many bad things. If you like to burn money, then burn away. Thank goodness it is ultimately your personal choice.

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    • We love Carolina beaches but not the weather that encompasses them, and while my husband’s work is in very high demand, the Carolina beaches are not the best fit for his career.

      On a daily basis, we spend more money living in North Carolina than in southern California. We adjusted better in OC and the consistent sunshine and low humidity made us all happier. Everyone wants something different from their daily living and my everyday life was more complete in California.

      I’m not blind to the negatives and I know about them from experience but there are negatives of living in NC too.

      Ultimately, we are all just searching for the best fit in our lives and trying to do what’s best for our families.

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  5. I think you are so bold to just do it. So many of us would just say well made the decision and now I need to live with it. But you look at it and say that life is all just an experiment. When you view life in that way, it changes everything!

    Good lesson for me! I am in a new downsized version of my home and wondering if I made the right decision. I do not want to go back to my old house but this one is not right either. After reading your post I realize that I did not make the right decision….yet. So now I just need to make another decision! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

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    • I don’t think you made the wrong decision. I think you made a decision and now you’ll make another one based on experience. πŸ™‚ That’s called life; not a mistake.

      I can’t wait to read about your journey. Don’t settle. I know you can do it!

      πŸ™‚

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  6. Holy s***, you Americans have big houses don’t you! haha.

    Lesley, do you have more hours in your day than the average person? You must have because you sure do a lot of stuff! I reckon you have 30 hours to your day rather than the standard 24! haha

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  7. Wow!!! Good for you!!! We did the same thing, but have no plans on returning to SoCal (except maybe when the kids are much older and my husband and I retire) πŸ˜‰ I LOVE SoCal weather, but it wasn’t enough for me after we had baby 2 so we moved to Toronto! Guess we’ll just be taking more vacations now that we live in the cold πŸ™‚ And I’ll keep reading your blog to enjoy the warm weather vicariously through you! Good luck!!

    http://torontofamilyphotographerblog.com

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  8. Life is full of bumps and hills and detours. I love your style my friend. Do what makes you and your family happy. There has to be a happy medium out there for you. XOXO – Bacon
    P.S. Is that a popcorn maker I see in one of those pictures? LOVE is in my eyes… can I come visit and will you make me popcorn? I LOVE, L.O.V.E. popcorn… did I say LOVE?

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  9. That’s it. No mistakes. Be grateful that you can make decisions and move forward. That is a gift too. So many people get stuck cause they just can’t decide what to do (and that becomes the decision). I think you have to experience life to find what your priorities are. I’ve lived east coast, west coast and 3 different times moved to Europe. Now at 45, I realize what really floats my boat and so appreciate it. Life is good. I look forward to your new adventure. cheers …wt

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  10. Your house is a “home” and it’s beautiful. I loved living in the Carolinas – it’s a great place for family. Congratulations. (Love the turquoise touches, so warm and friendly)

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  11. We are currently in the same boat so i totally get this post. Kudos to you for moving back. Many people feel obligated after they buy a home to stay put even if they realize the place they are living may not be the ideal fit. Sometimes moving away makes you realize that what you left behind is where you want to be. Best of luck to you Lesley.

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      • We were living in NYC and then moved to upstate NY and while there are many things we have grown to appreciate and like about Albany come winter time we always feel better suited for warmer weather (not into winter sports, lol). We’re moving back to the city next week but more for job opportunity. Incidentally, we have considered Charlotte, NC many, many times so I’ve enjoyed reading your post about living in Charlotte this past year. Maybe one day we’ll take the plunge and move but I also fret about whether I would like it in the long run.

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  12. It will be lovely having you back here in So. California! I’m the one who won your ballet tickets when you were too close to your delivery date to attend, so my granddaughter, Lily (7 at the time I think) and I went instead. She was fascinated. We had a great Nana / granddaughter bonding experience. I thank you for that. I also love decorating, so seeing the photos of your house was a treat β€” even though you are leaving it. Hope you’re taking the furniture with you! Best, Sylvia Cary

    WordPress.com / Gravatar.com credentials can be used.

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  13. Good for you! I’ve spent most of my adult life moving from place to place. Everyone thought I was crazy. Now that I’ve been in the same place for four years (by far the longest I’ve spent anywhere), they keep asking me if I’m going to move again πŸ™‚

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  14. This makes a lot more sense to me! When you announced you were moving to Charlotte, NC, I was really surprised. I’ve never been to Charlotte, but my mother has been down there plenty of times for business trips (she used to work for a company that had large offices down there). She was not a fan of the city (especially the multiple lane highways that made her super nervous) and said it was a very business oriented city. I really could not see you “settling down” in that type of city… More like Colorado, Utah, or Wyoming… any of the more “outdoorsy states!” You can have community and outdoor life (and there are plenty of places around NC to do this) but Charlotte is not known for its outdoorsiness. I think CA is a much better fit for your family!

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  15. I suggest the big island of Hawaii… Kamuela literally has the county feel of South Carolina (elevation 3000 feet) with ranches and farms. It feels like living in Napa Valley and then the resort beaches and coastline are only 20 minutes down the mountain. There are several amazing beaches there. Hapuna Beach is my favorite and it is usually rated in the top 3 beaches in the world. The high road driving down to Kailua-Kona is like driving through Wyoming, it is so beautiful with yellow grass and rolling hills down to the ocean. Then Kona has the small town feel of a southern California town that I grew up with. We are also at the base of two 13,000 foot mountains. One of which that usually has snow at the top all winter. My husband posts pictures and videos on his blog if you want to see what it is like here… thrujimseyes.wordpress.com

    Enjoy the journey! Leise

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  16. My favorite town in California is Santa Barbara. I like the beautiful beaches and the wonderful country homes (in the rolling hills) that look out toward the sea.

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      • Yes… Both my husband and I are both originally from Southern Cal. One of the reasons we love Kailua-Kona, Hawaii is that it reminds us of the Southern California that we grew up with. When towns were small and had lots of space between them. I remember when Orange County was all orange groves. lol

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  17. This is amazing! Beautiful job on the house. Really enjoyed reading this post. Definitely agree with you about the journey aspects. Continuously finding happiness for your family is a journey itself and I really admire your work. I really do.

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    • Thank you! It took a little bit longer because I was on the road a lot this year too. I visited 10 countries and countless cities while trying to put all of this together and spend time with my family. There are not enough hours in the day πŸ˜‰

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  18. Lesley, glad to read you guys are going with your guts and moving back to the OC! That’s home to me and from some of the comments I read, it sounds like you are going to move to my hood. Irvine (personally my fav), AV, LN, south OC generally speaking are all great areas! If you can indulge go for Laguna or Newport!

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      • I completely understand the family-friendly community and it’s actually a reason why I love the OC! Irvine would be my #1 choice. It’s central- close to the beaches, airport, freeways. Besides location, it seems to foster lots of families and those that want the best for their kids. Basically the best schools, parks, safety, community in general. But if you are looking to buy, Irvine will be costly (as will the beach communities.). My second choice would be Aliso Viejo because it’s also family friendly. TONS of young families. Again, great location too (close to freeway access and you’re right next to Laguna Beach). But what’s great, is AV’s more affordable. As for schools in AV- I’ve heard good and bad. Laguna Niguel is a touch older of a community (no HOA’s). It’s an established city. Even though I’m naming several cities, South OC is so close that getting around isn’t too far from one another. I hope my little piece of advise helps :).

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  19. Phew, after getting to that stage of perfection, it takes a lot of determination to want to move again! I hope it turns out that this time you can ‘have it all’. Your daughter may want a bit of stability, too. I recall that I was grateful as a child when we finally put down roots for a while after bewilderingly frequent moves.

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  20. Your house has love stamped all over it. It is warm and inviting. I’m sure a family will fall in love with it given the chance inside its doors.

    No moss on your backside, I see. πŸ˜€ Live your life the way you want to. That is up to no-one but you (three).

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  21. I have dabbled with the idea of moving to another state for affordability but ultimately it is near impossible to leave southern California for us. All of our moves have included Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego…with San Diego being the place we continually return to. We are very happy raising our family in North County S.D as I stated in the above post.

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  22. The house looks great! I believe that a person should not settle for less than what you most want, and that the best way to figure out exactly what you really want is to try as many things, places and adventures as possible!

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  23. What a beautiful home. I love how you have the “I Wont Settle” Attitude and you have your family to support you in what you do. I love So Cal. I can’t wait to hear about your moving adventures and your new chapter in California.

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  24. My last house took 5 years to renovate. And buying furniture took even longer. It takes time. I have a philosophy that you need to live in a house before doing anything. That may take several years to do. Well done. I like your choice of color and your dining room chairs.

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  25. I absolutely love the decorating you’ve done. Definitely going to bookmark this for ideas for that distant time when my fiance and I buy a house. And kudos to you on your bold move. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Good luck with your move!

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    • Hi Michelle,

      Thank you for the compliment. Most of the furniture and decorations were either wood from dumpster diving or cheap craigslist finds redone. All of the decorations and furniture combined are well under $7000 for the entire house. We’re proud of the work and are more than confident that we can make any house a home. It’s the outside (lack of beach) that we can’t change.

      Thank you for the encouragement to go for it. Not everyone feels the same πŸ˜‰

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  26. I am dreaming of the day I can move back to Charlotte! But that is why this post is so great. You are making that ultimate dream come true for yourself. Kudos and can’t wait to see where this takes you!

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