Here’s our story.
Jim worked for Citifinancial (a division of CitiGroup), as a branch manager, overseeing personal and mortgage loans. Garret worked for Colonial Suzuki, a franchise owned by Galloway Automotive, as a Parts & Service Manager.
A few years ago, when Florida real estate boomed, Jim and I thought it would be great to sell our home and move to another state. Why not buy our next home with a large down payment, leaving little to no mortgage? We never took it much further; our careers were at their peak and our 2,000 SF home was under 2 years old.
In 2008, we noticed real estate started its inevitable crash. Our local economy in Fort Myers, Florida, had truly shown through as evident by my dealerships worst months with no ease in sight. Bonuses for Jim were nonexistent. Bonuses for me were at their all time low. Foreclosures were on the rise, especially in the neighboring city of Cape Coral.
Months later, Jim said, “Remember how we talked about moving to another state and having virtually no mortgage? Well, it’s right here in our back yard. It’s called Cape Coral.” We thought about it and we started research. A Realtor showed us several homes. We might be looking at a $50,000 mortgage, instead of the existing mortgage. It sounded great, so we listed the house for sale.
In May of 2008, two couples looked at the house. The first couple looked again. Offers in the insult range came in. We countered. On Monday, June 2nd, Jim had gotten notice his branch was to close on the 27th. There was no transfer available in our area but a severance package was offered and was quite appealing. Jim and I had decided to reject the final offer on Wednesday afternoon and just keep the house if the offer couldn’t be any better. I called the Realtor and firmly told him we were done with these potential buyers and we weren’t going to go that low. The Realtor told me how we were making a big mistake and we should accept the offer. I stood strong.
An hour after we told our Realtor, absolutely not, a manager in my Suzuki store showed me a letter from American Suzuki confirming Galloway’s voluntary dealer resignation effective the first week of July. This meant that Galloway Automotive had given up its franchise. This news just a few days after Jim's news of being laid off!
Later that evening, Jim and I were distraught over the timing. We talked it over and called the Realtor, keeping our financial secrets, and told him we’d thought about what he had said and we’d counter offer again. A deal was accepted later in the week.
Jim and I decided to move to Texas. The job market appeared stable and CitiGroup had a corporate office with many openings. If he was “hired”, he’d be able to transfer and keep his benefits and tenure intact. I began my job search. Jim applied for several positions. In the meantime, we sought moving bids. With several moving company bids, it was time to figure out how to get to Texas. With 2 cats and a dog, how do we do that? How do we get our beloved 2005 BMW 325I there? Several moving plans later, Jim looked into renting an RV. Renting was expensive so he looked into buying one and just reselling it once we’ve completed the move.
In the meantime, upper management had not announced Suzuki’s demise. It was absolutely killing me to know what was going to happen, and not being able to share the information with my family of employees. I had received another copy of the dealer termination letter in the parts department. I took this as my opportunity to visit an owner with the letter in hand and show that the cat was out of the bag. I met with my supervisor, Bill Braatz, at our Ford store. He said he’d have a place for all of us but for me, probably not a supervisor position. I was OK with that being we’d move to Texas.
Within a two week period, the other employees were in the know. They would all be transferring to the Ford store.
Jim had come up with a new plan. Take the equity from the sale of the house, buy an RV outright, and see the country for 6 months. We took some of the equity and put it aside for future resettling.
The rest will be within our blog. Welcome!
Updated: Our RVing adventure that was to be 6 months, lasted for a year. We returned home to Fort Myers , FL August 2009. Almost exactly a year later. We began looking for jobs in the area. By November, we gave up on our local job search. Jim began looking at favored major metropolitan areas. Finally during the first week of December, he was hired with Wachovia/Wells Fargo in Charlotte, NC for an Underwriter position. Like a whirlwind, we set up our move and arrived at the end of December 2009.