I don't quite think the news that I will be able to keep my wonderful job, when we move, has sunk in. It's almost like I'm scared to get too excited. Probably because, for us, something always goes wrong, when we try to plan our life. For the most part, It has NEVER gone right and to actually think it could is just more than I can even imagine right now. So, I'm just trying to take it one step at a time. An annual salary (that's with bonus and my side job) of almost $100k will do quite nicely in a lower cost of living area. Plus, by then we won't have the expenses of supporting DD any more.
Basically, we (and I mean DH, because he is very good at researching and looking at all the details I miss) are looking at all properties that have what we are looking for and in our price range. So far, they all seem to be in the higher end of our range, which means we probably aren't quite there yet, in terms of how much we can get out of this place (plus savings), for the down payment and moving expenses. We'll spend the next few months working around this place and then have the realtor come back out for an update on our value. Market has been starting to get hot again (like last Spring) in this area, and according to her it usually lasts until summer. One of our friends just sold their place in 2-3 weeks, the others just sold theirs last week in 2 days. I'm thinking when we do list, we might as well start out a bit high - that way we will know (if we have to come down in price in 30 days) we didn't leave any (much needed) money on the table. When our friends place sold in 2 days, it makes you wonder if they could have asked more for it.
As soon as I know how much my raise is, I'm going to see what we can get pre-approved for on a mortgage. At a minimum, I know we can qualify for an FHA loan. I would just rather not - as I don't want to pay the PMI insurance, which is apparently required even if you put 20% down. If nothing else, we can start out with that type of loan and refi down the road, when our credit gets better and the BK (2010) is completely off. My boss (who does a lot of real estate rental investing) has a good broker to recommend to me, so I will go with that reference.
Then, when we find something that we like - we will see if they will take a contingency offer, and if so, put our place up for sale. On the benefit side to us, the market in the areas we are looking at are not quite as good for quick sales as is going on here, so we have a better chance of someone willing to accept a contingent offer.
DH has a good friend over in the area we want to move. He has a big (and so far fairly empty) shop (on 15 acres) and sounds like he is willing to let DH store a couple of big things over there, until we can get moved. He has a partial old semi-truck (wants to restore *someday), that he'd like to haul over there, and get off our property, so it looks more appealing to potential buyers than a cab of a truck covered in a blue tarp (in the corner of our property). He also wants to then make a second trip there with an old car we have stored in our garage (along with a few boxes of stuff). This will make the inside of our shop/garage less crowded, etc. At least gas prices are so low right now, that it won't be a big expense for DH to make a trip or two - and a quick trip away from here would probably do him wonders.
I won't have any expense for gas to get to work in our future situation. That will save about $100 a month. I looked up round trip flights from there to here. If planned out a couple months in advance - it's only $168! I told DD (and mom) that with that price I can for sure fly over for visits every 2-3 months. I told DD she'll get sick of seeing me, LOL. Or at that cheap, we can alternate and I can fly her to see us for little visits a few times a year, when she has time.