On June 1st of this year, after fourteen amazing years, I gave up my precious Venice bungalow. One of the only places ever in my life that has felt truly like home. It was the place where I re-invented myself after divorcing my first husband and following my dream to move from Tennessee to Los Angeles. It was my little piece of heaven. It was my heart, it was how I identified with the world. I was special. I was a Venetian; a roller skating, bike-riding free spirit who lived in a magic little bungalow six blocks from the ocean.
I didn’t want to leave. But I knew the day was coming where I would have to. And in some ways, I was looking forward to that day.
The historic hundred year old bungalow sat inside a lush garden with close neighbors – seven other little bungalows facing inward. The neighbors were practically family. The place was affordable. It wasn’t perfect. The windows leaked sometimes. The termites were eating the place from around us. In the last months, I had to hand vac the termite dust out of my silverware drawer every morning. It was small, which was fine when I was single. When I got re-married, space increasingly became an issue and Matt and I had to re-evaluate whether we wanted to move or stay just about once every sixty days. Staying always outweighed leaving. With the hyper-gentrification of the area, there was no way we’d be able to afford something else in Venice that was as nice as what we had.
Also, we had rent control. In LA, a landlord can’t just kick a person out of their home, re-model the place and rent it out for bigger bucks. If the landlord really wants to make the current renters leave, they must buy them out of their lease – pay them to leave.
Over the years I’d lived there, the property sold twice. The second buyer was a foreign real estate developer who purchased the property for a whopping $2.4 million. The neighbors and I did the math and got really, really nervous. We all knew this guy was about to dismantle our lives and turn our little piece of heaven into a high-end rental dream for any sucker willing to shell out ridiculous bucks. But we also knew we had the ace of rent control in our pocket.
That was 2012. Matt and I are avid travelers and had been planning a round the world trip. We wanted to plan our trip around leaving the bungalow, so in the meantime we just kept working and saving. The new landlord kept making everyone’s lives miserable – cutting down all of our plants, telling us we couldn’t have bicycles on the property and not fixing leaky faucets. He never said it, but we all knew: if we were miserable and left of our own accord, he wouldn’t have to pay. We neighbors decided to dig in for the long haul.
I lived three more years in that special place, waiting for the hammer to drop. And then one day, I just thought, “Fuck it, I’m tired of feeling like any day I might have to leave.” And I stopped worrying. Wouldn’t you know it – about a month later our landlord emailed us with those magic words, “Would you consider moving if we gave you a cash payment?”
Why, hell yes, we would. But we didn’t tell him that.
So, yes, I took a cash payment to leave. We negotiated hard and got exactly what we wanted. We already had a well-stocked travel fund. We put our stuff in storage and hit the open road. The cat is on vacation with friends. We have no clue where in the world – literally – where we’re going to live when we’re done. It could be anywhere. Maybe your town.
Giving up that bungalow was hard. But it had been coming for a long, long time. We’d been needing to stretch our wings in new ways for years. Sometimes I wonder why we waited three years for a buyout, why we didn’t just go on with our lives, why we put our round the world trip on a three-year hold. But then again, what am I talking about? While we waited, we just kept on living the SoCal dream – friends, beach, bikes and sun. Plus, in the end, we scored about a year’s salary. And now I’m following a new dream: traveling the world with the love of my life.
Want to invite us to visit your town? We’re open . . . leave us a comment below. 🙂