In the nearly 16 years that Hubby and I have been together, we have moved 5 times. Before that, since leaving for college, I had moved about 9 times, not including all the temporary housing I'd had for work and all the hotels/motels I stayed in on the various tours I'd done.
So the fact that we've been in our current home for over 4 years is quite astonishing, actually! When we first moved in, it was with the idea that we'd stay for a couple of years and then upgrade to a single-family house (we live in a townhouse). Then the market tanked. Not only did the value of our home go down, but Hubby, who was working in real estate, lost his job. I started working part-time, and Hubby began training to be an EMT. He graduated, but an administrative job at the VA hospital came along, and that's what he's doing now. It doesn't pay all that well, but he will eventually have great benefits and (hopefully) a pay raise. Plus, this place feels like home. We moved here because it's one of the best school districts for kids with special needs, and we haven't been disappointed in that regard. Our daughter goes to a private school specifically for kids with Autism, and the district pays for it. Our son has had the same (Amazing!) teacher for 3 years, and is at a terrific school in the district. The kids love our home, and are very comfortable here.
But now we may lose all of it.
Our mortgage has been increased by $1,000 a month. We were just barely treading water financially before that, and now we may well be in over our heads.
We are luckier than most: my mom has offered to help us out financially until we can either re-finance or sell the house, and my in-laws have offered to let us move in with them. They have a beautiful, big house, with plenty of room and a nice yard. They are all being incredibly generous!
But they live in a different school district.
Our son would be in a new school with a different teacher, there's no guarantee that he'd get the same services he gets now (speech, occupational therapy, behavioral therapy), and there's ABSOLUTELY no guarantee that the new district would pay for our daughter's school. She is FINALLY in the right place, after having gone to 3 different schools in 3 years. She has stopped her tantrums and meltdowns almost completely, she is communicating more, and is so much happier than she was before. I cannot stand the thought of having to take her out of this wonderful school, where they know her, understand her, and love her!
There is a possibility that another relative would set a up a scholarship fund so that she could continue to go to her school. And maybe, if my in-laws are around, they can watch the kids and I can work more hours. Plus, if we're not making mortgage payments, that will be a HUGE help.
But will it be enough?
If our kids were typical, we could live pretty much anywhere, and we'd both be working full time. Hubby and I can live anywhere. But the kids? It would be yet another transition for them, even if it's to a place they already know and love. There's a big difference between visiting the grandparents and moving in with them. And my in-laws? They've worked hard all their lives and have earned their retirement. How fair is it to them for us to move in? (My mom is giving us A LOT of her hard-earned money as well, no strings attached. Like I said, we are definitely luckier than most others who are finding themselves in the same situation!)
So I find myself asking what, exactly, does "home" mean to me? Is it a townhouse with access to a pool (a lifesaver during summer break, lol)? A single-family home with a yard, like we had in L.A? A place where the kids feel safe and secure, definitely! (We've thought about renting an apartment so we can stay in the district, but my kids can be loud, and I don't want to have to deal with annoyed neighbors.)
I know that keeping our daughter in her school is the #1 priority. The district where my in-laws live has good classes for my son. If I could guarantee that our kids would be well taken care of, school and services-wise, I'd put this house on the market tomorrow and move in with my husband's folks. Because as long as we're together and safe and the kids are taken care of, then we are home.
But everything is up in the air right now, and I am really scared.