There’s not a person we meet that doesn’t ask ‘so how did you end up in Heathsville, Virginia?’ Here’s the story.

Forever Home Or Tax Pit?

After being married about 7-8 years, we realized while we loved our home in New Jersey, financially, we’d ultimately be forced to leave. It was a sad day.

We didn’t own a mini-manse in swanky Bergen County but rather a lovely, modest home in northern NJ. My realtor loved to say ‘it’s a great howse’ (heavy on the ‘ows’). Her pronunciation not mine. We loved it the moment we saw it and cried when we actually realized we could afford to buy it. We cried even harder when we sold it.

We were physically married there so from the start the house was special. Raising our kids there and being part of a incredible neighborhood, it quickly became a forever home in our hearts, but with the taxes going up each year, our wallets were telling a different story. Like I said a sad day.

As was our ritual, I’d fry the bacon while my husband read the paper on Sunday mornings. It was one of those morning when his head popped up from the paper and he exclaimed.

“I found a house in South Carolina for only $99,000!”

I was as excited as he was because the ad read like a fairytale. Acreage on a waterfront lot with low taxes. We were saved!

Backyard Dog

After a quick flight, we found ourselves being ferociously barked at by this horrible large dog while standing in front of what was supposed to be our next chapter.

The house from the outside needed a lot of TLC but upon further inspection it actually needed a recking ball. Not only that, but it stood on an overgrown lot that touted a large algae-filled, mosquito buzzing pond.

After the dog intro, bug symphony, and grand tour, we looked at each other and said ‘nah’.

The realtor was a champ and agreed to drive around to see what else he might sell us, but alas, it wasn’t his day to ring the bell. As it stood, South Carolina wasn’t for us (look up May flies). The drive time with the realtor did help us understand one thing. We wanted to be living somewhere in the south on the water.

The Plan

On the flight home we created a list of everything we wanted in our next home. The process of elimination began. States were scratched for different reasons — too many people from New Jersey, too buggy, too hot, etc. Besides the strict checklist, we contrived a financial budget that would be a key driver in what was to be commonly known as ‘the plan.’

Back at the kitchen table, we pulled out our atlas, ‘the plan’ and suddenly, Virginia was at the top of the list. But how to find the water? We began to pin waterfront areas in the Commonwealth.

The atlas research showed us that the Potomac River area had great possibilities. We got on a home renters’ site and began to match the atlas pins with weekend rentals.

The search began and ended on the Northern Neck the first night we found ourselves on the unlit back roads in Virginia. There was something adventurous about driving in the deepest night under the brightest stars. Little did we know the next morning, we’d open our eyes to a secret paradise.  We knew we’d found our forever pin but now to find our forever home.

We rented the same wonderful home one the Potomac twice a year and stayed up late scheming our country living future. The trips renewed our spirit and solidified our plan. We’d read books, checked maps and drove to the remotest areas to find just the right place.

You see the house wasn’t as important as where it was. After living together and creating our New Jersey home, we knew we could make anything ours.

We looked forward to our trips and the more we drove the more we began to feel like we belonged. The owners of our weekend hideaway helped us with their genuine hospitality – something commonplace here on the Northern Neck. They’d left a hosting book with household instructions, local restuarants, and must sees which I studied the first night we were there. Their guidebook helped us realize just how special this place truly is. I remember the last item on the list under ‘musts’. A practice we’ve taken to heart.

‘Never miss a sunset on the rivah.

And now that we’ve actually moved to our forever home, we never do.


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