After a long delay (I began writing this about a year and a half ago), I am now embarking on a journey to document my exploration of my new home by writing a series of essays for this blog. I will be exploring why we moved here, the experience of moving, what I am learning about Portsmouth, and my experiences living here. Please come along with me on my journey.
About three and a half years ago we moved from the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. To most people, this was not an obvious move. We are both retired and, in our sixties, at an age when people typically move south rather than north.
So, why did we move to Portsmouth, New Hampshire?
When asked, I would always say that we moved here for the weather. Why did I say this? Well, to get a reaction…and because I have a weird sense of humor. The reaction I would get would usually be a puzzled look. When people think of New England weather, they think of the short winter days, the cold, and the snow.
It turns out that Portsmouth has lovely weather. After living for almost 50 years in Maryland with hot humid summers and cold damp winters, moving here was a relief. Being on the coast we almost always have a breeze. We have very moderate, though sometimes hot, summers. The winters can be cold and snowy, but not much colder than Maryland, they do know how plow here. Overall, I have come to love the Portsmouth weather, especially the winters!
So, what was the real reason we moved here? It was to be closer to family. We have a lot of family in Massachusetts, and some about an hour up the road in Maine. During our last year in Maryland, we found ourselves making the trek from Maryland to Massachusetts just about every month. If you have ever done this drive, you know that it is a horrible trip; it is typically, seven or more hours through some of the most congested roads in the US.
Our house in Maryland was a very large townhouse, too large for just two people, so we had been thinking about moving for a while. Initially, we were thinking of staying in the Washington, DC suburbs. The more we thought of it, and the more times we made the drive to Massachusetts, the more moving north seemed to make sense. Our criteria was to be no more than a two hour drive from our daughter in Western Massachusetts…we wanted to be close, but we also wanted our space…
Initially, we decided to look in the Boston area, specifically Brookline. So, during a Passover visit to Massachusetts in 2017, we met with a real estate agent and explored Brookline. We didn’t like it. We saw a lot of second floor walk-up apartments which reminded us of apartments we had live in as students. There was little or no off-street parking. The housing was overpriced, and they did not want any mortgage contingencies. On top of that, the area just did not speak to us. So, we decided to step back and reconsider.
Several people suggested that we consider Portsmouth, New Hampshire, so a couple of days later we drove up for an afternoon to check it out. Portsmouth seemed like a nice little city, and we liked it. In our wandering we started talking to a real estate agent and actually looked at a new townhouse; while it didn’t appeal to us, we did ultimately end up buying in that community (but I am getting way ahead of myself). Just after Memorial Day weekend of that year we returned to Portsmouth and spent a couple of days there. We checked out some real estate, and generally wandered around and got a feel for the place. We liked what we saw, a very walkable city with nice neighborhoods, good services and amenities, sidewalks, and a sense of place. We decided we liked it enough to move there, but that we would rent first…just to be sure.
This was followed by several months of getting the Maryland house ready for sale and disposing of a huge amount of stuff we didn’t need. In July, while waiting to catch a ferry to Grand Manan Island for a three-week vacation we received a text from our real estate agent “We have a contract!” Grand Manan is a lovely island in the Bay of Fundy with flaky internet. We spent part of our vacation signing the documents to sell our house, dealing with inspection issues, and, sight-unseen, renting an apartment in Portsmouth…all with sporadic drops of our internet connection.
Once we returned home it was a whirlwind month of arranging for a mover, disposing of more stuff, cleaning the house, arranging for a storage unit in Portsmouth, and packing the stuff we didn’t trust the movers to pack. At the end of August, we bid Maryland a fond farewell and headed north to our new home…
…I will soon be writing more about the move and then learning about Portsmouth…