Week 28 Back in Minnesota

So this week we got some disappointing news about housing prices in Topeka KS.  Our new agent was honest and upfront with us, it turns out that +25% of all sales last year in Topeka were foreclosure or short sales in Topeka.  Not only didn't our previous agent not tell us that but the newspaper has never published any articles about that kind of home sales numbers in Topeka.  Our house is not underwater but it does mean that if we can sell it for our new price we will lose 50% of the equity we put into the house.  That will be a real loss as opposed to a paper loss.

After I got that lovely news I wrote something like this on my Facebook page "Friends in Kansas are great. But moving to Kansas was the worst financial move I ever made. Set us back at least 10 yrs."  And a dear friend wrote back "I hope that other aspects of your time in KS at least made up for some of the financial set-back."

And so I thought I would explore the negatives about going to Kansas, the positives about going to Kansas, and maybe in the end I can start to lay aside my negative feelings about Kansas.

The negatives always come easier for me

  • Career - Before going to Kansas my career was firmly involved in doing engineering work.  I am now firmly involved in doing IT work.  Quite frankly I enjoy engineering work more.  Engineers are easier to work with.  Engineering managers are easier to work with.  The stress levels in IT are much higher than I ever experienced in any engineering firm which is strange considering that no one will die if we fail at what we do.
  • Salary - Every year we lived in Kansas (5) I basically lost about $20k in salary a year.  That doesn't include bonuses, stocks, retirement, and other benefits.  The cost of living in Kansas was not that much lower than in Minnesota.
  • Home Equity - This one is a new one and a total suprise.  We were told "Oh Topeka doesn't have boom-bust housing markets.  We just have flat or 3% growth rates".  So we figured ok we might take a 3% or 5% hit on our equity and have to wait 9 months to sell our house.  It turns out that isn't true.  In 2010, +25% of the home sales in Topeka were foreclosure or short sales.  People in our neighborhood sold their homes for -$60k under what we were asking.  We had no idea until this week. 
  • TLC - Watching what happened to Trudy at her first call.  That was devastating.  I can't imagine ever being that involved in another congregation that Trudy is called to again.  In fact I am not sure I will ever been that involved in any congregation again.  I have seen it now at three congregations in three different synods.
  • I hurt Trudy - I didn't support Trudy at all in the crisis she was having at her congregation.  My actions in fact made it worse. I have damaged my relationship with her and I don't know if it will ever be repaired.
  • I hurt Benjamin and Catalina - I let my own anger and frustration spill over to my relationship with Benjamin and Catalina.  I know that Benjamin is still very angry with me about something that happened last year.  I know that Catalina is very worried about me because of some of the off-the-wall anxiety she saw me going thru with Trudy.
  • I stopped playing my guitar - I tried to recreate a monthly jam session at my house and that never really worked out.  In fact it got depressing because I would send out the word, set everything up, have food and drinks ready and no one would show up.  I would ask if people would rather meet at a different time/day and nothing.  So I stopped playing.  It isn't fun to play by myself.  I needed a goal.  And since I was the only guitar player at church and I am not that good - I could not be leading anything at church.  So that was not an outlet for my playing.  So I stopped playing.
  • Gained weight - I gained over 40 lbs while living in Topeka.

The positives

  • Pastor Trudy - When Trudy was doing what she was called to do and in those moments - leading worship, doing funerals/weddings, running meetings, and working with small groups of people it was wonderful to see.
  • Benjamin - Watching Benjamin growing from a boy to a young man.  In the last six years he has become a confident (sometimes overconfident) young man.  I am very proud of his achievements and the fact he tries things I would never have tried at his age.  He is very good at debate, math and science - which is no surprise.  The things that surprise me is that he is also great at acting.  I have seen him in a major role and he was wonderful.  He is also doing very well in his efforts to becoming an Eagle Scout.  In fact I am sure if I hadn't been here in Minneapolis this last six months it would be done by now .
  • Catalina - Watching Catalina grow into a beautiful young lady has also been a joy.  She has grown out of the shadow of her older brother and become her own person.  She no longer hides behind anyone.  She boldly steps into her own space with confidence of her own.  She is also very good at math, science, English, literature and also music.  She has become quite the musician.  I wish we could afford to get her piano lessons now.  I think she would enjoy that.  Catalina has really become in many ways like her namesake, my grandmother Catalina - a very loving and approachable person.
  • Boy Scout Troop - I don't know who got more out of the Boy Scout Troop when Benjamin first joined - Benjamin or me.  I am so glad I went to every meeting and made some great friends there.  I am also glad that I went on so many camping trips.  It made some of the darker days in Topeka go much better.
  • Uncle Bo's - How can a blues club be a positive thing?  How about it was my place of community.  It was the one place in Topeka where I felt accepted and appreciated no matter what.  It was the one place where Trudy and I could let our 'hair down' and not worry about being judged or evaluated by anyone.  It was a place where there was great music.  A great crowd.  Great staff.  And the person from Uncle Bo's who most of all I will miss...
  • Suki - I have to say Suki became one of the constants in my life in Topeka.  She always made me feel welcome whenever I saw her.  She is like the big sister I never had. 
  • Blues Festival Heaven - Being in Kansas meant having access to three major blues festivals in June in Kansas, one in Oct. and a bunch through out the summer.  Plus it was generally only a day's drive to any other major blues festival in the Midwest.
  • Career - My first IT job sent me off to get training at a Scrum Master and to be certified as a Scrum Master.  Because of that I was able to get the job I currently have.


I guess I still can't decide whether or not Kansas was a good thing or not.  And it wasn't all bad.  That is true.  There were good things that happened while we were there.  And now it is just time to move one.

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