Moving to an apartment didn’t happen right away. At first, I stayed in the house my EX and I owned while trying to sell it. It was 2008, and luxury property wasn’t selling in Orange County. Lenders all but stopped lending at higher price points. I learned however, that there was a market for wedding venues. I then set this mediterranean property, I called home, up for large scale events by locking my personal items in the master bedroom closet and opening up entertaining space by removing excessive furniture.
The property was situated on four acres with a boutique vineyard backdrop reminiscent of Italy-complete with a terraced patio that could accommodate 150 chairs for a wedding. This is my story of making wine out of water. After establishing relationships with wedding planners, I soon starting booking weddings and was able to generate some income to offset the huge mortgage. I struggled for two more years until I couldn’t turn the water into wine anymore and it washed the property out from under me. I admit, I was emotionally tied. I wouldn’t give up until the bitter end. It was a labor of love tending to the 600 Cabernet Sauvignon vines planted in rows on the hillside that I nurtured to full maturity with lush fruit over a three year period. I really didn’t own it long enough to enjoy the fruit of my labor. There was no rest while taking on water and trying not to drown.
There were some priceless memories I took with me of the weddings, a few wine pairing dinners with friends, and the divine Cabernet Sauvignon wine I drowned my sorrows in purchased from Paso Robles for a planned private label release. I’ll always joyfully remember the dogs running through the rows of the vineyard and fetching their “toy” on the expansive park like front lawn.
I tried to short sale the property when the value went upside down. I considered filing bankruptcy, but I didn’t. In hind site, I wish I had. I paid for the consequence of holding on too long, liquidating all my retirement assets in an attempt to stay above water, until my retirement was gone and Uncle Sam came knocking at my door, and not for a glass of wine.
This is why I am passionate about working with divorcing couples on housing planning. Emotional mistakes with property, without a solid financial plan to support it, can lead to huge financial losses that can prove devastating for many years to come.
I thought I would “die” at first if I had to live in an apartment. I bought my first property at twenty-one. I had not rented since. I was mortified at that thought. Fast forward, after living in several apartments, I have learned to look at it through wine colored glasses-in my case, an extension of travel by experiencing different towns and cultures. I’ve lived in Marina Del Rey on the boardwalk with a view of the ocean and hung out with the locals at scenic bars along the coast. I’ve lived in Newport Beach with a view of the Back Bay and frequently took my dog in a kayak for a spin around the bay. I’ve lived Laguna Beach with a view of the canyon and have been interviewed by the local radio station. On Sundays I take in the Farmer’s market and eat breakfast bistro style downtown. I’m free. Sure, I sign a lease, but twice, I have paid the lease breakage and moved when I wanted to try something different. It’s an adventure.
I have virtually no maintenance. I never worry about a leaky roof or property taxes. It’s easy to clean up an apartment quickly. I like being a “number” with a corporate owner with no emotional connection with a private owner. No one to tell me I have to move because they are selling the property or they want to inspect it regularly or move back into it. I always paint my walls when allowed and personalize the apartment to my style. I look for something unique – a view, a large patio, or an interesting alcove for an office. I always manage to set it up for entertaining a group of people for dinner. I’ve hosted wine pairing dinners for Thanksgiving and even hosted wine tasting with a small live band. Currently, I am working on a herb garden in wine crates for my large patio and a wood picnic bench complete with outdoor lanterns and a rock garden.
Living in an apartment, has allowed me to relax and not be responsible for so many moving parts of taking care of a property and unexpected maintenance expenses. I need the rest. ,k It has freed me up to focus on my work and writing. At this time of my life, I prefer it. I’m happy to have owned several homes and I look forward to the day when that is right for me. For now, I think I will sit back and enjoy a glass of Cab and take in my view for awhile and contemplate my next options.