Back in June I made a decision that it was time to solve my financial issues. I needed to stop paying rent and a mortgage, that would free up enough money to pay off my debts and get myself back in the black. The best way to do this was to move from South Florida back to my home on the Space Coast. I gained approval from work to go full time telecommute from my house and asked the renters to move out by the end of three months. Three months later they were still living in the house and I went through a nightmare that has absorbed all my time and energy. Starting telecommute was not the easiest thing, but it was mostly due to the condition of the house. Things are only now beginning to settle down and can I enjoy the quiet of working remote.
Three years ago I rented my home out to a family with a clean history and recommendations. Not long after then moved in, they started having financial issues and the wife serious medical issues. I was fairly sick at the time, so I let them stay in the home at a reduced rental rate as long as they handled the majority of the maintenance. I had a close friend sharing the house with them and everything seemed like it was going okay.
Before the year is up the family is all that remained at the house, occasionally reporting to me that something minor went wrong and that they took care of it. I was fighting the fibromyalgia and severe fatigue issues, which made trips to the Space Coast difficult and rare. In addition I couldn’t go in the house as they had pets that I was highly allergic to.
Two months before the family needed to be out, the wife contacted me asking for more time. She was open with me that she had a drug problem and was trying to get clean, but also that they were broke and couldn’t afford to move. She also mentioned that she was having trouble with some people she had sublet to. I could not afford to help her, they had taken advantage of me, and at this point my finances were struggling much worse than I thought. I haven’t been able to maintain a budget since the fibromyalgia became strong, most of my money was going to medical costs or paying the minimums on credit cards leaving little room for anything besides housing and food. I could no longer afford rent in South Florida and a mortgage for a house I couldn’t use. She agreed to be out, then started telling me a huge list of things that went wrong with the house and had not been fixed.
A month before the family needed to be out the house water pump seized up. I have had three months of consistent exercise without a major flareup, I could easily fix the well system myself and give the house a once over to start making lists. I was only scared of having a fatigue attack on the drive up, so I tried to find someone to go with me. I ended up going up their on my own, suffering a mild fatigue attack on the drive up, requiring me to pull off and rest for a while. Once the fatigue attack was over I completed the three hour drive, meeting up with a friend at the house. Meanwhile the wife checked herself into the ER due to what was discovered to be multiple infections, which had entered her heart. The outside of the house itself didn’t look too bad, but it looked abandoned. The yard was severely overgrown, vines were growing up to the roof, and the side fence couldn’t be seen behind the severe overgrowth. Going inside the house was such a bad experience that I was in disbelief.
The center air died a number of years ago, being replaced with window and standalone units. Not ideal, but I was denied financing needed to replace the system. It was one of the reasons I was renting the home inexpensively. Opening the door to the house we were greeted with a very stale, musky, odor, and no air conditioners in the windows. It was dusty, cluttered, clothes strewn everywhere, and a messed up kitchen. The counters were heavily water damaged, most of the lights didn’t work, some cabinets damaged, and the new (just over one year old) fridge abused and broken. I discovered that they had not been maintaining the well system, it was trying to pump dirt from a dirty aeration tank. Those tanks take years to build up that level of dirt. Easy fix at least and off I went, the house was so dirty my allergies were going to go insane.
The wife contacted me from the hospital, begging to stay. Eventually we came to an agreement where her and her family would remain as temporary roommates, as long as they took care of a number of items. I was planning to be up at the end of the month to start cleanup and repairs, to prep the house for me and my boyfriend to move in. At the end of the month my boyfriend and I show up, nothing had changed, everything worsened, and the reality of how bad everything is started to set in. The wife checked herself out of the hospital to ‘help’ clean. The house was in rough shape with evidence of domestic abuse. With help we start to clean up the yard, installed a couple of window units to dry and cool the main part of the house, and start ripping out the destroyed carpeting. Meanwhile the husband starts yelling at his wife, this was a bad situation. We complete what work we are able to and head back to South Florida. Not long after the wife ended up back in the hospital due to her infections.
The day we planned to move a hurricane hits Florida. A friend stopped and made sure that the house survived and was dry. The husband and son were still living there, but according to the wife, still in the hospital, they should be out the middle of the month. Now that the hurricane was past, we proceed with the move. When we get to the house we have to immediately start bagging and throwing stuff away. I am unable to breath in the house, forcing me to wear a mask the entire time I’m inside. We continued to rip up carpet and searched the moving van for air filters and purifiers.
At this point most of what we were bagging were clothes strewn throughout the house. Maybe they were once clean, but at this point they were covered in cat hair and smelled of piss. There was a cat box that had not been emptied in weeks, the pile of dishes had grown and and there was a strong rotten odor. There was so much to do to make the home sanitary, but my fibro was slowing me down, forcing me to prioritize. The first night in the house was horrifying and my allergies were out of control. The second night we came down with severe food poisoning, it was a non-stop nightmare. It took weeks to get the house cleaned up to the point where I was no longer dry heaving, and weeks longer for my allergies to improve.
The family ‘moved’ out within a week of us showing up. The husband took their child, a few important things, leaving his sick wife in the hospital, and telling us that he didn’t care what happened to the rest of their stuff. He was going to be back for his broken car and toolbox. Within a week the wife’s brother comes by to get some family things, we give him what we could find, he is in shock over how bad everything is, “it’s all turned to shit” and something about laziness. He was right, everything went to shit. They wouldn’t replace light bulbs when they burned out, they didn’t even try the reset switch on the garbage disposal when it stopped working. In my first week I fixed almost everything on the list of broken things, most of it was standard maintenance.
I went to try and fix the laundry machine, opening the door to it made me vomit. It wasn’t draining, old clothes sat in water in there for at least a month, decomposing. Luckily it was a well built washer that once I cleared the drain and sanitized it, is working great and doesn’t smell as nasty. The refrigerator took me a hour one morning patching the freezer door back together to fix. The water softener needed a new part that cost me $25 and 5 minutes to replace. I started fixing the stove, but it was so greasy and nasty that I junked it. The dish washer was barely working, it was starting to rust out and the last couple of years of hard water left it with severe mineral deposits. Both were old, both needed to be replaced, I was lucky to get the financing necessary to replace those.
Once the house was livable and no longer required my boyfriend and I to spend every waking minute cleaning, I resumed work remotely. Over the weeks I have hacked together a decent little office space in my back room. I have really started to enjoy working remote. I probably put in more hours working remote than I did at the office. I can start work earlier in the morning, my lunches rarely last more than an hour, some as short as 15 minutes, and I don’t have panic attacks worrying about traffic. I miss some of the office interaction and my coworkers, but I don’t miss the open office floor plan. I do not miss being distracted by every little movement or unexpected sound. The best part is that it’s easier to manage my fibro flareups.
My stress levels have fallen a lot over the past month. Each day I manage to clean or fix at least one thing with the house, slowly unboxing what we moved up here with. My main car, my 2006 Audi A3, broke down, had to order new vacuum system parts and ignition coils for it. Fixed the Audi a couple of weeks ago and was able to drive to the main office for a day visit. I only have to drive anywhere a few times a week now. Meanwhile I tried to put my ’62 Impala back on the road after a three year sleep, I got the car running and driving well enough to move her into the garage until more important tasks are complete, such as the dumpster.
I have been working remote for about two months now. I wake up most days, take care of a quick project for the house, get ready for work, then sit down in my office and start coding. If I’m in the zone, I can heat up a quick lunch and eat it without destroying my focus. If I’m feeling a bit burned out, I can sit back in the living room and enjoy a relaxing lunch with some good music. Other days I’ll eat a quick lunch, do chores around the house, then return to work. I’ve set up a mini-fridge in my office area, stocked it with various beverages of varying caffeine levels and nutrition shakes. Working remote has allowed me to tweak my office space to work with my ADHD, fibro flares, and occasional brain fog, something that I could never get right working in an open office environment.