You can take the girl outta Jersey…

by Angela on February 9, 2015 · 16 comments

There have been some major things a-brewin’ with the Hollicks as of late, which is why you haven’t heard one peep from us on this blog for months. Busy is not quite the word — we’re overloaded. We’ve gotten quite a few worried emails asking if we were okay, and some of you asked if something drastic had happened.

Well, something did. Some THINGS did.

We bought a house! Our first ever brick stone and mortar home that’s in our name on something called a title, that costs thousands and thousands of dollars! It’s a cute little cottage in the lake resort town of Mountain Lakes, New Jersey. We have a MORTGAGE, people!

The house closing with our lawyer Allan Hantman in his throwback Denville, NJ office

Signed, sealed, delivered

Whooo-hoooo!

For better or worse, Mike and I are finally feeling all grown up. Financially and professionally, we thought it was the right time to buy a place and establish a base. With Max starting kindergarten next year, we had to take a long, hard look at what we wanted for the future of our kids and our family.

We love touring and traveling with The Lion King. It’s been a wonderful, crazy, growing ride these past three years. Max has lived in more cities and states in North America than most people in their lifetime, and it’s made him into an adaptable, intrepid and curious little boy. But he’s also started showing signs of sadness and attachment when we’ve had to pick up and move every few weeks, particularly if he’s been enrolled in a preschool. For instance, at the amazing Mosaic School in our Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain, he played nonstop with his pal Osin (whose mother was the school director), and Osin’s teenage sister Kasey would babysit on occasion.

So given that we would be on tour for a least another year or two (and that Max would homeschool for his kindergarten year), we decided to start thinking of places to eventually settle. For the past year, Mike had been researching the real estate market in Southern California and New Jersey (near hubs of the entertainment industry), but hadn’t found anything that leapt out at him in our price range. Our ultimate dream would be to find a place in the Bay Area, near my sister Eileen, but guess what our budget got us there? Empty lots and trailer homes. And while I was born and raised in New Jersey, I swore I would never return. Don’t get me wrong — I had a fantastic school experience and still keep in touch with high school friends to this day, but I figured I had so much of the world to explore!

In mid-July, while The Lion King was stationed in Washington DC, I headed up to New Jersey for my high school reunion. While I was staying with my dear childhood friend Danny Barry and his family in their gorgeous new home in Morristown, I decided to look up the best school systems in the state. A town called Mountain Lakes kept coming up, just 15 minutes away, also in Morris County. So I did a search for homes for sale, and this adorable storybook cottage appeared on Zillow:

So cute, right? But the skeptic in me doubted that the interior would be any good, at a list price of $350,000 (in a town where the average list price of homes was $700k). Must be a fixer-upper, I thought. Then I scrolled through some more photos, and my jaw dropped.

I sent an inquiry immediately with the listing realtor Ginny Cassidy, and she emailed back within hours. Good sign. And when she met me at the house, she was personable, warm and knowledgeable of all things Mountain Lakes, as she was a long-time resident. The house barely was 1,200 square feet, but with our years of touring and living minimally in over 30 rental homes, we knew we didn’t need much space. It was a 3 bedroom/1 bath with a full walk-out basement that had potential to be finished. Across the street was a view of Lake Arrowhead. My mind was reeling. This was Mike’s dream Hobbit home!

Mountain Lake, or the “main lake” in town is a popular site for swimming, boating, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding in the summers, and skating when it freezes over in the winter. This is a photo taken last month, sent by our realtor Jeff.

Sure enough, when I brought Mike and the kids back to look at it two weeks later, he barely exited the front door and already had created 10 Pinterest boards of remodeling ideas. It wasn’t a slam dunk decision, however. We had to figure out timetables, tour schedules, financial possibilities and the like. We fought about it. We changed our minds. We changed them back. I also had issues with diversity (the town is about 4,000 people, mostly white) but it comforted me that the neighboring town Parsippany was largely Asian and there was a Chinese School and Asian grocery stores 2 miles from our house. The commute into NYC was 50 minutes by direct bus, and over an hour via NJ Transit (which we were told no one used since the route was long and circuitous).

Hollicks in the front yard at the new house. When we came back for a second look, our buying agent Jeff Cassidy brought our kids Mountain Lakes t-shirts. Well played, Jeff. Mountain Lakes High School’s teams are called the Lakers, or “the Herd” and the football team is perennially tops in the state.

Finally, we put in an offer of $325,000 which was promptly accepted, and the wheels were put in motion for home inspection, lawyers, mortgage brokers, the whole nine. It was a pretty painless process, much to our surprise! We were bracing ourselves for tedious paperwork for weeks, as lamented by our friends, but everything seemed straightforward enough. We closed less than 2 months later. I luckily and quickly found a short-term renter via Craigslist — a single mom who desperately wanted her son to finish high school in Mountain Lakes. By the time her son graduates, we’ll be ready to move in. To a cute home, in the same exact county I was born in.

Can you believe it? You can take the girl out of Jersey, but she ends up finding her way back.

We have some more exciting news, but I don’t want to overwhelm one blog post… you’ll just have to wait :)

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Ron February 10, 2015 at 10:22 am

Congratulations on your home!

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Angela March 25, 2015 at 12:41 pm

Thank you Ron! Lion King is coming to San Jose in September — we hope you, Katrina and the kids can come see it :)

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Nancy D February 10, 2015 at 10:56 am

That house is the cutest ever. Congrats to the whole family!

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Angela March 25, 2015 at 12:42 pm

Thanks Nancy! We are so excited, though it doesn’t seem real yet… :)

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Kristin February 10, 2015 at 12:33 pm

Welcome back home!

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Angela March 25, 2015 at 12:42 pm

;) Thanks Kristin!!!

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Jenn February 10, 2015 at 2:55 pm

So awesome, congrats!

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Angela March 25, 2015 at 12:42 pm

We’re pretty stoked, thanks Jenn!

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Jordan February 10, 2015 at 2:57 pm

We live so close by in Denville. Let me know if you need suggestions for places to go and things to do and eat. The area is just beautiful.

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Angela March 25, 2015 at 12:43 pm

Jersey is quite beautiful, we agree… it gets a bum rap but we know the truth!

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Christine February 10, 2015 at 8:33 pm

I grew up in Mountain Lakes, NJ and loved it!! The picturesque, beautiful town complete with excellent schools, gorgeous homes, and wonderful lakes, and close proximity to NYC, is a hidden gem. You will love it there. So happy for you! Go Lakers!

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Angela March 25, 2015 at 12:44 pm

Yay! Can’t wait for our kids to be Lakers and watch the Herd play! So fun!

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Katie February 11, 2015 at 8:12 pm

It’s great to hear your family’s exciting news! That house is so cute! It looks like a beautiful place to live. Congratulations!

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Angela March 25, 2015 at 12:44 pm

Thanks so much Katie! xoxo

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Danny February 11, 2015 at 8:35 pm

Yay! Congratulations!!!!

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Angela March 25, 2015 at 12:45 pm

Thanks Danny! I keep meaning to post photos from our day at Six Flags in San Antonio … what a fun time! Keep your eyes peeled, I’ll do it soon! xo

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