A2 Basic US 417 Folder Collection
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Vanessa: Hi.
I'm Vanessa from SpeakEnglishWithVanessa.com.
Dan: I'm “Dan the Man.”
Vanessa: I'm here with my husband, Dan, in our backyard.
We're here today to have just a natural, casual conversation about big life changes.
What are some big life changes that have happened recently for us?
Dan: Well, in our lives, we just bought a new house.
Vanessa: Our first house ever.
Dan: Yes.
Moved in recently.
That's a very big change in your life.
Vanessa: Yep, and we're having a new baby.
We're going to be talking about all of these things.
What it's like to rent in the U.S., packing up, moving, hiring movers, moving into a new
house, what it's like to find a house or buy a house and what it's like to do all of those
things while growing a new human.
Dan: Oh, boy.
Vanessa: I hope that you'll learn some good vocabulary.
I'm going to try to write as many useful expressions as I can down here.
We're just going to say whatever comes up along the way.
Are you ready?
Dan: I'm ready.
Vanessa: Before we bought this house, where were we living?
Dan: We rented before we bought a house.
Vanessa: Yeah.
What was that rental process like?
Because for a lot of people, if you own a house, you have to also sell the house before
you can buy a house, but we didn't own a house first.
We were just renting.
What was that like?
Dan: Yeah.
I don't know what it's like in your country, but in America, most people rent before they
The first thing you usually do is you fill out a rental application.
You're searching online for different properties.
I'm sure some places don't have a rental application, but that probably means that they're a little
bit sketchy.
Vanessa: Shady.
Dan: Shady, dirty.
Vanessa: Yeah.
The more official it is, the better, because that means they're probably actually going
to maintain your apartment or going to have good communication with the people who live
in their rental properties.
You probably would expect to fill out some kind of rental application.
That's what we did.
Dan: Right.
Then you'll sign a lease.
This is how long you're going to rent a property.
Usually it's a 12-month, so it's for a year.
Sometimes it's six months.
In our particular situation, it started out for a year.
Vanessa: Yeah.
We had a yearly lease first.
Dan: Then it was month to month, meaning that we just paid month by month and we could leave
whenever we wanted, as long as we gave them I think one month's notice.
Vanessa: Sure, sure.
That was really convenient for us.
We knew we wanted to stay in that apartment for at least a year, but after the first year,
we could leave whenever we wanted.
I think it was good for us because we could be flexible, but also there was some unpredictability
with this because the owner of the property could also raise our rent any month.
There was no yearly contract at that point, so he could raise our rent, he could tell
us to leave within 30 days.
It was a little bit unstable.
Dan: Yeah.
Usually, renting is a little more unpredictable.
You never know if the price is going to go up or you'll get kicked out for some reason,
but on the other hand, the landlord did pay for certain maintenance activities, like when
our fan broke or when some water got behind our wall in the bathroom.
Now that we own a house, we have to fix that stuff all by ourselves.
Vanessa: Yep.
We have to pay for it now.
We had rented at that same apartment for about four and a half years.
When we decided, "Okay, we want to buy a house," what was that buying process like?
Dan: What was the buying process like?
Vanessa: Yeah.
When we decided, "Okay, I think we want to buy," what happened next?
Dan: The first thing you have to do is make sure you have enough money because it takes
a lot of money upfront to buy a house.
You have to be able to put down what they call a down payment.
For a long time, we couldn't afford a down payment.
Vanessa: Yeah.
A down payment is usually 20% of the price of the house, which is a lot of money.
If you buy a house in the U.S., it's usually $150,000 up to anything.
Half a million dollars, if you have a lot of money.
Even 20% of $200,000, that's $40,000 that you have to have in cash to hand over, plus
there's some other expenses, like when you buy a house, there's other expenses that you
have to pay for.
You need a big chunk of money when you're thinking, "Okay.
Am I ready to buy a house?"
Dan: It's a long process and it's gotten more difficult in the U.S. because all the prices,
especially in places younger people want to live, have gone way up compared to when our
parents were younger.
We bought our first house way later than our parents did.
It was much more affordable back in the day, back in our parents' day.
I'm sure there's a lot of factors to that, but it's a little bit depressing sometimes.
Vanessa: Yeah.
It's really hard for younger people nowadays in the U.S. to be able to afford a house because
it has changed a lot.
When we thought, "Okay.
We wanted to buy a house in the U.S.," you pretty much ... 98% of the time, you need
to have a realtor.
What did our realtor do for us?
Dan: The realtor just steps you through the process.
They do a lot of the legwork.
We call it legwork.
I remember thinking, "You know, we could probably buy a house ourselves-"
Vanessa: Without a realtor.
We don't need help.
Dan: Yeah.
I'm sure you could, but the realtor probably called, maybe 10 phone calls every single
day, just for us.
Just talking to people about when to set up these meetings, when to get somebody to inspect
your house, where ... What's the timing for the contract?
There's all kinds of little details that they work through, and they get a really big cut.
A slice of the price that you pay.
That's how they get paid, by commission.
Vanessa: They get paid by commission, depending on the price of the house that you buy.
For us, I don't know if it's the same for other states, but in North Carolina where
we live, the realtor ... We paid her nothing.
We never paid her anything, but the seller of this house, the previous owners, they paid
six percent.
They paid three percent to our realtor and they paid three percent to their own realtor.
So they have to foot the bill for that, which means they had to pay for it.
As the buyer, pretty good deal for us.
We don't have to pay at all, but someday when we sell this house, we'll have to pay for
our realtor and their realtor.
She was so helpful.
Maybe if this was our fifth house that we bought, maybe we could do some of that ourselves,
but it's the first time we've ever done this.
We have no idea what we're doing.
It was really helpful because she was an amazing person.
Dan: Very helpful.
Vanessa: All right.
We found this house that we really liked and we got the A-OK that we are the ones who are
going to get it, which is excellent, because there were a couple bids on the house.
Dan: We got into a bidding war.
Vanessa: Yeah.
This doesn't happen all the time, but it means that five people, including us, wanted to
buy this house.
Only one family can win.
Our realtor helped us a lot to either offer the right amount of money or also, we wrote
cards to the sellers.
We sent them pictures.
We did everything.
Dan: We were a little unusual.
I don't think that's very typical.
Vanessa: Well, we won, so it helped.
Dan: It did.
Vanessa: But we did a lot of work to try to get this house because a lot of other people
also wanted it.
Once that was settled, we had to pack and go through that process of moving all our
stuff from our apartment into this house.
What was the first thing we had to do when we decided to pack up our stuff?
Dan: To get ready.
Well, you have to purchase boxes or we actually asked grocery stores to give us some extra
Then a few weeks ahead of time, before the movers come, then you want to start really
packing your stuff.
Breaking down your house.
Vanessa: Yeah.
Dan: We started I guess with toys and books and stuff.
Vanessa: Yeah.
Stuff that just wasn't essential for day-to-day life.
We tried to pack up all that stuff.
I feel like before we even did any of that, we went through all of our closets and got
rid of stuff that we didn't want because- Dan: Yeah.
The first step is getting rid of stuff.
Vanessa: Yeah.
We didn't want to pack up our stuff and then unpack it at our new house and say, "We don't
actually want this or need this."
We wanted to only pack the essential stuff, which took a lot of time and effort, but it's
worth it.
It's always nice to get rid of stuff.
That's how I feel.
We decided to pack up our stuff.
I went to some grocery stores.
I went to some ABC Stores.
That's liquor, alcohol stores.
Dan: Yeah.
The state has to sell you alcohol, at least in North Carolina.
It's different in other states.
Vanessa: The boxes for vodka are really heavy-duty and it's good for ... Because they're glass
So it's good for packing.
They're not too big, so you can put lots of books in them or heavy stuff and it's not
too heavy.
Dan: Yeah.
People were really confused as we carried boxes of vodka around.
Vanessa: Yeah.
Dan: There wasn't really vodka in it.
Vanessa: It was just our stuff.
It's pretty common in the U.S.
If you don't want to buy boxes, you can just go to grocery stores and say, "Can I have
your extra boxes?" or go to a liquor store and ask for their extra boxes.
It's totally normal.
We got boxes.
We got rid of our stuff.
We packed it up about a week before we moved.
You mentioned movers.
Dan: Yeah.
You could move everything by yourself.
You could rent a truck.
My dad likes to do this.
He likes to do everything by himself.
He's a DIY kind of person.
He rented a truck and carried everything in the house.
We didn't want to deal with that, so we hired some movers.
Vanessa: Yeah.
Dan: The company was called Two Men and a Truck.
Vanessa: Yeah.
There was two men and a truck.
They carried our couches, our heavy bookshelves, our kitchen tables-
Dan: They had trouble parking.
Vanessa: Yeah.
Let's talk about that.
Dan: They had to walk a really long ways because we live kind of in a downtown area, or at
least we used to.
There was not very much parking.
They brought too big of a truck.
They got there and they were like, "Hey, we can't park this anywhere."
So they had to park really far away and carry all our stuff.
Vanessa: Yeah.
They said it was the furthest they've ever had to walk for a moving experience.
Dan: Yeah.
It wasn't very pleasant for them.
Vanessa: We lived on the second floor, so they had to go down the second floor stairs,
then down the apartment stairs and then pretty much halfway down the street to even put our
couch in the moving truck.
It was kind of a disaster.
I'm glad we didn't have to do that, and because I was newly pregnant and we have Theo, who's
our two-year-old.
We didn't want to carry our couches by ourselves.
I personally think it is very worth the price.
Dan: Yeah, especially looking at the guys who carried our couch and stuff.
They were really big.
Vanessa: They're the professionals.
Dan: You can tell from me, I'm not going to be able to carry these things.
Vanessa: Yeah.
They had some funny banter, when I was listening to them talk.
They were joking like, "Oh, I can carry this couch all by myself.
Can you do it?
Oh, I can carry this bookshelf by myself."
They were just playing together.
Dan: Competition was steep.
Vanessa: Yep.
It's just a funny thing to watch.
The day that we moved, the movers came and we'd already signed the papers for the house.
The house was ours.
The movers came and very importantly, Dan's mom came to watch Theo, our two-year-old.
It was amazing.
We didn't have to also take care of him while we were helping the movers.
Dan: Yeah.
A toddler is not a big help during your move.
Vanessa: No.
I think he felt really confused because we'd been talking about the new house.
He's visited the new house, but he was really confused about why we were packing up his
Finally, when we got to the new house and we unpacked his toys, just the look on his
face was so funny because he kept saying, "My animals, my LEGOs-"
Dan: My truck.
Vanessa: Yeah.
Maybe he thought he was never going to see his toys again.
I'm not sure what was actually going on in his mind because we talked about it a lot,
but he was surprised that he saw his toys again.
It was a fun experience.
Now we've been in our house two months?
Dan: Something like that.
Vanessa: Something like that.
Three months.
I want to know, what has the unpacking and getting settled process been like for you?
Dan: It's interesting because for me, I was really motivated to get everything done right
I was like, "Let's get this carpet and this couch here and do all this stuff."
Then at some point, the house got to this level where I was comfortable in it.
Now our bedroom is not completely put away.
Vanessa: We have a couple boxes still.
Dan: We still have some boxes.
I feel like maybe unpacking is more difficult than packing.
Yeah, debatable.
Vanessa: It is debatable.
Dan: Because it takes longer to figure out where you want to put your stuff.
In our old house, we lived there four years.
Over those four years, we put something in a particular spot-
Vanessa: For a long time.
Dan: -over a long time, but now everything is in our new house all at once.
Vanessa: Yeah.
Dan: You want it to look just right.
At least, I do.
I'm more of the interior designer between the two of us.
Vanessa: Not me.
Dan: Believe it or not.
Vanessa: Yeah.
When we unpacked our stuff, we had a deadline because we signed the papers to buy the house
on Monday.
Dan: This was a little crazy.
Vanessa: We moved in on Tuesday.
Then on Sunday, we had Theo's second birthday party at our house.
Oh, his birthday was Monday.
We signed the papers Tuesday.
We moved on Wednesday.
We had half of Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.
We basically had three full days to unpack our house before 30 people came to our house.
Dan: Yeah.
Vanessa: We had an extremely short deadline to unpack our stuff.
Dan: We had to be really well-planned.
We had a lot of stuff pre-planned and what rooms we wanted completely set up and finished
before we went.
Vanessa: Yeah.
I feel like it was kind of good for us, though, because we knew we had a short period of time.
Let's unpack the kitchen, the living room, the toys, all of these things that we're going
to see at the party.
Let's unpack those things as fast as possible.
We stayed up almost all night.
Oh, we also painted Theo's room.
Dan: We painted a room.
Vanessa: Four coats of paint.
It was a bright pink color.
Bright dark pink.
We painted it just a light blue color, but it needed so many coats of paint, so we also
painted our room at the same time, which if you are a painter, I respect you.
It is not easy to paint a room.
Dan: Yeah.
It was more challenging than I thought it would be.
Vanessa: Yeah.
All of that labor of going around corners.
All of that.
We did all of that in three days.
Then on Sunday, we had 30 friends over to our house and had a birthday party for Theo.
Dan: It was successful.
Vanessa: Yeah, it was fine.
Dan: We did it.
Vanessa: I feel like we're not the kind of people to say, "Oh, no.
There's a box.
Our friends can't see it."
It's fine.
It was a casual experience, but it was good to have a deadline of some sort.
Dan: I have a question for you, Vanessa.
Vanessa: Yes?
Dan: What was it like moving into a new house, growing a new human?
Vanessa: Well, there was a lot of adrenaline.
We actually found out that I was pregnant- Dan: Shortly before.
Vanessa: -the week before we moved in.
It was very soon.
Thankfully, it was pretty good timing because I felt pretty healthy and pretty fine for
two weeks.
While we were packing and moving and having Theo's party, I felt pretty normal.
Then after that, I crashed.
Dan: Yeah.
I think we got a little lucky because while we were moving, you didn't seem that different.
Vanessa: Yeah.
I felt pretty normal, but then for pretty much the second half of July and all of August,
I just slept.
Dan: She was like, "Nap time all day long."
Vanessa: I just slept for the last two months.
Then finally, a couple weeks ago, I started to feel a little bit more energetic and eating
some more food.
If you've ever been pregnant, you know exactly what the first three months is like.
You just are tired, don't want to eat- Dan: I've been there, baby.
Vanessa: Oh, I'm sure you've been pregnant so many times.
Dan: It's tough.
Vanessa: Dan watched Theo a lot.
He helped take care of our house a lot.
He cooked meals a lot because I did not have enough energy for that.
Thankfully, I'm starting to feel better.
That's good.
I think the biggest thing now, our biggest goal is to start work stuff again.
We're making videos and preparing our Fearless Fluency Club course material.
Dan: Working every day.
Vanessa: Yes.
Dan: To prepare for maternity leave.
Vanessa: Yes, because I would love to be able to have three months after the baby is born,
which will be when?
Dan: March.
Vanessa: Yes.
March 19th is the due date.
So it could be any time in March, really.
Dan: March next year.
Well, obviously next year.
Vanessa: Yeah, next year.
Three years from now.
I will be the only woman pregnant for three years.
Hopefully not.
Yeah, March of next year, I'd love to be able to ... When you work for yourself, you have
to create your own maternity leave.
I did this with Theo.
I prepared a lot of YouTube videos in advance, a lot of Fearless Fluency Club material, which
is our subscription monthly course material.
You can learn more about it up here.
I prepared a lot of that stuff in advance.
Now Dan is helping me with all of that.
It's easier, but also we have Theo, so it's not easier.
We'll see.
We're kicking now, trying to work to be able to get all of that stuff done so that we can
have a little break without anyone noticing it.
Just some YouTube videos planned in advanced and material planned in advance.
Dan: We have a question for you.
What was a big change that happened in your life?
Some experience you had that changed everything.
Vanessa: Yeah.
Have you had any big life changes recently?
Let us know in the comments.
If you have any questions about the vocabulary that we used or anything that we talked about,
feel free to ask.
Thank you so much for sharing this conversation with us about our new house and our new baby.
Hopefully everything will go well and we'll be able to share more with you in March.
Thanks so much for joining me, Dan.
Dan: You're welcome.
Vanessa: Yeah.
We'll see you again next Friday for a new lesson here on my YouTube channel.
Dan: Bye.
Vanessa: Hi.
I'm Vanessa from SpeakEnglishWithVanessa.com and I'm here-
Dan: I'm Dan.
What was a big life experience?
Big life experience?
We have a question for you.
What was a big life change that happened in your life?
We have a question for you.
Vanessa: There was a very loud airplane flying ... Oh, it's a helicopter.
Dan: Have you ever been in a helicopter?
Vanessa: The next step is to download my free e-book, Five Steps to Becoming a Confident
English Speaker.
You'll learn what you need to do to speak confidently and fluently.
Don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more free lessons.
Thanks so much.
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Real English Conversation: Big Life Changes

417 Folder Collection
Courage published on October 12, 2019
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