By Bruce Carlson

The transition of moving and looking for a new home in southern Illinois has begun. It could also be called liminal space, an in-between time. We started to ask ourselves what was in the area and how different it was. We began to ask ourself’s why southern Illinois? What was so different about that area compared to North Aurora, Illinois? We created a list of items we wanted to look for down there. It became our document of transition. This would be the measuring stick to use when looking into homes and the local area.

What will the family think?

Our first question was, “What will the family think?” Our parents have passed on. My family is gone. I have no living relatives to speak of. The few we send Christmas cards to aren’t in the local area. I haven’t seen them in ages. It won’t matter where we send Christmas cards from. Karen’s brothers are mostly in the Chicago area. Their kids, our nieces, and nephews, are mostly in the northern Illinois area.

Most of the communication between Karen’s brother’s families is through email and social media. Gatherings are the family picnic and Christmas. Then things like birthdays and anniversaries. We would still be close enough to come to the majority of family gatherings. Our sons and their families are the closest family connection. Adam and Traacey live in Bativia which is near our home in North Aurora. Brian and Tracey live in North Carolina which is about 14 hours away by my driving time. Scott and Nachole are east of St. Louis and that’s a 4-hour drive.

I have to admit moving south seems like a good idea from the driving point of view. The drive to North Carolina is starting to get a little long. We would normally leave early in the morning and drive all day. Sometimes we would leave after I finish work and drive 6 – 7 hours and get a room. Then drive the rest of the way the next morning. The journey back home was 14 hours of driving. Going south would shorten that drive. We would still be close to Scott and Nachole. It would be a day trip to see Adam and Tracey.

Going just under 300 miles sounds like a great way to shorten the drive to North Carolina. It would still be an all-day drive, but 8 – 9 hours sounds a lot better than 14 hours of driving. Then I pulled out the map to see what the best route would be. Since we wanted to be near Scott and Nachole I used their address as a starting point. I was surprised to see the trip was only 50 miles less and two hours shorter. Going straight south still kept us to the west, so we didn’t pick up as many miles as I had hoped.

The weather

So going south wasn’t quite the benefit we hoped for, but it was still a good idea. Another reason to move south was the weather. Now I still enjoy the snow and the colder weather of winter. But our visits to Scott and Nachole did show us a longer fall and an earlier spring. A temperature in the mid to upper 60s in February was pretty nice. It seems to also be 5 to 8 degrees warmer south during the winter. Sorry, Brian, I’m not ready for no winters:).

When people in the northern part of Illinois think about southern Illinois most would think Springfield is the end of the state. A smaller number think St. Louis is the end of the state. The reality is if you draw a line straight east of St. Louis, Illinois to the eastern border of Illinois and Indiana and go south from that line, you’ll go another 125 miles to Paducah, Kentucky. The distance from St. Louis to Indiana is 150 miles. There’s a lot of southern Illinois.

Okay, we need to define what we mean by southern Illinois. The first factor was being somewhat close to Scott and Nachole. When Scott and Nachole transferred to Scott Air Force Base, Nachole said it didn’t matter how close we lived to them, but we had to give an hour’s notice when we were coming over. Okay, so drawing a line around their home puts Springfield to the north, I-57 to the east, and something south of Sparta. We now have a target area.

As a deacon in the Catholic church, I’m currently incardinated into the Diocese of Joliet. The area we have defined is split between the Diocese of Springfield and the Diocese of Belleville. Scott and Nachole are parishioners of St. Clair. That was a nudge to be in the Diocese of Belleville. As we started working with Jane, we split our time looking at houses equally between the two dioceses, but we were leaning more towards Belleville. The communities had a warmer feeling.

Warmer feeling

This warmer feeling is the best way I can describe what we were sensing. The countryside had a more rolling feeling. As we would drive down through central Illinois everything you saw along I-55 was farm fields. It was pretty flat looking. When we got to the area east of St. Louis, the land became more rolling, with more wooded areas, and areas of marshy areas. There was a calling to be somewhere around here. Now to find a house to turn into our home.

Jane and Scott started to feed us houses that were coming on the market. We understood that our next home wouldn’t be exactly like our North Aurora home. A non-point of transition was we wanted a three-bedroom ranch with a full basement. We didn’t need more than a three-bed home. Karen could still set up a massage room. We would have a guest room/sewing room, and I would have a basement area for a wood shop, yeah!


We were getting between five to eight houses a week from the end of February through April. Of those houses 1 to 2 were ranches. Not all were with basements, booo. It was clear the inventory of houses was low. What was coming on the market was going off as fast as it was coming on the market. We were in a bit of a bind. Our North Aurora house looking to be going fast and we didn’t have a lot to choose from. Even if we saw a house we liked it probably would be off the market before we could get to it.

The transition of moving is putting us in a tight position. In our men’s work, we would call it liminal space.

Wrap up

We hope you are enjoying these articles and are willing to continue to follow along as we move through the process of selling our house, buying a new house (to become our home), and the adventures of learning about life in southern Illinois, Bruce & Karen.