We had known for a while that we wanted to move. Actually, the original plan was to only stay in our first house for about 5 years. But, given the fact that both my husband and I are world class procrastinators, we ended up staying in our first house for almost 10 years. Late last year we started working on fixing up our existing house. We didn't have a lot of work to do, but needed to at least replace the flooring in the kitchen and bathrooms, paint most of the interior of the house, and do some other minor repairs. Oh and the decluttering. Did we ever have a lot of decluttering to do. With my husband's collector-itis and the fact that my daughter is the only grandchild on one side of the family, we had a lot of "stuff" to deal with.
With us both working full time and having a very active 6 year old, it took us much longer to do all the work for the old house than we had hoped. We literally ended up finishing the work to fix up the old house about 20 minutes before the realtor came to take pictures to list the house for sale. In the end it showed really well and we ended up getting an offer from the first people who looked at the house. Yay! We sold our house (for less than what we paid for it - thank you horrible housing market) and we moved into an apartment in the town where we are now building our new house. We definitely didn't want to start the building process until we had at least a firm contract on our old house. It turns out that we actually moved into our apartment before we even signed the contract for the new house.
The apartment is small (it's smaller than the garage on the new house) and a bit dated. But, it was in the right location, it allowed pets, we could get a 6 month lease, and most importantly it was available on fairly short notice. I just have to keep reminding myself that it's only for 6 months, especially when I've tripped over a box on the floor for the third time in one day, or as I am duck walking in the tiny space between the end of the bed and our dresser to get through to my side of the bed, and even when the occasional sewage smell emanates from the laundry / kitchen area. Ick. Being in this apartment will definitely make us appreciate the new house so much more though. :)