Moving Across the Country

I haven’t quite finished the process yet; my boxes are still sitting in limbo at my mom’s house and I am drifting around between family and friends. Not until next week will I haul those boxes up to Boston, begin the long process of unpacking, and somehow procure furniture. But while it’s still somewhat fresh in my mind, I want to make some notes about moving such a long distance, which at the very least might help me in the future. It’s not like moving a few hours away, or to a neighboring city. There are thousands of miles between you and your future home. Thank goodness for technology! Here are some aspects of moving across the country and my thoughts:

1. How you and your stuff are getting there: Getting yourself from one coast to the other is easy, but getting your stuff to come with you is another story. In our case we chose to fly and ship all of our stuff. I would have preferred to drive the car, but we decided not to bring the car, and we still would have had to ship a lot of boxes. Given our situation I think it worked out fine. We didn’t own much furniture and none of it was valuable so we got rid of it (more on that later) and I took it as an opportunity to purge my closet and donate lots of clothes. Somehow I still had tons of stuff that amounted to 8 large boxes, just for me! (Not to mention the suitcases I was taking on the plane with me) But this is NOT a cheap option. Flying is expensive of course, two checked bags cost me a total of $60 on United, and then FedEx-ing those boxes cost at least $500. Of course every mode has its costs – from my research I found that using a “pod” type solution or other moving company option would cost at least $2,000, plus your plane ticket or gas costs (but at least you get to keep your furniture)!

2. Getting rid of furniture: I think we made the right choice considering the quality and longevity of our belongings – we got rid of everything that was too big or expensive to box, even the beautiful TV. Part of the reason was that we were not planning on getting a place for at least a month, so where would all that stuff go? It’s hard to give things up, and it’s even harder to get them out the door. We sold most of the furniture on Craigslist. It was grueling process that took over two weeks. One thing to note: mattresses are very hard to sell. But now that the selling part is over it will soon be time to start the buying. This may be fun, or frustrating while we live without furniture until we find stuff, but it will definitely be expensive. It’s hard to sell a mattress because people like us don’t want to buy a used mattress. For some reason this seems far too risky. Or gross. Or something. Other than that it might be back to Craigslist again or maybe some generous friends ad family will have items to donate! I have to say though, it would have been kind of nice to arrive at the apartment, open up a moving van, and have all our stuff there, with only a few new pieces needed.

3. Finding an apartment. I guess most people must visit their new city before moving and somehow find a place that suits their needs during a short trip. I was scared after my experiences looking for housing in San Francisco and therefore grateful to have time to stay at home and make multiple trips to the Boston area to find a place. In the end though it only took one trip. I spent a whole day seeing apartments, found nothing that seemed quite right, and then the next morning before leaving I saw one last place, and that was that! I’m not living there yet so it’s definitely too soon to tell, but I think the apartment will be great. Now since it worked out, here’s my advice: don’t skip seeing a place just because there is a broker, and possibly a fee. It seems like some cities have lots of brokers in the rental market and some owners chose to sell on their own. But if the city is Boston you might severely limit your choices by avoiding brokers. Brokers can also be helpful because they can give you a good idea of what different neighborhoods are like, who lives there, whether the price is fair. At the very least you will see more places and have a better ground to judge other apartments. I ended up in a place that was listed by the owner so I do not have to pay a fee, and I can’t say I was relishing the idea of giving up another month’s rent right up front, but if the place had been right it might have been worth it. Also keep in mind that in some cases the property owner pays the fee or half of the fee so you can keep an eye out for those listings.

Final note: I have used Craigslist for everything during this move. I sold furniture, found a place to live, and will soon be scouring the listings for furniture. It’s a great tool in most cities.

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