3,000 Miles

I’ve been asked a few times about how we managed a move across the United States, and after it came up again in the comments of my “Suggestion Box” post, figured it is time to outline all of it.  So, if you’re getting ready to take the plunge and move, here is how we did it.  This is our personal story, and the way we did it worked for us.  I’d love to hear your story or what you did was differently for your move.

The first step to anything of this magnitude is to have a dream.  When most of us have a dream, it is something we visualize, wish for, and think about quite a bit.  I think dreaming about our move to California was what kept me going during the actual moving process, because that is what I couldn’t lose sight of.
San Diego from planeDiscuss
Our dream of moving from New Hampshire actually started with the desire to move to a warmer climate with good jobs.  One of my closest friends lives in North Carolina, and Big Daddy and I actually went for a little scouting mission down there to check it out.  It was something that was on our radar big time.  Then we went to San Diego in 2011, and everything changed.  The dream of living in California was stuck in our heads, and that was it.  We were hooked.  So, we spent a couple years discussing the dream, and how to make it a real possibility.  We knew we were still a ways away from being able to do it, because Big Daddy was earning a college degree, and then all the Lyme stuff started.  But, we discussed San Diego frequently and touched base often about us still wanting the same outcome.

Plan of Action
The actual plan came about in October of 2013.  Big Daddy and I took Poppy to San Diego for a vacation.  We rented the same condo at the beach that we had stayed in during our trip in 2011 (Poppy didn’t go on that trip with us.)  Before we left for our 2013 trip, Big Daddy and I made a pact that we were not going to let ourselves use this trip as a scouting mission.  We just wanted to show San Diego to Poppy, have a good time, and enjoy being there.

What we didn’t expect was how much Poppy was going to love it.  In New Hampshire, Poppy was getting to the point where he wouldn’t go outside very much.  We were all afraid of ticks, and finding them on us.  On vacation in CA, he was outside constantly, and loved the ocean.  We had an awesome week, and on the way to the airport, Poppy was upset to leave.  We were, too.

Torrey Pines near La Jolla, CA

Torrey Pines near La Jolla, CA 2013

When we arrived back in NH, Big Daddy and I stayed pretty quiet about our trip for a few days while we got back into daily life after vacation.  But, when we finally talked about it, we admitted that we were both feeling the pull to move more and more, and decided it was time to make a plan of action.

We had a few things to work through.

*  Big Daddy was working towards finishing his college degree, and had a few more classes.

*  We had a basement remodel going on that needed to be finished enough to be able to stop and put the house on the market.

*  Big Daddy would need to have a job lined up before we even think about this move.

*  Most importantly, we had a son that was going to have a major life change.  He is very close to my parents, and we would need to be mindful of his relationship with them.

So, we tackled all this slowly.  We knew that things would have to happen in a very specific order.  We didn’t set a timeline, we only set the order.  Time would be dictated by when Big Daddy would land a job, and we had no idea how long that would take.  We did the things that we could as we could.

Big Daddy continued to work hard on his studies, and set the goal of graduating in May of 2014.  Since we were making this plan in November of 2013, we had it in our minds that once he graduated, the job search would begin.

Between November ’13 and May ’14, Big Daddy studied.  I worked on going through all of our stuff.  Anything that we no longer used or needed was donated or sold on Craigslist.  Let me tell you, we are not pack rats at all, but we got rid of a lot of stuff.  To anyone that is thinking about moving anytime in the next couple years, it is never too late to start sorting out your stuff.  It is a stressful and sometimes emotional process, so give it time to do this.  No matter how easy and short you think this process will be, I can tell you that you need to work on this every spare minute you have.  Moving day comes fast!

The things you’re keeping?  If you don’t need it in the foreseeable future, pack it.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Pack it in a box and seal it up.  Number the box.  Keep a notebook with what you have in that box.  Then when you need it or are looking for it, you can look in your notebook and know where it is.  Also handy when making inventory for your moving truck.

The shipping container about half full...

The shipping container about half full…

Our house started to look very clean and sparse.  It made it easier during move time, both physically and emotionally, because we were much more prepared.

We also finished the major parts of the renovation, and got down to the small stuff.  We were finishing the “small stuff” right up until the night before we moved out of the house.  Don’t underestimate how much time it is going to take you to do the little things.  Patching nail holes, wiping down trim, etc.  It is a big job.

As we worked through the winter, we talked to Poppy a few times about the possibility of moving to California.  He began to warm up to the idea, and as he had questions, we thought of solutions.  Like being able to bring all his toys vs. leaving things behind.  He did not leave any of his things behind… kids need their things!  We also worked on how to manage the feelings of missing his grandparents.  Visits, Skype, letters, etc. were solutions that we discussed.  He had a few months to process all this, and we kept him in the loop so nothing was a surprise when it happened.

Fast forward to May, 2014.  Big Daddy graduated on May 10th.

Graduation Day!

Graduation Day!

On May 11th, he did his resume and started sending it out into the world, and posting it on the sites that tech people use to network.  On Monday, May 12th, Big Daddy got a call from the job that was eventually offered to him in San Diego.  We never would have imagined that the job would have happened that fast.

Once he accepted the position, we had about a month to make the move.  We used a pod system for our belongings that were going to California, and scheduled all that as soon as we knew.  The summer is the busiest and most expensive time to move, so once we knew our dates, we booked things.

In NH one day...

In NH one day…

To back up a tiny bit, in May, when things really stated to happen, I printed out empty calendar pages and started using them to map out the moving details.  There are many many things that you need to think about:

~ Are you going to sell or rent your house?

~ Pets – are they coming with you?  Vet visits are necessary before you leave.  Will they fly?  Will you hire a service to drive them across the country?  Will you drive them across the country?

~ Doctors – notify your doctors once you know you are moving.  Depending on what is happening with your health insurance, you will need to make sure you have enough of your medications.  BIG NOTE! Not all medications can be called in to out of state pharmacies.  Be sure to check on your meds.  Many mental health medications can only be called in to the pharmacy in the same state as the doc that prescribes it.  In our case, we had family that would pick up the meds and mail them to us in CA.  You don’t want to be without your prescriptions.  Also, start researching doctors as soon as you know you are moving.
~~~~ Another tip… if you have family that can help you with meds, or mail from your old address, etc., we found that leaving priority mail envelopes with postage already on them was a huge help.  Then family just popped whatever needed to be sent to us in the envelope and were on the way to us.  Hotels will hold mail for you as long as you are a registered guest.  This was very handy.

~ Credit cards – if you are moving, you will want to notify your credit card companies.  I called each one and let them know that we did not have a permanent address in CA yet, but I didn’t want to have our cards be denied as we were traveling if the credit card companies thought the card had been stolen.  They can note your account.

~ Homeowners insurance – Be sure to notify them you are not in your house anymore.  Most companies have different policies if your home is vacant while on the market or if you are renting it out.

~ All important papers need to travel with you.  In our case, Big Daddy and his brother drove the pets and one of our vehicles to CA.  They had the safe in the vehicle with them, which contained our trust documents, and other important papers that would be very difficult to replace.

~ We shipped of our cars.  Best decision ever.  The cost of driving a car is almost equivalent to driving and hotels, food, etc.  Unless you have time for “adventure” on your move, I highly recommend shipping vehicles.  Because of our pets not being able to fly, one of the vehicles was driven, one was shipped.

~ I do not travel well.  Poppy and I opted to fly to meet Big Daddy once he arrived in California.  It was not an easy trip because I get sick when I fly, but Poppy and I made the trip by air.

Living Arrrangements in Our New State ~

We decided while still in NH that we were going to look for housing once we got to CA.  San Diego County is HUGE – and unless you are here, and familiar with the area, it can be very deceiving looking at a map and thinking that “this is close to work, the commute won’t be bad.”  WRONG.  A few miles on a map can take an hour here.  We had friends that gave us some guidance on where to book our hotel so we could get the feel for the area and Big Daddy’s commute once we were here.  So glad we did this.

We were here about a week and a half before we found the house that we are renting.  We were really lucky to find a place.  The rental market in San Diego is extremely competitive, and in my opinion, it is not wise to buy immediately when you get to a new area.  We looked at three places before we found out that we were approved to rent this house.

Our pod (we used “Pack Rat”) was at a storage facility about 20 miles from our rental house.  We called as soon as we knew our move-in date and scheduled delivery.  Make sure if you use a pod-type container that your new neighborhood or HOA allows them to be parked in your driveway.  Also, make sure your driveway is long enough!  San Diego does not allow these to be parked on the street in front of your house for any length of time, so take this into consideration.  Some people end up renting a truck and unloading their pods in the warehouse of the pod company.  Just something to be mindful of.  Luckily, our 15′ pod fit in our driveway and we are not part of an HOA, so we had no issues, but one of the houses we looked at did have restrictions about this.

and CA another!

and CA another!

And there you have it.  Easy, right?  No.  But, we kept our eye on the dream, and made it a reality.  We could not have done it without the love and support of family and friends, and for that we are eternally thankful.  We miss all of them, and we were fortunate that we have had visitors already, which I wrote about in other posts.

It is a lot of change, but I don’t regret it for one second.  San Diego is much more in line with how we live our lives.  People love to be outdoors and healthy food.  Great social activities, great sense of community, and so much to do here!  I love NH, and that is where I was born and raised, but I feel like I am truly home now.

I am so happy to live here!

I am so happy to live here!

Summary of My Biggest Tips:

**  Dream, Discuss, and Plan!

**  Sort out your stuff.  Pack what you’re keeping but won’t need anytime soon, and donate/sell the rest!  Number your boxes and inventory the boxes in a notebook.

** Be ready to move once the job offer comes!

** Keep a calendar and map out all the details.  You will need this to keep your sanity!

I hope this post is helpful to anyone that is looking to move to a different state.  Please let me know if there are any questions you have that I may not have answered.

Suggestion Box

It happens to all of us in blog land at some point – writer’s block.

So, I am asking you – all of you – no matter how long you have been following my blog, and no matter which of the many topics bring you here – can you leave me a comment with topic suggestions?  Do you have questions?  Your suggestions can be serious or silly!  Have fun with this!

I thank you for your contributions, and your participation.

Need a Fast Dinner Idea?

I was looking into the abyss that is my fridge yesterday morning, trying to see what we had that could be used to put together a meal for the evening.  I had an avocado, a fully cooked chicken breast from our rotisserie dinner the night before, guacamole, and sour cream.  My mission was clear.  We needed some kind of Mexican dinner, and I decided to try making my own version of Chipotle’s burrito bowl.  After a run to the grocery store to pick up a few things I got to work!  I am going to attempt to write out a recipe.  Go easy on me – I am still learning to cook, and it takes me a bit to prepare things.


Almost Chipotle Burrito Bowl (for 2 people)
2 cooked chicken breasts
Juice of one lime
Cilantro to taste
1 small tomato
1 cup of corn
1 can black beans
1/4 cup guacamole
sour cream
2 cups shredded chicken
1/2 cup cooked rice
1 avocado, cubed
2 cups shredded lettuce (I used iceberg)

Bake the chicken, seasoning with salt and pepper, or flavor it up with some the packets that have all the spices to make chili or tacos.  Set aside to cool.

Next, make your rice like you normally do, but squeeze the juice of one lime into the water while it is boiling.  Also add a little cilantro to taste when it is done cooking.  Set aside.
20141120_163112At this point, I heated the black beans, thawed some frozen corn, and cubed up the rest of the veggies, shredded some lettuce, and then shredded the chicken.  I put it all out on the counter and we made our burrito bowls how we wanted.
20141120_171838This took my about a half hour to prep because I used leftover chicken.  If I made it again (which I definitely will), I don’t think it would take this long to get everything ready.
20141120_172533-1Let me know if you try making this and what you did differently!  Happy Friday!