Over the course of my life, I’ve moved across the US from coast to coast no fewer than seven times.
Move 6 in January, 2010 was prompted by my partner The Engineer accepting a term appointment at the Pax River Naval Air Station in southern Maryland. Move 7 in July, 2012, was coming back to Seattle.
Both involved transporting a houseful of furniture; a car; a truck; over 1,000 books and other documents; computers, printers, and related equipment as well as The Engineer, an aging cat, and me.
Now that we’re back and mostly settled in, The Engineer and I are in absolute agreement that we never want to do this again. And after two moves in 2 1/2 years, we have our reasons.
Moving is a logistical nightmare
1. It takes an enormous amount of planning and coordination. A few examples of what we had to do:
- Notify post offices in Lexington Park, MD and Seattle, WA of our change of address and make arrangements to get keys for our mailbox in the stand of mailboxes across the street.
- Submit a change of address or other contact information to various websites;
- Complete various dental procedures before the move;
- Make changes to the homeowners insurance policy to reflect tenants leaving and our returning.
2. Even Puddy The Cat needed documentation that she was current on her vaccinations and healthy enough to travel. She was, but I needed to have her examined at the local animal hospital in Maryland to obtain the required documentation. And that meant making sure we had the document in hand when the three of us checked in at Reagan National Airport.
3. As it turned out, Puddy had an easier time with airport security than I did. The TSA agent questioned my photo ID, a still-valid Nexus card issued by the U.S. government. He said he’d never seen one like that before. And while he didn’t actually decline it, he did ask whether I had “another piece of identification” which I did.
The greater the distance, the harder the move (and the higher the cost)
4. Even though The Engineer and I each had valid driver’s licenses, we each had to apply for a Washington State driver’s license within 30 days of our move. And to get new license plates for our vehicles. At two different locations.
To do that we had to produce the vehicle registrations which meant that we had to plan ahead to carry those documents on the airplane with us rather than packing them in a box that went in the moving van which would reach Seattle some weeks after we did.
5. And in fact, the van hauling our furniture, dishes and kitchen wares, computers, and various other essentials did not arrive until nearly two weeks after we did. Our challenge was to function in a nearly empty house.
We developed coping strategies, such as eating out a lot, sometimes asking for take-out boxes for left-overs and reheating them the next day in a borrowed mini-microwave on microwaveable coated-paper plates.
6. During this time, we also slept on an air mattress. Getting up during the night or early in the morning to pee was quite awkward for both of us aging humans, but Puddy had no problem with it.
Murphy’s law (that things which can go wrong will go wrong) was in full force
7. Sometimes we ran into glitches when trying to do the simplest thing. One particularly frustrating example involved getting the mailbox keys mentioned above.
We went to the Post Office, paid for the keys (in cash since the PO couldn’t accept credit cards or online payments); got a receipt; and picked up the mail that had been held for us. A few days later, we went back to get the keys and were told to come back in a day or two.
Altogether we went back about five times and finally learned that the PO had no record of our payment for a key. They said we should come back with our receipt. But we couldn’t find it amidst the pile of move-related papers piling up on a kitchen counter.
Finally, the woman who delivered mail to the boxes across the street knocked on our door and handed me our keys. Apparently, the bureaucrats at the PO had finally found their misplaced record of our payment. And had cleverly sent the keys to be delivered to our mailbox—which we could not open up without a key.
And now for the good news
The weather in Seattle has been wonderful, we’re mostly settled in, and we’re back to work and to taking long walks on the scenic Burke-Gilman Trail. Puddy seems happy to be back and is spending most of her time outside, coming in only to eat or to use her litter box.
How about you? Do you think you’ll ever move again? Or are you undecided? Do you have any suggestions for making it easier or less stressful? I welcome your comments.
photo by patleahy