7 Compelling reasons to never move again

by Madeleine Kolb

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 it 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

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sue T August 8, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Sorry you “had” to move back so soon! Or “had” to move out here to MD in the first place, only to return.
Anyway, thanks for posting this, lots of important tips on handling a cross-country move.

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2 Madeleine Kolb August 9, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Sue, We knew before we moved that The Engineer’s appointment was of limited duration, and we always planned to return. However, life is so unpredictable, and it made sense to come back early. The hard part was the logistics and effort involved to get ourselves and all our our stuff back to the west coast. Although we survived, we agree that enough is enough!

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3 Joared August 9, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Good info for movers. Have had a few moves, but likely no more, unless I downsize and to what I ponder now. Need to get rid of “stuff” whatever I do. Appreciated your “language” comment at TGB.
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4 Madeleine Kolb August 10, 2012 at 10:19 am

I thought about downsizing quite a bit during both moves, and we did manage to cut down on books and reports by creating PDFs and getting books on Kindle. It’s not easy though.

I just checked out your blog. It’s really wonderful, and I can’t wait to see the movie, The Intouchables.

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5 Beth August 11, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Madeleine — my husband and I are contemplating a move to the west coast from the midwest to be near our daughter and grandchildren. Your blog reminds me of all the work we have to do, all the changes we will have to experience. But I still feel it’s a move we should make. We will be near family, as there is no one in this city, and we can build a new community, we hope, and find new friends. Your thoughts, Beth

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6 Madeleine Kolb August 12, 2012 at 11:02 am

Beth, Go for it! It sounds as it you and your husband have thought about it quite a bit and that you have excellent reasons to move.

The Engineer and I knew from the outset that we’d come back to Seattle, and we did. My point was just that–after two moves across the country in two-plus years–we never want to move out of state again. (However, we don’t totally rule out a move within the confines of King County.)

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7 Chris Edgar August 19, 2012 at 6:13 pm

I certainly know several people who changed locations, only to discover that the town they lived in previously wasn’t “the problem” — actually, the source of their suffering or sense of lack was their relationship with themselves. When I ponder moving out of Northern California because something about my life will supposedly be better elsewhere, I often consider this lesson.
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8 Madeleine Kolb August 19, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Hi Chris, What a great video. Your song about blogging is right-on. I “like” it.

I agree that moving as a solution to a deeper problem or a lack in one’s life is seldom a good idea. Our move was not like that, since The Engineer had a challenging–but short-term position–in Maryland. I’ve lived much of my life in Seattle and have friends there and a house.

Essentially the move was about coming back to Seattle rather than leaving Maryland. When you ponder moving from northern California, that’s quite different. Which is probably why you’re still living there.

Keep up the great work!

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9 The GypsyNesters July 29, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Every time we have moved we swear it’s the last time we ever will. Guess we can’t do that now since we don’t really live anywhere, unless you count our motorhome.
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10 Madeleine Kolb July 30, 2013 at 1:28 pm

That’s a popular option these days for lots of people. I don’t seem to have a lot of Gypsy blood or inclination to drive an RV, but I love traveling by train, especially since air travel has gotten to be such a hassle.

A few years ago, The Engineer and I traveled by Amtrak from California to Chicago on the legendary California Zephyr and then on to Washington, DC. The scenery was spectacular, and the meals in communal dining cars were pleasant and relaxing.

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