The Great Move: If I Had My Druthers…

I swear this is my last post about the move. Scouts honor.

We are four months (almost five months) in to our new adventure in Washington, and, while we have had our ups and downs, we’re pretty happy with our life up here. That said, there are definitely some things I would do differently if I could;

1) We wouldn’t have gotten a zippy shell.

We went with the Zippy shell (a moving pod) because it sounded like the easiest option at the time. It was also, technically, the cheapest, because while it was the same price as renting a Uhaul truck, at least we didn’t have to worry about filling it up with gas. In the end it actually cost us a bit more than if we had gotten a Uhaul. Apparently Olympia is just a mile over the 50 mile radius from their storage warehouse, so we had to pay for a delivery fee. And when you think about all the stuff we had to leave behind… well… while none of those things were very expensive, or hard to replace, they add up. In the end, a Uhaul would have been the better option.

Plus the convenience of having your stuff arrive the same day we did would have probably helped us adjust better. Sitting on the floor using an igloo cooler for a tv stand and sleeping on an air mattress that keeps deflating doesn’t really promote good mental health. And having our furniture would have helped the Boyo to transition better as well. Bedtime was tough without his beloved chair.

2) We would have chosen a different apartment.

Don’t get me wrong, the complex we currently live in is quite lovely. However, it’s about 100 square feet smaller than our old home – which wouldn’t be such a big deal if the layout wasn’t so awkward. At our old house, the layout was very boxy, but the living room and dining room was one big open area. Here, the living room is at a bit of an angle due to the fireplace, and the bedrooms are a bit off as well, so the Boyo can’t run around like he could at our old place. Plus the playground that they have on the property is nothing like the playground they advertise. So that was a disappointment.

3) We would have chosen a different city.

I love Olympia. It’s the perfect mesh of country life and city life. Go one way and you’re in the middle of farmland in fifteen minutes. Go the other way and you’ll be in Tacoma in a half an hour (depending on traffic of course). There’s a kids museum, a couple of indoor playgrounds, some amazing outdoor playgrounds, and an amazing farmers market.

However, there isn’t a lot of resources available for special needs kids in this area.

There are three ABA companies in the vicinity – but they are stretched thin. We’re talking wait lists that are 6 months to a year long. It’s a bit of a shock after only having to wait a month to see a specialist in California.

Also, their special education department is a little lacking compared to California. When we first met with the Boyo’s teachers to discuss his IEP, they were a bit confused by some of his occupational therapy goals. In fact, they seemed to think that they were actually related to trying to get him ready for a future job many many many years down the road, when they’re really there to help get him ready for kindergarten. Thankfully the school he’ll be attending next year is a bit more with it.

4) We wouldn’t have bothered looking for a house to buy.

In reality, trying to buy a home before we knew where John would be working was pretty freaking silly. We thought it would be fine, because we had a general idea of where the jobs where, and we were looking within 30 miles of those areas. But we neglected to take in to account how far apart some towns are. Sure they’re technically 30 minutes apart – as the crow flies. In reality, it can take a lot longer to get from point A to point B because some of the roads are full of twists and turns.

5) We would have budgeted better.

When everything was said and done we didn’t quite break even on the house. We actually walked away from the mobile home with a smidge less than what we paid for it due to some escrow fees that our realtor neglected to take into account when she presented the offer to us. That last obscene electric bill from the park didn’t help matters either.

After paying for the moving pod, gas, hotels along the way, first months rent, security deposit, insurance increases (because technically we live in a high crime area thanks to the shopping center across the street) and replacing must have housing items that got left behind – we had enough left to last us at least three months with a little extra – to use towards a down payment on a house in time.

However, we did not factor the cost of living increases that had occurred in Washington while we had been waiting for our house to sell. The cost of living up here is still significantly cheaper than Tacoma or Seattle. And it’s definitely cheaper than Southern California – but it’s starting to get expensive. For example, when we first put our house up for sale last year, there were plenty of homes in the $150000 to $200000 price range that were decent. They were usually 2 or 3 bedrooms that were around 1200 square feet. They might need some work, but it was mostly updating like replacing carpet and fixtures. Nowadays everything in that price range is either a serious fixer upper in dire need of a lot of work – for which you need to either have cash or a rehab loan in order to buy because they are in such bad shape that no FHA loan will touch them – or they are ridiculously small. Like 600 square feet small. While I like how aesthetically pleasing tiny homes are – there is no way out Boyo could survive in one. And there is no way the cats could coexist with him in a place that small either. So if you want something decent in a good area, you’re looking at spending $300000 or more – which is why John and I are considering buying a manufactured home to put on our own land, because even with all the extra costs associated with that (septic, running utilities, etc) it’s significantly cheaper than buying a traditional home. (This wont happen for many months, probably even a year or two, down the road of course)

A second example of the inflation going on is our apartment. When we signed our lease, we agreed to pay $1235 a month. Our new lease would be $1310 if we decided to stay (we aren’t). New residents are now looking at $1500 a month. There are apartments nearby that are cheaper – but it’s damn near impossible to get into then. And in order to rent a house, you need to have an extra $5000 set aside for security deposits and service fees.

Gas is just as expensive as California is right now. Milk is cheaper but our kid is going through a milk kick, so we go through 6 gallons a week. Meat is fairly decent, but seafood is just as expensive as anywhere else. And don’t get me started on fruits and veggies…

We also didn’t expect that it would take John as long as it did to find a job – nearly three months – or that it would take so long for the background check to go through. The company he is with is really amazing. It’s a dream come true for him. But the hiring process took over a month and then it took another three weeks on top of that before he got his first paycheck.

So we are at square one again.

Everything we made from selling the house is gone – even that little extra we set aside for the down payment on our future home. We are back to living from paycheck to paycheck, and we’ve even had to break down and ask family for help to get us through because we don’t qualify for any assistance up here. It’s embarrassing and frustrating – especially when some have immediately leapt to the conclusion that this is all our fault and that we’re living outside of our means when we honestly weren’t.

So those have been fun conversations to have.

Thankfully we should be back on track financially again in the next month or so. And as I’ve stated many times, I still believe that our decision to move was the best for our family. I just wish we could have done things a little differently – and I hope that this maybe helps others who are considering doing a big move.

Especially when it comes to that damn Zippy shell.

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