First Time Buyer Chronicles, Part 4: The Inter-State Move


Anna ErwertMoving interstate has to be one of the more stressful endeavors you could choose for yourself. If moving from one block to another is painful, imagine moving from one state to another. To keep your sanity (and your relationship), you need to keep the reason you're moving front and center. For us, it was to get to a place where the lifestyle and cost of living is right for us-- and a place where we could finally afford to buy a house. So in other words, we has some pretty great reasons, and believe me, they helped fortify us when things got bleak.

My first tip to those of you considering moving to a new state is to do your homework. You should make a checklist of every detail, every step you must take. When Scott and I decided to move to Oregon from California, we didn’t really know what we were getting into. True, Scott is originally from Portland and had come out to California for a job, in a sense, he’d already made the journey once and lived to tell about it. But when he did it the first time, he was in his 20s, a single dude with no more than one truck full of stuff. With that energy unique to dudes in their 20s, he moved (in one day!)  from Portland to the Bay Area with the help of a friend. They took turns driving and napping, singing along to CDs of road songs they’d made pre-trip, eating beef jerky and drinking too much coffee. It was kinda fun, to hear him tell it.

Nothing fun about driving a giant truck stuffed with the detrius of a combined household, two cars, a dog, live plants, bikes, etc. And I do mean etc! Seriously, what it is all this stuff we collect!

The first hurdle was pure logistics. Being only 2 people (our dog is awesome, but he hasn’t learned to drive just yet), we had to consider how to get our cars plus a moving truck from San Francisco to Portland. I shopped around to reputable inter-state movers, companies like Mayflower and Bekins. This research quickly proved to us we’d need a plan B, since using movers to pack, load, drive and unload our stuff  would cost several thousand bucks we couldn't spare. Generally moving companies charge on the size of the truck needed, the number of rooms of furniture being moved, and the distance of the move. This doesn't mean you might not want the convenience of such a service. Looking back, I wish we had saved up enough to hire out the labor-- and therein lies a lesson for readers.

Family Support

Luckily, my brother came to the rescue. For our wedding present, he volunteered to drive the truck, help unload in Portland, and to fly one-way back to Oakland, where he lives. That way, Scott could drive his car and I could come later, after cleaning the apartment and securing our deposit back from the landlord from hell.

Even with this plan and generous familial support, we made a lot of mistakes. Mainly, we didn’t get rid of enough stuff.  And we ended up just giving away things that wouldn’t fit in the truck at the last minute, my best plants and several pieces of furniture, things we no doubt could have sold if we’d been more realistic about what would fit, and about what we really needed. Perhaps because part of moving to a new place is letting go of so much, physical items take on almost human life and meaning. I felt affectionate about books I hadn’t read in years, nostalgic about old jackets and framed posters from the early 1990’s.

Curb Your Collection

I promise you, if you can’t choose what has to go yourself, the square footage of your moving truck and the energy required to pack it all will. I recommend ruthless accounting of your items before moving day. Anything you haven’t used, worn, or read in a year should probably go. Anything you have more than two of can be edited down. Anything in a box covered with dust should be kissed goodbye (from a distance lest that dust get in your nose!). That way you leave room for the stuff you actually need.



Preparing Yourself Means More Than Just Collecting Boxes

I recommend reviewing these moving tips in ZipRealty’s Learning Center. Particularly, but not exclusively, if you are traveling inter-state, the time and energy-saving ideas here could alleviate the stress-fest that moving can be, if you do it without a plan. And keep in mind the proverbial ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ too, because that really, really helps when things get dark. At the end of our tunnel: the place where we could afford a home we loved, in a city that would offer us a whole new life--excitement, change, potential! Yes, it was challenging—exhausting!-- to get there,  but 100% worth every drop of sweat.