Yes, we are moving cross-country during a global pandemic. It turns out that hospitals are considered “essential,” in times like these, so Mr. Mechanic’s residency will start in Santa Barbara on July 1st as originally scheduled.
Last year we packed the car to the brim with our favorite things and drove it from Portland, OR to Albany, NY. However, this year there were a few things that came up for our move back to the West Coast that we didn’t expect.
- Mr. Mechanic’s schedule has him working right up until the end of the rotation, so we only have 3 days between his last day here and his first day in California.
- We accidentally adopted a cat.
- A global pandemic.
The drive back would take at least 5 days and we have to factor in our cat as well. With this in mind, we are planning to fly back to the West Coast. This means dramatically offloading our possessions, shipping our car, and booking tickets on Southwest (two free checked bags and a flexible pet policy). Now that we know how we will get there, we had to find a place where we could land.
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The House Hunt
There were a few reasons we decided to house hunt from across the country rather than waiting until we got there:
- Airbnbs and other short term rentals are mostly illegal in Santa Barbara without going through a lot of red tape. They still exist, but rates are quite high, so we would end up likely spending $1k just while we are searching.
- Mr. Mechanic’s high intensity work begins on July 1st, and I am already planning on taking a week and a half off from work for the move. We wouldn’t have much more time or energy to find a place once we arrived.
- We are collecting our furniture from Portland and driving it down. It would be better to have a place to put the furniture right away.
Due to our time crunch, getting an apartment right now would give us a lot of peace of mind, so we started hunting on Zillow and Craigslist for a place. Click to see the prices we were looking at:
Because of the pandemic, more realtors were willing to do virtual tours and send videos of their properties. However, this didn’t extend to every landlord. One of our favorite places refused to rent to us without meeting us in person first (“call us ‘old-fashioned’ but that’s a deal-breaker for us.”). Most property owners that we talked to were a bit hesitant about renting to us from afar, but they took extenuating circumstances into consideration.
Our Top Two Housing Picks
We ended up finding two places we absolutely loved.
One was smaller, a cozy 514 ft2 Craftsman with French doors opening onto a beautiful porch. The price tag was nice too, lower than most we were considering at $2,150/month. We got to see it via a FaceTime tour with a friendly, talkative lady who held her phone like a hot potato. We tried to get a sense of the place through the jerky video, but she was quite helpful, even hopping into the shower to show us the height of the shower head.
We immediately sent over an application when we found a second option on Craigslist.
We very nearly signed the lease for Apartment #1, but another property crossed our radar—a stand-alone cottage (no walls to share!) set back from a main street, with a radiant living room and office spaces for both of us, as well as a large bedroom. It was at least double the size of the lil’ Craftsman, and it was still within our budget at $2,640/month.
I referred back to my old article when weighing our two options: Why We Plan To Downsize From 1,000 sq ft. Technically, the larger place was a ‘better deal’ in terms of price for the space. However, if the small Craftsman was enough, that’s all that mattered. We kept flip-flopping on our decision, but in the end the location and office space for me as a full-time remote worker meant that the larger place won out.
We Have A Lot To Do
Logistically, we have a lot to accomplish before the move:
✅ Book the car shipment (~$1.1k).
✅ Reserve a trailer for moving our furniture ($206 – We left a lot of furniture in Oregon when we moved, so we are fetching it and driving it down to California).
✅ Book our plane tickets (I used my Southwest Rapid Rewards points, but will be paying the $95 pet fee in cash twice as I am going to make a stop to visit my folks in between).
✅ Buy a cat carrier (I got one as a birthday gift).
❌ Get MechaniCat his rabies booster (they do it for free at the local shelter).
❌ Ship boxes.
❌ Pack our bags.
❌ Sell or donate everything.
❌ Say goodbye to all of the friends we’ve made.
Now We Have To Sell Everything
Signing the new lease brought us a lot of relief, but now the challenge is rapidly downsizing and selling everything. Luckily, the new residents moving in to our apartment complex bought a lot of our furniture. The rest is on Craigslist waiting for a new home.
|Item||Sold||Price (USD)||What we paid|
|5×7 Brown Stripe Rug||SOLD||$20||$23|
|4×6 Zigzag Area Rug||SOLD||$15||$20|
|3×5 Red Rug with 4 Mats||SOLD||$15||$5|
|Black End Table||SOLD||$15||$15|
|Ikea Side Table x3||No||$10||$10|
|Ikea Lamp x3||No||$10||$13|
|Wire Frame Lamp||No||$15||$10|
|Small Bedside Lamp||No||$10||$5|
|Blue Desk Lamp||No||$5||$3|
|Summary||16 items sold||Total asking price: $1,400||Total price paid: $1,159|
So far we’ve made back $855 of the $1,400 we spent on furniture after moving here. Thinking back, I’m pretty impressed that we furnished our entire place on just $1,400!
I also sold my bike and Mr. Mechanic’s as well. We shredded paperwork, donated garbage bags full of clothes, and filled up boxes with books we’ll be giving away. We will be shipping a few boxes via UPS, and our largest items (computer, monitors, guitar, bass) will go in the car, as there is an allowance for 100 lbs in the trunk.
Next weekend we might try a garage sale or we’ll simply donate anything we haven’t sold. Then we have a couple of days to pack and move.
Packing Up My Moving Thoughts
There are a lot of upsides to moving. You get to downsize, decide what you really need, and explore new cities. In the last 5 years, we have moved 5 times. From intra-city moves, to one short-term international move, to moving cross-country, each time we’ve done the move ourselves.
For every move we have sold things, managed work timetables, and gone the frugal route, but we have never had to move during a pandemic! We have never worried about whether there would be enough social distancing on our flights or double checked our pockets for Purell before going into the UPS store. Luckily we know the next four years will be in Santa Barbara, a gorgeous place where we can settle down– and hopefully not move again for a while.
What About You?
How many times have you moved in the last 5 years?
Have you ever moved cross-country before?
What’s your favorite moving story?
Share in the comments below!