Starting Over in Your 30s (how to move cross-country on a budget)
You see, I never planned on moving cross-country. Maybe moving closer to the center of Cincinnati, Ohio, sure, but to another city and actually surviving there?
Just a fantasy unless my career paid for relocation.
At least, that’s what I thought going into 2017 and planning a vacation to Miami with friends. It was during said planning when I decided to extend my time off by another week and fly from Miami to Seattle. The original idea to meet up with a friend and honestly, just to check out a city I had always wanted to visit, but never had a chance.
Just three days in the Emerald City and I found myself sobbing into the shoulder of a random stranger, who merely patted my hair, smoothed it away from my face and told me one thing that cemented the rest of my life.
“You’ll be back soon enough.”
She wasn’t wrong.
My relocation story is atypical, but I learned some pretty valuable lessons from the experience that I’d like to share with you.
Moving Across The Country: Part 1
Lesson One: When looking for an apartment, be prepared to move fast.
I found my studio right around Christmas 2017. There were about 99 listings I sifted through and applied to a good majority of them, but the property managers either wanted me in Seattle to see the spaces, make arrangements for someone IN Seattle to see them, or flat out did not want to rent to a transplant. Some listings were online for months, others for mere hours before they were rented.
If I wanted a space in one of my dream neighborhoods, then I learned super quick to move fast. My studio was online for 6 hours before I contacted the property manager.
Yvonne contacted me about an hour after I emailed and the rest is history. Once I had the apartment settled, I had to address my belongings.
Lesson Two: Vacuum-pack bags are a God-Send.
Selling, giving away, donating or trashing everything I owned prior to this move, some furniture, and other items stayed at the apartment to be delivered to my grandmother and my move was essentially split into four parts.
Part 1 was my first cross-country flight to meet my new landlord and his business partner, who did most of the legal legwork with me. The house is a little unorthodox. Each floor has a separate unit or two, so they vet future tenants to ensure each person is a good fit for the “community”.
Yvonne characterizes Ed as a grumpy curmudgeon and she’s not too far off the mark. He’s not so grumpy as he is when bored. They didn’t look for the pristine credit scores other apartments wanted. Or a long rental history. Or other hoops I’ve seen repeatedly. They pretty much just wanted to make sure you were a good tenant and could afford the rent.
I passed muster.
Working from home interested them because Yvonne works from home herself and during one chat we had, mentioned that the shared house would be good for me as I wouldn’t be completely isolated from people.
The first cross-country flight was with a weekender filled with a week’s worth of clothes, my work backpack, a suitcase with lights, silverware, two pillows, a blanket, and an air mattress all vacuum-packed into Zip-loc space bags so they’d fit and minimal toiletries. I would purchase the rest here in Seattle.
Lesson Three: Crossing three time zones wears on you.
Working from 6 am to 6 pm because your day job expects you to work East Coast hours when you live on the West Coast wears on you too. Oh, and day job expected me to also work West Coast hours.
I stayed for a week after making a large IKEA trip via two Lyft rides. I regretted nothing. Except for the curtain rods and curtains I purchased and ultimately passed along via the neighborhood buy-nothing groups. I did wish somebody warned me about the soda tax and the plastic bag ban.