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moving list

May 28th, 2017 at 10:26 am

This is the first time we are moving into a place and having a list of things we have and want to buy. Usually we move in and make do with what we have. I guess because this feels more permanent, and we have money we are making a list of items we want.

We are buying the king size bed we've wanted for 10+ years but never gotten. Just the mattress, we have to figure out the frame later. Also a tv and grill are on the list. 2 years when we moved we didn't have any income so it didn't make sense to spend money when we had none coming in.

We are also replacing the kids beds. They are both in queens and we want to move them to smaller beds and get them desks. For now the DK1 will get a twin bunk bed and the DK2 will keep twin until we figure out our guest room situation. So we are able to sell/recycle two queen size beds. The truth is one is our old bed which we handed down when we bought a foam mattress. The other a friend gave us and so we didn't pay for it.

Right now we are looking at $1150 for a king size purple mattress for us. Two twin mattresses for the bunk bed.

We also need stools for our island. But since I can't recall if it's extra tall or regular counter height i'll buy them asap when we move in.

We also shopped playsets but they are so expensive that DH instead wants to try and buy a used one on craigslist because it appears that many people just try to get rid of it after their kids outgrow it. So though we budgeted $2000 we're going to see if instead we can spend $500 and get something better quality.

Interestingly we bought a lawn mower and seeder from our sellers. We were driving by their house yesterday and they were having a garage sale. DH and I were going to drive by when he sees the lawn mower. He stops and hops out and offers them money because hey we need it. So for $25 we got a mower and seeder.

As far as packing? Right now we are starting to sell and purge what we don't need. I think more than packing selling and getting rid of stuff we don't need will probably help more in the long run. We have quite a few items we are looking at and will start selling or donating.

change in plans

May 25th, 2017 at 11:49 pm

Interesting change in plans. We are no longer closing on June 9th instead we negotiated a closing of June 7th. In return we got possession of the house June 24th instead of June 30th. This all came about on Tuesday. It's been a crazy few days. It actually worked out greatly in our favor.

I won't tell our realtor this she'll be pissed and honestly I don't think she's working in our best interest. But heck it's not her money and not her house. I sucked it up and worked with her mortgage guy but only by forcing him to match our deal with capital one.

Our landlord was very accepting and is allowing us to get out of our lease June 30th. Fantastic. We are out a month early. Today I showed the house to a woman and her daughter who are very interested and turns out renting another property managed by my property manager. They are being kicked out of their rental because their landlord is selling. Our PM turned them onto our house so it appears to be a match made in heaven. I hope she gets it.

Anyway we save $1200 because we were going to move over fourth of July and keep our rental until July 15th. Being out by June 30th saves us enough to makes the hassle worth it.

I got an estimate of $1100 to pay movers, and $1100 extra for them to pack. So $2200 to pay full service movers. Instead however my DH and I are leaning to the hourly company we used when we moved 2 years ago. They charge $79/hr for packing and $95/hr for moving.

I think that 11 hours of moving is more than enough. So I'm leaning toward that. Especially since we also have a 22 hour budget to have them pack up the house as well. I'm not sure how it'll work out and we could afford the full service. But I'm a little nervous about timing the packing plus moving.

penny wise, pound foolish

May 21st, 2017 at 08:44 am

So we're moving out of our place. I negotiated moving out 2 weeks early and not losing our deposit. Saving us $1200. Our plan is to have it cleaned July 1st. Then move in a mix of us and movers July 2nd-5th. Then be out by the 5th and let our property manager clean and the new tenants in by the 15th. 10 days should be enough to have it cleaned and repaired. The property manager agreed and I agreed to show the house as needed.

Now I had friends who were interested in the place. They are a family of 5 with a parent staying with them so 6 people. They live 5 minutes from me in a townhouse complex where they rent a 2 bed/1 bath townhouse with 1 car garage for $2275/month. Their lease is up end of May. They can resign for $2275 (it was $2200) or they can pay month to month for $2775. The lease breakage is 3 months or $6825 if they break their lease. I told the mom (my friend) she's better off going month to month because the $500 works out cheaper than signing a lease. They are house hunting and the realtor told them they are likely to be able to buy in November/December when there is less people looking.

However I don't think they are in a position to buy since they were approved for less than the mom hoped. She initially thought they'd get approved for $600k. But the bank told them $450k. This puts a big damper on their house hunt. She said they don't have more than $30-35k to put down and she needed help selling her jewlery to get more. I told her don't sell her jewelry. But that will bring in $10k for closing costs she thinks. I have no idea how selling jewelry works except I feel like you don't get much.

They have a house from where they moved that they could sell and it would help with the downpayment. Currently it's rented out. I told her that would really help them with the downpayment and minimize risk in buying. She said they have to think about it. They want to try to be "rich" by being landlords.

Anyway I told my property manager about them and gave them his contact info. They offered him $2275 a month to rent. I slapped my head. Seriously? Less than I'm paying they thought was a good idea? It was ridiculous and he said he didn't get back to them. They asked me to inquire if he had gotten the email and that's when he told me what they offered. I told him just tell them no. It wasn't feasible.

Oh well. Since he has 8 offers now for showings on Tuesday 4-6 pm I guess we'll be fine. It's for $2500/month and I am guessing that it'll be taken on Tuesday. So we are set to save money.

As for my friends? They lost out on renting a bigger house for $125/month more. Maybe $125/month is a lot but at the same time they would have had space for 6 people better than in a 2 bedroom townhouse. It's cheaper than a 3 bedroom townhouse in their complex which was $2500/month. Sometimes people are penny wise, pound foolish. In trying to score a deal and be cheap they lost out I think on a better house and a better flexible rental agreement. I sent them a copy of mine so they could read it for lease breakage. Oh well. Say La Vie.

my neighbors are jerks

July 16th, 2016 at 07:09 pm

Did I mention what's been going on? Remember the incidents earlier in the year about the bullying? The hitting and drawing on my DK1? The luck we had about switching classes. Anyway before the end of the year I turned in a request that they are not in class together. Nor my DK1 is any class with any neighbors.

So a reason we also looked at moving out of our rental was the neighbor situation. Anyway recently we got a note from saying "you suck DK1." We also were left weird rock piles on the door. Until the note we said nothing and then my DH went next door and explained to the parents the situation. We did not show this to DK1, we asked if DK did it and she said no.

The parents said they don't talk that way. They didn't let them out of the sight. The truth is I caught them this week leaving notes again at the door. I am not sure what to do now. By caught I mean I opened the door and the kids were standing in front of our house and ran.

So now what to do? Make situation worse and confront them? Or just realize my neighbors are assholes and that there is nothing to be said or done before they realize their kids are being jerks because they are allowing it? Is it wrong to feel like we should move? I hate feeling trapped in the house and constantly on the kids so nothing happens?

golden handcuffs and renting

July 6th, 2016 at 08:08 am

This weekend we hung out with my BIL staying at his apartment. He's 36 and never bought his own place. Partially because he's not had a down payment and partially because he's never been sure he wanted to stay put. Truth is his first 2 years working there were layoffs at his company and he wasn't sure if he would stay. He feels secure now but not happy.

So buying a place for a job he isn't in love with doesn't make sense. We've told him if he's unhappy and thinks he'll find a new job or career don't buy. But at the same time he feels he's flushing money down the toilet. And he feels he can't leave his job, he's got some security through a large salary. He's in the middle of being handcuffed to his salary. Honestly if he buys a condo I think he'll be even more handcuffed.

And yes he has been renting his apartment for 4 years and rent keeps escalating. It was $1600, then $1750, then $1900, and now it's $2100/month for a 1 bedroom. But buying means he's committed to the area he doesn't love. It means he needs a big EF in case he loses his job and if he gets a new job and it's not easily commutable he has to sell and move.

SA thread was discussing whether you hate your job. I think if you do you should figure out how to change it or your career. Sometimes it's just the job and sometimes it's the career. And it's hard to leave the job if it's so lucrative for your family/self. It's hard if it's convenient. But you can make a plan and change I think.

What do you think about being handcuffed to a job?

2 offers are coming

June 21st, 2016 at 09:56 pm

OMG this is it. Two job offers are coming in. I am crossing my fingers that they are good. I think so. At least DH is happy with the potential employers. This is a huge deal. Before the 1 year mark the bet we paid is looking to payout. An income again. Potentially moving locally.

Looking over the benefits we are losing some of the 401k match before it was 3% matched at 200% = 6% of salary. Now it's 50% match of 7% so 3.5% of salary and about the same price for slightly worse medical benefits to be expected because we had premium medical care before. Also slightly less vacation 21 days a year versus the 26 days year DH got.

Do you think it's worth moving for a shorter commute into another neighborhood and paying $1000 more a month for a slightly larger house? And testing out another area? Or should we try to buy? Or just be content renting?

My phone died on Sunday so I've been using the free Nokia phones we got last year when we switched to T Mobile. Going to look into replacement by warranty.

maybe we're renters

April 19th, 2016 at 06:13 pm

I know we were hoping to buy and settle in but more and more the signs I think are pointing to renting long term. Maybe even moving into another bigger rental. What brought this on?

Well my neighbors with the 4 bd/2.5, 2000 sq ft home sold today for $712.5k. That makes it $313/sq ft, highest in the area and a record. My neighbors next door in July 2015 same exact layout, same size 4 bd/2.5 ba, 2000 sq ft home bought for $570k. So in 8 months (they bought the 1st weekend of March) the house went up $142.5k in 8 months or 25% in 8 months. The annualized return is 37.5% so the house should be worth in July $783k if the prices keep rising on track.

But I wonder what sort of people participate in a bidding war and end up paying $80k over asking price. Do they have any regrets? Was that always the plan and were they planning on spending more? Did they realize they were setting a new bar for price/sq ft? Do they even care?

But I'm concerned. We left an expensive area for an area that is still cheaper but I'm wondering if in 1-2 years will be just as expensive? We sold around $400/sq ft and but that seemed to be the cap in the sense that it's going up maybe 3-5% a year. Not going 37.5%/year.

So right now I'm not sure it's a sustainable market. Maybe I'm wrong and it's time to buy before it goes up another 40%. But if it goes up another 40% then this "entry" level home will be $1 million.


getting into the groove

April 11th, 2016 at 09:35 am

We had a nice weekend and I had a great Saturday night dinner out. With other moms I'd meet and started to develop friendships with. I mentioned how hard it was, that I was enjoying the area but making friends wasn't easy. And people are very nice but friendship takes time and effort.

I previously mentioned a few weeks ago I felt after months of seeing a couple of moms weekly for group speech therapy I finally felt it clicking. The same thing now. Went out to dinner with a few friends and I felt I could breathe. I was like "wow this is really feeling like home, I can do this."

On Sunday we went to a classmates birthday party and I'd meet a lot of the parents. One mom in particular started to spill everything out to me. She too moved here in July just because. They didn't like where they were living and her husband is a contractor so he works 100% from home. They decided to try it here and she hates it. They are considering moving again this summer to another state (texas).

Since like us they had to pay for their move she said her husband wanted to give it another year. But they both weren't in love with the area. And her son was in kindergarten and she wondered how it would hurt to move again so soon or move after 2 years?

I told her do it. If she wasn't happy here then move. Without a job or family (they are both foreigners no family anywhere in the US) then find somewhere they fit in. I told her it was "okay" to hate it here. I wasn't going to tell her to give it time. I told her I wasn't going to tell her it would get easier. I also told her if that's how she felt it's okay. Not everywhere is perfect for everyone and you make mistakes. She asked me if I loved it? I said yes but it's different for us. We chose to move where we are consciously with many factors involved.

She said she felt so guilty because when she brought it up to others how hard it was they kept saying give it another year. Give it more time she'd learn to like it. I was the first person to say move on and it's okay to hate it.

I didn't tell her but everyone said that to me where we used to live. People all the time would tell me I'd grow to like it. I should make the best of it. Not one person believe me when I said we were going to leave. They thought "oh you've been here 10 years and you haven't left. You're just complaining." I wish someone had been supportive and told me it's okay to hate it. It was okay to be counting the days.

Truth is that sometimes people do need a change. And hearing someone is unhappy in a new area the answer isn't to tell them "give it more time, or you'll adjust." Sometimes it's just giving them the words that it's okay to feel how you feel. That it's okay to hate it.

I was sad in missing our friends after we left. But I never looked back or regret leaving where we moved from. I never in 10 years felt like it was home. It never was. It was a temporary place holder in life. My DH would never go back and we'll never leave the west coast again period. I certainly won't and if he choose a job over us then he can go solo but I know he won't. He's already been recruited by multiple companies and refused to talk to them. We're home and we're happy and the kids are getting settled. I'm making friends and my DH I think is happier since I'm just happier and more relaxed. But the truth is he missed home (very close to where we are) and he didn't know it till he saw it again.

Why would we leave? Now we're those people who could tell others to give it chance. But I won't. Instead I know what it feels like to have people pat you on the hand and say "give it time." Instead I say "it's okay it's not for everyone. You aren't a bad person for hating it. If moving back or elsewhere makes you happier do it."

I hope this mom finds a place to call home that makes her family happy. I know my nephew also living in the area is counting the months until Fall 2017 when he leaves for his MBA program. He hates it and is sucking it up because switching jobs and moving for 18 months doesn't make sense. But he hates it here and I can't blame him. I just hope he can survive 18 more months.

happy easter and odds and ends

March 25th, 2016 at 09:31 pm

I haven't done my easter baskets or stuffed eggs and it's friday night. UGGH. But Happy Easter! We are doing an egg hunt and easter basket first ever at our house. We've gone to a friend's house to easter egg hunt but never in our own yard. We are also having my nephew over for prime rib roast. So nice we are doing our own thing with family. Makes it feel so homey. We're doing our own tradition. Before it was just us and people did their own family thing or it's sunday night. Now we have our own family thing.

This week it also started to click. I went to a friend's house for lunch on Wednesday and while chatting and kids playing it clicked. I felt like I was fitting in and making friends. I mentioned that it's a struggle to make new friends as we move and get older. That I can't expect friendships to sprout up overnight. Well with these women we've been seeing each other weekly since September with our kids in group speech every Wednesday. And here we are March and I felt comfortable and a click.

I feel like we are getting into a groove. Plus it helps spring is gorgeous. Did I mention how pretty and sunny it is? Did I mention how the days are suddenly longer and the sun doesn't seem to go down until 7 pm? That getting out is amazing?

I still pinch myself it's a dream. That a year ago yes I was stuck in seasonal depression mode. I had it every winter. And yes the days were shorter in January here. But at the same time my steps were lighter without snow and shoveling. My hands, head, and neck were warmer without gloves, hat, and scarf. I am wearing short sleeves already.

It's just a very nice time of year and I can't wait for summer. I know I shouldn't gush over just the scenery, and for everyone who says moving is hard, it is. But it does get easier and better. And sometimes just looking at the positives makes it easier. FWIW, where I was I made LOTS of great friends who made life bearable. But every year I could feel the seasons pulling me down.

Does moving hurt kids?

February 12th, 2016 at 09:39 am

Does moving hurt kids? Am I not giving my kids to make friends from kindergarten for life? I don't know. But right now I'd say no. The move for us has been good. Our DK2 won't remember where we lived and I can tell our DK1 has only vague memories of specific things that may not really stick.

Is it worth trying to stay put now that we've moved? That means buying a house in the same district. No. We moved and are renting to know the area. Where we are is good but we're not convinced this is the right area for us. The schools are good but the commuting isn't perfect. We knew that when we rented but areas we looked at didn't have anything available. And who knows what might be available when we start to look to buy.

We're not even sure we'll buy this year or rent another year We aren't even sure we'll stay put in this area, perhaps in 4 months a job offer too good to pass up will come along and we'll move again. That will likely mean renting another year and then buying.

Every step in this process we've explained to the kids what we are doing and why. Our DK1 understands we are renting this is not our house and we may not stay in the area. DK1 understands Dad is not working but trying to get a job. DK1 understands why we moved and is happy. Loves the area, misses snow but then was excited to see it when we visited the grandparents and went snowboarding.

I think that military families who move every 3 years probably have a better grasp of moving. I meet a lot of people who are terrified of uprooting their kids even within the same city. Once kindergarten has started they only want to find a house within the district. They feel it'd be too disruptive. People who just moved to the area feel constrained to buy once they've rented and pressured to buy within a year.

I think kids are more flexible than adults. I think it's us as adults that feel this pressure to "settle" down and give our kids what we perceive as stability. We also feel stressed over making new friends and having to develop new relationships.

Have you found it hard to move? I found it super easy without kids. I moved a lot. With kids it's more work but I haven't worried about uprooting the kids. I feel like we're on this adventure to find the place we belong together. It'll all click and we'll be happy. Have you moved often? Was it difficult?

2015 lookback

January 9th, 2016 at 06:19 pm

2015 was a wild and crazy year for us. I just looked quickly back and I know that in January 2015 I was in completely a different place. We had spent new year's eve with friends who were telling us of their plans to move and sell their home. They were needing to change due to circumstances of childcare, etc.

We had had a plan to move in June 2016. But in January 2015 I was so jealous of my friend's plans and feeling like I was "killing time, being patient, planning," but others were moving on. Little did I know that less than 10 weeks later all our plans would be disrupted and our life would radically change.

Has it been for the better? Absolutely. Have you found ourselves settled? Yes and No. We love where we live and are super happy.

I wish I could upload a photo of how beautiful today was. Sun was shining, mountains with snow and perfect trees. It was stunning. I said to my husband today "I can't believe we live here. It doesn't feel real" My kids were laughing in the backseat and my DH said "neither can I."

I mean literally 12 months ago I was sitting in the same chair counting the days. But then one small change and everything got turned upside down.

I don't know still if this was the right financial move for us. I may never know. Why? Because I think that being financial responsible we'll make it work no matter what happens.

No matter what our future salary is, what we make, what we earn we'll somehow learn to live within our means. Perhaps we'll take a very serious, very permanent paycut. Perhaps not. I just don't know.

We are about 17 weeks away from finding out if the gamble we made 18 weeks ago was correct or not. I have started to stress a little. To learn whether our planning skills in life sucks or turns out that we are one of those people who can control our destinies. My DH says he's betting on us winning this gamble.

Cross your fingers. Our kids are so young they have no idea what we've done. I wonder if perhaps we've gamble the opportunity to pay for college 100%. Or perhaps we've made the right decision and college 100% paid for is more achievable than ever. I just don't know.

But every week for the next 4 months until we know, realize friends/readers will be nerve wracking. While I know that many friends had a rough 2015, I hope that 2016 turns into a better year for them all.

Update on life

September 28th, 2015 at 08:12 pm

I realized I'm pretty bad at reading comments so I'll do a few updates.

We ALL are extremely happy to have moved. We love it here. Everything has been amazing. The house is perfect. The neighborhood is great. And we adore the weather, people, everything. I asked my DH today which city he's preferred where we've lived and he said hands down here. Something about it just strikes a chord within.

Did I mention we have a hammock in the backyard as a housewarming gift from an old neighbor? We swing it most days. The weather been great. We've had 2 sunday dinners with my nephew and a couple of friends. We've explored and enjoyed biking.

My DH plans on going back to work February 1st. He's enjoying the time off and relaxing. FWIW his old job people are on knife edge since the VP just got fired and potentially more people will be going next March. A lot of his old coworkers have called him to chat and ask about life and complain.

As for me? I've been trying to keep in touch with friends we've left behind but they haven't been very responsive. I can't help but wonder if we would have ended up drifting apart anyway this year? That people would have gotten busier and new friendships would have developed. But we are also making new friends here so perhaps it'll all work out.

Our only sad note is that our dog has lymphoma and we've started him on a modified chemotherapy. We refused surgery for his leg and chosen a less drastic chemotherapy than recommended. Having been through this once we are hoping for the best with the decision we've made. We've spent so far this month around $2k and more to come on his. I did cry in the office a little but I'm okay. I hope the kids understand. We'll need a little bit of time recover I think before we get another dog.

Buying a few things

September 8th, 2015 at 02:02 pm

So we've bought a few things for the house. For the most part we've had too much furniture in some ways than too little. But we've had to buy 2 shoe racks from bed bath and beyond for $16 each. They were regular $20 each with 20% off coupon. They are great the 6 shelf stacker that is made with fabric so you can hold kid shoes without it falling through like other shoe racks.

Two bookcases one for each child. We actually sold three bookcases but my DH wasn't comfortable with either in the kids rooms. They were full size and he thought they would climb it and fall over. He also doesn't put beds by windows because he thinks they'll crash and fall through the windows. It's weird phobias that I have to humor. But we bought one bookshelf on craigslist this weekend for $20 and one at ikea for $30. I figure depending on where we move we might sell them and buy the kids a matching set at that time when we get into a final home.

We also bought a dresser for the DK2 since she's got her own room now. We had a dresser previously that was falling apart and bought over 15 years ago from IKEA as is department. Again we went to IKEA and splurged $40!

Other random stuff we are buying a new rice cooker since ours broke. Actually a friend bought it for us as a housewarming gift. And possibly the 20 spice rack from costco. It comes with 5 years of free spice refills. We got rid of our spices and condiments because it wasn't worth shipping. Besides who knows how it would have survived the move. Again all these tiny costs add up.

I'm also waiting for a coupon from Groupon because I need a couple of duvet covers and extra sheet sets. Uggh. Moving is such a pain. Our house is a wreck. There is no space to clean and vacuum and yet I'm getting antsy because I know it's dirty, but we are living with boxes and stuff out everywhere.

Moving Expenses

August 30th, 2015 at 05:41 pm

Okay so moving is costly. There are a lot of strange and unexpected expenses. You can easily predict movers, storage, boxes, hiring help, time off etc. You can even guess maybe replacing furniture.

But my weird expenses is the replacement of stuff that I used up or didn't move. Stuff like condiments like Ketchup, mustard, mayo, salad dressing. Knowing we were going to move we had not been stockpiling since last summer and was using up our pantry stockpile.

Also we used up our toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies before moving and gave away all half empty stuff. These are all things that needed to be replaced and I didn't have much time to stockpile since we need some of it sooner rather than later.

We did buy once piece of used furniture so far a TV Stand for $20. We also might sell an old desk so that negates buying furniture. We are trying to minimize buying and selling anything because we plan on moving and buying within a 1-2 years.

I will say that moving into our place makes me realize all the little things I want in our permanent place we buy. Little layout issues I never thought about in a condo. I will also admit a 3 bd 1800 sq ft house is a lot smaller in some ways than I thought. We're definitely wanting more space, something we'd probably never desire if we hadn't moved.

Our Rental Hunt

August 3rd, 2015 at 04:30 pm

We arrived on Sunday into the city and start hunting for apartment/houses. Before we arrived I had started calling/emailing property managers, listing agents on Thursday and Friday attempting to set up appointments to see places.

On Sunday we saw five places. I had contacted one property manager and asked to see 4 places she had with her company windermere and was told she was unable to show me the places and would get back to me. She also said some places did not take dogs and she didn't want to bother contacting the owners though it said in the ad "pets on case by case basis". Basic she was a lazy property manager and "too busy" to deal with issues.

So out of the four houses I was interested in from Thursday it took me a week to finally see on the next Thursday. Also it took a realtor from another company to show us the house with a lockbox. The house was $2200/month for a 3 bd/2.5 ba in the exact neighborhood we rented in. By the time that happened we had found a different house also 3/2.5ba for $2400/month.

On thursday with two applications pending we went with the more expensive home. My DH and I both liked it better. But more importantly we found the property manager a great guy honest and quick to deal with.

I'll be honest I hesitated a lot for $200/month but then decided to suck it up. Well turns out good thing I did. I read the Yelp reviews for windermere property management and they had horrible reviews about people suing to get back deposits and contracts falling. I ended up writing a negative review as well because it was a horrible experience.

Perhaps the house we rented isn't worth $200 more a month, but then again. If we lose our entire deposit when we move out because the rental company is dishonest and fraudulent then it'd be the same. Besides my gut tells me our property manager will fix things and be honest with us and return calls. I had a bad feeling about renting from a property management company that had such negative reviews.

Experiences? Or landlords? Do you ever fire big companies? Or is it the individual manager? I wish I could tell the owner of the house we considered the horrible service they were getting. That the house was sitting vacant an extra two weeks because the people they hired were incompetent and lazy.

Road Trip Part 1: Niagara Falls, Mackinac Island, Soo Locks

July 8th, 2015 at 09:35 pm

I haven't had time to do photos but I'll tell you what happened. We left town around 3 pm. Exhausted we had dinner in Syracuse at Dinosaur BBQ and stayed overnight in Rochester at Red Roof Inn. It cost us $62 includes taxes for the night, took dogs, and very clean and comfortable.

We left early the next morning for Niagara Falls, ON. My DH drove on to Pearsons Toronto Airport to ship our dog. He went to DH's parents until the end of August. I believe it cost us $250 to ship as cargo on top of the $90 international health certificate.

We stayed at the Crystal Inn in Niagara Falls and it was terrible. We had booked 2 nights thinking we needed extra time because of the dog, but decided to move on the next day. Unfortunately I booked the hotel through Booking.com and was unable to change the reservation. So the $96 we spent for 2 night was $96 for 1 night in a really crappy hotel. Oh well say la vie.

I will say we had a great time in Niagara Falls and we did the Whirlpool Aero Car and Hornblower Cruise. The kids loved both and my DH had a blast though he's been dozens of times to Niagara Falls. He thoroughly enjoyed himself seeing the kids get soaked on the boat and loving the night scene at the Falls. We had actually gone back about 3 years ago, but our oldest didn't remember a thing. Kids make sometimes the same trip more pleasurable having experienced it through new eyes.

We drove the next day to Bay City, MI and just spent the night at the Econolodge at the rate of $59.60 night all taxes included. It was very clean and much bigger than we are used to. This was just a place to rest as we continued to St. Ignace, MI.

We stayed at St Ignace overnight so we could do Mackinac Island. We stayed at K Royal Motel for $71.60. It was fine. The real gem was going to Mackinac Island. The island has no transportation other than horse carriage or bikes or walking. So we rented 2 bikes and 2 bike carriers and did the 8 miles loop of the island. Our kids love biking and so do we and it was great. Took us 3 hours including stopping for lunch but the pictures and pleasure was amazing.

We also walked the Fort Mackinac and the town. Even the ferry ride over from St Ignace was great. We went under the "mighty mac" Mackinaw Bridge. FWIW it's a lot easier to go from St. Ignace than Mackinaw City. The ferry ride is only 15 minutes, except when they go under the Bridge.

The food along the way has been interesting an exceptional. I'll post photos later. But it's truly been a pleasure.

Next up was the Soo Locks in Sault Ste Marie. It was something cool for the kids and we enjoyed seeing a part of Canada my DH's never been too. We've actually done a boat tour of the Yangtze River which was very similar but on a much larger scale.

Then we're moving onto camping at Picture Rock National Lakefront. I can't wait.

Leaving a City

July 1st, 2015 at 09:18 pm

I think it's a weird feeling to leave a city and know that you'll never have a reason to come back. When we left southern California after nearly 10 years, I was sad. But at the same time I never felt like I was leaving permanently and it turns out I was right. We always go back to visit and since having kids we've been going annually.

But this time it's different. This time I don't feel like I have the draw to visit and I am sad. I'm sad that I won't see the great friends we've made who've become like family. I feel like a big chunk of our lives were here.

I am tearing up over everything. Friends we've known pre kids or coworkers I'm saying good bye too. To friends we made from having kids. Or even therapist we've seen for 2 years from my kiddo every week. It's been tough saying good bye.

Also trying to "cram" in the last bit of pleasure before we move. All systems are go on the sale of our home. We finalized all paperwork. Everything should go smoothly. We are set to close on July 7th. It's incredible to be so close yet still feel like we are so far from being done.

I think it'll be easier after tomorrow night and we pack up the trailer with furniture and the movers. Then it's just the road trip packing and odds and ends.

DH is throwing things in boxes and really feeling the pressure. He said the last 5% of packing is the hardest! I can't wait for this trip to start.

ABF U Pack and Moving Costs

June 30th, 2015 at 08:07 pm

So an interesting thing about ABF U Pack since we are using them, they sell you that things are by the linear foot but in truth it's by 2 linear feet. The measurements for putting up the bulkhead is only 2 linear ft per set up so it's actually $300 per 2 linear ft and it's really easier to take stuff rather than worry about it.

Our costs to move are at $6k. We spent $1962 on an interior painter. We paid $1600 for the exterior painting of our house just the front and 40%. Only $1730 for our foundation repair work!!!! WooHoo!!!! Came in below total cost of the low of $5k. Came in total with engineering at $4326! Amazing. And $714 on 2 hours of moving labor help, buying moving supplies, renting steam cleaner, and storage.

Not bad so far. I think we'll be at close to our estimate 16 linear ft which should put up with a month storage at $4300 for the move. This is not including the gas for driving 2 cars cross country or hotels.

Of course for us it's a vacation but for DH it'll be non-stop hard labor. But since his time at that point is worth nothing and we're saving on shipping the dog. Instead he plans on driving to his parents in Canada and then driving back to the States it doesn't seem like much of a hassle.

This is it!!!!! I've also sold $1890 of our stuff. So I would say that we are paying to move around 1/3 of our stuff and less of it.

T-5 or T-6

June 30th, 2015 at 07:59 pm

The insanity. I still haven't figured out if we are leaving on July 5th or 6th. Uggh. I still haven't booked our hotels. I am still hopelessly not packed yet. What have I been doing? Everything else.

Tomorrow I finalize the documents for the repair of our foundation. More about the cost in another post. This will mean that we are officially set on our side to close on the sale of the house by July 7th.

Our trailer has been delivered. I'd say around 85% of our house has been packed. Tonight I threw in the towel for food and are moving to eating take out, leftovers, and other people's food. No more cooking. We cooked Salmon Burgers for our last meal.

I was happy to turn over a bag of fish (2 salmon and 4 pieces of Mahi) to a friend, 6 smoked sausages, 1 bag Kahlua Pork, and that's about it from the freezer. I also gave away our spices, unopened condiments. All we really have left is our snacks and 4 boxes of pasta, and instant oatmeal.

It took me two hours from 7:30 this morning to get the dog's international travel certificate. We are good to go until July 9th. We have 10 days to travel within.

The dog food has been delivered to my in laws and we don't have a booked flight yet. I find myself stressing and tonight I have to backwards outline our trip since we've decided to stop in Toronto and ship him out.

I've organized all our passports, kids medical and school records, my medical records, and I have to pay bills tonight. This is insane. I've managed to pack the kids clothes for the road trip and August. But DH and I are not done. And DH hasn't packed his work clothes yet.

I feel like a hamster on a wheel that can't stop running. Any more tips or ideas? We've set aside all road trip stuff we can think of. Please let us get on our way already.

Counting down the days

June 25th, 2015 at 04:01 am

We are now probably driving out of dodge on July 5th. We'll drive straight through to Niagara Falls, ON and drop the dog July 6th in Toronto. Well the plan is DH will then turn back and we'll do Niagara Falls. I've got him booked for his international health certificate this Tuesday. I had to go to an special vet whose FDA certified. I am paying $80 which is a huge deal since I got a coupon for a free 1st time patient exam and the paperwork is just $80. I have to call airlines and figure out what is the best price for the dog cargo. I also ordered dog food to the tune of $105 from Amazon.ca and it's shipping to my MIL.

Next up is contacting all the utility people, getting medications and records. Also finishing up selling stuff, right now according to my craigslist spreadsheet we've sold $1835 worth of stuff. Almost enough to cover half our expenses in selling our place. I had no idea I had so much stuff to sell. Granted about $1k was big ticket items, but still $800 in "junk" I am impressed. Although we have a few more items to sell.

Booked our movers only 2 movers for 2 hours on July 3rd for $120. I wonder if it's enough. I booked them only to load the big items thinking they can do boxes if they have time but we can manage the boxes ourselves. Plus looking at everything we are pretty well packed. From the tips to be completely packed up and the truck loaded in 2-3 hours I honestly don't think that's an unreasonable time frame with everything in boxes. Right now we are solidly at 80% I'd say and in the next week before the movers I'd say 95%. Most of the stuff unpacked are our beds, TV, Dinner Table, Couch, and some clothes. The furniture we have mattress pads and holders to put the mattresses into. The clothes I need to segregate into road trip and staying in dresser and DH packs his work clothes.

I have a complaint about realtors. Our realtor hired a guy to install Carbon Monoxide detectors because we needed them for our city inspection. It's a crazy inspection for $50 by the city. But their real estate agency hires this guy so they pass in 3 minutes. Sounded fine. But they of course didn't tell me the cost, $450! Had I known I might have had my DH order and install these things himself. Uggh what a rip off.

And we are still trying to finish our frozen food. Sadly I don't think we're as much on track as CreditCardFree, whom I tried to emulate. But on Sunday we are having people over for an eat the freezer party.

Countdown continues

June 23rd, 2015 at 06:36 pm

Things are insane and crazy busy. We had our DK preschool "graduation"/moving up ceremony. Very cute and quite sad. It's been 3 years at the preschool and they are awesome, wonderful, truly great teachers. I can't say enough about how appreciative we both are to them. They were flexible, accommodating, talented, incredibly patient people. We've actually known most for 5 years.

I think we are 11 days out from leaving, potentially 12 or 13. We close on the sale of our home July 7th or 14 days. We currently are on track to finish our foundation crack issues. The work is done and we are waiting on affidavit from the structural engineer and the building inspector to come out and stamp us as solid. Then siding back on the house and the project should be completed, signed, sealed, and delivered. We are set to close. If we had stuck to our original close date of June 29th I think it would have been tight.

As it stands I believe that we are probably going to close on July 7th. We could do July 1st or 2nd, but this gives us a little bit of a buffer for paperwork.

We are going with ABF U pack and the trailer will be delivered on July 1st. It is scheduled to be picked up July 6th. We have two movers coming to help us move our boxes July 3rd 9-11 am. My DH thought we could do it ourselves but honestly for $120 it's well worth it. We will have enough to do without having to strain our backs doing the big furniture.

I'd say we are at 80% done packing. We still have a quite a bit left but part of the problem is that we have to sort stuff into two road trip piles and still have food left to eat and kids toys out.

Our biggest issue is the dog. Do we ship him before we leave or take him and ship him out of Toronto? There are so many headaches not to mention scheduling his health certificate without 10 days of travel.

We are struggling with the space issue. We are unsure about how much we can carry on our road trip. We just ordered a bigger camping tent. We've had ours for over 15 years and it was a 4 person backpacking tent by coleman. Very tight with kids and dog. We've upgraded to 8 person but it'll only be for car camping. We are planning on camping at potentially St Ignace, MI, picture rock national lakefront, badlands national park (booked site), mt rushmore, yellowstone, and glacier.

It's so stressful since as of right now we haven't booked hotels other than our end destination since we aren't sure how it'll go.

I'm debating resurrecting my site on blogspot so that I may put up pictures easier.

Medical Insurance and Work arounds

June 12th, 2015 at 08:28 pm

So DH is quitting his job and we will be without employer provided insurance from September to May 2016. I don't have to tell you how nerve wracking it is.

Right now the estimated online cost for our family of 4 is $550/month for a HDHP plan of $6500 pp /$13k family deductible. Mr Money Mustache pays for his family of three $250/month? Apparently he's in a plan pre-ACA and Colorado is a lot more insurance friendly.

This coverage is without prescription, dental, or vision coverage. So what are we thinking?

Well I was thinking of looking for a part-time job that allows me buy for health insurance. I'm not sure if I'll be able to find anything quickly but it's worth trying I think. Another possibility is that without income we may qualify for subsidies. Yes I know terribly unfair but at the same time we are going to be without income, yes by choice but we will be looking both for work and living off savings. Any suggestions for companies to look at would be appreciated.

Another thing is we're doing all our major dr appointments now so we have time to get insurance and drs in place. We are also filling prescriptions 3 months in advance so we are able to have extras for when we don't have insurance.

This is going to be a huge change not having employer provided insurance. Have many people done it? What do you normally pay?

Sale and the Move

June 8th, 2015 at 09:34 am

So last week our buyers asked us to close early. They were interested in closing early and were now willing to take over the construction and repairs and allow us to close without finishing. We said no. We are set to close July 7th and honestly my DH and I were too nervous to allow our fate into someone else's hands. They wanted us to do the repair so we are. Plus it would honestly be bad karma I feel to leave my neighbors hanging. Although a friend told me that it's always better to close sooner rather than later. But in this case aren't we more at risk being on hook for the cost of the repair after we sell and don't have control?

As it is, the time line is going to be tight. We started last Wednesday. Hoping today the engineer comes out to inspect and give approval to move on. Tomorrow the city building inspector comes and gives approval to move on. Then work commences on Wednesday. That should be another week. Then the engineer and inspector come back out. Then final work and the engineer comes out again for stamp on plans and we file with the city and are good to go. This puts us I think at 2-3 weeks from now putting us close to our July 7th close.

Some stuff about our move, we are nervous about not knowing where we are going to rent. Or what it will cost. But this is to big a decision to do online. So tentatively we are arriving July 28th and then searching. We are then heading to Hawaii August 2nd and DH back to work for 2 weeks. Then he'll do a second cross country trip August 14th with our second car and pick up our dog on the way.

New wrinkle we are sending the dog to Canada and DH parents for the duration of our road trip and move. It'll be too tough to take him so we decided that we would fly him direct to them and pick him up en route. We did that when we moved cross country last time we sent our last dog to them and went to china for a month traveling then moved and picked up him after we settled.

Good thing this happens only once every 10 years. And we are still waffling on the minivan idea.

Used newer minivan and dump the sonata. Space versus cost. Long term I think we want a minivan, but right now it's pricey and we can't buy the loaded minivan we want. So what to do?

Traveling with a pet

June 3rd, 2015 at 05:43 pm

So we are between a rock and a hard place. We are deciding whether to take our dog with us on our road trip. Our choices as we see it.

First he comes with us but the is left in new city upon LAL and DH parting ways for august. He'll go into a kennel. Then my DH will get him when he gets back. This we hesitate since we are unsure how he'll react to a new kennel.

Two he stays where we lived for 4 weeks in the kennel we normally board him in. 4 weeks is longer than we usually do, we usually do 3 weeks. But it could be longer if my DH doesn't get a place that's pet friendly to live. It's a long time.

Three is put him on a plane and send him to my MIL. Ideally I'd like to do this. We did this with our last dog when we moved cross country 10 years ago. And my DH would pick him up when he drives cross country again in August. Now the only issue is convincing my MIL to do it.

Of course traveling with a pet cross country means that we'll be checking into hotels and then sightseeing. I have no idea what it'll be like. Possibly influencing our decision will be whether he can go to the national parks easily.

Any ideas appreciated.

minivan or not?

June 1st, 2015 at 05:23 pm

Can you believe we are still struggling with buying a used minivan? We can't decide. I want one more and my DH is hesitant. Which by the way we've flipped flopped back and forth the past month. He's been yes then no. Then yes then no.

Right now there is a 2013 off lease Honda Odyssey for $18k with 32k miles. It's a certified preowned from a dealer. We haven't seen it but I'm curious since it's 1 owner and certified.

I think it might be a good buy. I think that we could drive it cross country and then sell it since my DH isn't sure we need a minivan. I think we do. I also think we are moving somewhere that we are likely to be going on more road trips.

But it's a lot of money outlay right now. Granted we could borrow it and we'll have a down payment from the trade in or sale of the sonata.


road trip part duex

May 31st, 2015 at 07:57 pm

Okay newly update road trip itinerary. We've been working on refining our plans. We agreed to cut out eastern canada. My DH has promised we'll come back and do a 1-2 week vacation out this way. So we are just heading west.

We are split now between going to Sesame Place, yes now we've potentially added PA. Then Hershey Park for a day then cleveland.

Now if we skip Sesame Place we are going to do Niagara Falls which we've done quite a few times but my DH loves the area. Then we'll cut through Sarnia and head to Lansing, MI. Lansing, MI is where we'll meet up in either case.

Because from there we are heading to Mackinaw Island and the upper peninsula. We plan on doing a day at Mackinaw and then a day at Picture Rocks national park. Then heading to Green Bay and then potentially Minneapolis.

Then Sioux falls and the rest of our journey will be to Mt Rushmore, Yellowstone, then depending on timing either Boise, ID or Missoula, MT? Give a shout about either place.

We may also detour depending on our timing and being sick of the car to Glacier National Park. Again this is all happening on the fly and I'm trying to iron it out. We'll figure it out after this weekend and then get a trip tik from AAA.

I am so excited. Looking at the map and dreaming of where we are going is almost as thrilling as doing it. Someone once said part of the thrill of traveling is the dreaming you do while traveling.

Our timeline is tightening up and the insanity of neighbors

May 31st, 2015 at 07:39 pm

Our timeline is tightening up for the sale. We picked a contractor and he'll start Wednesday if the weather cooperates. The project in theory should take a week. However that is just work, not including the permitting, the inspection for the city, the inspection in the middle (after supports are put up) by the engineer, and the ending inspection/stamp certificate by the engineer. So I'm guessing solidly another week. This of course is all contingent on our weather cooperating since we're having a mini monsoon right now for the next few days.

If this works out we could in theory be done by June 17th with plenty of time to close by July 7th. We in theory are hoping to leave and start driving out west July 7th. Then we are hoping to arrive at our destination July 27th/28th.

Then we'll find a place by the 1st of August. Now we realize we may not be able to move in so the plan is I'll head to Hawaii with the kid and DH has to come back to give notice and work another 2 weeks at least. At which point he'll either fly or drive back. We will be back by the end of August in time for school to start.

The insanity of our neighbors? They said since they are selling they didn't want the responsibility of the association checking account. They wanted us to turn it over to our buyers and not offer it to the other owners of unit A. I said that would be tough due to social etiquette. But more so are they sure they want to relinquish control and trust people they've never met?

My stomach is still in knots over everything. This is not an easy process getting out of this "business partnership" we bought into 10 years ago. I'm glad we did because we learned a very good lesson. Never again are we buying in a 3 unit condo, never. We will buy in a large complex with a management company but never again.

I hope everything goes smoothly.

It's starting to hit

May 29th, 2015 at 09:59 am

The reality of our move I think is starting to hit all of us. Until now I feel like we've been just worrying and thinking and focusing on everything else. Now we are getting down to the wire and the focus is on us. Not the house, not school, not plans, but us.

How are getting where we are going? Are we buying a used minivan or renting one ($1500)? What route are we taking?

For my DH he's counting down the days. He can't take his job anymore and dreads all the days. For me it's the worry about when will we actually move.

But today my DK1 said she's sad about moving. That it's hit that we're not just leaving and going on vacation to come back. We are leaving the area.

I felt it last weekend weirdly as I drove home from Costco and shopping. I felt sad that we were leaving behind our routine, our friends, our neighbors. I adore our neighbors.

They came over for cake last night and had a moment of sadness as we realized it was the last weeknight birthday celebration. It's not always been easy but sharing a wall with people for 9 years changes you. You know them well. And they are moving on as well to a new house, new friends, new life.

It was bittersweet. I believe that I'll stay in touch with many of the friends i've made here. With social media it's easier than ever. But the idea that we are moving on and so far makes it sad.

But the excitement of the new challenges ahead and the journey there are helping. But for now I'll focus on getting the journey started.

After all we can't change the past but we can alter our futures.

What are you going to do?

May 22nd, 2015 at 06:39 pm

I've been asked that question a lot lately. Along with are you afraid? Absolutely I am TERRIFIED. I'd have to be insane to not be afraid and crazy not to be worried.

Fact we are moving literally cross country with a "semi" mapped out plan. Fact we are moving without a job. Fact we do not know where we are going to live. Fact we are giving up a lot of income and gambling on finding a job. Fact we will be without income September 2015. Fact we have enough saved in cash for 3 years without a job at current burn rate.

Guess - we are guessing that we can rent for less money than we are currently paying in our mortgage (high likelyhood). Guess - DH will land a job in April 2016, so we will be 8 months without an income. Guess - that I may find work. Guess we will be without health insurance but will be able to buy some. Guess that our burn rate will be close to what we spend now. Guess that we will get a large tax refund because we've been overpaying this year at our normal rate something like $10-15k potentially. Yeah we didn't know we were moving so we've just been giving them an interest free loan.

My thoughts are if I manage to even land a minimum wage part-time job like starbucks then perhaps we can minimize the drain on our savings. If we aren't working and see the money going away we may also minimize expenses. We can also focus on lowering our spending.

But the bottom line and truth is we aren't doing this because it makes sense financially. We are doing this because we want to do it. We are moving because long term this is something that will make us happier both lifestyle and career wise. This move will bring us closer to family and friends. This will allow DH to try a new field. And he's moving pretty much home and I'm just much closer.

Even if we take a paycut we are doing it before we get settled with buying our "final" home. Before we got used to the big income and needing it.

It's a hard truth to digest and most people think we are nuts. BUT sometimes life isn't about $ but rather living life. At the end of the day we still have to live our life at a level each of us can be satisfied.

I'm not sure but I think this move could derail us financially for a few years. BUT I believe that overall good financial habits will right the ship and we'll still be able to retire when we choose. And we'll still be able to afford a lifestyle we enjoy.

So we have no plan and will be hemorrhaging money but it's life. And for the record I am afraid.

More calculations on Moving Part 3

May 18th, 2015 at 06:16 pm

After test driving the minivan, it wasn't bad and I liked the roominess. But pricing out the shipping it is $1350 for Sonata and $1500 for the subaru. At that price I'm really not sure it's worth shipping the Sonata worth maybe $6500. And the subaru it is, but perhaps to save $1500 it's worth just driving that and deciding if we need a second car when we get there.

Further calculations on moving. Of course we do what we do because we're OCD crazy researchers trying to figure out the cost of our stuff. So my DH calculated the cubic feet of each pod and the cost to move each pod. As well as calculating ABF Uhaul the linear foot cost and the size per cubic foot for that linear foot. A linear foot is actually 1 x 8 x 9 for the truck but we have to decrease the walls. We also got the interior dimensions of the pods we were considering.

We have a complex excel spreadsheet and it works out to Door to Door Pods are $3.72 per cubic foot to move (223 cubic feet) , Packrat/Pods is $6.05 per cubic foot (1024 cubic ft), ABF Upack is $9.95 per cubic feet for first 5' minimum but then goes to $2.13 per cubic feet (we used 16 linear ft). But we obviously have at lest 5 linear feet so really our cost will be $2.13 per cubic feet.

Further thoughts are that using movers even transporters like Budget Van Lines is hiring is $5800 = $6.76 per cubic foot or $5.13 per cubic foot doing it ourselves. Now this is doing their suggested 6000 lbs and approximately 857 cubic ft. So using movers isn't necessarily more expensive than doing it ourselves.

Of course without selling single more piece of furniture we are at approximately with our storage and measurements 857 cubic feet. But we both know that is going down since we are selling more stuff off.

But the question still lies what the most economical way for us to move and what is worth moving?

So we have to further balance out the cost per cubic foot which we did to all our furniture since we could measure it. And we have that on a spreadsheet and we are currently evaluating costs. Most stuff is worth more than $2.13 per cubic feet. However we are between a rock and hard place.

If we move and our stuff doesn't fit in our rental what do we do? And we are definitely moving into a rental before buying so we have to move again. So is it worth purging to buy new stuff we may decide to purge in 1 year when we move into a home we buy?

These are questions hard to put a price tag on. Hope I haven't bored you and made you question the price of moving stuff.

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