The Vine: May 28, 2014
I'm toying with the idea of moving across the country. I'm currently in Chicago. I've lived here all my life; I need a change. I want to go to Portland.
I've been a few times, and it's a very nice place to be. I have some friends who have recently moved there, and they are very happy. I've never done anything like this before, and I would love to hear advice from the good folks in Vineland!
The good news is I can work remotely, so I don't have to worry about finding a new job. I own a condo, which I'd have to sell. What do I do with my stuff? How do I get it across the country? I'll get rid of some of it for sure (I need to to that anyway!), but it seems silly to have to replace an entire apartment's worth of furniture, kitchen stuff, my bike, etc. I also have cats. How do I move them? My family is all in Chicago, so I think I could store some stuff there if I can't move it all at once. My folks would board the cats for a while too.
I have a kinda crappy old car. Do I dump it and get a new one, or try to drive it across country? Or do I buy a new car when I get to Portland? Or do I go carless?
How do I find a new place in the new city? I've owned my apartment for eight years, and can't imagine going back to renting. But buying a new place right away in a new city seems like a bad idea.
I'm super-anxious about this, and I'm probably overthinking this a whole lot. I'd really appreciate any stories or advice your readers want to share!
I can't speak to specifics about Portland — I suspect you will not need a car, but I'll let the locals get into the particulars — but I can tell you that any move, even across town, is daunting. So #1, give yourself a break for stressing.
#2: spreadsheet! Or just a straight list, but in my experience, an Excel file with all its little boxes helps you shift your thinking about a cross-country move from a monolith with no handles on it to a series of smaller, more manageable things that you can do in an order and cross off. …Not that selling real estate is ever "manageable" in the traditional sense, but you can still make a sub-list of tasks.
So, start there. If you want to move, you need to sell or sublet your condo. Research selling it (that list looks something like "contact realtors, go on Zillow to get comps, decide whether to sell first and then leave town or vice versa, what would I have to do to up the curb appeal (paint foyer, fix gutter, replace charge plates in the kitchen)"); research subletting ("contact realtors, do I need board approval").
On the Portland end, same basic deal: go there. Look around. Figure out three neighborhoods you want to live in, look at every apartment you can over a long weekend, make a punch list. What are the utilities, what's the transit situation, do you need a compost set-up, can the sectional fit up these stairs. But as you're writing things down, the act of writing them down and rearranging them is going to clarify everything for you — what's important to you, what has to happen in what order.
(Another handy way to project-manage big life stuff like this is to start at the end, then reverse-chunk the task from there. If the end/goal is "I live in Portland," then the chunk before that is "unpack." The chunk before that is "pick up keys; take delivery of furniture/cats." Or however you arrange it. Some people find this way of organizing more motivational. Do you.)
…Readers! Veterans of moves to other time zones, moves with pets, and/or Portland residents! Does Boxy need a car? Should she pack 'em all and let God sort 'em out? Share in the comments.
Tags: Ask The Readers rando shut up moving