Tag Archives: moving

One month to go

After months of counting the days, we’re finally in the homestretch. We’re moving in about 32 days, and five days after that we’ll be boarding a plane to Europe!

I wish I could say the months have flown by quickly, but honestly? There were times when I felt like we’d never get here. My hope is that with everything that’s going on right now, the next few weeks will pass quickly.

I keep feeling like I should be doing something to prepare for Europe, but all of it is finished. There’s nothing left to do but pack our bags and board the plane.

Moving preparations are a completely different story. Oy.

I haven’t begun to pack. I haven’t even begun to purge. But my biggest problem right now is our apartment.

After posting on Craigslist twice, I’ve had two people show interest in subletting our apartment. After a week each of negotiating, waiting for applications, and crossing my fingers, they both backed out. Two weeks later, and I still don’t have a subletter.

Someone came to view it over the weekend, and she was very interested, but she said the price to renew once the subleasing contract is up was out of her range. Even though I dropped the rent slightly, she’ll have to pay full price if she chooses to stay here beyond the end of my lease. I’m hoping she’ll decide to take it, but I don’t know.

If she does want to move in, we’ll probably have to bump our move out day up a week to May 1. That means I won’t have the week off work I planned to use packing and preparing. I’m not ready to think about that yet, so I’ll just wait and see what happens.

Just four weeks to go before the next chapter begins! I’m just hoping they go smoothly.

Photo by mojodenbowsphotostudio

Don’t pay a fortune for moving boxes

Of all the hassles that come with moving — packing, unpacking, loading, unloading, and the chaos in between — one of my least favorite parts is finding boxes. In fact, when we moved here, I so dreaded the search for boxes for our next move that I crammed all of our cardboard boxes into a closet in the guest bedroom where I’ve kept them for three years.

Finding the perfect moving box is an art. It needs to be sturdy, big enough to hold a decent number of items, but not so big that it will be too heavy to carry. Handles on the sides are a plus, and a blank side for labeling helps, too.

If you’re planning a move and you find yourself with no moving boxes, it can be tempting to pay a fortune to a moving company or retail store for an assortment of boxes. Don’t do it! It’s possible to find moving boxes for free, and reusing them is much more environmentally friendly than buying new. Here’s where to start:

Ask friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors.

Some work places have a greater volume of boxes than others (I used to work at a publishing company that had a surplus of excellent moving boxes shipped in every week). Even if you don’t work at a retail store or publishing company, send out an email requesting that your co-workers hang on to good moving boxes for you. Also notify friends, family, and neighbors that you’re moving soon. They may have boxes they’re willing to give up or loan to you.

Ask your local recycling center.

Many recycling centers have a special area for cardboard boxes that can be used for moving. Show up early Sunday morning (or first thing Monday if the recycling center is closed on Sundays). If your recycling center has them, they’re likely free to a good home.

Check Craigslist.

It’s become pretty common for people to list stockpiles of moving boxes on Craigslist for free or cheap once they’ve moved in. Just be cautious when completing Craigslist transactions. If you can’t meet in a public place, bring some friends along to help you load the boxes.

Don’t dumpster dive.

Many retail stores and businesses have special cardboard dumpsters for recycling purposes, but digging through dumpsters without permission is actually considered trespassing. Not only can you get hurt, but you can be fined. Instead of jumping into a dumpster, ask businesses if they’re willing to let you take boxes before they end up in the dumpster. You might have to show up on a certain day and time, but many business owners don’t mind giving away used boxes on a first come, first serve basis.

Photo by ahhyeah

What a savings account can buy

When I tell people we’re moving in 6 weeks, it always leads to the same conversation:

“Oh, so you found a job?”

“Nope. Not yet. But I’m looking.”

“So your husband found a job?”

“Not yet.”

That’s when they look at my like I’m nuts.

I don’t blame them. Back when I was living paycheck-to-paycheck, the idea of quitting my job without another one lined up would have seemed pretty nuts to me, too.

It’s not polite to ask specific questions about our financial situation, so most people leave it at that. They sort of raise their eyebrows like we’re nuts and assume we’ll be mooching off our parents for months while we job search. I don’t ever bother to correct them, even though their assumption isn’t really true.

Yes, we’ll be staying with Tony’s family temporarily, and it’s extremely kind of them to give us the chance to get settled in Indiana before we find an apartment. And yes, the absence of a rent payment from our budget for the few months that we stay there will help keep our savings account healthy. We won’t be mooching, though. We’ll be paying all of our own bills, chipping in for groceries, and helping out in any way we can to repay their kindness. But the truth is, we’re staying with them more out of convenience than financial necessity.

My husband is hoping to find a teaching job. Because the availability of teaching jobs depends so much on geography, we don’t want to lock ourselves into a certain area with a lease. We want to be open to move where ever the jobs are. Staying with family while we look makes the most sense.

Financially, though? We’re in a better place than we’ve ever been. Because we’ve been saving for the past three years, we have enough cash savings to carry us through a full year without any income. We won’t be living without income, though. We plan to earn money through part-time jobs or substitute teaching while my husband searches for a full-time teaching job. I also make a little bit of money from freelance writing and advertising on this site. That income will stretch our savings even further.

Obviously, the sooner we start earning income again, the better. I don’t want to completely wipe out our savings accounts while we search for jobs. I’m just not too stressed about the fact that neither of us has anything lined up yet. The sooner we find jobs, the more money we’ll be able to keep in our emergency fund and move to our house fund. For now, though, our savings has bought us peace of mind and the freedom to move closer to family despite the fact that the job market is sluggish, because we’re not dependent on our paychecks every week to live.

I doubt I’ll ever view our savings the same way again. Sometimes when I looked at that balance, I saw all of the things it could buy: a new car, a new computer, a million other things I wanted but didn’t need. It was tempting to spend at least some of it.

Now I see that the best thing a savings account can buy is freedom and peace of mind. We’re free to move closer to our families, free to be a little picky as we job search, and free to enjoy our vacation to Europe right before we settle into our new home. All of that is worth so much more to me than any material thing our savings account could buy.

Photo by alancleaver

Boxed in

The image you’re about to see may disturb you. Viewing this image is not recommended for people sensitive to clutter, disorganization, and mess. Potential side effects include headache, shortness or breath, difficulty concentrating, and severe writer’s block. View at your own risk.

This is the current state of my guest room and, consequently, the current state of my brain:

Somewhere under this pile of boxes and junk there is a bed and a desk and even a floor. Sadly, you can’t see any of that.

This mess has been accumulating for the past six months. At Christmas, new things left a lot of our old stuff homeless. Of course, I should have been getting rid of things then. But a funny thing happens when I know a move is coming. I start putting things off.

“I’ll be going through everything in a few months when we’re packing. I’ll deal with this then.”

Clutter began to accumulate a little at a time. A few boxes here; a pile of books there. We couldn’t decide whether we should sell our old TV, give it to Goodwill, or bring it with us — into the guest room it went. We¬† bought a used TV, and it was shipped to us in its original packaging. We thought it would be nice to keep the box so we could pack the TV in it when we move — into the guest room that went. A co-worker kindly gave us a trunk load of good moving boxes. I’m sure you see where this is going.

Now this room haunts my nightmares. I just keep closing the door tight, trying to pretend that mess isn’t there. Unfortunately, it’s a symptom of a much bigger problem, though. The guest room is ground zero, but there are tiny little catastrophe zones throughout our apartment. Closets, drawers, cupboards, shelves — all piled with junk I’ll have to sort and pack.

We’re moving in about 6 weeks. During my least anxious times, I tell myself that’s plenty of time. But then I open that guest room door, and I’m reminded of just how much I have to do.

What I mean to say is I have a lot on my mind right now, and a to-do list that’s a mile long. I do most of my writing on the weekends, and unfortunately that’s also the only time I can focus on decluttering, packing, and planning. My brain looks a lot like that room right now, and sorting out the mess to find inspiration is becoming harder and harder. Something has to give.

Since I started this blog almost two years ago, I’ve updated most weekdays. For the next 6 weeks, I will likely be posting every other day. I don’t plan to disappear for days or weeks at a time, but cutting down a little will help my sanity immensely.

I can’t guarantee that this will be the last time I whine. Please be patient with me as I attempt to navigate a lot of stress.

How are you doing? I’m happy to join your pity party if you’d like to whine a little. :)

Countdown to Europe & moving: 2 months to go

Can I tell you how excited I am that our trip is now absolutely, completely booked? Because I am SO excited. Everything is booked, paid for, and all of our travel documents are compiled together in a neat little stack on the bookshelf.

The last thing we booked? Tickets to see Les Miserables in London. I don’t even think I’m ready to talk about that yet because it’s possible my head will explode.

I should be relieved, but the amount of documents and confirmations and plans to keep straight are more than a little overwhelming, especially when I consider the fact that we’ll be packing up the rest of our lives approximately five days before we board our trans-Atlantic flight. Eep.

Speaking of moving. You know, that other thing we’re doing in May? I haven’t even thought about that thing. Yes, you read that correctly. I’ve been planning our 12-day European vacation for over a year, but we’re now two months from transporting our lives over 800 miles away and I haven’t even begun to compile a to-do list.

Well, I guess that’s not true. I’ve booked our movers and reserved a moving van. I know what needs to be done. I need to pack up three years of our lives — currently occupying over 900 square feet of space — and condense it all to fit in a 17-foot moving truck. I also need to find someone to sublet our apartment so we won’t end up paying rent in June and July. Ugh.

What I don’t need is boxes. Because I have a pathological fear of not having enough boxes when I need to move, I refused to throw away any of the boxes we used when we moved here. I also have kept every single box that came into this apartment that I felt might be useful in a move. It began as a single closet full of boxes, but they’ve now spilled out into our guest room. The floor is no longer visible. I open the door to the guest room, and all I can see is a wall of boxes.

Have I mentioned before that I despise moving? It’s pretty much my least favorite thing ever. From the nightmare of going through years of accumulated stuff to the limbo between packing and unpacking, moving makes me anxious, exhausted, and overwhelmed. I’m excited for the change, but I’m preparing myself for the worst this time since we’re not moving into anywhere permanent. I’m staring into several months of limbo until I finally get to unpack all of my boxes and begin decorating my new home.

Anyway, all of this is to say that I’m procrastinating. But on the bright side, did I mention our trip to Europe is completely booked? Because it is.

Photo by e01

Desperately seeking a subletter

One of the big things on my “to-do before we move” list — the thing I’m dreading most — is figuring out what to do about our apartment. We’re moving at the beginning of May, but our lease isn’t up until the end of July. This means we could end up paying three months’ rent for an empty apartment unless we can find someone who wants to live there until the end of the lease.

According to my landlord, in North Carolina, we have two options for avoiding this. The first is to give the landlord 30 days’ notice that we want to terminate our lease early. They’ll put the apartment back on the market, and if they can find a renter, they’ll let us out of our lease. This is ideal, but it’s also unlikely. Unfortunately, there are two other 2-bedroom apartments that will be vacant as of April 30, which means those two will be rented out first.

The other option is finding a subletter. This is a lot more work on our part. Not only do we need to find someone who is interested in renting the apartment, but we have to stay on the lease for those three months while a stranger lives in the apartment. We remind liable for rent if they default.

From what I can tell, here’s the process we’re facing for finding a subletter.

  1. Find someone who is interested in renting the apartment from May until July.
  2. The subletter must fill out the rental application and pass a credit check and background check in order to be approved.
  3. We sign a new lease with the subletter. If the subletter defaults on the lease, we are responsible for paying the rent.

I hate the idea of doing it this way, but I really want to avoid paying rent for those three months when we’re not living here.

We live extremely close to Tony’s university, so I’m really hoping we’ll find a college student (or two) who needs a place to stay for the summer. I posted a listing on Craigslist, but no one has responded to it. After spring break, we’ll be posting some flyers around campus advertising the opening. Beyond that, I’m not really sure how to go about finding a subletter.

Anyone have any suggestions on how to find a reliable subletter?

Photo by jessandcolin

Countdown to Europe and moving — Four months to go

The end of the holiday season was particularly bittersweet for me. We’re moving and taking a trans-Atlantic vacation in 120 days, and it’s finally time for me to start doing all the things I’ve been putting off until “after the holidays.” It’s so exciting, but overwhelming, too.

I’ve been breaking everything down month-by-month to make sure I get it all done. Here’s what’s on my plate for January.


Last month I set a date for our move and booked the movers and the truck. We’re renting a U-Haul and hiring a moving company to load up the truck. I don’t know if I’ve written about this before, but honestly, even though loading the truck ourselves would be more frugal, hiring people to do it is the best $150 I will ever spend. We’re on the third floor, and it’s just us. Knowing that two professionals will be here to lug our heavy possessions down three flights of wind-y stairs takes a huge load off my mind.

Just before the holidays I also informed my boss and co-workers that I’ll be leaving in May. My plan was to make an announcement in March, but the other employee in my department is pregnant and due in June. I felt like it was only fair to let everyone know well in advance so they could plan for both of us to leave around the same time.

We’re also continuing to declutter, but that’s not going as well as I’d hoped. :( I’m hoping the New Year will motivate me to really start getting rid of stuff so we can lighten our load.


For Christmas, Tony’s parents got me a couple of frugal vacation planning books for Paris and London. This month I plan to read through them and make a to-do list based on the tips I find valuable.

Since our flight and hotels are already booked, there isn’t much left to do beyond deciding what to see in the cities and getting our passports. This month we’ll be taking care of the passports to make sure we have plenty of time.

Everything is coming together nicely. Here’s hoping it’s smooth sailing from here to May.

Photo by tahir

Christmas is over. It’s time to purge.

Now that the presents are opened, it’s likely that you’ve got a lot of new stuff — especially if you have kids. I’m ashamed to admit it, but our guest bedroom was already so full that we could barely open the closet after we tidied the room for visiting family on Thanksgiving. With the gifts we received from generous friends and family at Christmas, we can’t even clear a path.

And we’re moving. In four months. Yikes.

So I’m starting to take serious stock of our stuff and start digging our way out. If you’re struggling to find room for all your new toys and clothes and electronics, maybe it’s time for you to take stock, too.

Here are some tips to make it easier on you (and me):

Take inventory and ditch the excess.

Is your silverware drawer overflowing? Do you have so many t-shirts that you can’t even close your drawers? Weeding out the excess is a great place to start clearing clutter. Keep only what you can fit in your space, and only keep the best. Now is the time to throw away holey t-shirts and socks, tarnished silverware, and anything else you’re keeping around just because you haven’t had time to get rid of it. If you think someone else can use it, then be sure to donate it!

Be honest with yourself.

It’s likely that your bread machine works perfectly. After all, you’ve only used it twice, so it’s practically brand new. But it’s time to stop telling yourself you’re going to use it someday if it’s been collecting dust and taking up space in your kitchen for two years. The same goes for your skinny jeans. If keeping one pair motivates you, that’s fine, but if you have a second wardrobe in a smaller size, it’s time to donate. Get rid of the clothes you’re not wearing, the kitchen gadgets you’re not using, and the electronics you’ve never used.

Use it or lose it.

I’m guilty of hanging on to things I don’t need for sentimental reasons. I tend to take Peter Walsh’s advice when it comes to this: if you love it, find a way to use it. If it’s crammed into a box in a closet, you’re not giving the things most important to you the respect they deserve. Start going through your sentimental boxes and finding a way to give these things a new life. For instance, I’m turning my wedding dress into a baby quilt. If there’s no use for the item, and you’re only looking at it when it’s in your way as you clean out the storage closet, it’s time to make some tough decisions.

What are your rules for clearing clutter?

Photo by theob68

Countdown to our move: 6 months

It’s now November, which means I’m beginning my 6-month countdown to our cross-country move. Since I’m planning both the move and our trip to Europe simultaneously, I’m getting organized early. I’ve decided to keep you posted with monthly updates of how we’re preparing.

moving box

Here’s what lies ahead in the next month as we prepare to move back home:

Start clearing clutter now.

Getting rid of things takes time, especially if you want to try to sell them. We’re starting to downsize now to ensure that we’ll have less to pack, move, and store this May.

Get your resume in order.

We’re undecided about whether or not I’ll be going back to work full time. It will really depend on how much Tony earns in his job. I’ll most likely be working part time until I have a baby, and who knows how long that will be. Tony, on the other hand, is looking for full time work immediately. He’s focusing now on updating his resume, scoping out opportunities, and networking. It’s a little early to start aggressively applying for jobs, but he may send out some resumes with interest letters in the month ahead to companies with which he’s interested in pursuing a job.

Start thinking about housing.

If you’re planning to buy a home in your new city, now is the time to start looking at real estate. If you haven’t put your own home on the market, it’s definitely time to do so.

If you plan on renting, now is a good time to scope out neighborhoods or apartment complexes. Ask around if you have connections in your new city to find out which neighborhoods are safest with the best education and transportation options. If you don’t have connections, a little research online can tell you a lot about apartment complexes and neighborhoods.

We’ve already decided we want to live in the Indianapolis area. We also won’t be looking for housing right away. We might stay with family an hour outside the city. My best friend and her fiance have also offered us the opportunity to stay with them in Indianapolis for the summer. We might end up doing that so I can start working immediately, and it’ll be easier for Tony to get to interviews and look for job opportunities.

Make a moving budget, and save, save, save.

Even if you already have some money saved, you can never have too much in savings when you move to a new city. Start putting together a rough estimate for what it will cost to move your things, get situated in a new place, and cover basic living expenses until you find a job or start getting paid.

Cut your expenses now to save as much as possible in the coming months. The more money you have in savings, the less stressful your financial situation will be when it’s time to move.

What do you suggest we do to start preparing now?

Photo by ahhyeah