[Adulting 101] Stressless Guide to Moving States

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The last year has been an exciting, invigorating – but trying year; there were a lot of changes, a lot of gives and takes – but most of all there was growth out of the little cocoon that I called my former life, giving birth to the butterfly of now. There were step backs and set backs, but they were all but beyond necessary for the growth I’ve incurred over the last few months. You see, a writer through and through – I’ve more or less bypassed writer’s block over the past two years and have gone straight into a mental cryogenic freeze. Sure, there’s output – but it’s been bland, boring, unsentimental and void of any emotional quality I possessed. All the while – in tandem – my husband and I have been seeking the unknown in search of a better life. Until recently, I honestly hadn’t paired the two together though I understand now they’re forever tied together – moving, changing, adapting, evolving, repeating. The more we’ve moved, the more I’ve caught us shedding the layers of our former selves as we get rid of our excess baggage, both figuratively and literally.

Until this year, and aside from moving to and away from college – I’ve only had the mental capacity to imagine a move within the same city. Fast forward to now, and over the last six months, we’ve moved states – twice; and to boot, we’ve done it with five cats in tow.

The why is equally interesting, but this is (mostly) about the how: how did we seamlessly transition from a big city, to a small town and then back into a big city; how did we stay on top of the bureaucracy of moving and updating the right sources; and how did we make sure we had all our ducks in a row? By keeping an organized, open mind about our future; by making lists and listening to our parents and peers.

The House Hunt

About once a day, if not more frequently, I catch myself praising the internet; I’ve never had to look for places to live without it, and I surely can’t imagine doing that now. Moving up to Oregon, we lucked out with a family friend and didn’t have to pay much thought to being on the housing grind; needless to say, our move to Seattle was quite different. Though incredibly similar, we were finding suitable digs on a bevvy of sites from Zillow to Trulia, Redfin and Apartments.com; and thanks to phone notifications, we were virtually checking out new places every other hour. The most useful of the above for us was Zillow – with ample metrics to search on, ways to draw your search area instead of using a zip code or the polygon method, and a beautifully ergonomic way of laying out their website.

Once you have a handful of winners handy, get your schedule out and make a day or two of it. While you’re there, find a restaurant or coffee shop in the neighborhoods you’re considering to eat at and muse to yourself on if you could see yourself being a regular, stride into a bar to grab a quick drink and soak up some local lore, or take a walk around a park or through the downtown area to really get a feel for living there. However, if you can’t make it in to see the area before you move – don’t throw yourself into a lease without loving it! Airbnb for Work offers a new way to acclimate to a new city, with pre-furnished locations that can be rented for extended periods of time; which gives you the mental space to find the right place to call home.

Caution: One thing we noticed while house hunting were some Craigslist Scams, with places we’d found on Zillow or Trulia for half the market price; and we learned that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. You’ll get an email with a sob story or tale of altruism, either way it will feel so intimate that you also let your guard down. Then then’ll ask for the money via mail because they are ‘no longer‘ in the area; never ever ever ever send someone money without a formal lease and receiving your keys. Beyond paying for your background screening, money for rentals should never be exchanged until the final walk-through.

Pack It Up, Pack It In

Packing can seem overwhelming – but that’s because we can’t all be like Merlin from The Sword in the Stone. If I could just Higitus Figitus my belongings in under 3 minutes, I would have moved halfway across the world seven times by now; once again Disney is at it with the unrealistic expectations of life, but – I digress. However, with a step-mother who was a professional organizer and a childhood life that had me switching houses every week from the age of 3, one could say I’ve gotten pretty damn good at this part of the moving puzzle.

The first part is the easiest: snagging boxes. For most of your items, bankers boxes do just fine – and since lot of big box stores throw away the packaging, your can get a handful for free (but, make sure you ask!). For item specific, your local U-haul store has exactly what you need in any size you could imagine; glassware, dishware, TV boxes – you name it, they can protect it. As a general rule, the more boxes you have the easier this will be – you can prevent return trips to the store and trying to shove too much into a single box; plus, you can always return your boxes for cash, or donate them to U-haul’s free box bin. Along with the boxes, make sure you have the following: a few rolls of packing tape – it’s the brown one, and it’s twice as strong as the clear tape; a tape gun (you’re welcome); a handful of giant sharpies; and finally twine for when you’re keeping boxes in place once you’ve loaded the car / truck / whichever.

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Now that we have the boxes, we’re on to my favorite part; I like to call this ‘The Purge’. Let’s start by marinating on this: not everything you currently have needs to be taken with you, and you don’t have to keep everything that you end up taking with you. Throw a little Marie Kondo into your chaotic life and use this as an excuse to downsize and minimize your belongings into things you need, use or love. If it doesn’t fit in those categories, or as Kondo would say – if it doesn’t inspire happiness – there’s three new categories you can put it in: donate, recycle or trash.

Once you’ve whittled down your wares, it’s time to quite literally pack your shit up. There’s a familiar old adage that the ‘pen is mightier than the sword’ – and that’s doubly true when it comes to packing up your personal belongings. For every box you pack, make sure to write in clearly and in big letters on each and every side of the box; that way, it doesn’t matter how you load it, you’ll know what’s on the inside by the outside. If you want to level up your organization even more, put an itemized list on top of each box so you know what’s in it when you open it, and keep a second copy of that list on you so you know which box is which as you’re unloading on the back end.

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Spread the News

Once you find that perfect pad – tell your family, tell your friends, and then you should tell the post office so you can set up your mail forwarding. It’s incredibly simple, and their website has everything you need to get it set up. Beyond USPS, you should also alert the following institutions and businesses to turn on, turn off, or transition your user information. Car Insurance varies from state to state depending on where you live, and each state has their own sales tax; to boot, some places like Oregon have no sales tax – while Washington state doesn’t have a state income tax.

Transfer or Forward Current Services to New Location:

  • USPS
  • Insurance: Car and Renters / Home Insurance
  • Bank Accounts and Credit Cards

Stop Service at Current Location, Start New Service at New Location:

  • Gas / Power / Electricity
  • Water / Sewer / Garbage
  • Internet: Did you know that most states won’t let you bring in equipment for other states? Moving to Washington, I didn’t – and had to do a little do-see-do with XFinity to return my Oregon modem and get a new Washington one.
  • Drivers License and Registration: educate yourself on the driving rules of your new location; though they aren’t going to completely change, it’s important to be up to date on what’s happening.
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New Kid on the Block

So, now we’re here – wherever here is; but here isn’t there –  you left, uprooted yourself and have replanted yourself with grace, care, and probably a bit of ambient anxiety; because – what now?! You left creature comforts behind for broader, more colorful horizons; maybe you left family behind, a group or two of ambient friendships or maybe just a few amazing friends – either way, you spent your time investing in yourself in your last city and guess what, you developed friendships that made saying goodbye difficult. Good news, saying hello to new friendships and strangers is a lot easier than saying goodbye! Pick 3 to 5 things you enjoy doing, whether it’s going for hikes or finding craft breweries, a nightclub where you can shake that ass all night long to some groovy beats or a gym where you can join a zumba, spin or yoga class. The key is to be honest with yourself about your passions, and you’ll undoubtedly find others who share in them with you.

What are some of your tips and tricks for moving to a new state?

Let me know in the comments below!

[Self Discovery] The Best Advice I’ve Ever Gotten

When I was younger, my step mom and I would frequently dissect social scenarios and discuss what it meant to simply be.  As the child of two incredibly intelligent mathematicians, this was probably one of the most helpful things that she ever did – and, to this day, still does.  I call her, sometimes more often than others, for both commentary and brainstorming solutions to the current conundrum, however big or small, I had at hand.  Like my natural parents, my step-mother has a strong footing in math and statistics and like my parents – she’s incredibly nurturing, loving and supportive.  The main difference being that she’s an empathetic extrovert and a social butterfly, whereas my parents fall more on the introverted side of the spectrum.  Simply put, her advice makes sense; it sticks.  But why? First, it’s because on an emotional level – we understand each other, and operate relationships in a similar fashion.  But on a larger scale – as humans, we tend to not ask questions or seek advice that we couldn’t somehow  manifest for ourselves.

Over the years, I’ve collected the advice – sometimes on scrap paper or text messages to myself, other times in journals – and I’ve kept it close to my heart all these years.  And not just from her – but from my relatives, friends, teachers, blogs, Reddit threads, basketball coaches, college TA’s….you name it, I took their wise words to heart.  I’ve always been told that ‘experience is the hardest teacher, because you get the exam before the lesson‘ but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that living vicariously through the rollercoaster of experiences – ups, downs and in-betweens – of my peers serves me just as well as if it had happened to me.  Around the apartment, I have daily mantras scribbled on mirrors and from time to time – I stumble upon them and marinate for a minute to let the words soak in.  So, I wanted to share some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten because, let’s face it, from time to time we could all use some.


(1) Anyone chasing a dream is bound to fail once or twice in its pursuit; passion is what picks you back up and urges you to try again.

Success doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a day in and day out struggle with who you are and what you want to achieve.

Let go of any preconceived notion that you should know what you’re doing and learn to live in the moment; after all, life’s about the journey – not the destination.

(2) “Never let your schooling get in the way of your education” – Mark Twain

I’ve learned more about social dynamics and street smarts in the five years I’ve lived in Los Angeles than I had in my previous 24 years.  I’ve met people from different and exciting backgrounds and picked their brains on our differences and similarities in our lives.  I feel privileged and honored that I have such an awesome variety of people in my life.

(3) What people think about you is none of your business.

(4) Marinate in the splendor that is alone time, it’s a beautiful thing.

I’m an only child, which means I know how to entertain myself – I’ve been doing it my entire life. As much as I love being a social butterfly, at the end of the day there’s absolutely nothing like curling up with my cats, some hot tea and a good book.  If you can’t enjoy some self imposed isolation every once in a while, you might actually need to take some you-time to figure out why.  Besides, if you don’t want to hang out with yourself – why would anyone else?

(5) There’s no perfect time for anything; but the  best time for anything is always now.

(6) The beauty of life is that people fall together; cherish and appreciate them while they’re with you. The tragedy of life is that people fall apart; understand that we all have our unique path to continue on and it’s okay to go down ours alone.

(7) You don’t have to be friends with everyone, and not everyone needs to like you.

I had a problem when I was younger – I had this overzealous urge to be loved and not cause conflict.  This made me quiet for a while, and this made me hide parts of my personality.  Now that I’m older and have the confidence to be myself – I’ve realized that you can be nice to everyone without having to be friends with everyone, and it’s okay if people don’t like you.  People don’t need to like you – just so long as they can still treat you with decency and respect.

(8) Never miss an opportunity to shut up;better a moment of silence than a lifetime of regret.

(9) “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” Lao Tzu.  

More often than not, anxiety gets a hold of me and decides to make an awkward appearance.  I’ll think about past grievances and what could’ve been done differently, then I’ll consider ‘every-case-scenario’ for the future and overwhelm myself.  What I’m forgetting in those moments is that in the present, everything is okay.  The past has come and gone, and the future hasn’t matriculated yet – firmly ground yourself in the present moment and you’ll free your mind

(10) The only expectations you need to live up to are your own.

As always, time is the best teacher and the best advice is something that you give yourself; what are your daily mantras that keep you keepin’ on every day?

(11) Being alone and happy is better than being miserable and in a relationship.

and, last but not least –

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” — Buddha