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Life, Moving

Home Sweet New Home: Willkommen in Deutschland!

We did it! We moved to Germany! We arrived about 2.5 weeks ago and with the exception of not having found an apartment yet, we’re pretty settled in.

Here are some of the highlights of the move and the last few weeks:

A week and a half of not working was NOT enough to prepare for the actual move itself. Even though we’ve known for months that we’d be moving, we were frantically packing until the last minute and that still was not enough time. We definitely have a pile of unorganized things at Richard’s parents house that will have to wait until we visit them later this year.

Zeke “helping” us pack

Saying goodbye to Stella was the hardest part of the move. She started having seizures in December and we later found out that she had a brain tumor, so unfortunately we had to say our final goodbye to her a few days before we left. We wish we didn’t have to say goodbye, but she lived a good long doggy life and we got to spoil her with people food, walks, cuddles and love until the very end.

Good Girl of the Year goes to Stella!

All of the complicated logistics happened before we got on the plane. The last week and a half included selling things, packing our bags, setting things aside for storage, moving the furniture we want to keep to Richard’s parents, and selling my car and Richard’s motorcycle. We also had to pick up random documents and paperwork. Things felt pretty easy once we got on that plane.

After a hectic 48 hours, we finally made it to the plane!

Zeke was a champ on the plane (for the most part). He cried a bit and only made one serious escape attempt, but otherwise his trip was pretty uneventful. He was really good going through both security checkpoints, too. I’ll be writing a more in-depth post about the experience of bringing him across the pond.

This cat travels!

Hamburg is wonderful, but it’s not that easy to find an apartment. So far, we’re loving Hamburg! Things are definitely different here, but they really aren’t all that different. We’re still looking for an apartment, so we’ll be in an Airbnb for a bit (and schlepping our luggage back and forth). We’re hoping to move to our new (to be determined) apartment sometime next month.

We brought 8 bags with us and are having 3 boxes shipped – that’s all!

Richard has started work already and it’s going well for him. I’m taking a much-welcomed break before I start working again in June. I’ve officially been off the clock for a month now and it’s been glorious! I start on June 1, so I only have 2.5 more weeks of freedom. In typical Nicole fashion, I’ve come up with some goals for my month to keep me accountable:

  • Brush up on German: I signed up for four weeks of an intensive language course. This has been taking up the majority of my time. I spend about 4 hours in class and then about 2 hours additionally studying at home. It’s been exhausting, to say the least.
  • Train for half marathon: I finally started to run again after taking a pretty lengthy break after the Richmond Half Marathon last November. I’ve signed up for the Hamburg Halbmarathon which will be at the end of June, so I have a lot of training to do between now and then.
  • Finish wedding thank you notes: Unfortunately, a casualty in our moving commotion was the thank you cards that I ordered a long time ago. They didn’t make it into any of our bags or boxes, so I needed to order new ones. Once they arrive I’ll be able to finally cross that item off of my to do list.
  • Reorganize digital files: Some of my digital files have becomes very disorganized. I need to go through them and get them organized for my own sanity.
  • Find apartment: We need a permanent place to live in Hamburg! We’ve narrowed down our search pretty well. We know what neighborhoods we want to live in, how much we can spend, and so forth. Now we just need to wait for a property to pop up that works (and chooses us!). I was hoping “move and furnish apartment” would be on my list of things to do before starting work, but it appears that it’s going to have to happen after I start.
  • Take care of visa and moving logistics: This item has been pretty slow going, but we need to register our address, apply for visas, open German bank accounts, and other random logistical items. These should be wrapped up before I start work, but they are still ongoing.
  • Plan our travel schedule: One of the most exciting things about living in Germany is that we’re going to be able to travel to so many places! We need to sit down and figure out where we want to go and when we want to go. We’ll wait until after we get settled into our new apartment, but we’d love to aim to go somewhere new about once per month while we’re here.

Hamburg’s Lake Alster on a beautiful day

So that’s that! It still feels surreal that we actually moved to a new country. I’m so excited about the experiences that await us and looking forward to doing something completely new.

Cost Estimates & Breakdowns, Moving

Should I ship or sell all of my stuff when moving abroad?

One of the big questions for moving abroad that has been plaguing me for a couple months now is: What should we do with all of our stuff? Should we sell it all and start fresh in Germany? Or should we try to ship it over?

I’ve been trying to make this decision from a couple of lenses:

  • Cost
  • Effort
  • Logistics

There are different levels of options: we can sell most things, we can bring most things, or we could find some happy medium. First, let’s start with what amount of stuff we’re even talking about.

What We’d Bring (or Sell)

We currently live in a 750 sq ft 1 bedroom apartment. We have a small storage unit down the hall from our apartment and also keep a number of items stored at Richard’s parents’ house. I like to think that we don’t have too much stuff, but things can really add up when you start to investigate what is in all of your drawers and nooks and crannies. A few months back, I did a sweep of our stuff after reading the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. We got rid of a lot of things, but there are still many items that probably could go.

What we won’t bring

There are a number of items that we know right off the bat that we will not bring with us when moving abroad, due to various reasons:

  • Electronics with plugs – Germany and the U.S. have electrical systems that run on different voltages. That’s why you need converters and adapters when you go over to Europe on vacation. Our TV (which is super old anyways), kitchen electronics, scanner, hair dryer, straightener, air purifiers, printer and lamps will not be coming with us. We will sell most, but store a couple of items like our KitchenAid mixer, CrockPot, and wine fridge.
  • Cars & motorcycle – Each of us had one car plus Richard has a motorcycle. We won’t be bringing any of these. We’ve already sold one car and plan to sell the other two vehicles before we leave. We figure that it is not worth the hassle or cost to bring them over. Plus, we are moving to a city that has excellent public transportation. We’ll be living the car free life for a while.
  • Couch – We have a fairly compact couch that we purchased from IKEA when we moved to Virginia a few years ago. We like it, but we have no idea what our new apartment is going to look like. We don’t want to risk moving a fairly inexpensive couch that we might not be able to fit into our new place.
  • Childhood mementos and most photo albums – I’ve been lugging a few boxes around with me that include childhood momentos. Richard is working on whiddling his down to a couple boxes as well. These will be safe and sound at Richard’s parents house while we are exploring Europe.
  • Plants, flammables, and other restricted items – There are a number of things that you aren’t allowed to bring with you to a new country. Plants and flammables are the most relevant to us. Firearms and porn are also on the list of prohibited items, but those don’t really apply to our situation.
  • Consumables, personal care items and cleaning supplies – We don’t need to bring toilet paper, cleaning supplies or things like shampoo with us.

What we will definitely bring

  • Original university degrees, transcripts, birth certificates, marriage certificates and other documents – Germans are big on actually seeing your flesh and blood documents. We’ll bring these with us.
  • Pet – Zeke will be coming with us to Germany! Unfortunately, Stella has a terminal illness, so she won’t be making the trek with us. Now let me go cry a million tears…
  • Plates, flatware, and glasses – We just received some new kitchenware as wedding gifts and we have quite a collection of wine glasses. We’re planning to bring these along with us since they are rather compact and mean a lot to us.
  • Clothes – We’ll probably trim down to the necessities, but we have no plans to trash what we’ve got and start over. We’ll slowly assimilate to dressing like Germans as we buy new items there.
  • Computers and small battery- or USB-based electronics – We’ll be able to bring our computers and a number of small electronics like our cell phones, electric toothbrushes, and a few other items.

What we’re still deciding on

So we have a number of things that will come and a number that won’t, but we also have a number of things that we’re not sure about yet. We couuuuuld bring them, but we could not bring them.

  • Dressers and other small furniture
  • Picture frames and other decor
  • Bookshelves
  • Office chair and desks
  • Bicycles
  • Extra mattress and bedframe
  • Books, DVDs, and other media
  • Wine
  • Mattress, bedframe and bed linens
  • Dining table

Our Moving Options

So that’s all of the stuff we’re talking about. We basically have a few options for moving things:

  • Move stuff by sea in a 20 ft container
  • Move stuff by sea in a small cube (200-300 cu sq ft)
  • Pack everything in suitcases and bring as excess baggage on the plane
  • Ship items in one off boxes through USPS, FedEx or UPS

These options vary in terms of their cost, ease of coordinating here vs. there, and timing that we would receive our options. Let’s take a closer look at each option.

Moving Stuff by Sea

The first two options involve putting all of our belongings onto a ship and sending them over to Germany by sea. The initial quotes that I’ve received have been anywhere from $2,000 – $6,000. The final cost depends on how much you send, what services are included, and various port and agent charges. Logistically, there are some important things to consider:

  • Timing – It can take a long time to ship items by sea. We would need to go a period of time before we leave and after we arrive without the items that we ship. This may not be a big deal for some items that we ship that we don’t use everyday. However, for an item like a bed, that would mean we would have to figure out where to sleep for 6 to 8 weeks. The time estimates are also not guaranteed. Your stuff could arrive earlier than expected, but it could also arrive later than expected.
  • Packing – Packing and inventorying of our items is included in the price. If we ship our stuff, we want to leave the packing up to the professionals. There are a lot of rules and regulations of how you need to document your items for customs officials, so it will be infinitely easier and more efficient for someone else to handle that dirty work.
  • Flexibility for Volume – You have a lot of options when it comes to how much you can ship. We can ship a few of our items or we can ship a larger load in our own 20 ft container. This gives us some flexibility around choosing the most cost efficient option for us.
  • Cost – $6,000 is a lot of money! Plus, if you lug it there with you, you will eventually need to bring it back to the U.S. Do we really think the things we’re planning to ship are worth the $12,000 it would cost to bring them there and back? For the most part, we’re still in the IKEA phase of our furniture lives, so this is a very legitimate question. There can also be fees that spring up when the items get to the new country with customs and the port.
  • Finding a Vendor We Can Trust – If you’ve ever googled an international moving company, you’ll understand that these websites are like the wild west. It’s impossible to get a straightforward quote. No one has positive reviews. It’s confusing. I’m really nervous about picking a mover and then having it turn out poorly because I didn’t think to ask the right question or I just got unlucky.

Bringing Excess Baggage by Air

If we want to completely get around finding an international mover and dealing with all of that, we could try to bring our stuff with us on the plane as excess baggage. Like sea, there are important things to consider with this method of moving:

  • Timing – Our stuff would be with us, so we wouldn’t have to worry about not having the items to use while they are in transit.
  • Cost – Excess baggage can be expensive, but depending on how much we bring with us, it could still be less than the cost of shipping things by sea.
  • Lugging our stuff – Our plan is to fly into Frankfurt and take a day to settle down. Then we will take the train from Frankfurt to Hamburg. We are doing this because we will have Zeke with us and we figured that they will want a break from travel before we make it to our final destination. If we bring our items on the plane with us, we will need to lug them on the train with us. This may prove to be rather difficult, because I do not think any of the trains in Germany have baggage cars.
  • Flexibility for Future Trips – We have the option of bringing a few luggage items with us and then having visitors bring additional ones for us at a later time. This will possibly be a good option for the items that we are fine living without for a few months, such as decor items and other nice to haves.
  • Safety of stuff – A major risk with bringing stuff with us on the plane is that baggage handlers aren’t exactly known for their light hand with handling luggage. If we bring fragile items, we are at the mercy of the baggage handlers who may or may not be throwing our luggage around while we’re not looking. Do we want to take the risk of trying to pack our silverware, plates, and wine glasses in our luggage or just trust them on the open sea?

Cost Analysis

I mentioned that we want to make a decision about what to do based on cost, logistics and sustainability. Cost is easily going to be the biggest predictor of what we do. So how do we measure the final cost? Well, that’s what is a little unclear, but I think I can figure it out. First, let’s start with our known and set costs.

Things We Know We’ll Need to Buy

There are things that we won’t bring with us, so there are things we know we’re going to need to purchase when we get to Germany. Here are some high level estimates to get us started. Most of the prices came from IKEA and

  • TV – ~$1,000 depending on what model we want to get
  • TV Stand – $100
  • Couch – $600 gets us a similar IKEA couch to what we have now
  • Toaster Oven – $75
  • Hair Dryer – $35
  • Air Purifier – $400
  • Lamps – $200
  • Consumables & cleaning supplies – $200
  • Bathroom accessories & toiletries – $100
  • Laundry basket & rack – $40
  • Clothes hangers (wood & plastic) – $50
  • Trash cans – $50
  • Wall & alarm clocks – $20
  • Side tables – $60
  • Wardrobe – $600 Apparently a lot of apartments in Germany do not have a closet. We may need to purchase ourselves a wardrobe. Hopefully we won’t need one of these, but it’s on here just in case.
  • Coffee maker & grinder – $100
  • Drinking glasses – $20

Total: ~$4,000 (I rounded up because I tend to underestimate these types of lists)

Things We Might Need to Buy

  • Dressers – $500 will get us a nice set of Hemnes if we decide we don’t want the bottom of the barrel IKEA options.
  • Desk & Chair – $300 will get us a nice desk chair and a simple IKEA desk
  • Litter box unit – $200 to replace the cat litter station I built for Zeke when we moved to Virginia
  • Bookshelf – $100
  • Night stand – $40
  • Dining table – $200
  • Dining chairs – $200
  • Mattress & bedframe – $2000 for a comparable mattress and bedframe if we decided to just start over
  • Bicycles – $300 assuming we can get some decent secondhand bicycles
  • Rug – $50
  • Decor and other items – $200 to get us started
  • Pots & pans – $300
  • Towels & other linens – $200

Total: ~$4,500

So, what’s the best way of estimating this? I’m not actually sure to be honest. It’s not a clear 1-to-1 on what we will bring vs. not bring and what we will need to buy vs. not buy. We have the option to sell some of our items here in the U.S., which will affect our overall net cost. We also are not planning to replace every item that we sell or leave behind in Germany.

Scenario 1: Ship ~200 cu ft of items

Let’s assume we decide to ship the following:

  • Mattress, bedframe, bed linens
  • Dining table
  • Plates & flatware
  • Wine glasses
  • Pots & pans
  • Winter items
  • Extra pet items
  • Some decor
  • Physics books
  • Computer
  • Speakers

Total cost of shipping: $5,000 (excluding insurance)

We would bring the following with us on the plane:

  • Clothing
  • Toiletries
  • Pet items
  • Living essentials

Let’s assume all of these items fit into two large and 1 small checked bag, 1 carry-on, 1 pet carrier, and 2 bookbags.

Total baggage fees: $100 (our first 2 checked bags are free)

With with both scenarios, we know we’ll likely be buying up to $4,000 worth of items, regardless if we ship a lot or a little. Additionally, we would need to purchase dressers, desk, computer chair, litter box unit, bookshelf, night stand, dining chairs, bicycles, rug, and additional decor. This will likely run us another $2,000.

In total, shipping, luggage fees, things we’ll buy regardless, and things we’ll buy because we won’t ship them will be about $11,100.

Scenario 2: Checked luggage and boxes

Let’s assume we aren’t shipping anything by sea. That means we’ll need to bring everything in checked bags. On the way to Germany, let’s assume we bring 1 carry-on, 2 bookbags, 1 pet carrier, and 2 large checked bags, 1 medium checked bag, and 1 small checked bag.

We’d be able to bring the following.

Large checked bag 1

  • Household items

Large checked bag 2

  • Richard clothing
  • Sports stuff
  • Pet food, litter and supplies

Medium checked bag 3

  • Nicole clothing
  • Toiletries
  • Towels

Small checked bag

  • Household items

Carry-on 2

  • Flatware

Bookbags 1 & 2

  • Laptop
  • Chromebook
  • iPad
  • Critical documents
  • Other electronics
  • Travel pillows
  • Kindles

Boxes to Ship

  • Computer
  • Speakers
  • Wine glasses
  • Physics books

To bring four checked bags, we will spend $200. The cheapest shipping seems to be with USPS. We can ship 50lb boxes to Hamburg for $150 each. Let’s assume we need to ship 5 boxes. That’s puts us at $750.

When we arrive in Germany, we would have a lot of things we would need to buy. We’d need to buy all of the things that we know we need to purchase regardless, which will be $4,000. Additionally, we’d need to buy all of the things in the “we might need to get these” category, which is around $4,500. That puts us at $9,450 to bring what we can in checked luggage, ship a couple of boxes and buy the rest when we arrive in Germany.

Next Steps

We’ve decided to move forward with Scenario 2. We’re going to load up as much as we can in our luggage and then ship a couple of boxes with the rest of our stuff. The cost is cheaper and we have more flexibility to keep the price low (and possibly lower than what I estimated above). Logistically, it will also be easier, because we’ll have our stuff with us and we can bring it through customs rather than having to deal with a port and all of the logistics that come with that. From an effort standpoint, we probably have a little more work since we’ll have to back our shipping boxes ourselves and really make sure we are able to sell, store or donate everything that doesn’t fit in our luggage plus a couple of boxes.

Moving abroad is going to be quite the adventure!


Costs of Moving Locally
Cost Estimates & Breakdowns, Life, Money, Moving

The Cost of Moving Locally

I’ve been in Arlington for what seems like not that long, but has actually been a while! It’s almost time to resign my lease, so I figured it would be a good time to see what the cost of moving locally might be. I really don’t want to move, because I like my current apartment a lot, but I could potentially be convinced to move if it worked out well in my favor financially AND my new place has all of the same pros as what I currently have.

Expenses Involved in Moving Locally

First, I want to see what the costs of moving locally will be. Then, I’ll look at how those map up with the pros and cons of my current apartment. Here are the major costs that I foresee coming along with a local move:

  • Move Out & In Fees: Most of the buildings in this area charge a move in/out fee to reserve the elevator and loading dock, which generally is in the $400 to $500 range. That means I’m going to have to pay $1,000 to move somewhere. If I were to move apartments this year, I would need to pay this fee twice: once to move out of my current apartment and once to move into my new apartment.
  • 1 Day of PTO & Time: In addition to paying a fee to move out or in, I would need to take a whole day off of work in order to do so. Many apartment buildings have restrictions on when you can move in. Spoiler alert: it’s usually on a weekday, hence needing to take a day off from work. Packing and unpacking is also a huge time suck. Hopefully it wouldn’t be too difficult this time around, but these things always take so MUCH time!
  • Security Deposit: Knock on wood, I should get all or most of my security deposit back when I move out of my current apartment. However, you don’t generally get your security deposit back until after you move out and you need to provide one for the new apartment before you can move in. That means that I’ll need to front some additional cash until I get back my current security deposit. My next security deposit could be anywhere between $2000 and $3000, depending on the cost of our new apartment.
  • Pet Deposit: In addition to a security deposit, I’ll also need to provide money for a pet deposit and/or fee. Some places have a non-refundable pet fee while others have a refundable pet deposit. Either way, this will be another $300-$500.
  • Movers: I’ll be damned if I have to move myself again, despite it not being the most frugal move one could make. After such a rough move last year, I’ve sworn to myself that I won’t be doing it on my own again. Renting movers for an afternoon would likely cost somewhere around $500-800.
  • Moving Supplies: We don’t have any boxes or moving supplies left after our last move, so we would need to do that whole shebang again. We were able to save money by picking up free boxes from our local liquor store and would try to do that again, but it’s likely we could spend around $100 on other moving supplies. Things we might spend money on are wrappers for the furniture, bubble wrap, and packing tape.

So, when all is said and done, it could cost anywhere between $1,900 and $2,400 to move locally. On top of that, I could need to front $2000 to $3000 for the new deposit depending on how much my new apartment costs.

Weighing the Pros & Cons of Moving Locally

It will be a big chunk of change to move, that’s for sure. However, could it be worth it? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of my current apartment.


  • Easy Commute for Nicole & Richard: On the best days, I’m only 20 minutes from work. I have the option to take the Metro which is less than 3 blocks away or I can ride my bike to work in about 15 minutes. Richard drives to work, but he’s typically able to do so in about 30-45 minutes, depending on traffic.
  • Pet-friendly: We have two pets and do not pay extra for them on a monthly basis. I did need to pay a pet deposit.
  • Easy Access to I-395/I-95: We are only a couple of minutes’ drive from the highway, which means Richard can easily get to work, we can easily drive to Richard’s parents’ house, we can easily drive to the nearest Wegman’s, and we’re able to easily get to our rock climbing gym.
  • Reserved parking: We have a reserved parking spot that is included in our rent and Richard is able to rent an additional space to park his motorcycle.
  • Building amenities: We have excellent building staff, an ample gym, and a rooftop pool. The gym is a huge benefit, because Richard doesn’t need to have a gym membership anywhere else.
  • In-unit laundry: We have in-unit laundry, which is really convenient.
  • 1st floor unit: It wouldn’t be the end of the world to be on a higher floor, but being on the first floor is really convenient for taking out our dog. It saves a few minutes each day, which is nice.


  • No private outdoor space: In a perfect world, I would like to have a balcony attached to our apartment.
  • Not 100% hardwood: With two pets, we’d prefer to rent an apartment with 100% hardwood. Our bedroom is carpeted, which isn’t too bad.
  • No den or second bedroom: We make do with 1 bedroom and only 750 sq ft, but it would be so much better to have just a little bit more room for a den or second bedroom.
  • Only 1 bathroom: In the same vein as above, we are in a tight space, so we only have 1 bathroom. In a perfect world, we would have at least 1.5!


  • Neighborhood: We live in Clarendon, which is a pretty upscale neighborhood in Arlington. We are VERY close to lots of restaurants, bars, and shopping. We even are really close to some of the doctors and dentists that we’ve acquired since moving here. We really enjoy living in Clarendon, but it would be nice to check out other neighborhoods now that we’ve been here for a bit. We could look in Ballston, Virginia Square or Rosslyn if we wanted to stay in VA, but have (potentially) cheaper rent without going too far away from my work or Richard’s work. Alternatively, we could try looking in DC proper as well, but I’m unsure if we would be able to find something in our desired price point that would be as convenient for our commutes.

What would it take for me to move?

Right now, you can see that the pros of my apartment far outweigh the cons. Looking briefly at what’s out there, I’m pretty sure it would be difficult to beat our current situation. We currently pay $2,075 per month in rent and Richard pays an additional $75 for his motorcycle parking. Our rent cost includes a reserved parking spot as well as our 2 pets. There are three situations that I could see us deciding to move:

  • Extreme rent increase: After doing the math, I know that it could cost up to $2,400 to move locally. That means that any rent increase below $200 could end up being the same as it would be to move locally, if we were to find an apartment with the same rent that we pay now. If our landlord increases our rent by MORE than $200 per month, that is when I will likely start looking at other options.
  • Super deal: I have my eye out at some of the apartment listings just to be aware of what’s going on. If I find a super deal that is either $200 less than what we pay per month or $100 less (assuming rent goes up by $100), it might be worth considering to move as well.
  • No choice: Lastly, a reason I might choose to move is if we don’t really have a choice. We rent from a landlord who owns a condo unit. I think it’s unlikely, but she could always choose to stop renting our her unit.

Fingers crossed that none of the three situations above happen! I’m rooting to stay in the same apartment for another year!

Have you moved locally recently? How much did it end up costing? Why did you decide to take the plunge?

Moving across country with a cat
Life, Moving, Pets

Tips for Moving Across Country with a Cat

I am a proud mom to two angels: a cat named Zeke and a dog named Stella. They (along with Richard) are the lights of my life. Since we are a tight family unit, Zeke and Stella (obviously) moved with us this fall.

Richard and I really wanted to move and were excited that it was actually going to be happening. However, when all of the pieces started to come together this fall and all signs pointed to “this is it!,” there was only thing on my mind: How the heck am I going to get Zeke from point A to point B? Moving is already stressful as it is, without the whole moving across country with a cat part.

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Moving on a Budget: Don't do what I did
Life, Money, Moving

Moving on a Budget: What NOT to Do

I’d like to think that since I’ve moved a number of times in the last 6 years (PA > NC; NC > MO; MO > NY; NY > NJ; NJ > NY), that my move this fall would be the easiest yet. I should be an expert at moving on a budget at this point, right?! Think again.

Clearly, I’m no stranger to moving, but woooeyyyyyy this time around was a doozy. I should have been reading my own advice when I made the plans, but alas, I did not. I’m pretty sure that we made every rookie mistake there is to make for two people who wanted to spend as little as possible on a move as they could.

Avoid These Things If You Are Moving on a Budget

1. Underestimating the amount of stuff you have

When you underestimate the amount of stuff you have, you put moving on a budget at risk. It’s tempting to think you can fit all of your stuff into the smaller rental truck, but if you make a mistake and need more room, the cost of renting another vehicle or shipping things last minute adds up.

My moving mistake: We ended up needing to ship a number of items via FedEx and to rent a mini van in order to get our stuff down to DC due to underestimating what would fit in a 10′ moving truck.

2. Splitting it into multiple trips

This one seems obvious, but for us, it was unavoidable, because I moved down to DC a month and a half before Richard was able to join me. When you move over multiple trips, especially when you are moving a 7 hour drive away, the cost of gas, time, food on the road, and wear and tear on the card add up. Also, if you forget something in location A that you need in location B before you are able to move everything down, you might need to buy it when you get to location B.

My moving mistake: I packed kitchen utensils for myself in Rochester, but accidentally left them on the counter before departing for Virginia. When I arrived in Virginia and realized I had nothing to cook with, I ended up having to go to Target to buy some new ones even though we own PLENTY of kitchen utensils. It’s not a huge expense, but the little things add up.

3. Leaving things behind or donating things you still want / need

I’m all for minimizing when it comes to moves. When I moved from Missouri to New York, my goal was to move with just my car and no rental truck or anything else. In order to do that, I had to downsize drastically. We did the same thing this time around, since we knew that the stuff in our 1000 sq ft house would not fit into our new 750 sq ft apartment. We spent the weeks leading up to the move selling as much as we could, but time ran out and we ended up donating or leaving behind a number of things that we would have wanted to keep or needed to replace once we got to our new place.

My moving mistake: One thing that we left behind that we needed to replace was our vacuum. It was one of the things that we needed until the last minute, but didn’t have room for it in the car at the very end, so we left it behind. Luckily, we were able to borrow one of Richard’s parents vacuums for the time being so we didn’t have to spend money to replace it… yet.

4. Last minute moving truck reservations

In my opinion, moving truck companies are a little sheisty when it comes to reservations. They seem to overbook their reservations and let you book a truck that they may not end up having when you arrive. To make up for this, they will often let you book the next size truck up without the extra charge. At the very least, this is how it works with U-Haul.

My moving mistake: I made my reservation too late and the 14′ truck that I wanted was not available. U-Haul offered to bump us up to the 17′ truck at no cost, but we were renting a trailer to haul a motorcycle, so it seemed extreme (and potentially dangerous) for us to try to drive a 17′ truck PLUS the trailer. We ended up getting the 10′ truck, which obviously was too small. In the end, we rented a large mini van to put extra stuff in and that still wasn’t enough.

5. Multiple apartment hunting trips

Another part of moving on a budget is finding a new place to live. If you are trying to find a place to live in a new location out of town, the costs of transportation, lodging, and food add up. This is why it is important to be prepared, give yourself ample time to find something, and do everything you can to find an apartment in the time you’ve been given.

My moving mistake: When I moved to both Missouri and Hoboken, I made a trip ahead of time to find a new apartment and was successful both times. In September, we made a trip to DC to apartment hunt, but were unfortunately unsuccessful. This resulted in me having to go down a second time to apartment hunt, but thankfully I was able to find something at the very last second (almost missing my flight too!).

Lessons for Moving on a Budget

Hopefully, I’ve learned my lesson and you can learn some lessons from me. For me, the lessons are:

  • You have a crapload of stuff, no matter how much you try to downsize, so just accept it and act accordingly.
  • Plan ahead and be realistic.
  • Stop selling or donating things you’re just going to need to re-buy anyways.
Cost Estimates & Breakdowns, Life, Money, Moving

Cost of Living Comparison: Greater New York vs. Rochester


As you might remember, last summer I moved from Hoboken, NJ to Rochester, NY to close the gap in my long distance relationship. I was able to work out a remote work situation with my employer, so I’ve been doing the whole work from home thing for 9 months now.

Now that it’s been a while, I figured it was as good time to do a cost of living comparison and look at how my expenses have changed since moving from a high cost of living area to a relatively low cost of living area.

Of course, as with everything, not all of the differences that I found were cut and dry. My lifestyle in the last 9 months has changed, which makes the overall cost of living of the two locations only a portion of the picture. Lifestyle changes that have impacted my expenses include:

  • I work remotely in Rochester; I commuted from Hoboken to New York while living in Hoboken
  • I lived by myself in a small one bedroom apartment in Hoboken; now I live in a two bedroom house with a roommate (Richard)
  • In general, I have been cooking at home more and reducing my restaurant outings since moving to Rochester
  • I did not own a car while living in Hoboken; I purchased a car after about three months of living in Rochester

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Lots of Boxes Are Involved When Combining Two Households
Life, Moving

Combining Two Households Isn’t Easy & How to Make It Easier

As I suggested in my last post, my life has been consumed with moving. Before the actual move, I was busy with packing and cleaning my apartment. After the move, little did I know it, but the fun was only about to begin. And by fun, I mean a lot of organizing, cleaning and unpacking was about to begin.

It’s been almost 3 weeks since the move. Despite the lapse of 3 weeks and our tireless unpacking, we only started to see the floor to the living room this past weekend. While that’s a huge win, there’s still a lot that needs to be done. While there is much work before us, we have made efforts to make the process smother. Below are four ways that we’ve been trying to make combining two households easier.

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Be Back Soon Sign
Life, Moving

Moving Week: Be Back Soon!

It’s moving week, people!

As you may remember, I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in my June review that I’m going to be removing the “long distance” from my long distance relationship. Well, this week is the week!

Between packing, saying goodbye-for-nows, cleaning and work, I’ve had and am going to have a hectic schedule as I make the move and get settled into this whole cohabitation thing. As I figure all this out, I’m going to be a little M.I.A. as I get things into order and settled in.

Fear not! I will be back with exciting new posts soon.

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Alternatives to Renting a Moving Truck
Life, Moving

Alternatives to Renting a Moving Truck

If you have ever moved (and chances are that you have!), you’ve known the struggles and complications that can be involved in getting your stuff from Point A to Point B. Moving in-town can be difficult in and of itself, but moving across the state, to a different state or across the country can be an even bigger undertaking.

While I’ve been in Hoboken for well over a year now, the year I spent before moving here was spent in three different locations. In one calendar year, I moved three times. And these weren’t local moves. They were big, honkin’ cross-country moves.

If you’ve ever moved cross-country, you know how expensive things can become. Coming right out of grad school (and grad school wages), I was highly motivated to find the cheapest option available to me and this meant coming up with some creative ways to get my things from here to there. For each of my moves, I decided that a moving truck wasn’t for me, so I set out on a question to find formidable alternatives to renting a moving truck. After a lot of brainstorming and Internet searching, I found the following to be decent, potentially lower cost options (depending on your situation).

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