Moving Part Six: Settle in and Reflect

Moving Part Six: Settle in and Reflect

Packed Truck | Moving Peaces

To wrap up this series on moving (at least for now), I wanted to make sure to touch on a very important part of the process–giving it time. Time to settle in, time to reflect, time to consider everything that just happened…even years later.

Part 6: Settle in and Reflect

The act of moving does not happen overnight. Maybe you got from point A to point B within one day of travel, but such an involved process takes time. Allow yourself time to get used to everything. Don’t strain to unpack everything right away. You will need to get used to your surroundings, from getting acquainted with the grocery store to discovering your new routine. It will take time to feel comfortable with it all. All the while, you will be trying to make new friends and likely be pushed outside of your comfort zone.

Keep busy, but not only with tasks and chores. Find time to take a walk around your neighborhood. Try a new coffee shop and visit a local attraction. Give yourself time to get to know your new community, even though you might feel like a tourist looking in. This will help you to better acclimate and come to love your new surroundings.

Since moving, I have found our favorite bakery, favorite pizza place, favorite coffee shop and have a running list of places I have yet to go to.

After a certain amount of time (6 months to a year and then again two years later), consider your decision to move. Was it the right one? Are you glad you moved? Is this where you want to stay for awhile? Do you want to go back? Allow yourself the opportunity to reflect on all you have done and learned in this time.

For me, Raleigh is the place to be. It’s perfectly surrounded by so much culture and activity in the Triangle, all while managing to be a few hours away from the beach. While pollen season was a new experience, I don’t miss the cold or the snow (which is increasingly apparent at this time of the year). My neighborhood has proven to be the perfect place to live, and I have made some great friends.

What’s your moving story?

Moving Part 5: Follow Through

Packed Truck | Moving Peaces

It’s been awhile since the last post on the moving process due to the 31 days project in October, but I’ve still got a few more steps to talk about. After our move from Iowa to North Carolina essentially on a whim, we got a lot of questions on what all went into the process and love hearing about the moving experiences of others.  If you’re new to the series and feel like starting at the beginning, here’s Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

Part 5: Follow through

The divide between steps four and five marks the difference between dreaming and doing. If you are going to move, then this requires actually moving before claiming a new home or state of residence. Granted, this can take months or even years, depending on the circumstances.

This part can be exhausting and stressful. It requires a lot of decisions, details and money. There are all sorts of tips and tricks you try to implement as you stuff boxes, pack the truck and drive off toward your new home.

To make it happen, we were constantly burning the midnight oil as we tried to finish up our obligations, make lasting memories and gain closure, all while seriously preparing to move halfway across the country.

To keep your sanity, here’s what I would recommend doing in the biggest stage of them all:

  • Make a list – there will be far too many details to keep straight and this will help you sleep a little better at night
  • Reduce your haul – have a garage sale, donate items or have your friends over to pass along anything you no longer need
  • Say goodbye – we invited everyone we knew to come over for one last barbeque at our house the day before we moved…some might find that crazy but it gave us some closure
  • Set a date – it has to happen and you will need a date to start sorting through the details of the moving truck and places to stay as you transition
  • Don’t rush into a housing decision – there are so many decisions to make and you might not be ready to finalize the place you want to live for the next several years, especially from afar. Consider short-term housing, a storage unit or extra trips beforehand to visit the area and confirm the right place to go.
  • Plan for leeway – the schedule might get thrown or your stress level might require a few extra take-out meals and chocolate so try to budget in as much extra time and money you can to alleviate some stress when something inevitably comes up

Moving Part 2: Finding a Location

Packed Truck

Based the questions I am often fielding about our move, I’ve written up a few parts of the moving process. You can start reading it wherever it is most helpful but if you’re particular about following the order, you can start with Part 1: Deciding to Move.

Part 2: Finding a Location

For some, this part of the process is dictated by outside factors. This may include a job offer, a family tie or something out of your control. If so, this part will look different. Finding a location will mean, finding a job or family tie or whatever it is that is calling you and then sorting out the details to make it a reality.

For me, I needed to sort through what I wanted in a place. Criteria can range from the size of the town to the weather in the winter.

The following contributed to our list of criteria:

  • Near geographic interest (i.e. mountains or ocean)
  • Warmer weather year-round
  • Bigger city than current location or nearby one
  • Within 20 minutes of a Target and within an hour of Trader Joe’s
  • Music and arts culture

Having criteria helps, but it does not automatically give you the answer. There were several cities that fit this description. For some, several options is a positive thing and can lead to more opportunities in the job search. For others, it can be difficult to plan without a narrowed search or a clear direction. Moving can be a complicated process with a lot of planning involved, so it’s best to go with what you are more comfortable with.

The final push for Raleigh came because of these key factors:

  • It showed up on similar “Best City for…” lists as Des Moines. Knowing we liked Des Moines helped us realize this would be something we would like.
  • Family would be three hours away, which we knew would be helpful
  • We had some familiarity with that region of the country, although limited knowledge of Raleigh itself

365 days later

A year ago today we arrived in the Raleigh area. We had been in North Carolina just shy of three weeks and were ready to take on our new surroundings. On August 27th we drove into town, rented a truck and started the transition into our new life. We gathered all of our belongings from a storage unit and hired a guy to help us move it into our new apartment. Amidst the heat, our fish died and between that, the suffocating humidity and the magnitude of our duties for the remainder of the day, we contemplated a few tears. But all in all, we knew it was the start of something new, brand new. New jobs were on the table, a new (to us) couch was in the truck and North Carolina had just gained two new residents.

We laughed and cried, fought and made up, grieved our losses and celebrated our successes…all of the Hallmark emotions were there. Throughout the year, we rediscovered why we were best friends, as well as why we still need other friends. We attended festivals and parties and became incredibly bold in “friending” people, not just in the social media sense. We found new jobs and left the jobs we had when we first arrived. We checked out schools and planned for our future, not knowing how different it would later be, yet still managed to both attend school a year later. We found a church that we visited on accident, only to become a bigger part of it than we imagined. We saw several East Coast cities and maybe even managed to find our favorite seafood restaurant near the beach. We bought a new fish and tried new hobbies. Holidays were different—we didn’t have a tree but we still had our annual Christmas card. Somewhere along the way we made new friends and kept in contact with some of our old friends, just in a different way than before.

Today was the last day in our apartment. Thankfully, the bulk of our stuff has already been moved. By our new friends. To our new (rented) house. A year later and here we are—still loving living here. This new place seems to solidify it a little more for us. We want to settle in and invest in our community. We want to call this home and put down roots.  We felt the little inklings last year that it was a turning point in our lives, and now we know that to be true. It’s been a great (hard/interesting/challenging/different/crazy/surprising/strange/wonderful) year here, and we’re excited for year two and all it might bring.

Bits and Pieces

Now that we’ve been here a full week, I feel it’s only fair to give a quick update. We’ve been splitting time between hanging out with family (hubby’s sister and her husband, son and daughter) and running around trying to become real live North Carolinians. We have yet to figure out what our life might look like, so prayer is most appreciated. Here’s a few realizations and fun facts worth note as of late:

  • It will always take longer than you think to drive halfway across the country, just plan on it.
  • You get to smile when you get your driver’s license! (You also have to take a written test to acquire said NC license and thankfully we both passed.)
  • The pronunciation of “Des Moines” is officially “Dez Moinezz” this side of the Mississippi – no matter what you say to try and change their minds.
  • Seeing the movie Zookeeper is not worth your time, even if the theater is having a free showing at 9:30 a.m. 
  • Always wear a t-shirt when holding an infant. Vomiting is frequent and inspired by loud noises, recent feedings, laughter or boredom.
  • Saying “y’all” is the only way you’ll ever fit in. We haven’t quite managed to pull it off without a giggle, completely blowing our cover. 
  • Everything closes before 9 p.m. in a small mountain town.
  • With a new library card you can only check out four books. Once you return those books, your limit jumps to 30 books at a time for the real bookworms. 
  • The life of a two-year-old is an emotional roller coaster. Magic words: Elmo time, leggos, basketball and cake.
  • The beach is awesome, but a full body sunburn makes it unforgettable.

Motivation behind the Drive

In recent weeks there has been much discussion about our vehicles. Far more than I wish was the case. Currently, they are both posted on Craigslist, but that only means so much. At first, the plan was to sell both cars and buy a newer and better one to share. A few hours after we left the hubby’s car in the driveway we got a call from the city saying 1. We couldn’t sell a car there if we weren’t the owner of the house and 2. We couldn’t park on the lawn (okay, it was two tires on the lawn, two tires on the driveway due to our garage sale earlier that day). It felt like we were already failing when we had just begun.

The grand idea was that regardless of what one car we’d take, we could have someone else drive it there. That didn’t pan out. It’s fine and no questions asked. So, we went with Plan B – tow it with the truck. Neither of us were thrilled about this idea but felt it’d be better to be together and we’d just hope for the best. All the while, we continued to look for the car we’d like to buy and take with us.

This week it’s all hit. The car we had made an offer on turned out to be not quite as reliable as we needed it to be in order to make an offer. That was a major letdown. Plan C – take my car and fix it up a little more to make sure we’d be set for awhile. We took it in for an oil change and there are a few things we’ll need to do to it which will all add up. But, that’s what owning a car is, right? Repairs.

Before I can get my head around the fact that we’ve just changed plans in such a short time, I get more news. We’ve been advised to not tow the car. Just drive the truck. Figure out the car thing when we get there.

I might melt right here and now into a little puddle of stress and tears. We wanted to only drive the truck in the first place. Of course that’s ideal. We’ve been looking and trying to find the right and affordable vehicle for the past two months and just came up short. So, we shouldn’t bank on finding a car when we get there, to a much smaller town and area, as if it will be a quick and easy endeavor. Finally, while this advice may be quite valid, it doesn’t seem to solve the problem but rather presents a new one. 

I think the hardest part about this idea is that so many things are going out the door – jobs, furniture, stability, money. Having a car was the one thing that separates us from 12-year-olds as we stuff everything we own into a basement. We are about to go live in someone else’s home while we look for jobs. How will we be able to look for jobs (in another city 3 hours away from where we plan to live) without a car? The thought makes me feel stuck and trapped in a town we’d never want to live in without a way out. Plus, there’s no denying that this is a significant change in our lives. Going from a small house of two adults to a busy house of six – two of whom are children. It’s a lot to take on even with healthy boundaries. The thought of being there without a car, I can’t do it. I need to be able to know I have that final freedom to drive away. Drive to get out of the house. Drive to look for a job. Drive to familiarize myself with the area. Drive to have a moment of alone time. Drive to be free. 

The List

Ever since we started talking seriously about moving, I’ve been considering “the list” – which of course consists of everything we need to do before we go. In order to do that, one must first define what it means to be from around here. What do I need to do here before going there? Which of these things declare my obvious residency and lack of tourist naivete? And then, do you do things you’ve done 100 times just one last time? Or do you do things you’ve never done but have heard you should do?

Over a month ago when I first drafted the above paragraph, I had high hopes of achieving the impossible. I wanted to live and breathe Des Moines, the state of Iowa and the entire Midwest as much as I could. While in theory it may be a good idea, it just can’t happen. Sure, I’ll try to see a few people in the next few weeks and use all of our Groupons, but we’ve got to start thinking about what’s ahead. There’s preparations to make, jobs to find and a house to pack. Not to mention, current jobs still to work and everyday life to live.

I think sometimes I try too hard to pack it all in. I’m constantly thinking that I’ve gotten better about overcoming my tendency to over-schedule. But I still find myself running around trying to do it all and pretending that in the end it will be worth it and we’ll be happier and better because of it. It’s the same trap every time. Instead, we wind up exhausted and annoyed about our commitments regardless how fun they may actually end up being. So, I think we will have to remember Iowa for the memories it’s already provided instead of the ones I was going to try and cram in during our final days. I can’t deny that our last week here is already packed full, but I will vow to try to reign in on the incidentals. These days aren’t about discovering Des Moines – they’re for spending time with established friends, packing and prepping to move and most importantly, being together through it all.