Wednesday, June 13, 2012

10 Things About Moving (Money Lessons Included)

I was reading this post on Lorraine's blog about her upcoming move to Florida.  Instead of making my comment on her blog ten inches long, I figured I would just write a post about the moving lessons we have learned so far:

  1. I wouldn't buy another house without selling my house first.  Many people want the security of keeping their house until they actually buy a new house to move in to.  In our case, we decided to sell our house and travel for a year or so before settling down again.  This worked out well because we saved a boatload of money by not having to pay a mortgage payment each month.  It is scary though, to realize that you are signing your house away and have no place to live now.  I guess it would be even  scarier to be stuck with two house payments at the same time.
  2. Just before we moved we decided to sell almost everything we owned.  Again, we knew we were going to put the remaining items in storage for a year or more and didn't want to pack/load/move/store every single item that had accumulated in our house over the years.  When we moved out we had one bed, two TVs, a futon sofa, clothes, and some boxes of important things and it all fit in a 10 x 10 storage shed.
  3. We did the moving ourselves.  We used our van to move stuff from our old house to a nearby storage shed.  Then when we came back from Asia and decided to move to Las Vegas, we rented a moving truck, packed everything into it, loaded our van on an attached dolly, then drove ourselves to Las Vegas and put everything into a storage shed here.  This saved us a lot of money over paying a moving service and/or storing our stuff in the PODS-type thing.  p.s.  This is A LOT of exercise!
  4. It's nice to have friends to stay with!  When we moved out of our house we were fortunate to have a cousin nearby in Seattle that we could stay with for a few days until we headed off to the first leg of our travels.  Ditto for having a cousin in Las Vegas who we stayed with for two months before renting a condo from yet another cousin when we found it was taking longer to buy a house than expected (this saved us a small fortune in hotel costs).
  5. I really think that when you are moving from one place to another you should rent in the area you are moving to first, for at least six months.  The first offer we made on a place in Las Vegas happened when we were here last summer for a week.  Within two days we found a realtor then found a place to make an offer on.  A few days later we went back to Seattle and waited.  And waited.  Eventually the sale fell through and I am really glad it did because when we came back to Las Vegas months later and stayed with the cousin who happened to live in the same condo complex where we had made an offer, we realized that the location isn't that great, that the complex is right in the path of airliners taking off from McCarran airport every 90 seconds (!), and that having people living above you is horribly noisy and annoying.  Whew.  Dodged a bullet there.
  6. Another great reason to rent first is so that you will see if you even like the area you are moving to.  We spent five months in Georgia and at first it was wonderful.  It was early spring and the weather was great and all was well...then we found out that my allergies acted up horribly (for months on end...guess it was all of those pretty blooming flowers and trees), that in late spring there were tornado warnings a couple of times a week (yikes!), and that summer was hideously hot and humid.  I like hot and I like humid but not at the same time.  If we had immediately bought a house and moved there we (I) would have not been a happy camper.  Ditto for the northeast (love the summers, hate the winters), and Chicago (beautiful spring and fall, horribly hot summers and horribly cold winters).
  7. Get a good realtor.  We have a wonderful realtor who has been super patient with us.  Our realtor told us where we could buy (Summerlin, Henderson, and the south west) and where we absolutely couldn't buy (north and east).  And she was right.  Anywhere other than where she showed us has pretty bad crime problems (which is obvious when you see row after row of houses with bars on the doors and windows.  Scary).  We are really happy with the area we ended up buying in.
  8. Our realtor also taught us about buying el-cheapo foreclosures.  When we first moved here we were seeing dollar signs.  After all, everyone was saying you could buy a nice house here for $40,000!  We learned (after about a dozen offers on cheap repo/short sales houses) that there is more to it than that.  First you have to go up against cash buyers and professional investors who are snapping up these cheap houses to use for rentals.  Then you will see that these houses are usually in bad neighborhoods and/or have been trashed by the previous owners.  Also, once investors have bought a bunch of cheap houses in what used to be nicer neighborhoods to use for rentals, the place becomes kind of ghetto-ish--not a place I really want to live/own a home.  We also found that buying a repo takes a LOT longer than buying from a regular seller (the banks seem to encourage bidding wars...ugh) and that buying a short sale can take forever (at least six months or longer to even get a response!).
  9. Find out about your new location--you may be in for some surprises.  We were happy to learn that Nevada, like Washington, has no state income tax (yeah).  We were shocked that water and electricity costs a lot more here than in Washington (I guess for obvious reasons, there is very little water here).  Ditto for car registration (much more expensive) and business licensing (also expensive).  I was surprised that we have seen very few bugs of any kind here (nice!) and it is so hot outside that even though I half expect to see a bear or raccoon clinging to the dumpster when I go to toss the trash, I have yet to even see one stray cat (too hot here I guess).  Living in the desert is totally new for us--I like a bit more rain, a bit more humidity, and to see plants growing wild (not gonna happen here) but overall we do like living here.  p.s. Drivers in Las Vegas are freakin insane...
  10. Find out where to go for info.  One thing that has been a boon to us has been our cousins who live in Las Vegas who have clued us in on all kinds of things (best restaurants, which day is senior day at the Goodwill, which days we can get discounts at casino buffets, etc).  Also hubby and I have made a few friends here so we have received good advice from them as well (one friend told us about a wonderful car repair shop, another a good discount store).  When all else fails, I often turn to Yelp (I found a great dentist that way), the local news (for what is happening in the city), and reddit (these people are wonderful!!!  Just go to the reddit for your area like this one for Las Vegas and ask whatever question you need help with and you will get a bunch of responses from locals).

So that is what we have learned so far.  p.s.  We are set to sign the closing documents on our house tomorrow and we will be able to move in Monday...color me HAPPY!


  1. What great tips. Thanks! I looked for an email button on your blog and couldn't find one. I'm coming to Vegas for the week of July 2-6 and would love some insider tips on kid friendly things to do. It will be just me and my youngest daughter (9yo).

  2. Hi Free, Thanks for the great idea for a post for my other blog today! Here's some ideas...

  3. I think your tips are great! And I love how you traveled for a year. I would love to do that one day.

  4. Awesome post! I'm going to have hubby sit down and read it too. I'm really leaning toward the renting idea now. We're at a slight disadvantage in that we have all these pets to consider, we don't know anyone in the area we're moving to and we can't move ourselves (too old, too much stuff and tendonitis in my hands). We still have a year until Megan graduates high school so we have time to downsize more, save money, etc.
    As for Free!'s question, we went to Las Vegas for our 25th anniversary in 2005. Megan was 10 and we found lots of stuff to do for kids. We hope to return to see all the stuff we missed.

  5. Great advice and I love to follow your journey. I think you are very brave. It gives me hope for my retirement. I can't wait to see pictures of your new place!