The 1,700 Mile Move: 5 Lessons I Learned

I come from a family of non-movers. For example, my mom, once she married, became listless and lost her appetite and quite a bit of weight.  The doctor diagnosed her with homesickness.  She had moved less than five miles from her family home to her home with my dad.  (Yes, this is a true story!)

We moved one other time less than a 1/2 mile away, and even that was traumatic for her.

I have ventured farther in my lifetime, going 400 miles away to graduate school, but a 1,700 mile move is something else entirely.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far as we prepare to move from the Midwest to the Desert Southwest:

1700 mile move 1.  We had way more “stuff” than I thought.  I knew we had a lot,
but wow, I didn’t know how much.  We’ve sold, thrown away, or donated at least half of our stuff.  Every time we think we’re almost done packing, more “stuff” seems to appear.  I wonder if we’ll ever be done!

2.  Plan for a long-distance move as early as possible.  We started selling our stuff back in early May, and so far, that stuff has brought in over $1,000.  However, even though I started selling items 8 weeks in advance of our move, it still wasn’t early enough.  We’re less than 5 days away from our move, and I am still waiting for our treadmill, file cabinet, and office desk to sell.

I was surprised to see that sometimes listing things to sell on eBay, Facebook, and Craigslist is like planting seeds.  I’ve listed some things, and there was no interest.  But then, say two or three weeks after I listed them, someone discovers the listing and buys the item.  Allowing enough time for things to sell is essential.

3.  Exercise equipment has no resale value.  Many people want to buy exercise equipment, but selling that equipment later is difficult.  Luckily, I bought our treadmill second hand for less than $100 a few years ago.  I don’t think it’s going to sell before we leave.  I think I’ll be taking it out for trash pick up.

4.  Moving 1,700 miles is expensive!  Luckily, my husband’s employer is paying for our move.  Still, even though we’ve seriously pared down our belongings, the move is going to cost over $6,000!  (We’ve paired down so much that the mover estimated two other families’ household goods could fit on the semi-truck with our small load.)

If my husband’s new employer wasn’t paying, I think the smartest financial decision would be to sell everything before we move and buy used once we’re in our new location.

5.  Determining the cost of living in a new location isn’t easy.  Since Tucson, Arizona (where we’re going) has a lower cost of living than Chicago, Illinois (where we’re leaving) and my husband received a substantial raise with his new employer, we thought we’d be in a better position financially.  That’s before we looked at the new company’s health insurance plan and saw how much worse it is than our current plan.  Most of my husband’s raise is going to cover the difference in the cost of insurance.

Have you moved a thousand or more miles away?  If so, what lessons did you learn?

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