Moving to New England

Mon Feb 01 2021

My wife and I decided to move out east, which just so happened to be during the worst pandemic in the last couple of generations. It felt overwhelming at times, but we kept at it and eventually checked off all the little chores that got us moved in.

If we had to it again for some reason, I would just sell everything and buy a plane ticket. Overall though, it went well and is good feeling to have the move behind us along with the rest of 2020.

Packing and PODS

Using a POD was the best solution I found for moving cross country given pricing. Compared to renting a truck, going with a POD was roughly the same price. Using a POD for any distance less than what we did doesn’t make a ton of sense for the price, especially if you’re able to do the heavy lifting and driving yourself.

Packing started at the house about the time the we ordered the POD, which gave us around 4 weeks total to box everything up and load it before the POD was picked up. We didn’t pay a dime for boxes and instead found all of them on Facebook Marketplace for free. Also, I had saved a ton of newspaper and bubble wrap so another big cost savings there. One bonus for using a POD was we didn’t have to rush to pack everything in one day, and we could pace ourselves over the course of a couple of weeks.

In order to load the POD efficiently, I remembered my maths classes and channeled my geek side to plan on how the space inside would be packed. I found an online tool that implemented the “Rectangle Packing Problem” and from that point on, loading the POD was simple!

One thing that we didn’t do as effectively was have all of the dates and drop off locations ready at the time of booking the POD. The initial pickup and dropoff we had since it was just in Sacramento (we had to obtain a permit from the City of Sacramento but that was easy), but we were finalizing our rental at the time so the addresses and final drop off date weren’t set in stone. It wasn’t a huge issue since it all ended up working out, but just an additional for us to stress over to go along with everything else.

Shipping Our Cars

This was the first and last time I used a car shipping company. The only way I think this industry works is you have to go through a shipping broker. The whole process was pretty terrible and we were never sure what the experience was going to be except for what we were assured by the broker.

Long story short, a company we never had contact arrives and loads our cars onto a trailer. The car carrier company ended up damaging our cars and refused to cooperate to compensate us for the damages. Our car insurance navigated some of this and covered most of the damages, however we ended up getting stuck with the deductible.

The battle to get fully reimbursed is ongoing to this day, and I don’t see it ever being resolved unfortunately. The next time I have to do something like this, I’ll just go directly to a company regardless of any extra costs since I’ll at least have more control of the overall quality of the experience in general.

Leaving Day / Flight to Boston

We flew Southwest from Sacramento into Boston Logan airport. When we got to the Sacramento airport, there were tons of mask restrictions everywhere as soon as we stepped into any ventilated area inside. Boston was about the same, with both seeming about as busy as usual for some reason.

Luckily, all of our bags came in under weight and we didn’t have to pay any overweight fees, which was another concern of ours. It was definitely a good idea to keep a scale with us instead of packing it in the POD.

After a quick 2-3 hour layover in Chicago and a couple of COVID beers we boarded our last flight into New England as visitors.

Our Cat

Traveling with us was our cat which we had never done before. A couple of our friends had flown with cats before and it sounded like it wasn’t so bad, so that was a little reassuring. There were drugs we could get for her that would make the ride smooth and not as stressful.

The only real thing we had to do here was get some meds from the vet, pay the pet fare on Southwest (about $75, reserve ahead of time), and get a collapsible pet carrier. The airlines say the carrier needs to be approved by the airline so just something to think about. We also had to pack some extra emergency litter boxes (which we didn’t need to use), and some travel food stuff.

All in all, flying with a cat was way easier than I thought it would be. Our cat didn’t have any issues and was passed out most of the flight from the drugs.

Temporary Living Situation

While we waited for our cars and POD to arrive in Rhode Island, we stayed with my mother-in-law. The drive to Providence was about 90 minutes so we took a couple trips down to set up stuff and clean in preparation to move in.

Most of August was during a heatwave and many places don’t have central air, so we had to make do with portable AC units. Things cooled down slightly, and along with some darker window coverings we were able to keep it comfortable during the daytime. On top of the that, the humidity was pretty bad which just exacerbated the heat and made me look forward to winter!

Living Arrangements in Rhode Island

We ended up finding a place in Providence, Rhode Island near Federal Hill which is close by to the Downtown area. The commute for my wife to work is about 15 minutes which was a huge win. So far the snow isn’t super bad, but we’re about to get a huge storm this week so we’ll see how it goes. It’s temporary, and we don’t plan on being here more than a year before we buy a house in Rhode Island or Massachusetts.

The place we’re in is over 150 years old and is just a bigger three story house converted to apartments on each floor. There is a basement but it isn’t anything you’d want to hang out in since it’s unfinished and not well insulated. The rooms have all-wood floors, base board heaters, and high ceilings.

Settling In

Moving cross-country in the middle of a worldwide pandemic is weird, and we were constantly feeling guilty that we were breaking some obscure law. The transition for me so far has been pretty simple since I just work from home. The time zone change is a little tricky but I still manage to be pretty productive and coordinate well with my team back in California.

Rhode Island is extremely small and there’s lots to explore. We’ve been here since August and we’ve explored a good portion of the state already. There’s plenty of new things to do like checking out new hiking and skiing spots, getting lots of seafood and roast beef, and using a new Rhode Island beer passport app I just found that’s similar to one we had in Sacramento.

Steven Wright

Written by Steven Wright who lives and works in Sacramento building useful things.